[cover: Full Spectrum 5] Of Silence and Slow Time
Karawynn Long

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[fingerspelling animation: Karawynn Long] For those of you with animation-compatible browsers, the image at left is my name in fingerspelling. Notice how the hand moves across to show the double 'n.' (Reload to play the animation again.)
"Of Silence and Slow Time" qualified for the 1996 Preliminary Nebula Ballot in the Novelette category. It also received an Honorable Mention inThe Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirteenth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, and a favorable review in Publishers Weekly.

Full Spectrum 5 was originally published as a trade paperback in August 1995, and again as a mass market paperback edition in August 1996. It's currently out of print, but you may special-order a used copy through Amazon books.

I made last-minute changes to the manuscript in galleys, so I can't just convert a document to put an excerpt on the web -- I have to retype it. I've begun doing so below, and I have to say that it's a winceful sort of job. I wrote "Of Silence and Slow Time" in 1993; it was my third story, and it was pretty darned ambitious. I could do a lot better now, and so the urge to revise the story as I type it is almost painful.

But I'm resisting the pull, and instead forging ahead on my first novel, which will be a broader look at the same subject: essentially, the effects future technology will have upon Deaf people and Deaf culture. I haven't settled upon a title yet that I like. (I am eternally indebted to Mark Kreighbaum for giving me the perfect Keats quote and the title "Of Silence and Slow Time.")

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Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time . . .

-- John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn


 . . . . . The restaurant door was a heavy brass-and-glass affair that opened outward in the old style instead of sliding. Marina's cheeks prickled in the rush of warm air and the smell of cooking food made her stomach rumble. Her hair whipped around and clung to her face as she unwound the wool scarfe from her neck.
 . . . . . The restaurant was crowded and presumably quite noisy. People stood in bright-coated clumps near the entrance, waiting for tables; a lucky few were squeezed onto one of the two benches. Beyond the silhouetted heads clustered around the bar, two white-shirted bartenders shook and poured drinks with practiced speed. Marina gripped her shoulder bag, afraid of jarring its contents in the press of people. The coolpack was padded, but it didn't hurt to be safe.
 . . . . . The host appeared and said something. Marina smiled at him but shook her head. "I'm meeting someone," she said loudly. He gave her an odd look, and Marina wondered if maybe it wasn't as noisy as she'd assumed. She pushed her way into the dining room.
 . . . . . Jeff was at a window table, facing in her direction but looking outside at the bundled people hurrying up and down Michigan Avenue. Marina threaded between the white-draped tables until she was only a few feet away, then stopped. Jeff had been a jeans-and-sweatshirt man in their college days, never very concerned with style. Now he wore a deep maroon shirt with black paisleys and a classy onyx pin at the throat. He glanced up and saw her.
 . . . . . There was a pause while he stared at her, and then he smiled and stood up. "Marina," he said, holding out a hand. She took it, warm and rough against her own. Familiar, after all this time.
 . . . . . "Hi, Jeff," she said.
 . . . . . Then their hands dropped, and she busied herself with unbuttoning her long coat and draping it and the scarf over the chair before she sat down. The shoulder bag she placed carefully at her feet where it wouldn't get jostled by a passing waiter. "How have you been?" she asked when she was seated.
 . . . . . "Oh, good, I guess," Jeff replied, and something else that she missed. He shrugged, seeming uncomfortable. The next part was indecipherable, but she caught the word "surprise" and then "after the way things ended."
 . . . . . She blinked once, hard, trying to concentrate, shuffling phonemes around in her head. A long "e," an "f" or a "v," an "m" ... "surprised to hear from you." That seemed to fit.
 . . . . . For a moment she considered explaining right then, but decided it was too dangerous. She needed time to feel him out, first. "Oh, curiosity, mostly," she answered. "It's been more than four years." She shrugged, smiling a little. "Don't you ever wonder what happened to people you used to know?"
 . . . . . He stared at her. Marina gripped her hands together under the table but returned his stare calmly, still smiling. "Yeah, I guess I do," he said. He leaned back and began unrolling his linen napkin and arranging the silverware in a precise row on the white tablecloth.
 . . . . . Marina realized the first move was up to her. "So, are you --" She broke off as a waiter appeared beside their table and looked at her expectantly. Flustered, she glanced down at her menu and ordered the first thing she saw, an enchilada platter. The waiter punched their orders into his pocket computer. His hands were thin and delicate, the nails short. The computer spat out a printed ticket; he placed it on the table and was gone.
 . . . . . Marina took a deep breath. "Are you still at GeneSys? Susan Li told me you'd hired on there, but that was a while ago." She sipped at her water, trying to downplay the importance of the answer.
 . . . . . "Yeah." He nodded. "In fact," -- something -- "promoted in October. Senior Research Director, if you can believe that," Jeff said, shrugging a little. "Pissed off a lot of people who thought I'd been promoted over their heads. They all want the pick" -- he'd moved his hands apart, no, it must be "big." Or "bigger." Celery? That didn't make any sense. Oh, "salary." Then "nobody" with a shake of the head, and a garbled string. Marina blinked rapidly, trying to make sense of it, to keep up, barely catching the next part: "--seventy-eight hour work weeks." Or maybe it was "seventy- and eighty-hour work weeks." Marina suppressed a flare of irritation. It would be easier with the interpreter, except she was afraid it would alienate her from Jeff even further.

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