Alastair Reynolds: Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds

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Alastair Reynolds Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds
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    Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds
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Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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This is an amazing collection of some of the best short fiction ever written in the SF genre, by an author acclaimed as ‘the mastersinger of space opera’ (THE TIMES). Alastair Reynolds has won the Sidewise Award and been nominated for The Hugo Awards for his short fiction. One of the most thought-provoking and accomplished short-fiction writers of our time, this collection is a delight for all SF readers.

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Beyond the Aquila Rift:

The Best of Alastair Reynolds

Table of Contents

Title Page

Great Wall of Mars


Beyond the Aquila Rift

Minla’s Flowers

Zima Blue


The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice

The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter

Diamond Dogs

Thousandth Night




Trauma Pod

The Last Log of the Lachrimosa

The Water Thief

The Old Man and the Martian Sea

In Babelsberg

Story Notes

Also by Alastair Reynolds from Gollancz:



“YOU REALISE you might die down there,” said Warren.

Nevil Clavain looked into his brother’s one good eye; the one the Conjoiners had left him with after the battle of Tharsis Bulge. “Yes, I know,” he said. “But if there’s another war, we might all die. I’d rather take that risk, if there’s a chance for peace.”

Warren shook his head, slowly and patiently. “No matter how many times we’ve been over this, you just don’t seem to get it, do you? There can’t ever be any kind of peace while they’re still down there. That’s what you don’t understand, Nevil. The only long-term solution here is…” he trailed off.

“Go on,” Clavain goaded. “Say it. Genocide.”

Warren might have been about to answer when there was a bustle of activity down the docking tube, at the far end from the waiting spacecraft. Through the door Clavain saw a throng of media people, then someone gliding through them, fielding questions with only the curtest of answers. That was Sandra Voi, the Demarchist woman who would be coming with him to Mars.

“It’s not genocide when they’re just a faction, not an ethnically distinct race,” Warren said, before Voi was within earshot.

“What is it, then?”

“I don’t know. Prudence?”

Voi approached. She bore herself stiffly, her face a mask of quiet resignation. Her ship had only just docked from Circum-Jove, after a three-week transit at maximum burn. During that time the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis had steadily deteriorated.

“Welcome to Deimos,” Warren said.

“Marshalls,” she said, addressing both of them. “I wish the circumstances were better. Let’s get straight to business. Warren; how long do you think we have to find a solution?”

“Not long. If Galiana maintains the pattern she’s been following for the last six months, we’re due another escape attempt in…” Warren glanced at a readout buried in his cuff. “About three days. If she does try and get another shuttle off Mars, we’ll really have no option but to escalate.”

They all knew what would mean: a military strike against the Conjoiner nest.

“You’ve tolerated her attempts so far,” Voi said. “And each time you’ve successfully destroyed her ship with all the people in it. The net risk of a successful breakout hasn’t increased. So why retaliate now?”

“It’s very simple. After each violation we issued Galiana with a stronger warning than the one before. Our last was absolute and final.”

“You’ll be in violation of treaty if you attack.”

Warren’s smile was one of quiet triumph. “Not quite, Sandra. You may not be completely conversant with the treaty’s fine print, but we’ve discovered that it allows us to storm Galiana’s nest without breaking any terms. The technical phrase is a police action, I believe.”

Clavain saw that Voi was momentarily lost for words. That was hardly surprising. The treaty between the Coalition and the Conjoiners—which Voi’s neutral Demarchists had help draft—was the longest document in existence, apart from some obscure, computer-generated mathematical proofs. It was supposed to be watertight, though only machines had ever read it from beginning to end, and only machines had ever stood a chance of finding the kind of loophole which Warren was now brandishing.

“No…” she said. “There’s some mistake.”

“I’m afraid he’s right,” Clavain said. “I’ve seen the natural-language summaries, and there’s no doubt about the legality of a police action. But it needn’t come to that. I’m sure I can persuade Galiana not to make another escape attempt.”

“But if we should fail?” Voi looked at Warren now. “Nevil and myself could still be on Mars in three days.”

“Don’t be, is my advice.”

Disgusted, Voi turned and stepped into the green cool of the shuttle. Clavain was left alone with his brother for a moment. Warren fingered the leathery patch over his ruined eye with the chrome gauntlet of his prosthetic arm, as if to remind Clavain of what the war had cost him; how little love he had for the enemy, even now.

“We haven’t got a chance of succeeding, have we?” Clavain said. “We’re only going down there so you can say you explored all avenues of negotiation before sending in the troops. You actually want another damned war.”

“Don’t be so defeatist,” Warren said, shaking his head sadly, forever the older brother disappointed at his sibling’s failings. “It really doesn’t become you.”

“It’s not me who’s defeatist,” Clavain said.

“No; of course not. Just do your best, little brother.”

Warren extended his hand for his brother to shake. Hesitating, Clavain looked again into his brother’s good eye. What he saw there was an interrogator’s eye: as pale, colourless and cold as a midwinter sun. There was hatred in it. Warren despised Clavain’s pacifism; Clavain’s belief that any kind of peace, even a peace which consisted only of stumbling episodes of mistrust between crises, was always better than war. That schism had fractured any lingering fraternal feelings they might have retained. Now, when Warren reminded Clavain that they were brothers, he never entirely concealed the disgust in his voice.

“You misjudge me,” Clavain whispered, before quietly shaking Warren’s hand.

“No; I honestly don’t think I do.”

Clavain stepped through the airlock just before it sphinctered shut. Voi had already buckled herself in; she had a glazed look now, as if staring into infinity. Clavain guessed she was uploading a copy of the treaty through her implants, scrolling it across her visual field, trying to find the loophole; probably running a global search for any references to police actions.

The ship recognised Clavain, its interior shivering to his preferences. The green was closer to turquoise now; the readouts and controls minimalist in layout, displaying only the most mission-critical systems. Though the shuttle was the tiniest peacetime vessel Clavain had been in, it was a cathedral compared to the dropships he had flown during the war; so small that they were assembled around their occupants like Medieval armour before a joust.

“Don’t worry about the treaty,” Clavain said. “I promise you Warren won’t get his chance to apply that loophole.”

Voi snapped out of her trance irritatedly. “You’d better be right, Nevil. Is it me, or is your brother hoping we fail?” She was speaking Quebecois French now; Clavain shifting mental gears to follow her. “If my people discover that there’s a hidden agenda here, there’ll be hell to pay.”

“The Conjoiners gave Warren plenty of reasons to hate them after the battle of the Bulge,” Clavain said. “And he’s a tactician, not a field specialist. After the cease-fire my knowledge of worms was even more valuable than before, so I had a role. But Warren’s skills were a lot less transferable.”

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