Hoolocks and Hellions
Book Launch - 3rdField style
Patella 3rdfield sat in front of the mirror adjusting her ear-rings: spiral swirls of diamond-dust studded with tiny sapphires and rubies held in an invisible cloud of programmed nanogel. She was wearing the deep blue cashmere and silk outfit which Aurelian said matched her eyes. Her dark blonde hair was neatly pinned back. The ear-rings were simplified models, of course, but the accelerated movement was detectable even under quite low magnification. Her daughter Paeony used to play with them when she was about nine or ten, solemnly peering for hours in the hope of finding the black holes which she had been told were hiding inside. Savouring the memory, Patella smoothed her hair, slipped on her designer floats, and glided downstairs to where her husband was waiting patiently. Holding her at arms length, he looked at her critically. "Now, do I think that was worth waiting an extra five minutes for? Absolutely!" They both smiled, and set off for the launch party at Fissile & Sprent.
Morton Quanderpyre was already there, his voice booming above the hubbub.
" about as much panache as a shrivelled stoat! Wheres the artistry, the finesse, eh, Croles? In my day and yours I dare say, there used to be a great deal more preparation, more honing. Now its all manic capering and caterwauling." Trafford Croles, veteran actor, murmured his agreement while unobtrusively craning to look past Quanderpyres shoulder, where the Spandrels were making their flamboyant entrance. Agathon and Ludmilla had already flounced in, each with glossy dark hair fanned out into a halo. They were clad in cerise taffeta with glints of emerald at head and foot. Thor followed, in his customary black tunic and belt wth silver clasp, wearing his mirrored shades, then Wu Ying in something scantily diaphanous under her prismatic cloak, and Pepito, Milton and Scapula; all three in bioluminescent garments pulsing in phase. Miss Derbyshire wore a multi-fringed dark crimson dress whose edges coruscated with fractal sparks, and lastly came little Clint, under an enveloping dome of a hat, apparently disguised as a bipedal mushroom.
Sprent wondered how the Spandrels had managed to find their way on to the guest list. He did not doubt their celebrity status, or their appeal to the vidkid generation, but to the best of his knowledge they had no literary credentials. And if it were not for his enormous wealth and media influence, that noisy oaf Quanderpyre would have been excluded. Had old Creg Fissile still been alive, he would have ensured a more stringent check on the invitations, and would probably also have stationed security guards with identipads at the door. On the other hand, Sprent reflected, the humourless Fissile, for all his probity and pursuit of excellence, would very likely have overlooked the potential popularity of Patella 3rdfields work, which he, Pentheus Sprent, was quietly proud to have been among the first to recognize.
He glanced up at the ads spinning slowly round the walls, blossoming and dissolving:
A sudden burst of applause by the entrance prompted guests to turn towards the arched doorway. And there they were! Sprent strode forward to greet them, beaming. "Ah, Patella, our guest of honour, and Aurelian, welcome! We are truly privileged. So good to see you both. Patella, you are looking lovely! And Aurelian, so distinguished. I heard that you have become part of Dizmin Harfs repertoire quite an accolade. Now, Patella " He led them away, animatedly outlining the order of proceedings.
The evening was quite a success. Patella judiciously kept her speech short, the champagne flowed, multimedia sales of Hoolocks and Hellions were satisfyingly brisk. Quanderpyre tried to corner Pentheus Sprent, seeking another sounding-board for his unsolicited opinions, but fortunately the Spandrels intervened, sweeping between them on their way out in a scintillating, lurid flurry of colour, like some wayward ceremonial Chinese dragon, followed by what appeared to be a swiftly moving inverted wok.
Trafford Croles still possessed the easy charm which had endeared him to an earlier generation. He was comfortable with adulation, and mildly resented having to watch it bestowed on others. Rationally, he allowed that Patella 3rdfield deserved her triumph, but as she was only a writer, he had no cause to be jealous. What he found irksome was that hardly anyone in this gathering seemed to recognize him, even though he had been standing profiled against an illuminated patch of wall, simply exuding charisma, and ready to share the unique benefits of his accrued wisdom and theatrical experience. He sipped the last few drops from his fourth glass of champagne; about the only thing here which probably matched his own age, he thought morosely. That ghastly Quanderpyre had briefly loomed in front of him, complaining about something or other, then the peculiar but eye-catching Spandrels had trooped in, creating something of a distraction until the 3rdfields arrived. Sprent had acknowledged him with a polite wave of the hand, but apart from that he was virtually ignored. It gradually dawned on him, as he casually abstracted another glass from a passing tray, that most of the people here were far too young to remember his stage appearances, and unless they were historians, too preoccupied with their own concerns to bother with anything screened before trid or holo. He blinked up at the relentlessly revolving ads, and still clutching his glass with automatic care, slid slowly to the floor.
Aurelian and Patella, having duly circulated independently, eventually found themselves together again, to their mutual relief. "How was it for you?" asked Patella, with solicitous good humour.
"Oh, bearable," her husband replied. "Frankly, I was pleased not to be the object of attention; it meant that unlike you, I could choose the people I wanted to speak to. I had an interesting chat with Pår Søderstrøm, the designer. Did you know he breeds miniature giraffes? But what about you, Pat? You must be exhausted."
She smiled, then stifled a yawn. "Oh, Im fine. They were all very kind. Some of the younger ones are a bit awe-struck and tongue-tied at first, but their questions are quite thoughtful. Sprent looks very pleased with himself, so I suppose we can say it went well, despite the occasional sound of Morton Quanderpyres bellowing. Im not quite sure what he was doing here, or the Spandrels, for that matter, although they did look rather striking."
"They enjoy showing off, " said Aurelian, "and theyre a bit of a cult with the vidkids. Unlike poor old Croles," he said sympathetically, nodding toward the crumpled figure against the far wall, whose snores were distinctly audible across the room. "Do you remember how Paeony used to love those old pompous pre-trid performances of his when she was little?"
"I was thinking about her earlier ths evening," Patella said, gently fingering an ear-ring. "Shall we go home?"
© L J Sklaroff 2012 All Rights Reserved
Date and time of last update 18:25 Wed 22 Aug 2012
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