file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt Distress A Novel by Greg Egan HarperPaperbacks This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt enough, but I wanted a continuous take of the pathologist connecting up the surrogate blood supply. "If everyone had optic nerve taps, don't you think murderers would start hacking the memory chips out of their victims' bodies?" "Sometimes. But no one hung around to mess up this guy's brain, did they?" 3 (Note: The numeration of pages preserves the page numeration of the original copy. the page numbers indicate the bottom of the page) "Wait until they've seen the documentary." The pathologist's assistant sprayed a depilatory enzyme onto the victim's skull, and then wiped all the close-cropped black hair away with a couple of sweeps of his gloved hand. As he dropped the mess into a plastic sample bag, I realized why it was holding together instead of dispersing like barber's shop waste; several layers of skin had come with it. The assistant glued the "hairnet"-a skein of electrodes and SQID detectors- to the bare pink scalp. The pathologist finished checking the blood supply, then made an incision in the trachea and inserted a tube, hooked up to a small pump to take the place of the collapsed lungs. Nothing to do with respiration; purely as an aid to speech. It was possible to monitor the nerve impulses to the larynx, and synthesize the intended sounds by wholly electronic means, but apparently the voice was always less garbled if the victim could experience something like the normal tactile and auditory feedback produced by a vibrating column of air. The assistant fitted a padded bandage over the victim's eyes; in rare cases, feeling could return sporadically to the skin of the face, and since retinal cells were deliberately not revived, some kind of temporary ocular injury was the easiest lie to explain away the pragmatic blindness.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt The assistant hit a button on a keypad. The victim twitched and coughed blood-some of it still his own, dark and clotted. The wave traces spiked, then became smoother, more periodic.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt in a pool of blood, you'd ask the same questions, wouldn't you? And tell the same reassuring lies? "Who was it, Danny?" My brother. "Your brother had the knife?" No he didn't. I can't remember what happened. Ask me later. My head's too fuzzy now.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt only pieced together because the revival testimony put the investigation on the right track." Gina was dismissive. "That may have happened once or twice-but it's still not worth it. They should ban the whole procedure, it's obscene." She hesitated. "But you're not going to use that footage, are you?" "Of course I'm going to use it." "You're going to show a man dying in agony on an operating table- captured in the act of realizing that everything which brought him back to life is guaranteed to kill him?" She spoke calmly; she sounded more incredulous than outraged.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt more like a Hollywood version of a Kansas farm worker (in good times) than a rich eccentric whose body was swarming with engineered algae and alien genes. I watched him on the console's flatscreen, and listened through simple stereo speakers. I could have fed the playback straight into my optic and auditory nerves, but most viewers would be using a screen or a headset-and I needed to be sure that the software really had constructed a steady, plausible, rectilinear grid of pixels out of my own retinas' highly compressed visual shorthand.
file:///F|/rah/Greg%20Egan/Egan,%20Greg%20-%20Distress.txt "But there's a perfectly good vaccine-" "Of course." I cut my own words out, and made Landers say: "Of course, there's a vaccine for that." Then: "And I have symbionts providing a second, independent immune system, anyway. But who knows 20 what's coming along next? I'll be prepared, whatever it is. Not by anticipating the specifics- which no one could ever do-but by making sure that no vulnerable cell in my body still speaks the same biochemical language as any virus on Earth." "And in the long term7 It's taken a lot of expensive infrastructure to provide you with all of these safeguards. What if that technology doesn't survive long enough for your children and grandchildren7" This was all redundant, so I ditched it.