The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she's been handpicked for the most important mission of her life-a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny-as pilot of the starship Montreal-must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed. Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn't come to an end first… From the Paperback edition.
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June 28, 2005
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Excerpt from Scardown by Elizabeth Bear
The Montreal has wings.
They unfurl around her, gossamer solar sails bearing a kilometers-long dragonfly out of high Earth orbit and into the darkness where she will test herself, and me. Sheýs already moving like a cutter through night-black water when Colonel Valens straps me to the butter-soft leather of the pilotýs chair and seats the collars. Iým wearing the damned uniform he demanded; itýs made for this, with a cutout under my jacket for the interface.
Cold metal presses above my hips, against the nape of my neck. Thereýs a subtle little prickle when the pins slide in, and my unauthorized AI passenger chuckles inside my ear.
Gonna be okay out there, Dick?
ýWith a whole starship to play in? Sure. Besides, I have my other self to wait for. Whenever Valens lets him into the system, pinions clipped.ý He grins in the corner of my prosthetic eye. Virtual Richard. Iýll miss him. ýIýll go when you enter the ship. Theyýll miss me in the fluctuation.ý
ýBe careful, Jenny.ý
Spit-shined Colonel Valens raises three fingers into my line of sight. I draw one breath, deep and sweet, skin prickling with chill and cool sweat.
Valensýs fingers come down. One. Two. Three.
My body vanishes along with Valens, the observers, the bridge. Cold on my skin and the simulations were never like this. Richard winks and vanishes, and my head feels--empty, all of a sudden, and ringing hollow. Itýs strange in there without him. And then I forget myself in the Montreal, as the sun pushes my sails and the stars spread out before me like buttercream frosting on a birthday cake. Heat and pressure like a kiss gliding down my skin, and the Montrealýs sails are eagleýs wings cradling a thermal.
Eagle wings. Eagle feathers. A warrior dream.
I pull the ship around me like a feathered skin and fly.
Valensýs voice in my ear as Richard leaves me. ýAll good, Master Warrant?ý
ýYes, sir.ý I hate the distractions. Hate him talking when Iým trying to fly. The simulations were mostly hyperlight; I didnýt get to play much in space I could see. Only feel, like the rough curve of gravity dragging you down a water slide, and then the darkness pulling you under.