This is the first published collection of short stories by one of the foremost voices in science fiction today. This significant volume contains many characters and situations that later evolved into their own novels. "Mandala" features technologically perfect cities that eject their sinful human occupants, a premise that can be found at the root of Bear's later novel, Strength of Stones. In "Hardfought", Bear brilliantly handles the classic science fiction dilemma of human communication with aliens. Other stories include "The Wind From a Burning Woman" in which a woman holds the world hostage by controlling a giant asteroid; "Scattershot", in which the inhabitants of many universes meet in an undefined limbo space; and "Petra", a story of a world where chaos rules, stone moves and the mind controls reality. Hailed by readers and critics alike, The Venging has been described as "an excellent collection" and its author praised as "one of the freshest writers to break into the science fiction field in many a year".
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September 20, 2004
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Excerpt from The Venging by Greg Bear
THE WIND FROM A BURNING WOMAN
Five years later the glass bubbles were intact, the wires and pipes were taut, and the city-strung across Psyche's surface like a dewy spider's web wrapped around a thrown rock was still breathtaking. It was also empty. Hexamon investigators had swept out the final dried husks and bones. The asteroid was clean again. The plague was over.
Giani Turco turned her eyes away from the port and looked at the displays. Satisfied by the approach, she ordered a meal and put her work schedule through the processor for tightening and trimming. She had six tanks of air, enough to last her three days. There was no time to spare. The robot guards in orbit around Psyche hadn't been operating for at least a year and wouldn't offer any resistance, but four small pursuit bugs had been planted in the bubbles. They turned themselves off whenever possible, but her presence would activate them. Time spent in avoiding and finally destroying them: one hour forty minutes, the processor said. The final schedule was projected in front of her by a pen hooked around her ear. She happened to be staring at Psyche when the readout began; the effect -- red numerals and letters over grey rock and black space -- was pleasingly graphic, like a film in training.
Turco had dropped out of training six weeks early. She had no need for a final certificate, approval from the Hexamon, or any other nicety. Her craft was stolen from Earth orbit, her papers and cards forged, and her intentions entirely opposed to those of the sixteen corporeal desks. On Earth, some hours hence, she would be hated and reviled.