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The book is a collection of nine short stories telling the tale of three generations of a highly dysfunctional family before, during, and after a technological. Being the blog of Charles Stross, author, and occasional guests [ Home ] [ FAQ ] [ Contact me ] ebook editions are available for download: ePub format ebook. Being the blog of Charles Stross, author, and occasional guests [ Home ] [ FAQ ] [ Contact me ] [ Older TOAST - ePub ebook · TOAST - MobiPocket ebook.


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BTW, it read fine (except a few typos) on Safari Reader, which I believe (ahem) ingests epub format. Charlie Stross replied to this comment from. Charles Stross. 30 Ungluers have Faved this Work. Learn more at Find on Google Books Find on Worldcat Find on OpenLibrary Find on. Charles Stross. 19 Ungluers have Faved this Work. Learn more at Find on Google Books Find on Worldcat Find on OpenLibrary Find on.

And exponential growth means the workload is always growing faster than the budget for hiring minions to do the donkey-work. At first it's fun, a buzz like a caffeine high: The germ of "Accelerando" dates to that time. To be specific, it dates to a particularly bad month in early , when I was trying to brainwash Datacash into talking to a French credit card system and if you think obscure 's-vintage British credit card protocols sound awful, you've never dealt with the French equivalent.

I was under a lot of pressure, not aided by the French bank programmers not actually wanting to expose the guts of their communication protocol to, gasp, developers who were trying to communicate with their servers One Thursday when things had been not been going well in an especially emphatic manner, I wandered over to my boss the CTO's desk and said, "I'm taking tomorrow off.

He looked at me. Then he did a double-take: This was very sensible of him. Most directors of a company that's going public in six months and has a server development team consisting of 1 one geek who is developing an incontrolable facial tic and demanding days off in Amsterdam might actually get a little bit nervous about the idea of said server development team fleeing the country on short notice.

But my prepared fallback position to taking a long weekend somewhere with lots of beer and no French bank managers to scream at was to try to quit on the spot, and if that failed I was going to spring a full-scale nervous breakdown Anyway, I was wandering around Amsterdam the next day — on a rainy Friday — trying not to fall apart at the seams.

I'd spent the whole night lying awake, looping on re-drafting my resignation letter, and I had the shakes. Then my phone rang. I thought you might like to know I immediately headed for the nearest pub, and my girlfriend and I celebrated in time-honoured fashion. For a couple of bright hours in the middle of a rainy afternoon, the high pressure bubble in the core of the dot com boom actually looked like an optimistic, cheerful place to be.

And something about the sudden release of stress took root, and began to germinate. I got far enough away from the coal seam to blink, look at it in amazement, and ask once more the classic science fictional question, what happens if this goes on? What happens if you keep piling on the changes? What kind of person can actually live on the edge of a singularity, keeping pace while all around them the world is melted down and re-forged monthly, daily, hourly?

I pulled out my Psion 5MX and scribbled a brief paragraphs about a very strange guy named Manfred. Then I proceeded to get side-tracked by beer for the next couple of days.

It took me nearly five years until early to finish answer the question. The soil in which the seed sprouted had long since withered, the bust following the boom; the dot com IPO didn't make my fortune, but it left me with "Accelerando" by way of payback And I'm not unhappy about that outcome.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content. Charlie's Diary. In addition, ebook editions are available for download: On beginnings The Science Fiction Book Club re-published "Accelerando" in , and then-editor Andrew Wheeler asked me if I'd like to write a short piece explaining the origins of the book and giving something of a feel for it.

I spent most of the 90s on a kind of sabbatical from writing fiction my first love , with my head stuck up the fundament of the software industry. In the early 90's I worked for SCO back when it was a UNIX company, rather than the unholy terror that came back from the dead to haunt the free software movement. Then I discovered the web, back around I remember a wee daily email bulletin titled "what's new on the web" that came from an address at NCSA; I used to visit all the interesting new web sites every day, until the volume grew too great some time in late I was supposed to be writing UNIX manuals, but I distracted myself by learning Perl — and was inadvertently responsible for the development of the robot exclusion protocol by writing a web spider that annoyed people who knew more about what they were doing than I did.

I moved to Scotland to join a web startup that went bust, freelanced for a couple of years while writing a web architecture book, landed myself a magazine column about Linux, and joined another start-up that turned into a successful dot com, went public, and much to my surprise is still in business. I think I nodded, but maybe it was just the caffeine pulling my strings.

It was my boss the CTO. And their own equivalent project, of course. Three hundred megatons of H-bombs pointed at a single target, and nobody was certain it would be enough to do the job.

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And then there was the hard-to-conceal fiasco in Antarctica. Egg on face: a subterranean nuclear test program in international territory! If nothing else, it had been enough to stop JFK running for a second term. The test program was a bad excuse: but it was far better than confessing what had really happened to the st Airborne Division on the cold plateau beyond Mount Erebus.

The plateau that the public didn't know about, that didn't show up on the maps issued by the geological survey departments of those governments party to the Dresden Agreement of -- an arrangement that even Hitler had stuck to. The plateau that had swallowed more U-2 spy planes than the Soviet Union, more surface expeditions than darkest Africa. How the hell am I going to put this together for him?

Roger's spent the past five hours staring at this twenty page report, trying to think of a way of summarizing their drily quantifiable terror in words that will give the reader power over them, the power to think the unthinkable: but it's proving difficult.

The new man in the White House is straight-talking, demands straight answers. He's pious enough not to believe in the supernatural, confident enough that just listening to one of his speeches is an uplifting experience if you can close your eyes and believe in morning in America.

Weapons may have deadly or hideous effects, but they acquire moral character from the actions of those who use them. Whereas these projects are indelibly stained by a patina of ancient evil He hopes that if the balloon ever does go up, if the sirens wail, he and Andrea and Jason will be left behind to face the nuclear fire. It'll be a merciful death compared with what he suspect lurks out there, in the unexplored vastness beyond the gates. The vastness that made Nixon cancel the manned space program, leaving just the standing joke of a white-elephant shuttle, when he realised just how hideously dangerous the space race might become.

The darkness that broke Jimmy Carter's faith and turned Lyndon B. Johnson into an alcoholic. He stands up, nervously shifts from one foot to the other.

Looks round at the walls of his cubicle. For a moment the cigarette smouldering on the edge of his ash tray catches his attention: wisps of blue-grey smoke coil like lazy dragons in the air above it, writhing in a strange cuneiform text. He blinks and they're gone, and the skin in the small of his back prickles as if someone had pissed on his grave.

His hand is shaking as he stubs the cigarette out. Mustn't let this get to me. He glances at the wall. It's nineteen hundred hours; too late, too late.

He should go home, Andy will be worrying herself sick. In the end it's all too much. He slides the thin folder into the safe behind his chair, turns the locking handle and spins the dial, then signs himself out of the reading room and goes through the usual exit search.

During the thirty mile drive home, he spits out of the window, trying to rid his mouth of the taste of Auschwitz ashes. Late Night in the White House The colonel is febrile, jittering about the room with gung-ho enthusiasm. I like that. A few more guys like you running the company and we wouldn't have this fuckup in Tehran.

The colonel is a firestorm of enthusiasm, burning out of control like a forties comic-book hero. He has Roger on the edge of his chair, almost sitting at attention. Roger has to bite his tongue to remind himself not to call the colonel 'sir' -- he's a civilian, not in the chain of command.

And I'm pleased to say that he's agreed. Whoever the colonel is he's got pull, in positively magical quantities.

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You said, your team --'' "Relax a bit. Drink your coffee. Roger sips cautiously at the brown sludge in the mug with the Marine Corps crest. October surprises. Those asshole commies down in Nicaragua. The Evil Empire uses dirty tricks. But nowadays we're better than they are: buncha hicks, like some third-world dictatorship -- Upper Volta with shoggoths. My job is to pin them down and cut them up. Don't give them a chance to whack the shoe on the UN table, demand concessions.

If they want to bluff I'll call 'em on it. If they want to go toe-to-toe I'll dance with 'em. But too many bleeding hearts -- it makes me sick. If you guys went back to wet ops today you'd have journalists following you every time you went to the john in case it was newsworthy.

It's a small team and the buck stops here. But you get the picture. I need someone who knows the company, an insider who has clearance up the wazoo who can go in and get the dope before it goes through a fucking committee of ass-watching bureaucrats.

I'm also getting someone from the Puzzle Palace, and some words to give me pull with Big Black. Roger is impressed by this colonel, despite his better judgement. Within the byzantine world of the US intelligence services, he is talking about building his very own pocket battleship and sailing it under the jolly roger with letters of marque and reprise signed by the president.

But Roger still has some questions to ask, to scope out the limits of what Colonel North is capable of. Any means necessary he said, and I have an executive order with the ink still damp to prove it. Those projects aren't part of the national command structure any more. Officially they've been stood down from active status and are being considered for inclusion in the next round of arms reduction talks.

Unofficially, they're part of my group, and I will use them as necessary to contain and reduce the Evil Empire's warmaking abilities. Nothing short of them breaking it would lead me to do so. It's oppressively dark in the cavern under the ice, and Roger shivers inside his multiple layers of insulation, shifts from foot to foot to keep warm. He has to swallow to keep his ears clear and he feels slightly dizzy from the pressure in the artificial bubble of air, pumped under the icy ceiling to allow humans to exist here, under the Ross Ice Shelf; they'll all spend more than a day sitting in depressurization chambers on the way back up to the surface.

There is no sound from the waters lapping just below the edge of the pier. The floodlights vanish into the surface and keep going -- the water in the sub-surface Antarctic lake is incredibly clear -- but are swallowed up rapidly, giving an impression of infinite, inky depths.

Roger is here as the colonel's representative, to observe the arrival of the probe, receive the consignment they're carrying, and report back that everything is running smoothly. The others try to ignore him, jittery at the presence of the man from DC. There're a gaggle of engineers and artificers, flown out via McMurdo base to handle the midget sub's operations. A nervous lieutenant supervises a squad of marines with complicated-looking weapons, half gun and half video camera, stationed at the corners of the raft.

And there's the usual platform crew, deep-sea rig maintenance types -- but subdued and nervous looking. They're afloat in a bubble of pressurized air wedged against the underside of the Antarctic ice sheet: below them stretch the still, supercooled waters of Lake Vostok.

They're waiting for a rendezvous.

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They're waiting for the men in the midget sub drilling quietly through three miles of frigid water, intruders in a long-drowned tomb. Not out here, at the edge of the human world. Roger shuffles some more. Looking round, Roger sees one of the marines cross himself. The lieutenant checks his clipboard. Surface waters undulate, oily, as the sub rises. He's suddenly very busy adjusting trim settings, blowing bottled air into ballast tanks, discussing ullage levels and blade count with his number two.

The crane crew are busy too, running their long boom out over the lake. The sub's hatch is visible now, bobbing along the top of the water: the lieutenant is suddenly active. Stake it out, left and centre!

We can't get away with this forever, he reasons. Sooner or later The sub comes out of the water like a gigantic yellow bath toy, a cyborg whale designed by a god with a sense of humour. It takes tense minutes to winch it in and manoeuvre it safely onto the platform.

Marines take up position, shining torches in through two of the portholes that bulge myopically from the smooth curve of the sub's nose.

Up on top someone is talking into a handset plugged into the stubby conning tower; the hatch locking wheel begins to turn. In the light of the sodium floods everything looks sallow and washed-out; the soldier's face is the colour of damp cardboard, slack with relief. Roger waits while the submariner -- Gorman -- clambers unsteadily down from the top deck.

He's a tall, emaciated-looking man, wearing a red thermal suit three sizes too big for him: salt-and-pepper stubble textures his jaw with sandpaper. Right now, he looks like a cholera victim; sallow skin, smell of acrid ketones as his body eats its own protein reserves, a more revolting miasma hovering over him. There's a slim aluminium briefcase chained to his left wrist, a bracelet of bruises darkening the skin above it.

Roger steps forward. He's unable to sustain it. Here's the QA sample; the rest is down below. You have the unlocking code?

Jourgensen nods. Floodlights glisten on polythene bags stuffed with white powder, five kilos of high-grade heroin from the hills of Afghanistan; there's another quarter of a ton packed in boxes in the crew compartment.

The lieutenant inspects it, closes the case and passes it to Jourgensen. There's obviously something very wrong with him. Gorman shakes his head and looks away: the wan light makes the razor-sharp creases on his face stand out, like the crackled and shattered surface of a Jovian moon. Crow's feet.

Signs of age. Hair the colour of moonlight. Sinks to his knees. And our radiation detectors. Must have been a solar flare or something. Roger looks at him for a long, thoughtful minute: Gorman is twenty-five and a fixer for Big Black, early history in the Green Berets.

He was in rude good health two days ago, when he set off through the gate to make the pick-up. Roger glances at the lieutenant. A pause. I don't expect we'll be sending any more crews through Victor-Tango for a while. Behind him, alien moonlight glimmers across the floor of Lake Vostok, three miles and untold light years from home.

Video clip Shot of huge bomber, rounded gun turrets sprouting like mushrooms from the decaying log of its fuselage, weirdly bulbous engine pods slung too far out towards each wingtip, four turbine tubes clumped around each atomic kernel. Powered by eight nuclear-heated Pratt and Whitney NP turbojets, it circles endlessly above the Arctic ice cap, waiting for the call. This is Item One, the flight training and test bird: twelve other birds await criticality on the ground, for once launched a B can only be landed at two airfields in Alaska that are equipped to handle them.

This one's been airborne for nine months so far, and shows no signs of age. Stubby delta wings slice through the air, propelled by a rocket-bright glare. Unlike the real thing, this one carries no hydrogen bombs, no direct-cycle fission ramjet to bring retaliatory destruction to the enemy. Travelling at Mach 3 the XK-PLUTO will overfly enemy territory, dropping megaton-range bombs until, its payload exhausted, it seeks out and circles a final enemy.

Once over the target it will eject its reactor core and rain molten plutonium on the heads of the enemy. XK-PLUTO is a total weapon: every aspect of its design, from the shockwave it creates as it hurtles along at treetop height to the structure of its atomic reactor, is designed to inflict damage. Voice-over "This is why we need such a weapon. This is what it deters. The abominations first raised by the Third Reich's Organisation Todt, now removed to the Ukraine and deployed in the service of New Soviet Man as our enemy calls himself.

Barbed wire, guns. A drained canal slashes north from the base of the pyramid towards the Baltic coastline, relic of the installation process: this is where it came from. The slave barracks squat beside the pyramid like a horrible memorial to its black-uniformed builders. Cut to: The new resting place: a big concrete monolith surrounded by three concrete lined lakes and a canal. It sits in the midst of a Ukraine landscape, flat as a pancake, stretching out forever in all directions.

Voice-over "This is Project Koschei.

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The Kremlin's key to the gates of hell Walcott on his pioneering expeditions into the Canadian Rockies, near the eastern border of British Columbia --'' a hand-drawing of something indescribably weird fetches up on the screen " -- like this opabina, which died there six hundred and forty million years ago. Fossils of soft-bodied animals that old are rare; the Burgess shale deposits are the best record of the Precambrian fauna anyone has found to date.

Roger winces sympathy for the academic. He'd rather she wasn't here, but somehow she got wind of the famous palaeontologist's visit -- and she's the colonel's administrative assistant. Telling her to leave would be a career-limiting move. We find them also -- their exact cognates -- on the ring segments of the Z-series specimens returned by the Pabodie Antarctic expedition of The world of the Precambrian was laid out differently from our own; most of the land masses that today are separate continents were joined into one huge structure.

Indeed, these samples were originally separated by only two thousand miles or thereabouts. Suggesting that they brought their own parasites with them. The doctor looks up. His eyes gleam: "That something liked to eat them when they were fresh.

Something we thought was extinct. The thing looks a bit like a weird fish -- a turbocharged, armoured hagfish with side-skirts and spoilers, or maybe a squid with not enough tentacles.

The upper head is a flattened disk, fronted by two bizarre fern-like tentacles drooping over the weird sucker-mouth on its underside. It should be dead: there's nothing there for it to eat. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Anomalocaris, our toothy chewer. The professor moves on rapidly, not giving Roger a chance to fathom his real reaction. Whatever it is, it looks like a cauliflower head, or maybe a brain: fractally branching stalks continuously diminishing in length and diameter, until they turn into an iridescent fuzzy manifold wrapped around a central stem.

The base of the stem is rooted to a barrel-shaped structure that stands on four stubby tentacles. It bears a striking resemblance to an enlarged body segment of Hallucigena --'' here he shows another viewgraph, something like a stiletto-heeled centipede wearing a war-bonnet of tentacles -- "but a year ago we worked out that we had poor hallucigena upside down and it was actually just a spiny worm. And the high levels of iridium and diamond in the head here There's no cellular structure at all.

It's more like a machine that displays biological levels of complexity. We think it's from some time in the first half of this century, last half of last century. It's been dead for years, but there are older people still walking this earth.

In contrast --'' he flips to the picture of Anomalocaris "-- this specimen we found in rocks that are roughly six hundred and ten million years old.

They're obviously still alive somewhere. Go ahead. Everyone here is cleared for it. And we've sent some samples for laboratory analysis -- nothing anyone could deduce much from,'' he adds hastily. He straightens up. Cladistic analysis of their intracellular characteristics and what we've been able to work out of their biochemistry indicates, not a point of divergence from our own ancestry, but the absence of common ancestry.

A cabbage is more human, has more in common with us, than that creature. You can't tell by looking at the fossils, six hundred million years after it died, but live tissue samples are something else. We haven't been able to figure out what most of its organelles do, what their terrestrial cognates would be, and it builds proteins using a couple of amino acids that we don't.

That nothing does.

Either it's descended from an ancestry that diverged from ours before the archaeobacteria, or -- more probably -- it is no relative at all. The critter you've got there was retrieved by one of our, uh, missions. On the other side of a gate. Suslowicz died two weeks ago; Gorman is still disastrously sick, connective tissue rotting in his body, massive radiation exposure the probable cause.

Normal service will not be resumed; the pipeline will remain empty until someone can figure out a way to make the deliveries without losing the crew. Roger inclines his head minutely. By the way, do you have anything approximating a fix on the other end of the gate?

Mission four, before the colonel diverted their payload capacity to another purpose, planted a compact radio telescope in an empty courtyard in the city on the far side of the gate. XK-Masada, where the air's too thin to breathe without oxygen; where the sky is indigo, and the buildings cast razor-sharp shadows across a rocky plain baked to the consistency of pottery under a blood-red sun.

Subsequent analysis of pulsar signals recorded by the station confirmed that it was nearly six hundred light years closer to the galactic core, inward along the same spiral arm. There are glyphs on the alien buildings that resemble symbols seen in grainy black-and-white Minox photos of the doors of the bunker in the Ukraine.

Symbols behind which the subject of Project Koschei lies undead and sleeping: something evil, scraped from a nest in the drowned wreckage of a city on the Baltic floor. We know so little about the context in which life evolves. Now we have a second, a fragment of a second. If we get a third, we can begin to ask deep questions like, not, 'is there life out there? If only you knew you wouldn't be so happy -- He restrains the urge to speak up. Doing so would be another career-limiting move.

More to the point, it might be a life-expectancy-limiting move for the professor, who certainly didn't deserve any such drastic punishment for his cooperation. Besides, Harvard professors visiting the Executive Office Building in DC are harder to disappear than comm-symp teachers in some fly-blown jungle village in Nicaragua.

Somebody might notice. The colonel would be annoyed. Roger realises that Professor Gould is staring at him. Remembering time-survivor curves, the captured Nazi medical atrocity records mapping the ability of a human brain to survive in close proximity to the Baltic Singularity. Mengele's insanity. The SS's final attempt to liquidate the survivors, the witnesses. Koschei, primed and pointed at the American heartland like a darkly evil gun.

The "world-eating mind'' adrift in brilliant dreams of madness, estivating in the absence of its prey: dreaming of the minds of sapient beings, be they barrel-bodied wing-flying tentacular things, or their human inheritors. Conscious, like us? And this one -- '' he's found a Predecessor, god help him, barrel-bodied and bat-winged -- "had what looks like a lot of very complex ganglia, not a brain as we know it, but at least as massive as our own.

And some specialised grasping adaptations that might be interpreted as facilitating tool use. Put the two together and you have a high level technological civilization. Gateways between planets orbiting different stars. Alien flora, fauna, or whatever. I'd say an interstellar civilization isn't out of the picture. One that has been extinct for deep geological time -- ten times as long as the dinosaurs -- but that has left relics that work. The longest lasting of our relics?

All our buildings will be dust in twenty thousand years, even the pyramids. Neil Armstrong's footprints in the Sea of Tranquillity will crumble under micrometeoroid bombardment in a mere half million years or so. The emptied oil fields will refill over ten million years, methane percolating up through the mantle: continental drift will erase everything. But these people! They built to last. There's so much to learn from them.

I wonder if we're worthy pretenders to their technological crown? You betcha! He's dizzy and disoriented from jet-lag, the gut-cramps have only let him come down from his room in the past hour, and he has another two hours to go before he can try to place a call to Andrea.

They had another blazing row before he flew out here; she doesn't understand why he keeps having to visit odd corners of the globe. She only knows that his son is growing up thinking a father is a voice that phones at odd times of day. Roger is mildly depressed, despite the buzz of doing business at this level.

He spends a lot of time worrying about what will happen if they're found out -- what Andrea will do, or Jason for that matter, Jason whose father is a phone call away all the time -- if Roger is led away in handcuffs beneath the glare of flash bulbs. If the colonel sings, if the shy bald admiral is browbeaten into spilling the beans to Congress, who will look after them then? Roger has no illusions about what kills black operations: there are too many people in the loop, too many elaborate front corporations and numbered bank accounts and shady Middle Eastern arms dealers.

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Sooner or later someone will find a reason to talk, and Roger is in too deep. He isn't just the company liaison officer any more: he's become the colonel's bag-man, his shadow, the guy with the diplomatic passport and the bulging briefcase full of heroin and end-user certificates. At least the ship will sink from the top down, he thinks. There are people very high up who want the colonel to succeed.

When the shit hits the fan and is sprayed across the front page of the Washington Post, it will likely take down cabinet members and secretaries of state: the President himself will have to take the witness stand and deny everything.

The republic will question itself. A hand descends on his shoulder, sharply cutting off his reverie. Whatcha worrying about now? He's not really a redneck, Roger knows -- rednecks don't come with doctorates in foreign relations from Yale -- but he likes people to think he's a bumpkin when he wants to get something from them.

Got the background? Deniables ready? Mehmet is impeccably manicured and tailored, wearing a suit from Jermyn Street that costs more than Roger earns in a month.

He has a neatly trimmed beard and moustache and talks with a pronounced English accent. Mehmet is a Turkish name, not a Persian one: pseudonym, of course. To look at him you would think he was a westernized Turkish businessman -- certainly not an Iranian revolutionary with heavy links to Hezbollah and whisper this , Old Man Ruholla himself, the hermit of Qom.

Mehmet strides over. A brief exchange of pleasantries masks the essential formality of their meeting: he's early, a deliberate move to put them off-balance. He's outnumbered, too, and that's also a move to put them on the defensive, because the first rule of diplomacy is never to put yourself in a negotiating situation where the other side can assert any kind of moral authority, and sheer weight of numbers is a powerful psychological tool. For a moment he looks ten years older.

It is indeed grave, my friends. They are in the hands of very dangerous men, men who have nothing to lose and are filled with hatred. We will come to that. These are men of violence, men who have seen their homes destroyed and families subjected to indignities, and their hearts are full of anger.

It will take a large display of repentance, a high blood-price, to download their acquiescence. That is part of our law, you understand? The family of the bereaved may demand blood-price of the transgressor, and how else might the world be? They see it in these terms: that you must repent of your evils and assist them in waging holy war against those who would defile the will of Allah.

We're fighting the Soviets every way we can without provoking the big one. What more do they want? The hostages -- that's not playing well in DC. There's got to be some give and take. If Hezbollah don't release them soon they'll just convince everyone what they're not serious about negotiating. And that'll be an end to it. The colonel wants to help you, but he's got to have something to show the man at the top, right? The great Satan rampages in Afghanistan, taking whole villages by night, and what is done?

The United States turns its back. And they are not the only ones who feel betrayed. Our Ba'athist foes from Iraq If the richest, most powerful nation on earth refuses to fight, these men of violence from the Bekaa think, how may we unstopper the ears of that nation? And they are not sophisticates like you or I. They must understand that it would be the end of far more than their little war.For a long moment he stands poised on the edge of the cliff nerving himself, and thinking.

The book is available for reading in HTML, with minimal markup to make it easier for web clipping utilities to digest it.

You may have high standards of what makes an interesting cover illo, but our narrator is a robot who works in a water tank lit by Cerenkov radiation on a starship! The man to his left -- who looks as old as the moon, thin white hair, liver spots on his hooked nose, eyelids like sacks -- chuckles appreciatively. But there's an international word shortage and I figure recycling is the wave of the future, so here's the original word explanation, fleshed out slightly; make of it what you will.

And if he is right, dying would be no escape. Mission four, before the colonel diverted their payload capacity to another purpose, planted a compact radio telescope in an empty courtyard in the city on the far side of the gate. They're waiting for the men in the midget sub drilling quietly through three miles of frigid water, intruders in a long-drowned tomb.

For a moment the cigarette smouldering on the edge of his ash tray catches his attention: wisps of blue-grey smoke coil like lazy dragons in the air above it, writhing in a strange cuneiform text.

These are men of violence, men who have seen their homes destroyed and families subjected to indignities, and their hearts are full of anger.

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