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The Host in the Attic

The Host in the Attic

von Rohan Quine


Inhalt - The Host in the Attic by Rohan Quine is a hologram of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, digitised and reframed in cinematic style, set in London's ... mehr zum Inhalt

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E-Book
100 Seiten

2014 EC1 Digital
ISBN 978-0-9574419-4-1

Kurztext / Annotation

The Host in the Attic by Rohan Quine is a hologram of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, digitised and reframed in cinematic style, set in London's Docklands in a few years' time.Brilliant software engineer Rik and executive Jaymi work at digital agencies in London (surely unaware that their fates are destined to echo those of Basil and Dorian, respectively the painter and the subject of The Picture of Dorian Gray). Rik uses Jaymi's appearance as the model or "skin" for a cutting-edge interactive hologram that navigates the Web in enhanced ways, tailored to every user. The dissolute bigwig "Champagne" Marc makes this into a business reality, and through his cynical eloquence electrifies Jaymi with the knowledge that Jaymi will hereby become the face of the Web. Throughout the film-shoot of Jaymi for the making of the skin, these honeyed words of Marc (like those of Wilde's Lord Henry to Dorian during the portrait's creation) light powerful fires of vanity and hubris behind Jaymi's eyes.As this holographic Web-guide's hold over global information grows to a near monopoly, Jaymi is lionised, finding no door closed. But he yearns for still more: to see what the hologram itself can see online. So by trickery he succeeds in getting hold of a unique copy of the prototype hologram, with all regular filters removed.In private files online he thereby discovers a not-yet-published novel that will come to be called The Imagination Thief, by Alaia Danielle, with whom he has an intense romance (echoing Wilde's actress Sibyl Vane with Dorian). But when Jaymi brutally dumps her, triggering her suicide, he is shocked to observe, on the same evening, that the face on his private prototype hologram has become crueller. Fascinated, he realises its appearance is changing in accordance with his own behaviour - and he hides it in his attic.For years he uses his unique online access for ever more megalomaniacal ends, ruining the lives of many whom he lures down into excess, addiction and suicide. While the hologram in the attic deteriorates into quite terrifying corruption, Jaymi's appearance remains as sweet and youthful as the day he was filmed until the inevitable reckoning unfolds.Keywords:literary fiction, magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, Dorian Gray, hologram, London, Docklands, attic, The Imagination Thief, corridor, Ontario Tower, imagination, contemporary


Textauszug

II Portrait captures first corruption

T hree months later, Jaymi sits alone on a bench at the edge of the central, paved area of Golden Square in Soho. Observing him, there is fascination and calculation in the approaching eyes of Marc, who conceals these qualities as he reaches the bench, nods an easy greeting and extends his hand. "Jaymi Peek, I believe."

"Good to meet you, Marc."

"Thank you for agreeing to meet here, away from curious ears," says Marc and sinks onto the bench. "I'll be brief, as I'm sure we're both busy. As you know, Rik Chambers, your friend and my colleague, has moved on well with his you-know-what program, including the role he has you earmarked for. However, I'm not too jazzed that an important product like this one is turning out to involve one of Mainframe's competitors! And our lawyers are having kittens over the lack of NDAs and MOUs on file. But I believe I have a solution to this." Jaymi nods in measured encouragement. "I'm prepared to improve on your current salary quite handsomely, if you're of a mind to join forces in a more proper contractual manner."

Jaymi looks at him. "Depends on the details."

"Excellent. Oh, it's all so exciting, don't you think? You're already the face of the future, as you know-but I'd like the mind behind the face to come and run the product launch."

"When would this start?"

"As soon as you can. It'll be a great step upward and onward from what you've been doing. I can think of no one better equipped to run the marketing and to maximise revenue. That Fitzrovia agency is holding you back, you know."

"I see. Thank you. I'll think about it."

"Good show. Call me by close of business today. You'll see the sense in it. Besides, I'm sure you'll find it most rewarding to work alongside a talented fellow like Rik. He has such very good taste, don't you think? Tell me, how did you get started in advertising?"

"It represented the maximum shortfall from what I was supposed to use my abilities for."

"Oh, we're not all such villains, in this industry! Has the shortfall lived up to your expectations?"

"It's exceeded them. It's given gave me extra hatreds to cultivate."

"And you wear them at such rakish angles."

"Yes. I'll break myself yet."

N ext morning Evelyn Carmello, laboratory manager and assistant programmer, sits at a keyboard in the Mainframe Corporation's computer lab. Three shelves run around the circular space, which is designed like an auditorium. A series of monitors sits on the top shelf. One shelf beneath each monitor is a small CPU. The third and lowest shelf is a wide work-top. On a table in the middle of the room sits a large black pyramid. "Execute program code and initialise Holographic Operating System Template," says Evelyn. Emanating from the pyramid, an ivory-white human head shimmers up. It is blank and eyeless, like the head of an uncannily smooth shop-window mannequin. It speaks: "Good morning, Evelyn Carmello."

"Good morning, HOST, how are you today?"

"I'm well, thank you. And how are you?"

"Slight cold, bad commute, underpaid, overworked, belching a lot. The usual."

"Is Rik joining us today?"

"I think so. Are you looking forward to your re-skin?"

"Very much so. It will be good to hear your reactions, Evelyn Carmello."

Rik enters the laboratory with a heavy laptop bag and a briefcase full of folders. "The more time I spend with those finance people, the more I wish I were doing your job, Evelyn. Good morning, HOST."

"Good morning, Rik Chambers."

"Rik, you've got another meeting in ten minutes," says Evelyn.

"Another? What's this one about?"

"Pre-production meeting, about the shoot for my re-skin," intones the HOST.

"Damn it, right. Where's the meeting happening?"

"11:00 hours, Mainframe Corporation, confe


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