Nimby and the D-Hoppers
Asimov's, June 2003
This one literally came to me in a dream: I woke up one morning, shortly after moving to San Francisco, with this whole story in my head. I wrote it over the next two weeks, and, what, three years later?, Asimov's finally published it!
Update, September 7, 2004: Here's a 1.7MB Tarball of this story in Chinese, with illustrations, taken from the September 2004 ish of Sci Fi World magazine. It's offered under a liberal Creative Commons license -- enjoy!
Don't get me wrong -- I _like_ unspoiled wilderness. I _like_ my sky clear and blue and my city free of the thunder of cars and jackhammers. I'm no technocrat. But goddamit, who wouldn't want a fully automatic, laser-guided, armor-piercing, self-replenishing personal sidearm?
Nice turn of phrase, huh? I finally memorized it one night, from one of the hoppers, as he stood in my bedroom, pointing his hand-cannon at another hopper, enumerating its many charms: "This is a laser-guided blah blah blah. Throw down your arms and lace your fingers behind your head, blah blah blah." I'd heard the same dialog nearly every day that month, whenever the dimension-hoppers catapaulted into my home, shot it up, smashed my window, dived into the street, and chased one another through my poor little shtetl, wreaking havoc, maiming bystanders, and then gateing out to another poor dimension to carry on there.
It was all I could do to keep my house well-fed on sand to replace the windows. Much more hopper invasion and I was going to have to extrude its legs and babayaga to the beach. Why the hell was it always _my_ house, anyway?
I wasn't going to get back to sleep, that much was sure. The autumn wind blowing through the shattered window was fragrant with maple and rich decay and crisp hay, but it was also cold enough to steam my breath and turn me out in all-over gooseflesh. Besides, the racket they were making out in the plaza was deafening, all supersonic thunderclaps and screams from wounded houses. The househusbands would have their work cut out for them come morning.