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Opening passages

These are opening paragraphs from several recent works of fiction -- most of them SFFH, most of them novels, but with a wild card or two thrown in.

Passages are identified at the bottom of the page.

Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her. [3]

The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle House,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there. It stood on a hill overlooking the village, some of its windows boarded, tiles missing from its roof, and ivy spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine-looking manor, and easily the largest and grandest building for miles around, the Riddle House was now damp, derelict, and unoccupied. [7]

I have paper again, and there is still a lot of ink in the little bottle. Besides, the man who owns the shop would give me more ink if I asked for it, I feel certain. Strange how much a quire of writing paper can mean to a man who has made such quantities of it.
    This town is walled. I have never seen a whole town with a wall before. It is not a big wall; I have seen other much higher; but it goes all the way around, except where the river comes in and goes out. [10]

In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini. “To me, Clark Kent in a phone booth and Houdini in a packing crate, they were one and the same thing,” he would learnedly expound at WonderCon or Angoulême or to the editor of The Comics Journal. [1]

Among twenty snowy mountains, the only moving thing was the eye of Crow. The sky was blue, and the air was cold. His beard was rimed with frost. The tangled road behind was black and dry and empty. [9]

In the eighth decade of the Queendom of Sol, on a miniature planet in the middle depths of the Kuiper Belt, there lived a man named Bruno de Towaji who, at the time of our earliest attention, was beginning his 3088th morning walk around the world. [5]

Several months before my thirteenth birthday, my mother visited me in a dream and explained why she had sent me to live with the circus seven years before. The dream was a Mitsubishi, I believe, its style that of the Moonflower series of biochips, which set the standard for pornography in those days; it had been programmed to activate once my testosterone production reached a certain level, and it featured a voluptuous Asian woman to whose body my mother had apparently grafted the image of her own face. [8]

So the theory has it that the universe expanded exponentially from a point, a singular space/time point, a moment/thing, some original particulate event or quantum substantive happenstance, to an extent that the word explosion is inadequate, though the theory is known as the Big Bang. What we are supposed to keep in mind, in our mind, is that the universe didn’t burst out into pre-existent available space, it was the space that blew out, taking everything with it in a great expansive flowering, a silent flash into being in a second or two of the entire outrushing universe of gas and matter and darkness-light, a cosmic floop of nothing into the volume and chronology of spacetime. Okay? [2]

It was her scars that made her beautiful. [4]

At three in the afternoon the engine sheds were already gloomy with the coming night. Light, blue and vague, filtered through the long strips of the skylights, showing the roof ties stark like angular metal bones. Beneath, the locomotives waited brooding, hulks twice the height of a man, their canopies brushing the rafters. The light gleamed in dull spindle shapes, here from the strappings of a boiler, there from the starred boss of a flywheel. The massive road wheels stood in pools of shadow. [6]

1] Michael Chabon, The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
2] E.L. Doctorow, City of God
3] Michel Faber, Under the Skin
4] Mary Gentle, Ash: A Secret History (UK) (also The Book of Ash #1: A Secret History, US)
5] Wil McCarthy, The Collapsium
6] Keith Roberts, Pavane (not currently in print; link is to Gollancz reprint edition due 9 Nov)
7] J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
8] Lucius Shepard, "Radiant Green Star" (in Asimov's August 2000)
9] Michael Swanwick, "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O" (in Tales of Old Earth)
10] Gene Wolfe, In Green's Jungles

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