John Ridley: What Fire Cannot Burn

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John Ridley What Fire Cannot Burn
  • Название:
    What Fire Cannot Burn
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  • Издательство:
    Recorded Books
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    Боевая фантастика / на английском языке
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  • ISBN:
    1-4281-5769-7 / 978-1-4281-5769-9
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What Fire Cannot Burn: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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LAPD's top mutant-hunter, Soledad O'Roark has outfought telepaths, human flamethrowers, men with steel skin, and every other kind of freakish super-powered thing. But her high-tech firepower is no match for teammate-and rival-Eddi Aoki's attempts at friendship, which endlessly irritate the solitary Soledad. When a vigilante starts killing metanormals without mercy, Soledad and Eddi end up working the same case in a way that neither could imagine.

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John Ridley

What Fire Cannot Burn

I'm alive for a reason.

Actually, a couple of reasons depending on what kind of survival you're talking about.

I don't mean that with the cheap, feel-good populist existentialism daytime TV talk show hosts love to hand out: You're alive because even though you eat too much fast food and can't point to your own state capital on a map, we're all really unique and individual and specia-blah, blah, blah. I mean: in the world we live, with what I do, there's a reason I've remained among the living. A reason I've survived.

Regarding my physical endurance, science is my guardian angel. Science by way of an O'Dwyer VLe. An all-electronic handgun that can fire a four-shot burst in just 1/500 of a second. Ordnance that is designed, specifically, to deal with the problem.

Funny. Kinda. It's that easy to turn the struggle for persistence into catchphrases. "The problem." "After San Francisco." "Freak hunting."

Too bad it's not as easy to solve the problem as it is to label it.

Nothing's ever easy.

Not in this world.

This world is hard, it's bleak, it's unsure, it is filled with risk. It's fat with weak sisters who look for obvious morals, comfortable politics, and clutch themselves hoping that hope alone will deliver them soft resolutions to hard situations.


And the world's got people like. me. People who do, rather than subsist because of the deeds of others.

And people who do what I do; we're good as dead.

Accepting that, accepting my mortality: It's the other reason I survive.

Venice, California.

Venice, California, was beachfront land bought up by Abott Kinney and Francis Ryan at the end of the 1800s.

Venice, California, was an oceanfront attraction the two men built acre by acre, canal by canal, that matrixed the vistas of Rome with an American boardwalk.

Venice, California, was. long time ago, a tourist attraction. A place to ride amusement rides on a pier, go to an aquarium.

Then the pier burned down. Then oil got discovered percolating under the ground. Then the city of LA did a land grab, snatched Venice for its own just like LA did with everything it wanted. Water from up north. The movie business from out East. Venice was like that. Worth stealing. A sweet piece of real estate.

Things change.

Turned out there wasn't all that much oil in Venice, California.

So the city of LA lost interest in Venice, California, let her fall just about to pieces same as an ex-mistress tossed aside 'cause it'd grown tiresome. And when it didn't fall apart completely on its own, the city tore down more than five hundred historic buildings.

Five hundred.

LA didn't care.

Progress doesn't own any sympathy. Why should the city?

Venice, California, became kind of a shithole for bangers and dealers. Wannabes when they gave up and quit wanting to be anything but what they were which wasn't much. It was a haven for illegals coming up from Mexico who couldn't get to anywhere better than Venice, California.

But, real slow, Venice turned itself around. Some.

Just because it was cheap didn't mean decent people couldn't end up there. Decent, people need affordable housing as much as bangers. More than bangers. Bangers aren't usually long-term customers.

With reasonable renting rates, a laconic beach vibe, into Venice flooded artists both visual and unique as well as crappy.

And Venice gladly took in the oddball, mainstream hating artistes because like a lonely boy who was otherwise without affection, Venice was really happy for anybody who came to be with her.

Venice, California, was like that; mostly about the little guy or the bohemian, the actor or the failed male beefcake who ends up pumping iron down at the beach, spending his considerable free time getting bigger for trigger's sake. Venice said to them: Forget about Brentwood or West Hollywood or Sherman Oaks or any of the parts of the city where people aspire to reside. Come here, live here. We'll take you as you are. Happy that you came, we will offer you little stress.

Things change.

Mostly, what, changes, property values go up.

At some point the little guy, the little guy in Venice- the artist: and the bohemian-has gotta get with the fact he's sitting on prime, oceanfront real estate. The little guy's gotta get with the program. The program: get outta the way.

The program: That's when the developers move in. The malls and complexes go up. The little guy is invited to move to Van Nuys or East LA or anywhere that wasn't here where we've gotta put up a mini-mall with a sixteen-screen movie multiplex.

Most, most little guys-small boutique shop owners, mom-and-pop businesspeople-they took the hint, sold out, went their way.

No fighting things.

Progress's got no sympathy.

But in Venice, California, against the odds, there was still the occasional coffee shop that wasn't a Starbucks, the bookstore that wasn't a B&N or a subsidiary thereof. Every now and then there was someplace other than a Gap, Inc., LLC, trying to make a stand, trying to offer people some other kind of joint where they could buy retail. And there was even a bank on the corner of Rose and Main that wasn't part of some massive, interstate fiduciary corporation. The tellers worked through lunch and the loan officers-David and Carol and Rick-looked at more than your TRW before deciding if you were an acceptable risk. ATM fees were under two bucks. Diane Woodward had been doing her banking there since her divorce-she'd left her stay-at-home-dad husband for a partner at her firm-had forced her to make some new financial arrangements. Regularly, Mike Anderson strollered over with his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter before stopping by the newsstand to pick up a copy of Chocolate Beauties. And there was old Mr. Roth, the sweet, septuagenarian widower whom life never seemed to get the best of though life never shared with him the best of anything. The bank was, in a dry of far too many millions of people, where you could go for a minute, do your business, get a smile in return that wasn't based on the size of your deposit. Wasn't charged against your account.

It was also the kind of place, like a lot of banks in Los Angeles, where a couple of guys- White. Gaunt. Sweaty with nerves, sweaty on the tail end of a hard meth jag that was crashing- walked in, stood for a second, stood for a second as their waning high gave them fake courage, then yanked nine-mils from beneath their jackets.

The usual bank robbery confluence of events followed.

Sweaty Guys: "Get down! Everybody get the fuck on the floor!"

Nobody moved.

"Get the fuck on the fucking floor now!"

No movement. Minds were processing what was happening-men, men with guns. Crazy-looking men waving their gafs around-while bodies waited for further instructions.

Except for the security guard. The security guard knew what was going on. The security guard was also getting paid minimum. The security guard went down like the class whore on prom night, hugged the floor. He never even bothered going for the gun he hadn't used in the year and a half since he'd capped his two-week private security training course.

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