New Space Opera : All-New Stories of Science Fiction Adventure

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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The brightest names in science fiction pen all-new tales of space and wonder: Kage Baker Stephen Baxter Gregory Benford Tony Daniel Greg Egan Peter F. Hamilton Gwyneth Jones James Patrick Kelly Nancy Kress Ken Macleod Paul J. McAuley Ian McDonald Robert Reed Alastair Reynolds Mary Rosenblum Robert Silverberg Dan Simmons Walter Jon Williams

Table of Contents

Saving Tiamaatp. 6
Verthandi's ringp. 24
Hatchp. 39
Winning peacep. 66
Gloryp. 88
Maelstromp. 113
Blessed by an angelp. 143
Who's afraid of wolf 359?p. 158
The valley of the gardensp. 170
Dividing the sustainp. 202
Minla's flowersp. 234
Splinters of glassp. 291
Remembrancep. 316
The emperor and the Maulap. 334
The worm turnsp. 379
Send them flowersp. 401
Art of warp. 436
Muse of firep. 454
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


The New Space Opera

Chapter One

Saving Tiamaat

Gwyneth Jones

One of the most acclaimed British writers of her generation, Gwyneth Jones was a cowinner of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award for work exploring genre issues in science fiction, with her 1991 novel White Queen, and has also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, with her novel Bold as Love, as well as receiving two World Fantasy Awards—for her story "The Grass Princess" and her collection Seven Tales and a Fable. Her other books include the novels North Wind, Flowerdust, Escape Plans, Divine Endurance, Phoenix Café, Castles Made of Sand, Stone Free, Midnight Lamp, Kairos, Life, Water in the Air, The Influence of Ironwood, The Exhange, Dear Hill, and The Hidden Ones, as well as more than sixteen young adult novels published under the name Ann Halam. Her too-infrequent short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Off Limits, and in other magazines and anthologies, and has been collected in Identifying the Object: A Collection of Short Stories, as well as Seven Tales and a Fable. She is also the author of the critical study Deconstructing the Starships: Science Fiction and Reality. Her most recent book is a new novel, Rainbow Bridge. She lives in Brighton, England, with her husband, her son, and a Burmese cat.

In the vivid and compelling story that follows, she proves that coming to really know your enemy may make your problems harder rather than easier to solve.

I had reached the station in the depth of Left Speranza’s night; I had not slept. Fogged in the confabulation of the transit, I groped through crushing eons to my favorite breakfast kiosk: unsure if the soaring concourse outside Parliament was ceramic and carbon or a metaphor; a cloudy internal warning—

Now what was the message in the mirror? Something pitiless. Some blank-eyed, slow-thinking, long-grinned crocodile—


It was my partner. "Don’t do that," I moaned. The internal crocodile shattered, the concourse lost its freight of hyperdetermined meaning, too suddenly for comfort. "Don’t you know you should never startle a sleepwalker?"

He grinned; he knew when I’d arrived, and the state I was likely to be in. I hadn’t met Pelé Leonidas Iza Quinatoa in the flesh before, but we’d worked together, we liked each other. "Ayayay, so good you can’t bear to lose it?"

"Of course not. Only innocent, beautiful souls have sweet dreams."

He touched my cheek: collecting a teardrop. I hadn’t realized I was crying. "You should use the dreamtime, Debra. There must be some game you want to play."

"I’ve tried, it’s worse. If I don’t take my punishment, I’m sick for days."

The intimacy of his gesture (skin on skin) was an invitation and a promise; it made me smile. We walked into the Parliament Building together, buoyant in the knocked-down gravity that I love although I know it’s bad for you.

In the Foyer, we met the rest of the company, identified by the Diaspora Parliament’s latest adventure in biometrics, the aura tag. To our vision, the KiAn Working Party was striated orange/yellow, nice cheerful implications, nothing too deep. The pervasive systems were seeing a lot more, but that didn’t bother Pelé or me; we had no secrets from Speranza.

The KiAn problem had been a matter of concern since their world had been "discovered" by a Balas/Shet prospector, and joined the minuscule roster of populated planets linked by instantaneous transit. Questions had been raised then, over the grave social imbalance: the tiny international ruling caste, the exploited masses. But neither the Ki nor the An would accept arbitration (why the hell should they?). The noninterference lobby is the weakest faction in the Chamber, quarantine-until-they’re-civilized was not considered an option. Inevitably, around thirty local years after first contact, the Ki had risen against their overlords, as often in the past. Inevitably, this time they had modern weapons. They had not succeeded in wiping out the An, but they had pretty much rendered the shared planet uninhabitable.

We were here to negotiate a rescue package. We’d done the damage, we had to fix it, that was the DP’s line. The Ki and the An no doubt had their own ideas as to what was going on: they were new to the Interstellar Diaspora, not to politics.

But they were here, at least; so that seemed hopeful.

The Ki Federation delegates were unremarkable. There were five of them, they conformed to the "sentient biped" bodyplan that unites the diaspora. Three were wearing Balas business suits in shades of brown, two were in gray military uniform. The young coleaders of the An were better dressed, and one of the two, in particular, was much better looking. Whatever you believe about the origins of the "diaspora" (Strong theory, Weak theory, something between) it’s strange how many measures of beauty are common to us all. He was tall, past two meters: he had large eyes, a mane of rich brown head-hair, an open, strong-boned face, poreless bronze skin, and a glorious smile. He would be my charge. His coleader, the subordinate partner, slight and small, almost as dowdy as the Ki, would be Pelé’s.

They were codenamed Baal and Tiamaat, the names I will use in this account. The designations Ki and An are also codenames.

We moved off to a briefing room. Joset Moricherri, one of the Blue Permanent Secretaries, made introductory remarks. A Green Belt Colonel, Shamaz Haa’agaan, gave a talk on station security. A slightly less high-ranking DP administrator got down to basics: standard time conventions, shopping allowances, access to the elevators, restricted areas, housekeeping . . . Those who hadn’t provided their own breakfast raided the culturally neutral trolley. I sipped my Mocha/Colombian, took my carbs in the form of a crisp cherry-jam tartine; and let the day’s agenda wash over me, as I reviewed what I knew about Baal and Tiamaat’s relationship.

They were not related by blood, except in the sense that the An gene pool was very restricted: showing . . .

The New Space Opera. Copyright © by Gardner Dozois. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from The New Space Opera by Gardner Dozois
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