Authors: Eric Brown
Tags: #Science Fiction
PRAISE FOR ERIC BROWN
was a real success for me: the depth of the characterisation; a very alien, yet deeply sympathetic life-form; the authenticity which Brown gives to the society on Bengal Station. This is a place that you can see, hear and virtually smell.”
SF Crow’s Nest
“The writing is studded with phrases I had to stop and reread because I liked them so much.”
is a classic concept—a built world to dwarf Rama and Ringworld—a setting for a hugely imaginative adventure.
is the very DNA of true SF. This is the rediscovery of wonder.”
is essentially a romp—a gloriously old-fashioned slice of science fiction... What gives the novel a unique spin is its intertwining parallel plots. It’s smart, fun, page-turning stuff, with an engaging cast and plenty of twists... A hugely entertaining read.”
“He is a masterful storyteller. Eric Brown is often lauded as the next big thing in science fiction and you can see why...”
“SF infused with a cosmopolitan and literary sensibility... accomplished and affecting.”
Paul J. McAuley
“Eric Brown is
name to watch in SF.”
Peter F. Hamilton
is equal parts adventure, drama and wonder. Sometimes they work alone, providing a raw dose of science fiction. Other times, Brown uses them in concert to spin an irresistible blend that pulls the narrative along almost faster than you can keep up. However it’s served,
is a delightful read and is an excellent reminder of why we read science fiction: it’s fun!”
“Classic science-fiction components and a general reverence for science make this tale of intergalactic travel a worthy, occasionally awe-inspiring read... Brown’s spectacular creativity creates a constantly compelling read... a memorable addition to the genre.”
“Brown concentrates on stunning landscapes and in the way he conveys the conflicting points of view between races... No matter how familiar each character becomes, they continue to appear completely alien when viewed through the opposing set of eyes. Brown has a casual and unpretentious style and... the accessibility, the tenderness between characters and more importantly the scale of wonder involved are what makes this highly enjoyable escapism.”
“There is always something strikingly probable about the futures that Eric Brown writes... No matter how dark the future that Eric Brown imagines, the hope of redemption is always present. No matter how alien the world he describes, there is always something hauntingly familiar about the situations that unfold there.”
“Eric Brown joins the ranks of Graham Joyce, Christopher Priest and Robert Holdstock as a master fabulist.”
Paul di Filippo
Also by Eric Brown
Murder by the Book
The Devil’s Nebula
The Kings of Eternity
Guardians of the Phoenix
New York Dreams
New York Blues
New York Nights
Gilbert and Edgar on Mars
The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne
A Writer’s Life
The Angels of Life and Death
The Fall of Tartarus
(with Keith Brooke)
The Time-Lapsed Man
First published 2013 by Solaris
an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd,
Riverside House, Osney Mead,
Oxford, OX2 0ES, UK
ISBN: (epub) 978-1-84997-540-7
ISBN: (mobi) 978-1-84997-541-4
Copyright © Eric Brown 2013
Cover Art by Dominic Harman
The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of he copyright owners.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
For Keith and Debbie Brooke
N THE DAY
everything changed, Sally Walsh finished what was to be her last shift at the Kallani medical centre – though she didn’t know that at the time – and stepped out of the makeshift surgery into the furnace heat of the early afternoon Ugandan sun.
The packed-earth compound greeted her with its depressing familiarity. A dozen crude buildings, looking more like a shanty town than a hospital, huddled in the centre of the sere compound, surrounded by a tall adobe wall. Beside the metal gate rose a watchtower, manned in shifts by a dozen government soldiers. When she began work at Kallani five years ago, it struck her as odd that a hospital had to be so protected, but after a few months in the job she had seen why: as fortification against rebel insurgents bent on kidnapping Westerners to hold hostage, to deter local gangs from raiding the hospital for drugs, and to stop the flood of refugees from over-running the centre in times of drought.
Last winter Sally had attempted to grow an olive tree in the shade of the storeroom; but the drought had killed it within weeks. How could she lavish water on the tree when her patients were so needful? Now the dead twigs poked from the ground, blackened and twisted.
Ben Odinga stepped from the storeroom, saw her and raised his eyebrows.
She shook her head.
“Have you finished?” he asked.
“I’m well and truly finished, Ben.”
He looked at her seriously. “Come to my room, Sally. I have some good whisky. South African. You look like you need a drink.”
She followed him across the compound to the prefab building that comprised the centre’s residential complex. He held open the fly-screen door and she stepped into the small room. A simple narrow bed, a bookshelf bearing medical textbooks, a dozen well-read paperback novels and a fat Bible.
She sat on a folding metal chair by the window while Ben poured two small measures of whisky into chipped tumblers.
She took a sip, winced as its fire scoured her throat, and smiled at Ben’s description of it as ‘good whisky’. What she’d give for a glass of Glenfiddich.