Excerpt, Who Killed Science Fiction? | jenniferstevenson.com

Excerpt, Who Killed Science Fiction?

Excerpt from Jen’s story, “Who Killed Science Fiction?”

“I love this bookstore. You know? I guess I must spend five afternoons a week in here.”

“At least that.”

“It’s dark, it’s quiet, there’s never anybody else in here. I can browse for hours if I want.”

“That you can.”

“What are you doing?”

“Ringing in used books.”

“Oh, hey, any Bark Dangerly in there? I’m looking for–”

“–Volume two, Bark Dangerly–”

“–And The Möbius Machine. I guess I’ve asked before.”

“Only every day, Pushme.”

“Well, I’m a collector. It’s guys like me keep guys like you in business.”

“Mm-hm.”

“I’ve got every Bark Dangerly in every edition printed. I have the whole set. Every volume except–”

“–For volume two. I’m watching for it.”

“You sure it’s not in this box of used books? Maybe somebody brought it in. Didn’t know what it’s worth.”

“If they shop here, they know what it’s worth.”

“Why? Are you telling them?”

“No, you are.”

“Me? Oh. I guess you mean they might overhear me asking for it.”

“It’s possible.”

“I don’t want that moron Pullyu getting it before I do. His collection isn’t complete either. We’ve both been after it–”

“–For forty years, ever since your mothers threw out your old books.”

“I guess I told you about that. We were in school, so we had no idea what they were up to. We came home from school -it was a half day  ”

“Pep rally.”

“Or some stupid thing–”

“–And they’d thrown out all those old Bark Dangerlys.”

“We never did have volume two, you know.”

“I know.”

“So if I get mine first, I’m not gonna show him! That’ll teach him to sell all his Batmans without offering me first refusal. I helped him build that collection, you know.”

“Hey, what do you know? A third edition volume six! You already have a couple, though, don’t you?”

“Let me see that!”

“Pullyu doesn’t have a duplicate copy. I’m pretty sure he said so.”

“Gimme!”

“You’ve read it already.”

“Only four hundred times. It’s my favorite! Bark Dangerly  ”

“–And the Spleens of Rigelius. Pretty good condition, too.”

“Let me look at it. I won’t sweat on it, I promise.”

“Why? You already have three copies.”

“Four. I had to buy that last one so Pullyu wouldn’t get it.”

“Well, you’ll have to buy this one because I’m not letting anybody else touch it. It’s losing value just being looked at. See? The cover’s not even in good condition.”

“I’ll buy it.”

“A fifth copy?”

“Sure.”

“It’s worth forty-eight bucks.”

“Sure, sure, gimme.”

“No reading it in the back of the store and then trying to sell it back to me all sweated on.”

“No, no. Here.”

“<ka-ching!>”

“Oh, baby. I love this volume. I’ll just go skim through it in the corner by the reading lamp.”

“You do that. I’ll ring up these books.”

“Oh, did I mention I have three boxes of books in my car?”

“Uh, no. It’s kind of late.”

“That’s okay. You can ring them up tomorrow and tell me what you owe me. I’ve got an Edgar Rice Burroughs mint Mastermind of Mars and some Heinlein juvenile first editions. That ought to offset what I gave you for this volume six nicely.”

“Are you going to read it now?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Yes, I was, wasn’t I? I’ll just take it over to the reading lamp.”

“How about you take it home? I think I’ll close early.”

“You can’t do that! What if somebody wants to buy a book?”

End excerpt, to read more….

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