Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

The Reader

I’m not an inherently manic person, but I have become one over the past six months. Ever since I was visited by a strange woman who introduced herself as the Bern Seer and gave me what she called “The Reader.” I’ll talk more about this meeting later, it’s hard to know in what order this story should be told, but starting with the Seer wouldn’t work. In many ways, that is the end of Molly’s saga.

But I digress. I want to start with The Reader, because it is the thing that has made this project possible. It has become my life, much to the chagrin of my family and friends. At first glance, The Reader is a glorified Kindle. All it does is display images, playback audio files, and allows you to cycle through text. I haven’t figured out half of the features in the thing, mainly because I don’t know how much time I have left.

You see, the thing can’t be plugged in. There are no ports or plugs anywhere on it. The surface doesn’t appear photovoltaic, but who is to know… especially if the contents are real. I’ve wondered if it uses induction charging, like the new Palm Pre phone that is coming out soon. If so, I wasn’t given anything that might help. Sometimes I worry that I don’t have another hour with the material inside, sometimes I think the device will go on working forever. It depends on my mood.

For the first month, I hardly ate or slept as I was drawn into the complicated story within. I would fall asleep whenever the chemicals in my medulla oblongata took over, never by choice. I ate when my wife forced me to. I marvel that I even survived that period with my marriage intact. If I ever complete this project, it will be dedicated to my dear wife who nursed me along and continues to support what, admittedly, has become an obsession.

It has taken me half a year to learn that not every moment can be spent reading and taking notes. I have decided to set some time aside, now, for chronicling my endeavors. Not because I am deluded into thinking that I am even worthy of attempting to unlock Molly’s life, but because I need an outlet for what I’m going through. Any outlet. If nobody reads any of this, it will have served the same amount of good.

I also need a second place to jot things down. I need notes for my notes, if you will. Part of the problem is the copious amounts of material here. Millions of pages, at least. Also, some attempt has been made to save the pages in order, but I can only grasp a hint at what that system might have been. Several lives that intersect with Molly’s are woven parallel to her story, and the tale of what her parents went through, alone, is worthy of an epic saga. As my notes materialize, I need a place to sort the story for myself. That’s what this blog is for.

The only reason I can be a little more relaxed with my research is that I finally figured out a way to back-up the contents of the Reader. I hit upon the idea last week, when my dog set one of her toys down on top of the thing, begging me to play. At first, I was horrified to see her slobber on the priceless artifact, but then I noticed the pages flipping by rapidly, the page-turn key held in place.

It gave me an idea.

I went out and purchased a high-definition video camera (and I went further in debt by doing so). Setting it on a tripod above the reader, I recorded the device as it quickly ran through the entire contents. Setting the clock on my stove to 88 minutes (each tape records 90), I would remove the small weight holding the button down, change out a tape, and resume the process.

I now have 107 90-minute tapes organized on the floor of my dining room. That comes to just a few hours shy of a full week. Which is precisely how long it has taken me to perform this “back-up.”

Once again, my marriage has demonstrated remarkable resiliency.

I tested the first tape out and found that pausing each frame results in a readable source. I will never stop worrying that The Reader will die on me, as managing this project from a supply of tapes instead of being able to jump around and search for phrases and dates, will become something akin to the creation of the OED, requiring men far crazier than I.

My promise to myself it to start taking breaks. To purge my pent-up excitement on this blog. To organize my thoughts. And to keep people abreast of my mission: unravel Molly’s tale and perhaps create a narrative that will thrill and delight others the way my disjointed and obsessed reading of the source material has pleased me.

When I take my next break, I will go into what the story is about and why The Reader must be: 1. From the far future; 2. The greatest (but least funny) hoax of all-time; or 3. A colossal waste of someone’s time, someone even more obsessive than I am.

2 replies to “The Reader”

So THIS is how it all began… fascinating! You were here by your lonesome, writing and blogging, with no commenters.

I believe you were prescient, after all.

I’m currently rereading SHIFT… and then I have to go read all of Molly Fyde. So much left to enjoy!

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