Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the great velocipede migration

i'm reading catherynne valente's book the "girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making". a mind-blowing tour de force of fantasy literature, it occasionally makes cool references to bicycle culture.

if you've got time you might like to read these excerpted chunks. if you like them then you can start the whole book online for free by going here. or you can just read the full chapter i've excerpted these chunks from right here.

september looked uncertainly at her denuded sceptre, hanging sadly from ell’s bronze chain. “i don’t think i've anything like enough rubies left to buy bicycles for both of us.”

“pish! we don’t buy, we catch! september, the bicycle herds, well, i suppose they’re called voleries, not herds, right, saturday? voleries. anyhow, their migration path runs though the meadowflats just east of the city, and if we are lucky, and have a bit of rope with us, we can hitch on with them all the way to the provinces. or nearly all the way. it’s difficult, they’re wild beasts, you know. and if i run just as hard as i can i shall be able to keep up with you and no one’s bones need be smashed or jangled. it goes without saying, i think, that it would be a bit ridiculous for me to ride a highwheel, even a big, brawny bull. let us go now, right away! i shouldn’t want to miss it, we would feel much chagrined, and stuck.”

“remember, they are fast and tall and vicious! many have perished or at least been roundly dumped off and bruised in the attempt to travel by wild bicycle.” a-through-l fretted and stamped his great feet in the grass.
a long, loud horn sounded, and several answering hoots honked into the blazing day.

“they’re coming!” shouted ell excitedly, his wings wobbling under the chains as he leapt up, his tongue lolling like a puppy’s. really, he needn’t have said anything. the velocipede volery sent up a choking cloud of dust. saturday and september could see it quite clearly, full of flying grass and dirt. and as soon as they heard the horns the bicycles were nearly upon them, a great throng of old-fashioned highwheels. the front wheels of the beasts were tall and enormous, the wheel behind tiny—though tiny in this case being somewhat larger than saturday’s whole body. their seats, borne loftily into the sky, were battered velvet of various motley, dappled shades, their tires spotted like hyenas, their spokes glittering in the naked meadowflat sun.

“well, a velo is a lazy thing, in the end. they don’t like to go as fast as they can go. it suits them just as well to roll along leisurely-like. this is the great migration—they’re all homebound, to the spoke-nests, to mate and die. some of them feel the mating drive stronger than others. some only feel the dying drive. makes them lag. but if you and i apply a bit of encouragement, they’ll bear down on the road like it’s dinner. and by encouragement i mean whipping of course and i know it’s not civilized and i cringe to think of it but sometimes with steeds it’s all you can do.”

No comments:

Post a Comment