Dozois Gardner - The Mammoth Book of Best Short SF Novels / Дозуа Гарднер - Большая книга лучших НФ повестей [2009, EPUB, ENG]

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Gardner Dozois - The Mammoth Book of Best Short SF Novels

Название: The Mammoth Book of Best Short SF Novels / Большая книга лучших НФ повестей
Год выпуска: 2009
Под редакцией: Dozois Gardner / Дозуа Гарднер
Издательство: ROBINSON
ISBN: 978-1-84529-923-1
Формат: EPUB
Качество: eBook
Язык: английский

13 лучших (по мнению составителя) современных научно-фантастических повестей.
SAILING TO BYZANTIUM / Плавание в Византий Robert Silverberg
SURFACING Walter Jon Williams
MR. BOY James Patrick Kelly
BEGGARS IN SPAIN / Испанские нищие Nancy Kress
GRIFFIN’S EGG / Яйцо Грифона Michael Swanwick
FORGIVENESS DAY / День прощения Ursula K. Le Guin
TENDELEO’S STORY / История Тенделео Ian McDonald
TURQUOISE DAYS Alastair Reynolds

Joe Haldeman

I. The Torrents of Spring

Our story begins in a run-down bar in Key West, not so many years from now. The bar is not the one Hemingway drank at, nor yet the one that claims to be the one he drank at, because they are both too expensive and full of tourists. This bar, in a more interesting part of town, is a Cuban place. It is neither clean nor well-lighted, but has cold beer and good strong Cuban coffee. Its cheap prices and rascally charm are what bring together the scholar and the rogue.
Their first meeting would be of little significance to either at the time, though the scholar, John Baird, would never forget it. John Baird was not capable of forgetting anything.
Key West is lousy with writers, mostly poor writers, in one sense of that word or the other. Poor people did not interest our rogue, Sylvester Castlemaine, so at first he didn’t take any special note of the man sitting in the corner scribbling on a yellow pad. Just another would-be writer, come down to see whether some of Papa’s magic would rub off. Not worth the energy of a con.
But Castle’s professional powers of observation caught at a detail or two and focused his attention. The man was wearing jeans and a faded flannel shirt, but his shoes were expensive Italian loafers. His beard had been trimmed by a barber. He was drinking Heineken. The pen he was scribbling with was a fat Mont Blanc Diplomat, two hundred bucks on the hoof, discounted. Castle got his cup of coffee and sat at a table two away from the writer.
He waited until the man paused, set the pen down, took a drink. “Writing a story?” Castle said.
The man blinked at him. “No . . . just an article.” He put the cap on the pen with a crisp snap. “An article about stories. I’m a college professor.”
“Publish or perish,” Castle said.
The man relaxed a bit. “Too true.” He riffled through the yellow pad. “This won’t help much. It’s not going anywhere.”
“Tell you what . . . bet you a beer it’s Hemingway or Tennessee Williams.”
“Too easy.” He signaled the bartender. “Dos cervezas. Hemingway, the early stories. You know his work?”
“Just a little. We had to read him in school – The Old Man and the Fish? And then I read a couple after I got down here.” He moved over to the man’s table. “Name’s Castle.”
“John Baird.” Open, honest expression; not too promising. You can’t con somebody unless he thinks he’s conning you. “Teach up at Boston.”
“I’m mostly fishing. Shrimp nowadays.” Of course Castle didn’t normally fish, not for things in the sea, but the shrimp part was true. He’d been reduced to heading shrimp on the Catalina for five dollars a bucket. “So what about these early stories?”
The bartender set down the two beers and gave Castle a weary look.
“Well . . . they don’t exist.” John Baird carefully poured the beer down the side of his glass. “They were stolen. Never published.”
“So what can you write about them?”
“Indeed. That’s what I’ve been asking myself.” He took a sip of the beer and settled back. “Seventy-four years ago they were stolen. December 1922. That’s really what got me working on them; thought I would do a paper, a monograph, for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the occasion.”
It sounded less and less promising, but this was the first imported beer Castle had had in months. He slowly savored the bite of it.
“He and his first wife, Hadley, were living in Paris. You know about Hemingway’s early life?”
“Huh uh. Paris?”
“He grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. That was kind of a prissy, self-satisfied suburb of Chicago.”
“Yeah, I been there.”
“He didn’t like it. In his teens he sort of ran away from home, went down to Kansas City to work on a newspaper.
“World War I started, and like a lot of kids, Hemingway couldn’t get into the army because of bad eyesight, so he joined the Red Cross and went off to drive ambulances in Italy. Take cigarettes and chocolate to the troops.
“That almost killed him. He was just doing his cigarettes-and-chocolate routine and an artillery round came in, killed the guy next to him, tore up another, riddled Hemingway with shrapnel. He claims then that he picked up the wounded guy and carried him back to the trench, in spite of being hit in the knee by a machine gun bullet.”
“What do you mean, ‘claims’?”
“You’re too young to have been in Vietnam.”
“Good for you. I was hit in the knee by a machine gun bullet myself, and went down on my ass and didn’t get up for five weeks. He didn’t carry anybody one step.”
“That’s interesting.”
“Well, he was always rewriting his life. We all do it. But it seemed to be a compulsion with him. That’s one thing that makes Hemingway scholarship challenging.”
Baird poured the rest of the beer into his glass. “Anyhow, he actually was the first American wounded in Italy, and they made a big deal over him. He went back to Oak Park a war hero. He had a certain amount of success with women.”
“Or so he says?”
“Right, God knows. Anyhow, he met Hadley Richardson, an older woman but quite a number, and they had a steamy courtship and got married and said the hell with it, moved to Paris to live a sort of Bohemian life while Hemingway worked on perfecting his art. That part isn’t bullshit. He worked diligently and he did become one of the best writers of his era. Which brings us to the lost manuscripts.”
“Do tell.”
“Hemingway was picking up a little extra money doing journalism. He’d gone to Switzerland to cover a peace conference for a news service. When it was over, he wired Hadley to come join him for some skiing.
“This is where it gets odd. On her own initiative, Hadley packed up all of Ernest’s work. All of it. Not just the typescripts, but the handwritten first drafts and the carbons.”
“That’s like a Xerox?”
“Right. She packed them in an overnight bag, then packed her own suitcase. A porter at the train station, the Gare de Lyon, put them aboard for her. She left the train for a minute to find something to read – and when she came back, they were gone.”
“Suitcase and all?”
“No, just the manuscripts. She and the porter searched up and down the train. But that was it. Somebody had seen the overnight bag sitting there and snatched it. Lost forever.”
That did hold a glimmer of professional interest. “That’s funny. You’d think they’d get a note then, like ‘If you ever want to see your stories again, bring a million bucks to the Eiffel Tower’ sort of thing.”
“A few years later, that might have happened. It didn’t take long for Hemingway to become famous. But at the time, only a few of the literary intelligentsia knew about him.”
Castle shook his head in commiseration with the long-dead thief. “Guy who stole ’em probably didn’t even read English. Dumped ’em in the river.”
John Baird shivered visibly. “Undoubtedly. But people have never stopped looking for them. Maybe they’ll show up in some attic someday.”
“Could happen.” Wheels turning.
“It’s happened before in literature. Some of Boswell’s diaries were recovered because a scholar recognized his handwriting on an old piece of paper a merchant used to wrap a fish. Hemingway’s own last book, he put together from notes that had been lost for thirty years. They were in a couple of trunks in the basement of the Ritz, in Paris.” He leaned forward, excited. “Then after he died, they found another batch of papers down here, in a back room in Sloppy Joe’s. It could still happen.”
Castle took a deep breath. “It could be made to happen, too.”
“Made to happen?”
“Just speakin’, you know, in theory. Like some guy who really knows Hemingway, suppose he makes up some stories that’re like those old ones, finds some seventy-five-year-old paper and an old, what do you call them, not a word processor—”
“Whatever. Think he could pass ’em off for the real thing?”
“I don’t know if he could fool me,” Baird said, and tapped the side of his head. “I have a freak memory: eidetic, photographic. I have just about every word Hemingway ever wrote committed to memory.” He looked slightly embarrassed. “Of course that doesn’t make me an expert in the sense of being able to spot a phony. I just wouldn’t have to refer to any texts.”
“So take yourself, you know, or somebody else who spent all his life studyin’ Hemingway. He puts all he’s got into writin’ these stories – he knows the people who are gonna be readin’ ’em; knows what they’re gonna look for. And he hires like an expert forger to make the pages look like they came out of Hemingway’s machine. So could it work?”
Baird pursed his lips and for a moment looked professorial. Then he sort of laughed, one syllable through his nose. “Maybe it could. A man did a similar thing when I was a boy, counterfeiting the memoirs of Howard Hughes. He made millions.”
“Back when that was real money. Went to jail when they found out, of course.”
“And the money was still there when he got out.”
“Never read anything about it. I guess so.”
“So the next question is, how much stuff are we talkin’ about? How much was in that old overnight bag?”
“That depends on who you believe. There was half a novel and some poetry. The short stories, there might have been as few as eleven or as many as thirty.”
“That’d take a long time to write.”
“It would take forever. You couldn’t just ‘do’ Hemingway; you’d have to figure out what the stories were about, then reconstruct his early style – do you know how many Hemingway scholars there are in the world?”
“Huh uh. Quite a few.”
“Thousands. Maybe ten thousand academics who know enough to spot a careless fake.”
Castle nodded, cogitating. “You’d have to be real careful. But then you wouldn’t have to do all the short stories and poems, would you? You could say all you found was the part of the novel. Hell, you could sell that as a book.”
The odd laugh again. “Sure you could. Be a fortune in it.”
“How much? A million bucks?”
“A million. . . maybe. Well, sure. The last new Hemingway made at least that much, allowing for inflation. And he’s more popular now.”
Castle took a big gulp of beer and set his glass down decisively. “So what the hell are we waiting for?”
Baird’s bland smile faded. “You’re serious?”
. . .
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