I have something special for you today, and something I am extraordinarily proud of. To celebrate the release of “The Sagan Diary,” (which you can get through Subterranean’s Web site and through Amazon) I and Subterranean Press have arranged for a reading of the book — the entire novelette — here on the Whatever. But it’s not me who will be reading the book. “The Sagan Diary” is meant to be the thoughts of Jane Sagan, as she looks over her life after the events of The Ghost Brigades and prepares for the life which will be detailed in The Last Colony. I wanted voices closer to hers than my own.
So I asked some friends if they would speak for Jane Sagan: I asked Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, Karen Meisner, Cherie Priest and Helen Smith. Happily for me (and for you) they said yes. Each of them recorded a chapter (or more, in the case of Mary Robinette Kowal), and took the words I wrote for Jane and gave them extra dimensions — made more of them than I would be able to make of them myself. If you’ve wondered what Jane Sagan sounds like, she sounds like this. I was delighted to hear her voice coming through these readings, and deeply humbled by the efforts these women provided in letting Jane speak with them and through them. Without prejudicing your own hearing, let me say that I found myself getting emotional listening to these words given voice. Listen to it; you’ll figure out where.
And now it gives me a great deal of pleasure to present you “The Sagan Diary,” spoken aloud. The story is broken up into a preface and eight chapters; each chapter is available in low-bandwidth (32kbps mp3) and high-bandwidth (variable rate but usually >300kpbs mp3) versions. The low bandwidth versions are standardized in volume; the high bandwidth versions vary (I figure you know how to use a volume knob). The individual chapters themselves were recorded on everything from MacBooks with built-in microphones to professional sound equipment, so there’s some variance there was well; I went in smoothed things out somewhat with my audio equipment, but not too much, because I wanted each of the individual voices to come through.
Here is a table of contents for the audio version, with links to the files.
Preface to “The Sagan Diary” — This chapter is actually not from the point of view of Jane Sagan; it’s from the POV of a military data analyst who has some very pointed grievances concerning the data she has to work with. This chapter will especially be useful for those of you who have not quite gotten through The Ghost Brigades. This chapter is read by Mary Robinette Kowal. (Low | High)
Chapter One: Words — “These words are my life. Representation of time and counterfeit of emotion, record of loss and celebration of gain.” The story now shifts to Jane, where it will remain. Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)
Chapter Two: Killing — “I am not Death. I am killing; I am the verb, I am the action, I am the performance. I am the movement that cuts the spine; I am the mass which pulps the brain. I am the headsnap ejecting consciousness into the air.” Read by Elizabeth Bear (Low | High)
Chapter Three: Speaking — “Let me speak your name… and in doing so affirm you in your tangible skin, with vibration and waves and exhalation” Read by Karen Meisner (Low | High)
Chapter Four: Friendship — “I rose early the day I killed my friend. I knew that when I killed him I would have to be ready… and for that I needed to prepare myself.” Read by Ellen Kushner (Low | High)
Chapter Five: Age — “When you were born all you could do was cry. When I was born I woke to a whisper, giving me a name and telling me to come away from my cradle.” Read by Helen Smith (Low | High)
Chapter Six: Sex — “I am intent on your face, and the movement of your lips, and the memory of how those lips feel when they are on me.” Read by Cherie Priest (Low | High)
Chapter Seven: Fear — “Fear enters the room and sits down in a chair and with a polite smile asks to open negotiations. Fear is small and hard and patient, and duplicitous, because in asking to negotiate it knows I cannot refuse.” Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)
Chapter Eight: Endings — “It is time to come to the end of things and to the beginning.” Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Low | High)
Let me take a moment to thank Ellen, Bear, Karen, Mary, Cherie and Helen for their work on this. This is everything I hoped it would be. I hope you enjoy it too. Feel free to let people know it’s here — I’d like for this to get around.