From the multi-award winning and bestselling author of such classics as The Boat of a Million Yearscomes a novel of mystery, discovery and wonder. Two archaeologists cross paths with two ""freebooters"" whose motives toward an ancient relic are not purely scientific. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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February 28, 2003
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Excerpt from For Love and Glory by Poul Anderson
At first sight Lissa thought it was an island -- a strange one, yes, but this whole world was strange to her. Then as she and Karl came out of the woodland and went on toward the river, she knew it could not be. It lay in midstream, dully iridescent, about twenty meters long, perhaps a fourth as wide, curving up to a gently rounded top one meter or so above the water. Someone or something had made it.
But there were no native sophonts anywhere around this star. Scant though exploration had been in the seven Terran years since the system was first visited, that much was certain.
So who, and when, and why?
She halted. "What the chaos? Have you any idea what that might be?"
Karl stopped too. "None," he said. "I do not recall any such artifact from my experience or other sources of information. A slight resemblance to some dwellings of the Orcelin civilization." The tip of his tail gestured at the camp near the shore. "Obviously it is not the work of yonder persons. I presume they are studying it. They may have learned something."
The translator clinging to Lissa's backpack rendered his answer into flat-voiced Anglay. He could follow her words readily enough. If he had tried to utter them the result would have been grotesque. For her part, she could not hear most of his language, let alone pronounce those trills, whistles, and supersonic melodies. Once it had struck her funny that such a huge creature should have so thin a voice. But that was in her silly girlhood. She had since met beings much more paradoxical and less comprehensible, and learned that to them humans were likewise.
She did still sometimes wonder whether Karl -- her name for him, honoring a friend at home -- really spoke as academically as the device rendered it. He was a scientist, but also a top-class waymate. Yet she would never understand the nuances of his personality, nor he hers. They could never be more than comrades.
"Let's have a better look." She unsheathed her optic, raised it to her eyes, and activated it. His keener vision had already made out what she now did. The surface was not actually smooth, it was subtly, bewilderingly complex. Increasing the magnification gave small help. Noontide shadows were too short to bring out enough relief.
The idea struck her like a fist. Her hands dropped. "Forerunner work?" she cried.
Amidst the tumult in her head she felt that the translator's level tone was, for once, conveying an emotion. Calm. "I immediately suspected so." Somebody with Karl's size and strength might not be very excitable. Interested, yes; delighted, maybe; but free of the chills that ran up her spine, out to the ends of her fingers.
Steadiness returned. She lifted the optic again.
Two beings poised on the thing, with a variety of instruments set forth. One was a male human, the other an anthropard from Rikha or a Rikhan colony. She watched them come to full alertness, peer her way, and hasten down the whaleback curve. Their boat lay alongside, tethered by a geckofoot grapnel. They got in, cast off, and motored toward the land.
Lissa swung her gaze about and found their camp, which from here was half screened by brush. She put her optic back.
"Do you recognize either of them?" asked Karl.
"No," she said, "nor why they haven't been in touch." She scowled as she started off again. "We'll find out. We'd better."