-Alexandria Symonds, “Knife Wound”
Alchemy high above the crowds.
Over one hundred years of the Industrial Revolution had spewed chemical magic into the air. The aerosols known as smog. Coal and petroleum fractions containing sulfur, their combustion producing sulfur dioxide, oxidized by atmospheric oxygen to form sulfur trioxide, hydrated by water vapor in the air to sulfuric acid. Alchemical magic that weathers limestone. Particles of soot, particles of ash. Unburned hydrocarbons. Oxides of nitrogen. The magic of ultraviolet radiation, photochemical reactions, photochemical smog: it magically cracks rubber. Unsaturated hydrocarbons, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, acetone. Magic. Carbon monoxide, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, days and nights of thermal inversion in the atmosphere. Carbon particles, metallic dusts, silicates, fluorides, resins, tars, pollen, fungi, solid oxides, aromatics, even the smells of magic. Catalysis. Carriers of electrostatic charges. To the extent that they are radioactive, says page 184 of volume 18 of the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica, they increase the normal radiation dosage and may be cancer- or mutation-producing factors.
Finally, it goes on, as plain dust, they soil clothing, buildings, and bodies, and are a general nuisance.
Alchemical magical nuisance, high above the crowds.
"Bleeding Stones" — Harlan Ellison
"i’m sorry because i’ve realized that what i said was fucked up and harmful" is very, very different from "i’m sorry because now people are mad at me and i want to placate them so that they’ll stop criticizing me" and the two are not interchangeable