Air: Or, Have Not Have
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Chung Mae is the only connection her small farming village has to culture of a wider world beyond the fields and simple houses of her village. A new communications technology is sweeping the world and promises to connect everyone, everywhere without power lines, computers, or machines. This technology is Air. An initial testing of Air goes disastrously wrong and people are killed from the shock. Not to be stopped Air is arriving with or without the blessing of Mae's village. Mae is the only one who knows how to harness Air and ready her people for it's arrival, but will they listen before it's too late?
not previously regarded me much. No one in this village does.” Her eyes were sad. “We will be at work tomorrow, in my old house,” said Mae. “Come and join us. All of you.” “You are kind to extend such a valuable invitation,” said Mrs. Doh, the fine lines on her eyes and forehead wincing at Mrs. Mack’s Christian manners. There was a sudden involuntary stir amid the people. Oh! said one of the girls. Lung had joined the dancers. He hopped in, no embarrassment, looking incredibly pleased to be
singing in a wan, private voice. “Mrs. Ozdemir-ma’am? Hatijah?” Mae rubbed the woman’s shoulder. The family goat was loose, rooting in hay. Edrem sat with his back towards everyone. “Hatijah? Don’t give up hope. Suppose she rescued all those people and got them up to high hills. What a heroine she will be, ah? Think how joyous we will all be when she comes back to us? Hatijah?” The woman kept singing—a thin, wheedling, wordless lament. Hatijah stared unblinking and dry-eyed, ignoring the baby
of it.” Afraid? Well, yes, this was new stuff. The TV kept talking. “The list of available topics is very long. It is probably easier if you tell me what you want to know.” It was as if the television were inhabited by a ghost. Like Old Mrs. Tung. “Fashion,” said Mae. And for some reason, as if on impulse or from affection, Kwan had taken hold of the muscles between Mae’s neck and shoulder and given them a squeeze. “So you are going to fight,” said Kwan. Mae paused. “You know,” she sighed.
will help learning how to use the Air.” “I use it to breathe,” said Mrs. Ali. She was looking in a conspiratorial way at Mrs. Sunni-ma’am. More chuckles. They wanted this to be jolly, like a ladies’ tea party. Mae found she was too shy in front of so many people to be relaxed enough for that. She was exposed to an enemy who had perhaps brought allies. “Now you will also use it to think,” Mae said to Mrs. Ali. It sounded like a rebuke. Sezen’s boyfriend gave an ugly squawk, and he whispered
otherwise it will be surgery.” “When would you say it is due?” “Its development is strange. Say, May or June. Would you be able to come back here?” Fatimah’s eyes were pained, askance. “I am sure that this place would help you have it. It has the most advanced medical and scientific equipment in Karzistan.” “What would they get out of it?” “Probably nothing further. They will have gotten enough for them to be generous.” “What will they get out of me?” Fatimah sighed. “Scientific fame? A