Chris Moriarty: Spin State

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Chris Moriarty Spin State
  • Название:
    Spin State
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Bantam spectra
  • Жанр:
    Фантастика и фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2003
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-0-553-38213-6
  • Рейтинг книги:
    5 / 5
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Spin State: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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From a stunning new voice in hard science fiction comes the thrilling story of one woman’s quest to wrest truth from chaos, love from violence, and reality from illusion in a post-human universe of emergent AIs, genetic constructs, and illegal wetware... UN Peacekeeper Major Catherine Li has made thirty-seven faster-than-light jumps in her lifetime—and has probably forgotten more than most people remember. But that’s what backup hard drives are for. And Li should know; she’s been hacking her memory for fifteen years in order to pass as human. But no memory upgrade can prepare Li for what she finds on Compson’s World: a mining colony she once called home and to which she is sent after a botched raid puts her on the bad side of the powers that be. A dead physicist who just happens to be her cloned twin. A missing dataset that could change the interstellar balance of power and turn a cold war hot. And a mining “accident” that is starting to look more and more like murder… Suddenly Li is chasing a killer in an alien world miles underground where everyone has a secret. And one wrong turn in streamspace, one misstep in the dark alleys of blackmarket tech and interstellar espionage, one risky hookup with an AI could literally blow her mind.

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Spin State

by Chris Moriarty

Then we encountered a leopard man who was rumored to be a cannibal. He must not have thought we looked good to eat; he smiled and let himself be photographed like a veteran tourist guide. After that I started asking everyone where we could meet real cannibals. I wanted to see them, know them.

“They exist,” my hosts told me.

“But where?”

“No one knows. But there’s nothing special about them. You can’t even tell them apart from normal people.”

“Ah, but I have to know them, eat with them! I want to eat a person. Just a taste. Just to taste it!”

—Louis Lachenal, Vertigo Notebooks

For Mitchel


Special thanks to Anne Lesley Groell for her brilliant editing and uncanny ear for what I meant to say; to Charles H. Bennett, John A. Smolin, and Mavis Donkor of the Quantum Information Group at IBM’s Watson Labs for brainstorming, technical advice, and quantum teleportation jokes; to Ann Chamberlin and M. Shayne Bell for kindness above and beyond the call of duty; to Scott Anderson, Julia Junkala, Jim McLaughlin, Susan Mayse, Tony Pustovrh, and Kirsten Underwood for being the best readers any writer could ask for; to Judith Tarr for sensible advice and extravagant encouragement; to John Dorfman for being there at the beginning… and of course to the fabulous Jimmy Vines, who made it all happen.

ENTANGLEMENT

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not play at dice.

—Albert Einstein

God may not play at dice, but She certainly knows how to count cards.

—Hannah Sharifi

They cold-shipped her out, flash-frozen, body still bruised from last-minute upgrades.

Later she remembered only pieces of the raid. The touch of a hand. The crack of rifle fire. A face flashing bright as a fish’s rise in dark water. And what she did remember she couldn’t talk about, or the psychtechs would know she’d been hacking her own memory.

But that was later. After the court-martial. After jump fade and the rehab tanks had stolen it from her. Before that the memory was still crisp and clear and unedited. Still hers.

After all, she’d been there.


* * *

Li knew Metz was going to be big as soon as she met the liaison officer TechComm sent out to brief her squad. Twenty minutes after Captain C. Xavier Soza, UNSC, hit planet surface he’d gone into anaphylactic shock, and she was signing him into the on-base ER and querying her oracle for his next-of-kin list.

Allergies went with the uniform, of course. Terraforming was just a benign form of biological warfare; anyone who had to eat, breathe, or move in the Trusteeships got caught in the crossfire sometime. Still, no normal posthuman was that fragile. This time TechComm had sent out a genuine unadapted Ring-bred human. And clever young humans didn’t get cold-shipped to the Periphery, didn’t risk decoherence and respiratory failure unless they’d been sent out to do something that counted. Something the brass wouldn’t trust to the AIs and colonials.

Soza spent thirty hours in the tanks before he recovered enough to give them their briefing. He seemed alert when he finally showed up, but he was still short of breath, and he had the worst case of hives Li had ever seen.

“Major,” he said. “Sorry you had to deal with that little crisis. Not how I imagined my first meeting with the hero of Gilead.”

Li flinched. Was she never going to enter a room without her reputation walking two steps in front of her?

“Forget it,” she said. “Happens to the best of us.”

“Not to you.”

She searched Soza’s handsome, unmistakably human face for an insult. She found none; in fact his eyes dropped so quickly under her stare that she suspected he’d let the words slip out without thinking how they sounded. She glanced at her squad, settling into chairs proportioned for humans, behind desks designed for humans, and she felt the usual twist of relief, shame, envy. It was pure accident, after all, that her ancestors had boarded a corporate ship and paid for their passage with blood and tissue instead of credit. Pure accident that had subjected her geneset to anything more than the chance mutations of radiation exposure and terraforming fallout. Pure accident that made her an outsider even among posthumans.

“No,” she told Soza finally. “Not to me.”


* * *

Slip of the tongue or no, Soza was all smooth, cultured confidence when he stood up to give the briefing. His uniform hung the way only real wool could, and he spoke in smooth diplomatic Spanish that even the two newest enlisted men could follow without accessing hard memory. The very picture of a proper UN Peacekeeper.

“The target is located below a beet-processing plant,” he told them, “hiding in its heat signature.” He subvocalized, and a streamspace schematic of the target folded into realspace like a spiny asymmetrical flower. “There are five underground labs, each one of them a small-run virufacture facility. The system is deadwalled. No spinstream ports, no VR grid, not even dial-in access. The only way to break it is to shunt the cracker in on a human operative.”

Soza nodded toward Kolodny, who straightened out of her habitual slouch and grinned wolfishly. There was a new scar along the rake of Kolodny’s cheekbone. Fresh, but not so fresh that Li shouldn’t remember it. She searched her active files, came up empty. Ran a parity check. Nothing. Christ, she thought, feeling queasy, how much is missing this time?

She was going to have to get someone to put a patch on her start-up files. Someone who could keep a secret. Before she forgot more than she could afford to forget.

“The rest of you will get the cracking team past the deadwall,” Soza was saying, “and collect biosamples while the AI goes fishing. We’re after whatever you can get on this raid. Source code, hardware, wetware. Especially wetware. Once the AI has the target code on cube, he wipes his tracks, and you withdraw. Hopefully without being detected.”

“Which AI are we using?” Li asked.

But before Soza could answer, Cohen walked in.

Cohen wasn’t his real name, of course. Still, he’d been calling himself that for so long that few people even remembered his Toffoli number. Today’s interface wasn’t one Li had seen before, but she knew it was Cohen on shunt before he closed the door behind him. He wore a silk suit the color of fall leaves—real silk, not tank-grown stuff—and he moved with the smooth, spare grace of a multiplanetary network shunting through cutting-edge wetware. And there was the ironic smile, the hint of laughter behind the shunt’s long-lashed eyes, the faint but ever-present suggestion that whatever he was talking to you about couldn’t possibly be as important as the countless other pies he had his fingers in.

As usual, he’d appeared at exactly the right moment, but with no apparent idea what he was doing there. “Hallo?” he said, blinking vaguely. “Oh. Right. The briefing. Did I miss anything?”

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