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Page 36.
Machine Man (serial)

Each stride of the Contours, my neck stretched so far back my head felt ready to pop right off. When each foot slammed down, my chin hit my chest hard enough to crack teeth. Through eyes blurred with tears, I saw a busy street approaching and thought: Oh thank God now they will stop. But they didn’t. They ran into the traffic. A sedan whipped by so close its turbulence tore at my hair. A truck the size of a building loomed above me, and I heard a terrified shriek, and realized it was me. There was a clicking deep within the Contours, something I felt rather than heard, and they stopped. I was about to die, I realized. I was about to learn why you didn’t conduct the first live field test of new technology while strapped to the top of it. This truck would run right over the top of me, and when it stopped and the driver climbed out, he would find a long bloody smear leading to a gleaming, undamaged pair of titanium legs. It would be the ultimate vindication of my work, proving the superiority of artificial body parts. But also the need for comprehensive bug-testing.

The legs bent and sprang. I screamed like a child. The truck, traffic, and road grew small and far away. I let go of the seat to flail my arms, as if I could grab the air, or fly. My upward velocity slowed, and for the briefest moment I was flying, moving leisurely forward sixty feet above the ground. It was kind of beautiful. Then I began to fall. The world grew larger and more dangerous. As it rushed toward me, my brain reckoned my terminal velocity at forty miles per hour: that was how fast I would be going when I hit the sidewalk.

Below, a woman and her young son gaped up at me. At first it seemed a terrible coincidence, them standing at the exact point I was destined to intersect the sidewalk. Then I realized it wasn’t. It was calculated. My legs saw these people as cushioning: physical objects that could help absorb the shock of impact. I had programmed them to avoid collisions on a horizontal plane, but anything lower than they were was considered ground. It had seemed a reasonable assumption at the time, in the lab.

36.

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Machine Man subscriber Ian Manka (#3916)

Location: Los Angeles, California (school) | Akron, Ohio (home)
Quote: "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance."
Posted: 5525 days ago

Max has got my $6.95 after this page.

I think after this page should be the one word page Max wants to write, and it would read:

"SQUELCH."

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 5525 days ago

cue evil snicker

Machine Man subscriber Chemical Rascal (#3964)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "Don't read this. It's not relevant to anything. Go away."
Posted: 5525 days ago

Collateral damage.

Of more interest, though, is that Max, an Australian writer, is using imperial measurements...

Ajna (#3795)

Location: USA
Quote: "Judge if you want. We are all going to die one day. I intend to deserve it."
Posted: 5525 days ago

@Chemical Rascal: I didn't notice it while I read the page, but you're right. That's odd. Even I can convert from, say, kilometers to miles. And miles to kilometers. Seems easier to say he was going at 65 km/h, eh? Maybe it's because Chrarly is supposed to be in America?

Machine Man subscriber Ian Manka (#3916)

Location: Los Angeles, California (school) | Akron, Ohio (home)
Quote: "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance."
Posted: 5525 days ago

@Chemical Rascal:

I noticed it when I read it, but didn't really care, because I'm in America... f--- yeah!

Also, I figured it fit in to the future world set up by "Jennifer Government," wherein most of the world spoke American. Albeit, not necessarily the same world.

But, if it *were* a part of the same world, wouldn't *that* be a plot twist:

"Better Future has aligned with Team Advantage. Ho hum. Too bad my new legs WILL CRUSH THEM ALL."

Well, it'd probably be better if I didn't write how it would tie into "Jennifer Government."

Machine Man subscriber Joe M. (#3183)

Location: Texas
Quote: "Grooviness is essential"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Yikes! Got my heart pounding here, Max.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5525 days ago

He's basically flying. He's a superhero.

Once properly calibrated, his legs(and possibly other appendages) will
be programmed to avoid landing on people. They will have a sense of where crime is, just take off, and save the world!

-adam

Mary Rose (#2854)

Location: San Francisco, CA
Quote: "go big or stay home"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Gives a whole new bent to the phrase "killer legs."

Ashley (#3889)

Location: Denver
Posted: 5525 days ago

Best page yet, I'm hooked! Where do I pay?

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Ajna and Chemical Rascal, all Max's books are like that - imperial measurements, "college" instead of "university", USian spelling, often unnamed but vaguely USian cities and locales, no Australian slang or phraseology, etc. Until recently he was primarily/only published in the USA and these are the sort of sacrifices non-USian writers need to accept if they are to gain entry to the lucrative US market (US publishers are convinced their readers cannot handle anything too foreign, the poor dears might become frightened, even reluctant to make a purchase, if faced with the idea that not everywhere in the world is like downtown NYC, LA or SF). Given the parlous state of Fin's footwear can you blame Max for selling out his heritage? ;-)

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 5525 days ago

USian is not a word. It's American, or Yanqui, or Gringo. Or Norteamericano (in spite of the fact that Mexico is also on the North American continent).

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Abgrund, wots this? Someone claiming to live in Atlantis telling me about the English language? Very funny.

The first thing you need to know about the rules for words in English is that there are none, anyone can make up new words, no forms required (USian is not my invention BTW, I came across it elsewhere. I'm just using it 'cause I like it.) Thus USian is a word, just one you were not familiar with previously.

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Still not part of the lexicon. Interestingly, the equivalent of "USian" ("Estadounidense") IS a word in Spanish, but no one ever uses it. "Americano" or "Norteamericano" is what people actually say, probably because it's 1. shorter and 2. doesn't make the speaker sound like a dweeb.

It's one of the many oddities of language that Americans are identified by the name of a continent or two rather than a more specific national name. There are innumerable examples of such usages, including the names of certain other nationalities. For instance, what do you call a citizen of the United Kingdom? Not a UKingdian, I think. If you're a sloppy American, you might call them English, irrespective of whether they reside in England, Scotland, Wales, or elsewhere. Or you might call them British - but Great Britain is only one of the British Isles. Can we get away with calling all the inhabitants of the British Isles British? I suspect the Irish would object. And what do we call the language of the Netherlands? Not Netherese, but Dutch - i.e., German, which it is not. This is just what happens when you give your country an awkward name.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 5525 days ago

Don't make me separate you two. I'll do it.

Machine Man subscriber Ian Manka (#3916)

Location: Los Angeles, California (school) | Akron, Ohio (home)
Quote: "Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance."
Posted: 5524 days ago

Or Max will crush you with a hulking mechanical leg that he's been building in his garage for research purposes.

...also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_for_U.S._citizens
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=USian

Machine Man subscriber Yannick (#3858)

Location: Heist, Belgium
Quote: "he reads things"
Posted: 5524 days ago

How did we go from crushing toddlers with titanium prostheses to correctly naming the inhabitants of the USA?

Machine Man subscriber H.G.Wells (#2282)

Location: Portland, Oregon
Quote: "If you are flamable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit. - Mitch Hedberg"
Posted: 5524 days ago

Strangely I've always wanted an English equivalent for "Estadounidense," as "American" could technically be anyone from North or South America . . .

And I'd never heard of "USian" before - it's a good try but to me, it doesn't quite roll of the tongue the same way as American does it? I guess we'll have to keep looking. :)

Joe (#2270)

Location: Campbell, CA, USA
Quote: "I'm subverting the system from the inside. I think."
Posted: 5524 days ago

Max uses Americanisms, I guess, because it's his biggest market. But he messes up sometimes.

In "Company", the word "sacked" is repeatedly used, to the point where I started assuming that Jones must be British, because otherwise the dialog just felt wrong. The effect was amplified when they started calling him just "Jones"; it produced an even more British effect.

Abgrund (#3357)

Location: Atlantis
Quote: ""Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority." - Ayn Rand"
Posted: 5524 days ago

People do say "sacked" in America, although "fired", "canned", and "shit-canned" are more common. The military has a tradition of depersonalizing its members by using their last names only (some schoolteachers do this as well), but in my experience businesses almost always prefer to use first names. When they're trying to sell you something, they think it makes them seem friendly and familiar. When they're bossing you around, they use your first name because it reminds you that they have the power; they can be as familiar with you as they like, but the reverse is not true. Somehow it never seems to occur to them that it's unlikely for both of these things to be simultaneously true.

Machine Man subscriber Chemical Rascal (#3964)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "Don't read this. It's not relevant to anything. Go away."
Posted: 5524 days ago

@Adam: Surely you mean his legs will be programmed to avoid landing on [i]innocent[/i] people?

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 4811 days ago

is the leg now a cognitive organ, because after the lobotomy [brain amputation] the controlling ego will be transformed into a superior government of organ parts? [each organ has an equal say in the decisions of the whole organism eg., the right leg votes for aggressive action while the eyes advise caution] - as in the philosophy of David Hume. "cogito ergo sum"

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 4811 days ago

I suppose what I'm trying to say is "a better brain is a Better Future"

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