QSFer Timothy Bult has a new queer sci fi book out (gay, non-binary, poly): “Faith.”
Queer relationships abound in this intense BDSM Sci-Fi debut. Deepak’s unrequited gay love for his boss leads to the pinnacle of success, but disaster. Kenner’s perfect girlfriend Faith has disappeared, and Cortana won’t help find her. Kenner doesn’t know the CIA and Chinese Intelligence are chasing her too.
It’s 2042. All the worlds’ Artificial Intelligences are focused on Faith, and the CIA doesn’t know why. An androgynous Chinese assassin is closing in, as two AI’s meet to discuss what to do about Faith and Kenner’s future.
The Singularity meets martial arts meets bromance meets literary romps from the Louvre to Bora Bora, and intense BDSM meets story of true love.
Sifeng was still at the monastery. Every morning the master ignored the unregistered, extraneous student. Every morning during freehand practice, Peng shouted impossible insults and demanded Sifeng prove worthy of a lunchtime meal. Every time, Sifeng launched with abandon, a dervish masochistically intent on winning. Peng just laughed and practiced throws, pinches, kicks, and punches. Sifeng became a scratched, bloody mess with puffy lips and a limp, and slept in a corner of the courtyard, but listening intently to all the students, watching every class, an outsider, but the most zealous student.
One day Sifeng paused when Peng hurled the daily deprecation. Forbear the Master had said. Sifeng hadn’t thought about it since, but the word suddenly thundered louder than Peng’s taunting hullabaloo. “Please, Lao Peng, would you teach me how I can beat you? I am a child. I don’t know how.”
Peng laughed and his face beamed. “Of course, little one! You grace our school with dawning wisdom, and truth be told, I was fearful that today you might have hurt my big toe when you crashed into it, so I’m delighted to give you a different kind of lesson for a change! Come let me show you a form. It has only 108 postures. A dullard could learn it in three months. Perhaps you can memorize it in six, if the master lets you sleep here that long. After memorizing it, if you learn to understand and master it, you will beat me every day.”
Sifeng looked suspiciously at Peng but sidled near him.
Peng shouted to the milling boys, “Tai chi chuan, everyone. Back to basics!”
Sifeng had seen tai chi before, old people in the parks moving like sloths. But Peng was one of the best fighters in the school. Some of the boys joined in, and Peng spent a full hour moving through the form at a snail’s pace, speaking rapidly throughout, pointing out where to step, how and where to position their hands, when to breathe, what to think about, what muscles to use and which to relax, where to focus their eyes. Sifeng copied Peng with devotion.
Another hour repeating the exact same 108 moves at a grindingly slow pace. In the sunshine, Sifeng felt a strange strain and heat from holding the poses. No, not holding, but slowly moving, continuously following Peng. Some of the movements were obviously martial, a punch here, a kick. Some looked like flowery dance moves, but Sifeng noticed the same movements in the martial drills and sparring matches in the courtyard.
The rest of the boys broke off at a bell to attend a calligraphy class. Sifeng remained behind Peng, ready to repeat.
Peng turned and sat on the ground. “Go ahead.”
Sifeng gulped and tried from memory. The first few moves were easy, then memory failed.
Peng pointed and grumbled, “Single whip, left hand flicks forward to break a nose, right hand swings from behind in a break to the side.”
The form continued repeatedly under minute direction until a bell called them to lunch.
Peng gained an extra shadow that mimicked his every move throughout the day. The little shadow could dance the full tai chi alone but preferred to follow Peng, who continued a daily regime of cutting insults, now a tradition of communion. Peng mentored his shadow. He taught Sifeng the meaning of every move, how to meditate throughout the form, how to create calmness, how to understand forbearance as a key to success, and how a stable mind and body are a platform to launch from.
The Master was preoccupied, negotiating with government officials, petitioning students’ parents, managing the older boys’ career prospects, teaching senior classes. He continued to ignore Sifeng.
The students became accustomed to Peng and Sifeng being inseparable. Sifeng began to win matches against the smaller boys, then the larger ones. Some complained Lao Peng spent all his time teaching Sifeng and was neglecting his duties as senior student. The Master only smiled.
Sifeng gradually stopped losing matches, though often bloodied, covered in scratches and dust. No other student shared the same desperation, the same hunger to win regardless of pain or consequences.
Sifeng began to share Peng’s small room, but otherwise remained a self-imposed outcast, rarely sharing in the collective games of the boys, bathing shyly alone, and speaking little. Every few weeks, Peng sent Sifeng flying through the air, crashing into stone walls or tumbling through scattered rocks, but most of the time they were arm in arm, or meditating through a form in perfect unison, or practicing two-person katas with blurring speed.
Months blurred into years with the ebb and flow of students, some graduating, some arriving. Eventually nobody could beat either of them, and the playful matches between them became long dancing draws.
One day Si quizzed Peng, “Hey, old teacher, you haven’t screamed stupid insults at me in a long time. Are you afraid I’ll beat you now?”
Peng’s lips smiled while his eyes became grave. “Yes, little friend, I know you would beat me now. I have no doubt. I don’t ever want to face you in battle again. For me, playing at martial arts is a game, maybe a career. For you . . . you are like a spear that has been thrown, an arrow that has been loosed. For you martial arts are like the fingers of a man hanging from a cliff: they are your frantic grasp on survival. I’m afraid to fight you. You barely distinguish practice from a death match. You still struggle to learn Master’s first lesson to you: forbear. But I love you. I will always love you.”
“Come on, old man, why are you talking so seriously? Fight with me. I promise I won’t hurt you.”
“Not today, Lao Si. I shouldn’t call you little any more, old friend. You’ve grown. You’re not the skinny runt that wandered in here looking for a meal. You’ve grown in my heart, too.”
“Peng, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
“I’ve been too sad to tell you. Master told me a week ago. I succeeded in that interview last month. I leave for Hong Kong in a few days. I . . . I don’t know when I’ll see you again.”
It was a long night.
Timothy Bult was born in the mountains of British Columbia, to Dutch immigrants Roelof & Ineke. He grew up skiing, reading a novel a day, and fascinated with science and literature. He graduated top student of his high school and moved to Vancouver. After a year in France to obtain a Maitrise d’Informatique (Master’s in Computer Science), he completed a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence research at the University of British Columbia. He did industrial AI work at Bell-Northern Research in Ottawa for three years, then returned to BC to work at MacDonald Dettwiler Associates (MDA), in systems engineering for various governments around the world. After 27 years based in Vancouver, visiting China, Israel, most of the United States, and pockets of the Middle East & Europe, he moved to Milwaukee with his partner.
Timothy works at large companies managing global business transformations. While much of his writing is either classified or proprietary, he has published some nonfiction articles. Writing fiction has been a lifelong hobby. He is working on his second book. He will be very happy to receive feedback on his writing — please leave reviews on public websites, or contact him through www.TimothyBult.com.