John Ringo: Emerald Sea

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John Ringo Emerald Sea
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    Emerald Sea
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Emerald Sea: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In the future the world was a paradise — and then, in a moment, it ended. The council that controlled the Net fell out and went to war, while people who had never known a moment of want or pain were left wondering how to survive. Duke Edmund Talbot has been assigned a simple mission: Go to the Southern Isles and make contact with the scattered mer-folk-those who, before the worldwide collapse of technology, had altered their bodies in the shape of mythical sea-dwelling creatures. He must convince them to side with the Freedom Coalition in the battles against the fascist dictators of New Destiny: Just a simple diplomatic mission. That requires the service of a dragon-carrier and Lieutenant Herzer Herrick, the most blooded of the Blood Lords-because New Destiny has plans of its own. The fast-paced sequel to There Will be Dragons is a rollicking adventure above and below the high seas with dragons, orcas, beautiful mermaids — and the irrepressible Bast the Wood Elf, a cross between Legolas and Mae West.

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Emerald Sea

by John Ringo


Dedicated to Mark Turuk, without whom this book would never have been written. What doesn’t kill us makes us strongerrrr!

Freakin’ Canucks…


The fifteen-thousand-ton asteroid had been named, in the deepness of time when men still did such things, AE-513-49. In the latter twenty-first century, when every chunk of ice and rock that was of any conceivable danger to the earth had been mapped and tracked, it had been concluded that AE-513-49, which looked a bit like an elephant’s foot and was composed of nickel-iron, had a probability of impact with the earth low enough that the heat death of the universe was a more likely problem.

AE-513-49 had been considered for mining until it was determined that, as a Helios asteroid, one close in to the sun, bringing out the materials would be more costly than those on the relative “downslope” towards the outer system. Then asteroid mining, after a very brief heyday, went away as the human race started to dwindle and, with it, the need for metals from beyond the atmosphere.

Thus AE-513-49 had been permitted to continue on its lonely orbit, circling the sun like a very small planet, hanging out at the very edge of the “life belt” between the earth and Mercury.

Until a curious thing happened.

A couple of years before, small gravitic nudges were applied to it. They first sent it inward towards the sun where it would, of course, have impacted without any noticeable trace. But then it encountered the gravity well of the small planet Mercury and “slingshotted” around it, headed back “outward” in the system.

More small nudges, some of them infinitesimally faint, adjusted its trajectory until it was precisely aligned with a point in space through which the earth would pass. Then, for almost a year, nothing.

As it approached the earth, however, more nudges were applied. A few adjusted the course so that it would assuredly hit the earth and, what’s more, on a particular circular zone of the earth. Other nudges sped it up or slowed it down so that it would hit a particular point on that circle. Then, as it approached the atmosphere, the nudges became more distinct. It was now targeted on that one small point.

As it entered the atmosphere, thin and high, it began to fluoresce, coruscating waves of fire leaping off of it as the lighter materials it had picked up on its two-billion-year journey through the solar system burned off leaving the solid nickel-iron core revealed. This, too, began to burn as it hurtled closer and closer to the face of the earth, the metal subliming off in waves of fire.

Thus it was a melted ball of nickel-iron, hurtling downward at far more than orbital velocities, trailing an immense line of fire behind it, that slammed to a stop in midair thirty-five meters from an unassuming home that was sitting, against all reason, in a pool of lava.

In keeping with the laws of physics the nickel-iron, which was half ionized by heat, exploded outward in titanic fury. But this, too, stopped in midair and the enormous detonation, which would have destroyed much of the local area, was captured by some invisible force and quickly dissipated.

The nickel-iron that had once been AE-513-49 spread itself across an invisible hemispherical barrier, practically covering the house and shutting off all light to its interior for a moment, then slid away, bubbling as if from the application of some tremendous energy, to join the rest of the lava.

Inside the hemispherical protection field, the asteroid impact was noted as only a simple thump. At the thump, Sheida Ghorbani opened up a view-screen, as she did at least once a day, and looked at the lake of boiling lava that surrounded her home. The whole valley around her home was a mass of red and black liquid rock, fuming and spitting plumes of yellowish sulfur-laden steam. As always she called to mind the lofty Douglas firs, winding paths and crystalline mountain stream that had once been. Back in the days before the Fall.

The human race had brought itself so far. Rising through the mists of history. Surviving wars and famines. Until they had finally come to a technological point where so much was available, war, and even government, had been all but forgotten. The AI entity called Mother, which had started as a security protocol for the nearly mythical “internet” had morphed over the years until it was She who was the final arbiter of need. Mother, with her Argus eye and processors ranging from extradimensional quantum field systems to the honeycomb of bees, knew all and could see all. Beyond who was naughty and who was nice, it was She who saw the sparrow fall.

But the dangers of such an entity were known long before it was possible to create one. And Mother’s creator, knowing the danger that She represented, She who was the first true AI, had established human controls upon her. Thirteen “Key-holders,” each with a physical pass item, who could “tweak” Her protocols and, in extreme cases, open up her kernel and reprogram Her. The latter, however, required complete unanimity.

The Keys had first been held by major corporate heads and by governments in the early days of Her youth. But over the years some of them had fallen into a shadowy underworld. As Her power grew, more and more capabilities and decisions were loaded upon Her shoulders until in the last millennia She had become the defacto world government. She was controlled, primarily, by the overt “Council” of thirteen Key-holders. They were the human link in the chain and mostly ensured that Her protocols were tweaked and maintained while She did the grunt work of managing distribution of goods and services. The last human-controlled world government had dissolved nearly two hundred years ago from sheer lack of utility.

The reason for the lack of utility was simple; with no want there was limited conflict and crime. Replication, teleportation, nannites and genetic engineering had created a world where any human could live as they desired. A house on a mountaintop was easily created and the mountaintop could be anywhere in the world, since with teleportation going elsewhere was a matter of wishing. Body modification had taken wide forms, with humans Changing themselves into mer, unicorns, dolphins and a host of other shapes. All conflict, and crime, comes down to a breach of written or unwritten contracts. It was Mother that ensured that contracts, by and large, were not breached. In the rare case in which they were, the individual involved was hunted down by an efficient, if small, police force and “adjusted,” in extreme cases by a memory wipe and replacement to create a nice, docile, well-adjusted human.

But there had been problems with unlimited wealth and ease. Over the years both human birthrates and scientific progress had fallen by the wayside. World population had peaked at twelve billion in the latter twenty-first century and then had started a long, slow, decline until the population, pre-Fall, had been a mere billion or so individuals, mostly residing in widely scattered homes and small hamlets. With limitless recreational activities, and birth, thank God, removed from the bodies of women and moved to uterine replicators, raising children was at the very bottom of most people’s wish lists. And strong protocols, enforced by Mother and voted upon in earlier times when massive social mistakes had occurred, prevented any group from willy-nilly producing children. Each human being created in a uterine replicator had to be from the base genetics of two humans and one or both had to take responsibility for rearing the child “properly.” Failure to do so resulted in the loss of birth privileges to both individuals.

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