Darrell Bain s finest novel to date. Savage Survival is a coming of age novel like no other and Lyda Brightner is a character you ll remember forever. Raped at eleven. Forced to kill. Subjected to suffering in one brutal and horrible environment after another, with no parents or guardian to protect her as she grows up. Millions of earthmen have been captured by invulnerable aliens and are being put through the strangest and most terrifying survival tests ever imagined. Young Lyda Brightner s first experience after being thrown into the midst of undisciplined humans is horrible enough, but she doesn t know that the trials are just beginning. She doesn t know that only a few hundred of the millions of captives will live through the vicious and cruel winnowing process. Again and again as she grows into a young woman, she has to call on the only resources she has available: her own innate bravery, her quick mind, her unwavering belief in the goodness of the majority of humans and ultimately, an enduring hope that one day she will find someone to love.
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Double Dragon Publishing
April 06, 2006
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Excerpt from Savage Survival by Darrell Bain
Her parents were scared; horribly scared. Eleven year old Lyda Brightner could tell that much by how white and strained their faces were, by the way they tried to keep her away from the viewscreen in the den where they had been practically living for the last few days. They would only leave for short breaks and even then, wear the earpieces so they could follow what was happening. It was a war, an invasion; she was pretty sure of that from the little snippets of news she had heard when peeking into the den, and from conversations with the few friends she had been able to talk to. Mostly, the phone lines were always either busy or made strange crackling sounds like bacon grease popping in a hot skillet. It must be bad from the way Mom and Dad are acting, she thought. And there had been no school this morning; that was the real signal, because always before, there was an explanation, like a tornado or storms or a terrorist threat. This time, nothing had been said except she was to stay home and do her lessons in her room. She had done that, and now she was bored with the rest of the day stretching out before her like a deserted playground. Not even a new book to read on her computer or on the phone.
Lyda stood by the doorless entrance to the den, trying to turn herself into a small, quiet animal that wouldn't be noticed. A rabbit, like in Watership Down , she thought. No one notices a rabbit.She closed her eyes and envisioned herself huddled down in the grass, a little white bunny with ears laid flat so they wouldn't peek out and give her away. It seemed to be working because for a while, she stood and watched and listened, her presence undetected. At first, she didn't understand what she was seeing; she thought Mom and Dad must be watching a monster movie. Bright silvery spiderlikeconstructs crawled on multiple legs across a landscape of loose rubble and debris while little ant beings scurried to get out of their way. Then it popped into perspective. The rubble was the ruins of buildings; the ants were people trying to avoid being eaten That was what it looked like at first, but then she realized the people were being herded, with the spider things acting like cowboys on horses, or sheepdogs working a flock. The silvery spiders were nothing to fool with; she could see that. Anyone who tried to fight or run the wrong way was killed gruesomely by mandiblelike appendages that pierced bodies like giant needles stitching clothes on puppets.
Periodically, a long broad tongue of blue fire would lash out from an opening among the multiple sets of mandibles adorning the front of the spiders and sweep a path through the crowds of people running frantically over the debris-strewn streets. Whenever the band of energy touched a person, bluish lightning flared and the figures would go limp for a moment, crash to the ground, then get up and run even faster than before-if they were able. Some weren't and were ignored or stepped on and crushed by the multiple-jointed appendages supporting the spiders. In a few moments, out would come the tongue of energy again, touching more people with its blue lightning and hurrying them along like an extra powerful cattle prod. But where were they going Why were they being chased and harassed like gangs of vermin The mandibles of the creature moved constantly, opening and closing as if seeking something to bite, though nothing except humans who chose to fight ever came within their grasp. Other appendages waved in a roving pattern below the mandibles, touching the ground, dead bodies, ruined vehicles, poking into shattered doorways. Whiskers, she thought. They're like the whiskers of a cat, telling it what's near.