You might think there's a limit to how weird Rudy Rucker or Bruce Sterling can get, but when they team up, their combined weirdness limit rises exponentially. Witness their strange, unsettling — and highly quotable — story "Good Night, Moon."
This isn't the first collaboration between Rucker and Sterling — they also wrote "Colliding Branes," published in Asimov's Science Fiction. But I'm willing to bet "Goodnight Moon," beautifully illustrated by Tim Bower, is a high water mark. The story, published at Tor.com, takes place in a future Hollywood where the movie industry has turned into a kind of dream-fabbing, which in turn has had some, umm, gnarly effects on reality itself. How much is reality affected? Well, the moon's vanished. But the group of struggling L.A. creatives is too busy munching their unicorn bacon and pitching their stories about turning into paramecia.
You'll find yourself re-reading lines like "Ganzer's creation oozed from the everting seahorse-valleys that gnarled the fabule's surface" a few times just to get all of the demented awesomeness that's packed into them. Here's how it begins:
"They say the moon's gone missing," said Carlo Morse. He set another fabule on the checkered tablecloth at Schwarz's Deli.
Jimmy Ganzer examined the growing collection of dream nuggets. The fabules were tightly patterned little pastel spheres, pockmarked and seamed, scattered across the tabletop like wads of gum. "Nobody goes for space travel dreams anymore," said Ganzer. "I don't want to work on that."
"I don't mean the moon's supposed to be in our new fabule for Skaken Recurrent Nightmare," said Morse. "I'm telling you that the moon has really gone missing. Reports from Shanghai say the moon faded from the sky a few hours ago. Like a burnt-out firework. Everyone's waiting to see what happens when night hits Europe and the U.S."
Morse adjusted his augmented-reality necktie, whose dots were in a steady state of undulation. "That's gotta mean something, don't ya think?"
"It's not even sunset yet in L.A.," said Ganzer carelessly. "So what if there's no moon?"
Check out the rest at the link. [Good Night, Moon by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling, at Tor.com]