Published in Asimov’s, April-May 2009.
“Everyone wears bugeye goggles to interact with the virtual world while shutting out most of the real one. Everyone but Richard, who is not “normal.” Richard sees too many things that aren’t really there for everyone else, like Electric Man and Steel Man. He doesn’t need technology to make him see even more delusions.
Emerging from the burger bar, Richard too confronted the drizzle and the electric lights: orange, white, green, red, blue. But while Jenny had taken the everyday scene for granted, for him, as ever, it posed an endless regress of troubling questions. What was rain? What were cars? What was electricity? What was this strange thing called space that existed in between one object and the next? What was air? What did those lights mean, what did they really mean as they shifted from green to amber to red and back again, over and over again?
Richard thinks that one day he may be the only person who ever sees the world as it is, and that perhaps, if no one sees it any longer, it may cease to exist. To see atomic truths, you need to have atomic eyes.
A fascinating and humane look through a pair of different eyes, with hints from Bishop Berkeley.” – Lois Tilton, The Internet Review of Science Fiction
- Esli Magazine (Russian translation)
(Collected in The Peacock Cloak from Newcon Press)