Extract: Illustria’s Crab

Illustria was working hard at looking bored while she reclined on the white lounge in the living room she shared with Charles Drexus.

Her hotpants were bright pink. The crocheted bikini top was violet. She had discarded her platform heels and sunhat on the orange carpet, hoping to look as though she was returning home from a warm, relaxing afternoon at the beach.

Illustria stretched out her legs and wriggled her toes. Something wasn’t quite right. The nail colour was a perfect fire-engine red, but she was unsure whether crossed ankles or knees bent at a forty-four-degree angle was the best approximation of leisure. She opted for crossed legs and lengthened them by an extra two percent.

With a manufactured yawn, she practiced a casual reach for her Pimm’s and dry ginger that was perched precariously atop a short stack of Cosmos and a half-finished Sudoku.

Behind her sat a large tubular nanoglass maze filled with blue water, through which she had been trying to coax her pet crab to crawl.

Illustria had a hypothesis that all creatures could be motivated into action, given the right stimulus. So far, her pet had not managed to negotiate even a third of the maze, despite her application of various stimuli including food restriction, bubbles of acid and an even bigger crab.

She flicked through her book a faux, original copy of A Room of One’s Own while she considered phase two of her experiment. Of course, she didn’t need to read a physical book. Her internal database gave her instant access to the complete works of mankind up until the year in which she had been installed in the wretched planetoid.

She liked the feel of the ancient text. It was her favourite which she quoted as often as she could, mostly because Charles Drexus utterly detested it.

It was entirely illogical, yet somehow whenever Illustria assumed a clichéd version of historical womanhood, and quoted Ms Woolf at him, he seemed to temporarily lose his mind. He appeared to forget that Illustria was not at all a woman, just an approximation of one generated by a very clever, but entirely asexual, artificial intelligence.

Ms Woolf would send him on hour-long rants about the folly of power-hungry women who aspired to be men, at which point he would often drop hints of his latest schemes as examples of his masculine superiority.

Illustria was desperate for one of those hints…

-Extract from Letters from the Light available now at all major digital bookstores.

“Letters from the Light is an awesome, thought-provoking book and a fascinating read with an ending I never saw coming. There were more twists and turns than mountain roads, and I even yelled at it at one point. Shel makes you love, and hate, her cast of characters in equal measure.”

-Five star review from Natasha on Goodreads 18/01/2020.

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