Then I thought, what if I try three excerpts that are similar?
The answers are below--two novellas, one novel. Of them, Octavia E Butler is probably the most different in voice, but not hugely. It's really a shame I haven't been able to sell that, but the rejections have been interesting, from editors telling me that Butler is too niche to draw a large audience, and others telling me that they knew Butler as a person, and while they know the story isn't about her, they can't step outside it. I'll probably never sell it--and maybe the audience for it isn't there--but sometimes you write something cause it's meaningful to yourself and all that other stuff isn't of real importance.
That's neither here nor there, however, since I am the hybrid James Joyce Ray Bradbury Dan Brown author of the future.
Matthew Brady was transported at the age of twenty-two for murder.
He considered it a black piece of humour that he had been convicted for the death of one man since, at the age of sixteen, he had been part of the Shibtri Isles Army. For nearly six years he had fought in campaigns across dry, burnt soil that lay beneath empty red skies. When not fighting on the land he had been born on, he traveled and fought on soggy, sodden, yellowed half-grown fields beneath the same sun; or in the long tunnels of the Queen's Empire, where the only light was provided by phosphorescent stones and moss. In these campaigns, the dark, maroon uniform of Brady's native country remained the same no matter his antagonistic or defensive role, though he found no fault in this at the time. The military was the only employment he had ever known and he had joined, not through of a sense of patriotism or duty, but rather because the dangerous and violent nature of the work offered to him was attractive. He wasn't like his brother, Alex—Alexander—who had the natural gift of intelligence. No, for Brady, life existed in the physical, the tangible, and the pleasures that were offered through these experiences, and so when the recruiters stood in their maroon uniforms in the middle of the broken cement quadrangle of the under funded school he attended and told him that he could have a life with money, food, and travel in addition, he did not hesitate. That he was to be part of campaigns that resulted in the deaths of men and women with whom he had no personal connection with did not bother him. It never occurred to him that it should. Likewise, he was similarly unconcerned by the destruction caused to towns and cities and countries he visited. Why should he have been? The question of why he was there had been made before the army was sent into battle, and he never saw a reason to question them—until, that is, the day he killed William Morris.
Eleven nights after the death of his wife, Eli Kurran watched a city fall from the sky.
He had not been asleep when the warning alarms began. His presence in bed was only to reassure his daughter, Lilia, that normality had returned to their lives after her mother's passing. In truth, nine out of the past eleven nights had seen Kurran lie on his side of the wide, red iron-framed bed, and stare at the empty expanse before him. Most of the time his thoughts drifted in a dull, angry ache, unformed in their insomniac grief. On those nights when exhaustion forced him to sleep, however, he dreamed of his wife, and his loss was sharp. In those torments, the room had a hot, feverish light, and Del lay across from him. She was deathly thin, the silver spikes of her purifiers gleaming strongly like a second, artificial spine along her back. He wanted desperately to reach out to her, to touch her one final time, but he never moved, and neither did she. There was only the sickness and the knowledge that nothing could be done.
I was eleven when you gave me the knife.
The day was cold, grey: the end of winter, but early enough that my final year in St. Mary's Sanctuary was a long way from completion. Despite that, on the day that I met you I was thinking about how good it would be to no longer have to walk past the fences that ran outside the school in thick, sandy brick. The contraction between these thoughts and the fact that I was early did not escape me, however, and soon you would tell me that was how you knew my uncle was staying with me. It was a lie, of course: you knew because you were me.
I pushed open the blue metal door to the classroom and saw you standing in front of a map of the world. At first, I thought that you were a relief teacher, and if not that, a rich mother. I did not suspect otherwise: you were not black, you were not tall, and you did not have the thick, black curly hair that I had. You were white, of medium height, and with close cropped hair that might have been black if it had grown out. In short, you were as physically removed from me as you could have been. You were right not to tell me that this was me, that I was staring at my own future self. You were right to start our conversation by saying, “The infected areas are coloured red, right? It has been a while since I've seen one.”