The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Short Story Highlight: “Salvaging Gods” by Jacques Barcia

The latest issue of Clarkesworld Magazine features none other than Brazilian writer Jacques Barcia, with his first – but hopefully not last! – story there, Salvaging Gods.

Gorette found her second godhead buried under piles of plastic bottles, holy symbols, used toilet paper and the severed face of an avatar. No matter how much the scavengers asked, the people from Theodora just wouldn’t separate organic from non-biodegradable, from divine garbage. They threw out their used up gods along with what was left of their meals, their burnt lamps, broken refrigerators, tires, stillborn babies and books of prayer in the trash can. And when the convoys carrying society’s leftovers passed through the town’s gates, some lazy bureaucrat would mark in a spreadsheet that another mountain was raised in that municipal sanitary landfill, the Valley of the Nephilim. And to hell with the consequences.

Her father says no dead god is dead enough that it can’t be remade on our own image. The old man can spend hours rambling about over-consumption, the gnostic crisis, the impact of all those mystical residues poisoning the soil and the underground streams, how children are born malformed and prone to mediunity, and how unfair it is that only the rich have access to miracles. People will do what’s more comfortable, not what’s best for everyone, he’d finally say. It’s far easier to buy new deities than try to reuse them. So he taught her how to recycle old gods and turn them into new ones, mostly, she believed, because he wanted to make a difference. Or maybe because he was the one true atheist left in the world.

It was a small one, that godhead, and not in a very good shape. Pale silver, dusty, scratched surface and glowing only slightly underneath the junk. At best, thought Gorette, it’d have only a few hundred lines of code she’d be able to salvage. Combined with some fine statues and pieces of altars she’d found early that morning, perhaps she’d be able to assemble one or two more deities to the community’s public temple at Saint Martin. The neighborhood she was raised in had only recently been urbanized, so that meant the place was not officially a slum anymore. But still, miracles were quite a phenomenon down in the suburbs.

“Hey, daddy. Found another one,” Gorette said, covering her eyes from the burning light of midday. “Can we go home now, please?”

The egg-shaped thing had the pulse of a dying heart, and fitted almost perfectly in her adolescent hand. So she arranged a place for it amongst the relics in her backpack, inside the folds of a ragged piece of loincloth, and into a beaten up thurible where it’d be safe enough to survive the hour-long ride back to the city.

Her father stood next to a marble totem, sweeping the field with a kirlian detector. The pillar was part of a discarded surround-sound system with speakers the size of his chest, and served as a landmark to the many scavengers exploring the waste dump. When he heard her daughter calling him, he took his gas mask off and said “That depends,” his low-toned voice coming like a sigh, tired. “Do you think this will do? We’re running out of code and there are many open projects in the lab.” – continue reading!

October 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Lavie!

    Comment by Jacques Barcia | October 5, 2010


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