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Praise for John Love’s
“Succeeds both as a purely visceral, exciting story and as a meditation on the place of humanity in the universe...There is a kind of passionate wonder on display here that makes
“A science fiction debut of the highest order. It has fascinating, well- rounded characters who will remain with you for a long time. [...] A novel I maybe would have expected from the mind of Iain M. Banks— and if that isn’t a compliment for an SF debut, I don’t know what is...I’m already sure this novel will end up on my list of 2012 favourites.”
“A huge widescreen premise...The perfect mix of space battles and politics.”
—Charlie Jane Anders,
“Sophisticated, inventive and beautifully written,
—Allen Steele, author of
“The beautiful, brutal bastard of Iain M Banks and Peter Watts—abso- lutely brilliant.”
—Sean Williams, author of
“Gripping and original.”
—David Moles, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning author
“Tremendous science fiction that blends literary traditions with space opera and all the various subgenres therein...John Love’s debut is on par with Dan Simmons’s
A genius bit of writing, and an absolute home run for first-timer John Love.”
Also by John Love:
NIGHT SHADE BOOKS
AN IMPRINT OF START PUBLISHING LLC
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Copyright © 2015 by John Love.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Start Publishing LLC, 609 Greenwich Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10014.
Night Shade Books is an imprint of Start Publishing LLC.
Visit our website at www.start-publishing.com.
Cover design by Claudia Noble
For Sandra, Helen and Ian
For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter.
He shall defend thee under his wings,
And thou shalt be safe…
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace...
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
ONE: SEPTEMBER 2060
Anwar sat in a formal garden in northern Malaysia on a pleasant September afternoon, reading.
It was 4:00 p.m.: time. He closed the book and retreated back under the roof of his verandah, just as the afternoon rain began with its usual promptness and intensity. While he watched it he performed one of his standard exercises: using the fingers of his right hand to break, one by one, the fingers of his left hand. The core of the exercise was not to blank out the pain—though his abilities were such that he could have done that, too—but to feel the pain and still not react to it, either by noise or by movement, as each finger was bent back beyond the vertical and snapped. It was a familiar exercise and he finished it satisfactorily.
The rain stopped, as promptly and suddenly as it had begun. He leaned back, breathing in the scent of wet leaves and grass. A brief gust of wind shook rain from the trees, so that it sounded, for a few seconds, like another downpour beginning. He cupped his right hand round his left, easing his fingers back to their normal position, and waited for the bones to set and regenerate; it would take about an hour.
It was not unheard-of for a VSTOL from the UN to land on the formal lawn at the centre of his garden, but it was not something which happened often. This was one of their latest, silent and silvered and almost alien. A door melted open in its side and a dark-haired young woman got out and walked across the lawn towards Anwar. She was Arden Bierce, one of Rafiq’s personal staff, and they smiled a greeting at each other.
“Rafiq wants you.” She handed him a letter. He studied Rafiq’s neat italic handwriting, not unlike his own, and the courteously phrased request and personal signature. When Rafiq made this kind of request, he did so by pen and ink and personal meeting. Never remotely, and never electronically.
“I should go now.” He was telling her, not asking her. She nodded and turned back to the waiting VSTOL. Anwar Abbas stood up, stretched, and walked after her. He was as powerful as a tiger, as quiet as the flame of a candle.
Offer and Acceptance. The VSTOL would take him south to the UN complex ou ...