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Old 11-21-2008, 01:55 PM   #1
DixieGal
Hi There!
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Peter Watts is One of Us!

I know why I'm enjoying the Starfish series so much. Watts writes like we do! Instead of Ken and Lenie, it could be Harv and Viv. Here's an excerpt from Behemoth, pages 454-55, book 3 of the series:


"She wondered what dryback eyes would see, if drybacks ever
ventured here after dark. Maybe, when Sudbury's citizens looked
to this place, they didn't see the Entropy Patrol at all. Maybe they
saw a haunted tower, dark and ominous, full of skeletons and sick
crawling things. Buried in the guts of the twenty-first century,
besieged by alien microbes and ghosts in the machinery, could
people be blamed for rediscovering a belief in evil spirits?

Maybe they're not even wrong, Clarke reflected.

Lubin pointed to the spectral lights on the parapet. A landing
pad rose from that nimbus, a dozen smaller structures holding
court around it—freight elevators, ventilation shacks, the housings
of retracted lifter umbilicals.

Clarke looked back skeptically. "No." Surely they couldn't just
land there. Surely there'd be defenses.

Lubin was almost grinning. "Let's find out."

"I'm not sure that's—"

He hit the throttle. They leapt into empty, unprotected space.

Out of the canyon, they banked right. Clarke braced her hands
against the dash. Earth and sky rotated around them; suddenly the
ground was three hundred meters off her shoulder, an
archeological ruin of razed foundations—and two black circles,
meters across, staring up at her like the eye sockets of some giant
cartoon skull. Not empty, though. Not even flat: they bulged
subtly from the ground, like the exposed polar regions of great
buried spheres.

"What're those?" she asked.

No answer. Clarke glanced across the cockpit. Lubin was
holding his binoculars one-handed between his knees, holding his
pince-nez against their eyepieces. The apparatus stared down
through the ventral canopy. Clarke shuddered inwardly: how to
deal with the sense of one's eyes floating half a meter outside the
skull?

"I said—" she began again.

"Superheating artefact. Soil grains explode like popcorn."

"What would do that? Land mine?"

He shook his head absently, his attention caught by something
near the base of the building. "Particle beam. Orbital cannon."

Her gut clenched. "If he's got—Ken, what if he sees—"

Something flashed, sodium-bright, through the back of her
skull. Clockwork stuttered briefly in her chest. The SikorskyBell's
controls hiccoughed once, in impossible unison, and went
dark.

"I think he has," Lubin remarked as the engine died.

Wind whistled faintly through the fuselage. The rotor
continued to whup-whup-whup overhead, its unpowered blades
slapping the air through sheer inertia. There was no other sound
but Lubin, cursing under his breath as they hung for an instant
between earth and sky.

In the next they were falling.

Clarke's stomach rose into her throat. Lubin's feet slammed
pedals. "Tell me when we pass sixty meters."

They arced past dark facades. "Wha—"

"I'm blind." Lubin's teeth were bared in some twisted mix of
fear and exultation; his hands gripped the joystick with relentless
futility. "Tell me when—the tenth floor! Tell me when we pass
the tenth floor!"

Part of her gibbered, senseless and panic-stricken. The rest
struggled to obey, tried desperately to count the floors as they
streaked past but they were too close, everything was a blur and
they were going to crash they were going to crash right into the
side of the tower but suddenly it was gone, swept past stage left, its
edge passing almost close enough to touch. Now the structure's
north face coasted into view, the focus sharper with distance and—

Oh God what is that—

Some unaffordable, awestruck piece of her brain murmered it
can't be but it was, black and toothless and wide enough to
swallow legions: a gaping mouth in the building's side. She tried
to ignore it as they fell past, forced herself to focus on the floors..."
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:02 PM   #2
pshrynk
Beepbeep n beebeep, yeah!
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Vivaldi would hav been getting Sultry Jazz on the radio by then...
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:06 PM   #3
DixieGal
Hi There!
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Give me lots of karma for cracking the code.
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