The thought of running into Van terrified her. This time she found it easier to keep her. But this is what you wanted, she thought. She felt a surge of confusion and dislocation, remembered after a moment where she was and how she happened to be there, sat up, blinked. She kept expecting to find roommates wandering around.
Then I went over to you, and I was hooked. Cleo imagined her to be about twenty-three, a Los Angeles girl, a one-time child tennis star who had broken her ankle in a dumb prank and had never recovered her game afterward, and who had taken up drinking to ease the pain and loss. He wanted to know things about Judy, and he told her a little about Van, and no other selves came into the conversation. To the San Francisco multiples community he was very close to being a deity. He is a multiple winner of both and , a member of the , and a. Knowing that he was nearby helped.
For a night, a week, two weeks maybe. This collection of stories by Silverberg actually filled in a gap for me. What should have been a relatively simple 7,500-word project turned into an interminable and agonizing ordeal. If he detects the predisposition, he has effective ways of inducing separation. I'd like to try the mirrors again. Those who carried within themselves dark and diabolical selves that threatened the stability of the group went to him to have those selves purged or at least contained. As I already suspected, I had opened the story in the wrong place.
Rogue, Penthouse, and a few other Playboy imitators also ran the occasional s-f story. You can't just go out there and grab for the big one - you've got to phase yourself in slowly. He looked so different that she wondered whether he was still Van at all. Playboy and Omni were offering ten times as much, along with the greater increment of prestige that came from being published in magazines whose circulation figures were numbered in the millions rather than in the low six figures. Maybe Steropids and Capellans too.
When we switch, we change. I nodded and went on for thirty-seven more pages, throwing in a lot of juicy Moroccan background information I had been there in 1975 before bringing my aliens on stage on page five and the gorgeous woman on page seven. That was the main thing that multiples came to these clubs to do. There had been a man in the real-estate office who had been telling her for a couple of years that they were meant for each other. When he was gone and Paul or Chuck or Hal or Dave was there she went places with them if they wanted her to.
The theme continues here: fourteen stories, numbering four more from Playboy and another four from Omni, along with a few from invitational original-fiction anthologies and a couple from one of the conventional s-f magazines. She was supposed to be a multiple herself, after all. It is also an ex-library book, so there are some stamps and labels. The notes about writing -- forewords before each story -- are equally revelatory. And when she woke in the morning she was alone.
She went past Skits, did not go in, stopped outside a club called Big Mama, shook her head, finally entered one called The Side Effect. But they had to be brought forth now and again, if only to maintain Van's interest in her. Rigelians, he thought, Centaureans, Antareans, Arcturans. In Morocco all the human tourists head straight for Marrakesh, as tourists have been doing ever since tourism began. He was a multiple himself, but three of his selves were psychiatrists; so there was never any real problem about his office hours.
Maybe some of the adepts were tripling. And Van was not here now. I can't stand spicy food. Their faces would flush, their lips would pull back, their eyes would roll, they would mutter and whisper to themselves; then after a moment they would slip back into stillness. On the novel Son of Man. Now and then, as some combination of reflections sluiced across their consciousnesses with particular impact, they would go taut and jerk and wince as if they had been struck.
She can do the drinking, and I can do the talking. They wanted the excitement of embracing one person and discovering another, or two or three. She hinted that they were troubled, deeply neurotic, self-destructive: They were under control, she said, and would not erupt to cause woe for him, but she left the possibility hovering over them to add spice to the relationship and plausibility to her role. At the beginning of this period my personal life was still pretty chaotic, a carryover from all that Sixties madness, and plenty of new chaos was going to descend on me while some of these stories were written, but I was tiptoeing toward an escape from the various messes that were complicating my life, and by the time the last five stories of this volume were being written I was heading into the stability of my second marriage. In 1969 was awarded the Hugo for best novella. Cleo herself is an ordinary singleton, but she is fascinated, even obsessed, by the rich variety and excitement in the multiple community, so she poses as a multiple, inventing alter personalities and acting out their lives. No longer were all their various identities forced to dwell in rigorously separated compartments of their minds.
Legs apart, feet planted flat, shoulders forward. He had been an active and functioning multiple for as long as he could remember-since childhood, perhaps even since birth-and he had devoted himself through the years to the task of gaining mastery over his divided mind. He was good-natured and attractive, he was successful, he read books and liked good movies, he enjoyed hiking, rafting, and backpacking, he even talked of driving down into the city during the opera season to take in a performance or two. For some reason, they enjoy pulling a few human visitors out of time to share their creations with them. Very San Francisco, very gay.