- Excerpts from This Alien Shore -
These are some of the original excerpts that were forwarded to me prior to the novel being published. It's interesting to read them now and compare them to the finished passages.
The Guildsman pulled out a chair and settled into it; his full sleeves
fell upon the table top as he leaned forward, his posture stiff with tension.
"One hundred and ninety E-days ago, a Guild outpilot was badly injured
while returning to port. Analysis of his personal log shows there was a malfunction in his brainware at the moment of transition. It lasted only seconds, but that was long enough. In that instant he believed himself to be an alien creature, surrounded by beings whose brains didn't function like his own. He believed that these beings had fed programs into his brainware which would make it impossible for him to think clearly ,and that they had
surgically implanted a mechanism in his arm which would feed drugs into his bloodstream, altering the very essence of his identity. With only seconds in which to act, he did what he could to disable the perceived mechanism, and then attempted to smash his skull open so that he could tear out his wiring. Fortunately for him, the latter effort failed."
"Since his basic assumptions were correct," Masada said quietly, "I
find it hard to comprehend your objection to them."
As he gazed out at Tianneman Station -- seat of Guild authority, and therefore the ruling center of all the human worlds - it was impossible to ignore the implications of where he was. It wasn't so much because of the station itself, but the change in his travelling associates as they viewed it. Even his limited iru sensitivity was capable
of sensing it, and intellectually, of course, he understood the cause. They were within reach of the outernet now, and most of the passengers had clearly connected to it. Children who had previously run wild now sat tucked quietly in corners, busy with their favorite multi-world games. Adults whispered comments to nothingness, as their favorite outernet drama coursed through their brains. Those who stared out the window did so with an intensity that told Masada their view of the station was augmented by scrolling facts about Tianneman, or the latest economic report, or maybe simply words of welcome from a loved one who was waiting for them.
Guera had its own data net, of course -- as did all the civilized planets -- and every transport that left the outworlds was capable of feeding data and entertainment to its passengers through their headsets. But though there was little difference in actual fact between Guera's planetary network and the system that linked the outworlds, there
was a universe of difference in how people used them. The outernet did more than provide data and communication, after all; it linked worlds, skipping messages along the ainniq with a speed that made the concept of "distance" almost meaningless. It linked cultures, feeding the databases from a thousand colonies into a grand gestalt consciousness which any human mind might access. It saturated daily life in ways the average human was not even aware of, so that a single casual thought broadcast on Hellsgate Station, meant for no more than a local audience, might affect the manner in which stock funds fluctuated on Sanctuary, five nodes away.
It was chaos, plain and simple. A system so vast, with so much living input, that humankind could no longer predict exactly how it would function, or even understand
exactly what it was. It had its own tides of connection and efficiency -- much as the planets had weather -- and humans could no more predict those tides than they could tell in one year if a tornado would form in the next. It was a truly living system, Masada believed, and like the biological systems whose terms were used to describe it, it could no longer be controlled by humans, only nurtured, goaded, cajoled. And people knew that, deep inside. They sensed that when they connected to the outernet they were becoming something more than human. They knew that the vid games and the stock scrolls and the e-chats were but the surface markings of a creature with a heart and a soul all its own. A creature that might just as well be alive, for all that its systems mimicked life.
He had spent his life studying it. He understood it better than any other man alive. Of the terms used to describe it, many were of his choosing; the science dedicated to analyzing it credited him as founder.
It scared the hell out of him.
And then Mankind took his machines and he split the skies asunder, and
he sent into God's heavens his ships and his machines and all the
unclean things of the Earth.
He set foot upon the planets which God had not meant for his use.
He painted the heavens black with his pride and his arrogance.
He angered the Lord in those and a thousand ways, until the Lord spake
unto him, and said,
Behold, I gave you Babel, and you did not heed My warning.
You built a Tower unto the skies and I divided you into myriad peoples,
that you might know shame and be humbled before your God.
Now you build something greater than a tower, that intrudes into My very
Now I shall divide you again, but not merely by speech, or by color.
Now you shall be not one species but many, and each shall hate and fear
the others, and the seed that is shared between them shall be barren. So
shall you be divided until the end of time, that you may remember My
And he set the mark of Hausman into their flesh, so that all might know
their shame. And those who were loyal to His name, who remained upon
Earth, were untouched by his curse, and might bear children as they
chose, for such was the sign of His favor.
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