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“You probably heard the Bay Area Rapitrans was stalled for a full day. The diagram shows what did it. Placed on the track-bed, the device emits signals that tell the line computer a train is permanently stuck in that station …

“A signal injector powered by two dry cells can be left in a public phone-booth and without interferring with normal operation of the phone (thus delaying detection) will cause up to 250 random calls per hour over the area served by the local exchange …

“A parasite emitter light enough to hang under a child’s kite or 2-ft. diam. hot-air balloon will repeat a 10-sec. slogan for up to 1 hour on regular TV sound wavelengths. See schematic …

“Empty one self-heating ‘Camp with Campbell’ soup-can by perforating it at the point shown in the picture, NOT conventionally at the top. Refill with any explosive or flammable compound flashing below 93° C. Close hole with surgical waterproof tape. On puncturing the can will become a grenade with a delay of 7 to 12 sec. according to contents …

“The adhesive used to seal capsules containing GT aluminophage is vulnerable to acetic acid. A delay-timer can thus be made by mixing water and vinegar in suitable ratio …

“United Steel’s monofilament reinforcement yarn V/RP/SU is magnetosensitive. A timer activating an electromagnet could give the stuff applications e.g. on power-lines or in computers, inducing random cross-connections …

“An aerosol suspension of Triptine in peanut oil acquires interesting electrical properties. Try smearing it on a dust-precipitator …

“There are static-dischargers on the metal frame of the bridge at Kennedy Loading Point, Ellay. There should be a use for two or three hundred unwanted volts …

“The missile-bombardment doors on the North Rockies Acceleratube are sensitive to gamma. The sensor is in a large black container at the eastern entry and at the western it’s in a green conical thing. Those doors weigh over a thousand ton apiece …

“Near the junction of Eleazar Freeway with Coton Hudson Drive the computer cables serving the traffic signals over 120 sq. mi. pass within a foot of the surface. There’s a hydrant sign …

“Eastman Kodak is offering an interesting new collapsed-benzene compound. Wherever there are strained bonds there’s energy waiting to be tapped. Pass the word when you find out how to spring the poor captives …

“Don’t scrap your last-year’s model Frigidaire! Units 27-215-900 through 27-360-500 employed a coolant liquid that was quietly withdrawn when they discovered it was capable of being mixed with Vaseline to make a gel—and the gel burns at over 500°. We suggest using it for paint. It turns a nice pale green colour and will sustain its own oxidation in films thinner than .001 inch …

“If you have re-evacuation facilities, note that the electron gun in current Admiral TV sets can be modified to deliver a linear instead of a fanned jet. What it does to a sensitive circuit is nobody’s business, but it ought to be …

“Table salt in GT’s solvent 00013 does very interesting things to copper, aluminium and brass …

“Try cross-connecting leads 12 and 27 on a Wontner electroplating unit. But make sure you’re not in the building when the power goes back on. Cyanide is fierce stuff …

“They’ve precautioned most traffic-carrying tunnels out this way against smoke, aerosol radio-sources, control-circuit jammers and incendiaries. They still haven’t coped with Minnesota Mining’s strain RS-122, which turns concrete into a fine powder, nor GT’s ‘Catalight’, an oxidising catalyst for asphalt and related compounds. Thought you’d like to know…”

From a selection of duplicated, photocopied, holographed, offset, lithoed and printed leaflets on file at Ellay police HQ

context (19)


It is expected as a matter of course that every household in Yatakang should have the audivid recording of this, as prepared live during a mass rally in Gongilung on the Leader’s birthday, 2006:

“We are the descendants of Grandfather Loa.

Blood runs in our veins as hot as lava.

Our united voice shakes the world.

We can build mountains and take them away.

Together with our beloved Leader

We will shape a new destiny for our country.

“There are a hundred beautiful islands.

There are millions of powerful people.

There is one right path for all of us.

Praise the Leader who expresses our common will.

Together with our beloved Leader

We will shape a new destiny for our country.”

On the other hand, even though somebody pointed out to Zadkiel Obomi during his first term of office that Beninia had no anthem and he told the officious busybody to go and write one, the only time the Beninians were thoroughly exposed to it was when Jacob Fikeli and his Black Star Marimba Orchestra took a fancy to the tune and put it on the West African pop-parade:

“Land of peace and brotherhood

To thee we pledge our love.

We value thee all other good,

All earthly wealth, above.

“Freedom came within a year

We never shall forget.

Our love for thee, Beninia,

Shall grow still greater yet.”

(Fikeli’s version was in Shinka. It went approximately:

“You ask why I’m in Port Mey

When my home is up-country.

Listen and I will tell you

The whole ridiculous story.

“I went to visit my uncle.

My uncle had a lot of palm-wine.

Everybody was helplessly drunk.

I met a girl relieving herself in the bush.

“My uncle had got married a third time.

I didn’t know the girl was my aunt.

She wants to divorce him and come to me.

I can’t afford to pay compensation!”)

continuity (24)


When Bronwen said in a matter-of-fact tone that she believed she had been one of the temple girls at Khajuraho in a previous incarnation, Donald was not at all surprised.

*   *   *

The centre of Gongilung had gradually been redeveloped from its original higgledy-piggledy layout until it approximated an H, the verticals and crossbar being the main avenues (Dedication, on which their hotel was located, National and Solukarta, respectively), the spaces between the legs being parks and recreation areas. Closing off the inland end were the government buildings and the university; closing off the other end was the port. On either side the city straggled for miles in an irregular arc paralleling the shore, a fringe of resorts and expensive villas shading back into the shabby overcrowded slums fledging the hillside.

*   *   *

The rain having ceased, the clouds having drawn aside, the cone of Grandfather Loa could be seen brooding over the Shongao Strait with a wreath of mist around his head like a halo.

*   *   *

When they dressed and went out to see what stores were open they at once picked up a gaggle of followers. Bronwen seemed able literally to ignore them, and Donald reasoned that perhaps, coming from a country as grossly overcrowded as India, she would not have expected anything else. But he himself found that he hated the sensation of being watched and followed, no matter how openly.

*   *   *

Moreover, though the curious bystanders confined themselves to staring and whispering, he fancied he could detect hostility in their manner. It might be illusion. If their interest was due to no more than fascination at his strange white-skinned appearance, though, why were there so few smiles among those sallow Asian faces?

*   *   *

At every intersection there were collapsible booths almost buried under the load of goods they offered for sale: papers and journals, records, reefers, cigarettes made of a strain of tobacco alleged to lack all carcinogenic compounds—Donald didn’t feel inclined to put the claim to the test—telescopic umbrellas, sun-glasses in cheap Japanese photo-reactive plastic, busts of Marshal Solukarta, sweetmeats, sandals, brooches, knives …