Sneak Peek Extract: ICE by Candas Jane Dorsey

To draw you into Candas’s oh-so-magical world, first, this: 

A naked woman working at a computer. Which attracts you most? It was a measure of Whitman that, as he entered the room, his eyes went first to the unfolded machine gleaming small and awkward in the light of the long-armed desk lamp; he’d seen the woman before.

—From ‘(Learning about) Machine Sex’

Okay, now: I defy you. Can you turn your back on what follows that? Or this: 

A school project to measure the size of the moon. What equipment will be necessary? The principal in his office has Rex Begonias in bloom; he rotates them from his greenhouse at home, bringing them through the cold corridors muffled in a quilt. He listens to the project idea expansively, but instead of granting permission begins to tell me about the cooking demonstration he gave earlier in the day. I haven’t eaten yet today and his description is tangible in my mouth.

—From ‘Sleeping in a box’

“Measuring the moon!?” C’mon now! Or perhaps best of all:

As we know, reality faulting was at first thought to be another kind of phenomenon altogether. The first National Geographic article was called “The Crack Where the World Closes”; it presented the facts known at the time, which were mainly about the gradual decrease in space being measured at certain locations. At that time the theory was sketchy and depended a great deal on a proposal that the phenomenon was due to the existence of a pair of minuscule black holes creating a long elliptical event horizon.

It wasn’t until the following year, in Scientific American’s summary “Reality Fault Lines: A Geotemporal Survey”, that the public became aware of an entirely new way of thinking about the problem.

—From ‘Turtles all the way down’

Or (just one or two more, bear with me now cos we’re almost done) there’s this:

In the dream I was confronting someone I thought I knew and he was turning out to be a total stranger. I thought it was the new lover in whom I believed, but when I woke up I realized it was my ex-husband. Furthermore, when I canvassed my dreams for the last two weeks, all the time I had been sick, I saw that he had been sneaking through every one, somewhere in the background, trying to move suitcases into (not out of!) the attic, or acting as if he still lived with me.

I looked back on my dreamlog and realized that he had been seen if not by me then by someone in my dream in at least fourteen separate instances, and in several consensual events. I filed a complaint with the Dream Board. On the basis of the resulting scan of his dreamtime, they issued him a ticket for several moving violations and in family court I applied for a restraining order.

You understand, said the judge, I can’t actually keep him totally away from your dreams. But if he shows up there, you can call the Dream Police and have him removed, or even arrested.

And what happens to my dream in the meanwhile? I said.

That’s the best I can do, said the judge, and his obvious sympathy grated like a layer of sand over the pavement of hard reality. It was the first time I heard that sound, but not by any means the last.

—From ‘Death of a Dream’

Oh, my! And finally. Here’s the cherry on the icing on the top of the cake, that runs thus . . . following after a tiny epigraph from Lewis Mumford (“In the city, time becomes visible”):

I have lived in cities until my heart is lost to them: beautiful random human constructions with their geometry chaotic and their rhythms arbitrary. I dive deep into their oblivious centres, and their darkness and danger does not deter me from loving them. To me, it is no surprise that cities are dangerous. Any lover so deep in the heart is dangerous. Any group of that many intentions, that many dreams and cynicisms, is bound to conflict and occasionally to terrify.

But set against that are the moments when the sun reflects from the mirrored glass of the old buildings and down into the shadowed streets, and walking through an alley I see a corner of even older brickwork alight with that golden reflexion. Restless energy, surprising times and places of tranquillity, dreamlike scenarios glimpsed from car windows: everything placed in conjunction, or maybe unplaced completely but still emerging arranged. still emerging arranged.

—From ‘Living in cities’

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