Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


New Story — “Out In The Dark”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Analog Science Fiction & Fact, June 2013The June issue of Analog is now available. It includes my Nanotech Succession short story “Out In The Dark”–the second story featuring Zeke Choy.

The original story in this sequence was “Nahiku West,” first published in the October 2012 issue of Analog and now available in the ebook Two Stories. The sequence explores the early life of Zeke Choy, a minor character in my novel The Bohr Maker.

The ebook version of Analog is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Analog is also available in a print version.

Snippet: The Bohr Maker

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

The Bohr Maker is an award-winning novel of nanotechnology, adventure, and high-tech revolution.

* * *

The light of the cab drew nearer. He raised his satchel to gain the driver’s attention. But he jerked his hand back down as a woman screamed in terror from a nearby alley. Immediately, the street village was plunged into silence.

Phousita grabbed the doctor’s elbow and drew him backward until they were pressed against the door of the warehouse. “What is it?” he hissed. She shook her head, uncertain. The street was dark. Gas fires, stars, a few scattered flashlights: in the diffuse light she could make out the thoroughfare and the village that crowded the wayside, but she saw nothing that would—

She caught her breath as two great beasts trotted into view from the alley. They paused for a moment in the center of the thoroughfare, their armored heads swinging slowly back and forth as their nostrils tested the air. She could hear them snuffling. “Police dogs,” Zeke Choy muttered. He said it like a curse.

Phousita stood very still, wondering whom the dogs sought tonight. They were the servants of the Commonwealth Police. Their massive heads reached as high as a man’s shoulder. Phousita had seen one crush a woman’s skull in a single bite.

The dogs trotted slowly down the street, pausing now and then at a rickety shelter to lower their heads and examine visually the cowering inhabitants. In the harsh headlights of the approaching cab, their armored skulls glinted purest silver.

* * *
Tom Easton, Analog:
“…phenomenal….This one is a winner–grab it when you see it…”

Fred Cleaver, The Denver Post:
“…excellent….bursting with ideas and adventure…”

Available in print and ebook editions.

Snippet: Tech-Heaven

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Tech-Heaven is a near-future political thriller that imagines the rise of nanotechnology in our world through the eyes of Katie Kishida, a mother and business woman whose life takes an extraordinary turn when she is widowed, and her husband’s body is cryonically frozen against a time when advancing technology will allow his resurrection.

* * *

Katie Kishida rode into the little Andean village of La Cruz on the back of a bony black steel mannequin. Through her VR suit she directed each crunching step along the mineral soil of the village’s lone street. A freezing wind whistled through the mannequin’s external joints and soughed past the rim of her VR helmet. She clung to the mannequin’s back, studying the helmet’s video display, anxiously searching the village for signs of life. But there was nothing—not a wisp of smoke or a scrounging bird, or even a cat slinking through the cluster of worn, wood frame buildings.

She commanded the remotely controlled unit to stop. The village made a neat frame for an imposing line of white peaks supporting a heavy ceiling of storm clouds. Bass thunder rumbled there, arriving almost below the range of hearing, a deep vibration that set Katie’s slight, sixty-four-year-old body trembling, and snapped the brittle tethers she’d placed upon her fear.

The Voice cops had forgotten her.

She didn’t want to believe it. Certainly in Panama they’d tried to stop her. Failing that, they’d seized her holding company, Kishida Hunt. They’d confiscated her assets, declared her a criminal, and then . . . nothing. She’d journeyed south for weeks with no sign of pursuit, and that worried her most of all, because the Voice cops wouldn’t give up unless they thought she was dead . . . or disarmed. Maybe they knew about her bootleg copy of the Cure. Maybe they’d seized it before it could be shipped to La Cruz. Or maybe the life-extension schedule was a fraud, and there had been no pursuit since Panama because there was no Cure—and no way to restore life to the cryonic suspension patients hidden in a clandestine mausoleum in the mountains above La Cruz.

Fear had become her default emotion.

She shut down the remote, then slid from her perch on its back to stand on her own stiff legs. Her lean muscles ached and her ass was forever sore. She lifted the video helmet off her head. The wind streamed past her cheeks, its bitter touch oddly familiar. She thought she could feel Tom’s presence in the mountains’ unremitting cold. Tom had been dead thirty years. Or maybe he’d just become a crystalline life-form when his heart had stopped, his body and their marriage both immersed in liquid nitrogen, –196 C, a cold that had haunted her life.

A child’s laughter broke her reverie. Katie looked up. Motion drew her gaze up the street to a single story building slightly larger than all the others, with a hand lettered sign by the door declaring Provisiones. Katie remembered. This was the same store where she’d bought a cup of hot coffee fifteen years ago. Back then, the building had been painted a shade of blue that matched the sky. But time had bleached and chipped away the paint until now there was only a hint of color left between the cracks. The walls were further abused with rusty staples, a few still clenching the tattered corners of handbills that had long since blown away. A little girl was peering past the partly opened door, bouncing up and down in excitement as she exclaimed in lilting Spanish over the skeletal aspect of the remote.

In her eagerness, Katie dropped the helmet in the street, forgetting it before it hit the ground. She hobbled toward the battered building, fighting muscle cramps in her legs. If the Cure had been successfully shipped from Vancouver, then it would be here, in the village store. She could claim her package and push on, higher still into the mountains, to the hidden mausoleum where Tom waited. If she could get to that quiet place, with the Cure in hand and no cops on her trail, then perhaps she could finally confront the ghost that had haunted her for thirty years.

* * *
For more on the book, see my blog post “Musings on Tech-Heaven.”

Available in print and ebook editions.

A Second Zeke Choy Story

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Nahiku West by Linda Nagata “Nahiku West” — a 9,000 word novelette, originally published in Analog and now available as an ebook at Book View Cafe.

Long ago — actually last spring — I wrote a companion story to last summer’s novelette “Nahiku West.” It’s called “Out In The Dark” and it’s the second story featuring the reluctant Commonwealth police officer, Zeke Choy**.

Since “Nahiku West” was published in Analog, I sent the second story there as well and waited the summer to hear back on it. Three months passed, and I was just about to inquire on its status when Stan Schmidt, long-time Analog editor, announced his immediate retirement — and I knew the waiting wasn’t over yet.

I did eventually receive good news. Analog’s new editor, Trevor Quachri, will be publishing “Out In The Dark” in a future edition, date to be determined.

And now, I must get busy writing more short stories! I want to do at least one or two more featuring Zeke Choy, as well as striking out in some new directions.

If you haven’t done so yet, please sign up for my Very Occasional Newsletter so I can let you know when new stories and novels come out.

**Zeke was a minor character in my novel The Bohr Maker, and his stories take place in The Nanotech Succession story world.

Snippet: Vast

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Vast by Linda Nagata

POINT ZERO: INITIATE.

A sense kicked in. Something like vision. Not because it emulated sight, but because it revealed. Himself: Nikko Jiang-Tibayan. An electronic pattern scheduled to manifest at discrete intervals. Nikko Jiang-Tibayan. He’d been an organic entity once. Not now.

Point one: identify.

Personality suspended on a machine grid: He is the mind of the great ship, Null Boundary. His memories are many, not all accessible. He’s locked much of his past away in proscribed data fields. He interrogates his remaining inventory, seeking an explanation. It comes in an amalgam of cloudy scents: the clinging stink of living flesh parasitized by aerobic bacteria. All defenses down. “Don’t be sad, my love,” she whispers. “Whatever the cost, you know we had to try.”

He explores no farther.

Point two and counting: status check.

A scheduled mood shift floods his pattern with easy confidence. He confirms that Null Boundary has long ago reached maximum velocity, four-tenths lightspeed. The magnetic scoops have been deactivated; the solenoids folded to a point piercing the increasingly thick interstellar medium. Duration? Over two centuries ship’s time have elapsed since Null Boundary left Deception Well.

Two more centuries.

His past has become unconscionably deep for a man who’d been condemned to die at the age of thirty standard years.

* * *
“VAST lives up to its name–big, important, yet written to a human scale so the perspectives of science emerge all the more strongly. Among hard sf writers, Linda Nagata is a pearl, able to render her complex landscapes in moving, quick-paced stories that linger in the mind.”

–Gregory Benford

“…one of the most enjoyable SF books I’ve read in the last 12 years…I can safely say that it is one of the very novels that has literally haunted my dreams, in that the book exerted such a powerful hold on my waking imagination that come nighttime I found my sleeping brain racing ahead with the story. It’s awesome!”

–Alastair Reynolds

“…Nagata’s vision broadens our sense of who we are and what we might one day become as few others have done before her. Recommended.”

–Tom Easton, Analog

“VAST blends solid reasoning, lyrical prose, and an almost mythic suite of characters to form one of the most satisfying sf novels of the decade.”

–Wil McCarthy

Available in print and ebook editions.

Snippet: “Nahiku West”

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Nahiku West by Linda Nagata

A railcar was ferrying Key Lu across the tether linking Nahiku East and West when a micro-meteor popped through the car’s canopy, leaving two neat holes that vented the cabin to hard vacuum within seconds. The car continued on the track, but it took over a minute for it to reach the gel lock at Nahiku West and pass through into atmosphere. No one expected to find Key Lu alive, but as soon as the car re-pressurized, he woke up.

Sometimes, it’s a crime not to die.

o0o

I stepped into the interrogation chamber. Key had been sitting on one of two padded couches, but when he saw me he bolted to his feet. I stood very still, hearing the door lock behind me. Nothing in Key’s background indicated he was a violent man, but prisoners sometimes panic. I raised my hand slightly, as a gel ribbon armed with a paralytic spray slid from my forearm to my palm, ready for use if it came to that.

“Please,” I said, keeping the ribbon carefully concealed. “Sit down.”

Key slowly subsided onto the couch, never taking his frightened eyes off me.

Most of the celestial cities restrict the height and weight of residents to minimize the consumption of volatiles, but Commonwealth police officers are required to be taller and more muscular than the average citizen. I used to be a smaller man, but during my time at the academy adjustments were made. I faced Key Lu with a physical presence optimized to trigger a sense of intimidation in the back brain of a nervous suspect, an effect enhanced by the black fabric of my uniform. Its design was simple—shorts cuffed at the knees and a lightweight pullover with long sleeves that covered the small arsenal of chemical ribbons I carried on my forearms—but its light-swallowing color set me apart from the bright fashions of the celestial cities.

I sat down on the couch opposite Key Lu. He was a well-designed man, nothing eccentric about him, just another good-looking citizen. His hair was presently blond, his eyebrows darker. His balanced face lacked strong features. The only thing notable about him was his injuries. Dark bruises surrounded his eyes and their whites had turned red from burst blood vessels. More bruises discolored swollen tissue beneath his coppery skin.

We studied each other for several seconds, both knowing what was at stake. I was first to speak. “I’m Officer Zeke Choy—”

“I know who you are.”

“—of the Commonwealth Police, the watch officer here at Nahiku.”

The oldest celestial cities orbited Earth, but Nahiku was newer. It was one in a cluster of three orbital habitats that circled the Sun together, just inside the procession of Venus.

Key Lu addressed me again, with the polite insistence of a desperate man. “I didn’t know about the quirk, Officer Choy. I thought I was legal.”

The machine voice of a Dull Intelligence whispered into my auditory nerve that he was lying. I already knew that, but I nodded anyway, pretending to believe him.

The DI was housed within my atrium, a neural organ that served as an interface between mind and machine. Atriums are a legal enhancement—they don’t change human biology—but Key Lu’s quirked physiology that had allowed him to survive short-term exposure to hard vacuum was definitely not.

I was sure his quirk had been done before the age of consent. He’d been born in the Far Reaches among the fragile holdings of the asteroid prospectors, where it must have looked like a reasonable gamble to bioengineer some insurance into his system. Years had passed since then; enforcement had grown stricter. Though Key Lu looked perfectly ordinary, by the law of the Commonwealth, he wasn’t even human.

I met his gaze, hoping he was no fool. “Don’t tell me anything I don’t want to know,” I warned him.

I let him consider this for several seconds before I went on. “Your enhancement is illegal under the statutes of the Commonwealth—”

“I understand that, but I didn’t know about it.”

I nodded my approval of this lie. I needed to maintain the fiction that he hadn’t known. It was the only way I could help him. “I’ll need your consent to remove it.”

A spark of hope ignited in his blooded eyes. “Yes! Yes, of course.”

“So recorded.” I stood, determined to get the quirk out of his system as soon as possible, before awkward questions could be asked. “Treatment can begin right—”

The door to the interrogation room opened.

I was so startled, I turned with my hand half raised, ready to trigger the ribbon of paralytic still hidden in my palm—only to see Magistrate Glory Mina walk in, flanked by two uniformed cops I’d never seen before.

My DI sent the ribbon retreating back up my forearm while I greeted Glory with a scowl. Nahiku was my territory. I was the only cop assigned to the little city and I was used to having my own way—but with the magistrate’s arrival I’d just been overridden.

* * *

Here’s what Locus says about “Nahiku West”:
“A complex mystery, with an intricate plot… Well conceived and well executed. RECOMMENDED.”

“Nahiku West” is a 9,000-word novelette. Find it at Book View Café Use coupon code NW1012 for $1 off through October 30, 2012.

Short story “Nahiku West”
now at Book View Café

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Nahiku West by Linda NagataThe October issue of Analog was published back in August and contained my novelette “Nahiku West.” The period of exclusivity has expired and I’m now free to re-publish the story — so I’ve done so, in ebook form. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, now’s the time.

For now the ebook is available only at Book View Café, but it can be purchased there in either mobi or epub versions.

Set in The Nanotech Succession story world, “Nahiku West” takes place in a nanotech-drenched future, where anything is possible, but not everything is allowed. Police officer Zeke Choy is charged with enforcing molecular law — but his first task is to determine if a crime has taken place. “Nahiku West” is set in the same world as the award-winning novel The Bohr Maker.

The list price of this story is $2.99, but for that handful of readers who visit my blog, use coupon code NW1012 for $1.00 off.

Click here to read the opening paragraphs.

Here’s what Locus says about “Nahiku West”:
“A complex mystery, with an intricate plot… Well conceived and well executed. RECOMMENDED.”

Musings on Tech-Heaven

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Tech-Heaven by Linda Nagata; cover by Bruce JensenPowerful women populate my novel, Tech-Heaven, in a story that explores the impact of cryonics, the slow development of nanotechnology, and political issues surrounding both.

But is Tech-Heaven a feminist novel? What is a feminist novel anyway?

The protagonist of this story is a woman, Katie Kishida. The two primary antagonists are women as well — Senator Ilene Carson and Roxanne Scott — who are both complex characters in their own right, though they also serve as the face of broad-based social forces.

But here’s the catch: at the center of the conflict between these three women is a man, Tom Kishida. He’s Katie’s husband, Ilene’s brother, and Roxanne’s friend. He’s also the dead man the story revolves around, his body preserved in liquid nitrogen while those who love him wrestle over his fate. Katie wants to rescue Tom, to see him through to a time when advancing technology can repair his body and restore his life. Ilene and Roxanne see things differently.

As several reviewers noted, at its core, Tech-Heaven is a romance, but be warned: it’s a grimly determined one.

What I like most about the character of Katie Kishida is that she’s not remotely a superhero. She’s starts the story as a nearly ordinary wife, mother, and businesswoman, but after her husband’s death her obsessive determination to make cryonics real and workable changes everything: her life, her relationships, and the world around her.

Out of all my novels, I think Tech-Heaven is written closest to a “mainstream” style, with scenes of daily life and reflection included in what becomes from time to time, a bizarre narrative.

The story is a very American one, set primarily in California and reflecting many aspects of American culture.

It’s not directly concerned with the role or status of women, assuming instead that women are capable players — or more accurately, that people in general are as capable as they choose to be. Alliances between characters are not made across gender lines, but are founded on shared beliefs and shared goals.

The story also includes mixed-race marriages while paying hardly any attention to them, because in my experience, when you’re living inside one, that’s how it is. But the story does pay attention to love, family, obligation, ethics, politics, and the determination to see a task through to the end.

Tech-Heaven is not a book aimed particularly at men or women, but at readers interested in exploring different sides of controversial ideas and the fallout of advancing technology.

Is it a feminist novel? If it’s not, then the meaning of “feminism” is uselessly narrow. Is it a humanist novel? I like to think so. From a marketing perspective, I consider it a near-future thriller. We’re already into the early years of that future and it seems to me the story still holds up disturbingly well.

 

Where to sample/purchase the ebook:
Book View Café (worldwide)
Amazon.com USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble (USA)

Where to order the print version:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Booktopia (Australia)
Barnes & Noble (USA)
Powell’s Books (USA)

The Nanotech Succession Omnibus Edition

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I’ve had a few requests for an omnibus edition of The Nanotech Succession, so here it is. The ebook is available in epub and mobi formats, at a cost of $15.00 USD, which is a savings of 25% over the cost of the books purchased separately.

Right now it’s only available at my website. It’ll eventually go up at Book View Café, but it won’t be at Amazon, where books priced over $9.99 pay only a 35% royalty to the publisher, as opposed to 70% for books under that price. It’s a similar deal at Barnes & Noble.

More details here if you’re interested.

Signed Copies Available

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Just wanted to mention — if you’re interested in a signed copy of the Mythic Island Press LLC edition of the The Nanotech Succession books, I finally have copies of all four available. Christmas presents anyone?

If you’re interested, click here and scroll down a bit.

Thanks!