In the far future, the technological disaster known as the Nanocaust left Earth uninhabitable. Archaeologist Verity Auger continues to explore the remnants of the planet's environment. But Verity is needed to examine something far more important-the discovery of mid-twentieth century Earth at the far end of a wormhole. And on this alternate world is a device capable of destroying both Earths if Verity cannot find the man preparing to detonate it in time.
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May 29, 2006
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Excerpt from Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds
The river flowing sluggishly under Pont de la Concorde was flat and grey, like worn-out linoleum. It was October and the authorities were having one of their periodic crackdowns on contraband. They had set up their customary lightning checkpoint at the far end of the bridge, backing traffic all the way across to the Right Bank.
"One thing I've never got straight," Custine said. "Are we musicians supplementing our income with a little detective work on the side, or is it the other way round "
Floyd glanced into the rear-view mirror. "Which way round would you like it to be "
"I think I'd like it best if I had the kind of income that didn't need supplementing."
"We were doing all right until recently."
"Until recently we were a trio. Before that, a quartet. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm beginning to detect a trend."
Floyd slipped the Mathis into gear and eased forward as the line advanced. "All we have to do is hold the fort together until she returns."
"That isn't going to happen," Custine said. "She left for good when she got on that train. You keeping a seat free for her in the front of the car isn't going to change things."
"It's her seat."
"She's gone." Custine sighed. "That's the trouble with recognising talent: sooner or later, someone else recognises it as well." The big Frenchman rummaged in his jacket pocket. "Here. Show the nice man my papers."
Floyd took the yellowing documents and placed them next to his own on the dashboard. When they reached the checkpoint, the guard flicked through Floyd's papers and handed them back wordlessly. He thumbed through Custine's, then leaned down until he had a good view into the back of the Mathis.
"On business, monsieur "
"I wish," Custine said quietly.
"What's that supposed to mean "
"It means we were looking for work," Floyd said amiably. "Unfortunately, we didn't find any."
"What kind of work "
"Music," Floyd said, gesturing around the car. "Hence the instruments."