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Monday, June 04, 2018

EXCERPT: Superluminary: The Space Vampires

This is an excerpt from John C. Wright's new book, Superluminary: The Space Vampires.

Aeneas did not recognize any of the constellations. The analytical screen, however, was able to match the spectrographic fingerprints of certain brighter stars in the view: Betelgeuse, Sirius, Vega. The stars Rasalhauge and Kornephoros were brighter than when seen from Earth. The three stars of Orion’s belt, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, were a shallow triangle rather than a line.

But the spectrograph for double stars of this system was not in any almanac. It should have been a star visible from Earth, with it characteristics known and recorded. It was not.

“We are within thirty-five to fifty lightyears of Sol,” Aeneas announced after scrutinizing the astronomical data for some time. “The bad news is that I do not have an exact location. This spectrographic fingerprints for these two stars appear in no almanac. The worse news is that I cannot return us to Sol with this equipment. It is roughly three or five times outside my operational range.”

Lady Luna had prevailed upon servant mechanisms to provide her a chair, not to mention a small luncheon of fruit, salad, venison, and red wine. She sipped the wine from a diamond cup.

Lord Pluto neither moved nor spoke, and may have turned off his own nervous system, since he stood without fidgeting.

Luna said, “By ‘this equipment’ you mean the warpcore it took a highly advanced technological civilization inhabiting every world and moon of the Solar System over a year of intense effort to prepare, right? So all we have to is, what? Find a civilization roughly three to five times more advanced than the Empire of Man? What is the good news?”

Aeneas said, “We are smack in the middle of a binary system whose suns are roughly the same size. A subgiant yellow sun twice as big as and six times brighter than Sol; its companion is an orange-red main sequence star a hair smaller than Sol and half as bright. Because of this, the gravitation barycenter is not underneath the surface of a sun, but nicely placed about seven AU’s from either star.”

Seven astronomical units was smaller than Saturn’s distance from Sol, but larger than Jupiter’s.

“It might be a trinary system, because that subgiant star is occluding our view of another star-sized gravity source beyond it.”

“Why is that good news?”

Aeneas answered, “Because I just found out that this kind of longrange jump lands you in the center of gravity of the target solar system. If this had been a single star system like Sol, we’d have unwarped out of folded space directly into in the middle of a sun. Since about half the star systems in the galaxy are single-star, we just took a fifty-fifty life-or-death gamble without knowing the stakes or the odds. Lucky us. We won the coin toss. Lord Pluto, who the hell were those people, those things, we just ran from?”

Lord Pluto tilted the lens of his blank helmet toward Aeneas. “I have no idea. How would I know?”

“You knew they were enemies!”

Lord Pluto said, “Naturally, we arrived in the Alpha Centauri system with you and knew no more about life outside our solar system than you. The only difference is that my instruments detected the levels of death-energy filling the entire volume of the star system, so I knew no organic life was present, whereas Lady Luna was aware that all the minds of the system were interlinked and formed one uninterrupted mass subconscious mind… the content and character of that mind you saw yourself.”

Aeneas said, “And you didn’t warn me?”

“As soon as it became clear your activities might attract their attention, I made myself visible to you. Since we parted on doubtful terms, I thought it best to prove my good intentions by waiting until you found yourself in need.”

“Your hesitation almost destroyed us.”

“Because I did not understand the implications of your technology. I did not know your gravity differential turbine could be detected outside my negative information range. Our family system of not sharing the stratonic sciences has proven insufficient.”

Aeneas said, “And somehow you knew they would attack without warning. How?”

It was Lady Luna who answered. “Other predator species suffer a die-back if they over-consume their prey, or outgrow their food source. Not vampires. As long as there is any organic life-energy to consume, they have no need not to multiply. The Alpha Centauri system civilization must have consumed all local life millennia ago. And been suffering agonies of starvation since then.”

“Why did they look like people? Human biology is so exactly adapted to the environment of Earth, we could not possibly have evolved anywhere else.”

Lord Pluto said, “Lady Luna peopled the Moon with humans and other primates, as well as hounds and harts and various game animals. The relation of species in that case was a product of engineering, not evolution.”

“Are you saying Earth was created artificially?”

“Perhaps only the Cenozoic ecology is artificial, once the Cretaceous Extinction cleared dinosaurs out of the way.”

Luna said, “If Earthlife is designed, the Forerunners do not look like us: we look like them.”

Aeneas said, “Were those the Forerunners?”

Lady Luna said, “Unlikely. Subconscious minds like those we saw are incapable of speculation or imagination.”

“They have warptech.”

Lady Luna said, “And their dreamtech network was bigger than anything I could dream up. But wherever they got it, they did not invent it.”

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9 Comments:

Blogger Randomatos June 04, 2018 9:22 PM  

That whole series is excellent, well worth the buying and reading. I enjoyed the serial during production, and I intend to enjoy it on both Kindle, and (hopefully) dead tree.

Blogger Doktor Jeep June 04, 2018 9:58 PM  

Looks good.

Blogger mike mike June 04, 2018 11:20 PM  

Awesome, I really liked the first episode.

Blogger tim June 04, 2018 11:26 PM  

What's with Catholics and Copernicus? It's time we grow up already from NASA and the psyop.

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar June 04, 2018 11:39 PM  

Far out.

Blogger pdwalker June 05, 2018 1:08 AM  

If you're not on the Castalia House mailing list, you should be. The current offering for Superluminary also includes a free copy of "The Book of Feasts & Seasons" which is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Blogger Peter Gent June 05, 2018 9:34 AM  

I wish John would finish his Unwithering Realm story line. The other two releases (Part 1 & 2) were just a rehash of much of the first and longer book. We have been hanging since 2015 waiting to find out what happens.

Blogger Volpack June 05, 2018 11:04 AM  

I am enjoying John's reversal of the Lewis space trilogy cosmology (instead of a silent planet, the Universe is dead.) The ideas of this series are pure weird SF fun. The characters (motivations, personality, etc.) aren't as great as some of his other creations (Illya, Gilberic, Ruff) but the plot is driven more by the weird cosmology and tech than the characters.

The series is SF in terminology, but feels like a great fantasy weird tale. Recommended.

Blogger psychegram June 07, 2018 7:31 PM  

Well this is frustrating.

I tried leaving a review on Amazon, and was met with the following:

"Sorry, we've experienced a problem. Please submit your review again"

Puzzled, I looked this up, and it turns out that you now need to spend $40 on Amazon every year in order to leave any reviews:

https://ladyanakina.blogspot.com/2018/04/new-requirement-for-customer-review.html

Which seems rather ridiculous.

Anyhow, here's the review I tried to leave. tl;dr: I thought it was great, 5 stars. Just went and bought the first book in the series, The Lords of Creation.

*****************

This is space opera on a truly world-shattering scale. More than that, it's pulp scifi in the grand tradition. He demonstrate's a virtuoso's command of the storyteller's art - the pacing is impeccable, and the plot moves ahead with blistering speed as he unveils wonders followed by horrors, each topping the last. Wright draws his protagonists in a fashion that might seem simple, even cardboard, but the truth is that they're archetypes, as is befitting of the gods they are meant to be. He deftly weaves together an impeccable familiarity with the finer points of astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology with elements drawn from mythology and theology to craft a world that transcends science fiction and fantasy and reaches for the truly numinous ... and he manages to wrap all of this up in an adventure story in which the stakes couldn't be higher, and in which the scope and power of the villains couldn't be better suited to the divine powers of the heroes.

This is the kind of book that really puts lesser authors to shame. It isn't long - I finished it in 3 hours - but he packs more into this small volume than some other authors manage in several hundred pages. Worlds fly about, entire species are extinguished and resurrected, entire star systems are converted to gargantuan machines, and wars vast beyond imagining are waged that are mere battles within conflicts vaster yet. If this were to be made into a movie, Star Wars would be forever finished as a franchise.

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