During the war, Gird took in a refugee who soon became known as “Gird’s luap” ( being the word for assistant, or an army officer who was not in the chain of command.) Luap, as he was finally called, was in fact the bastard son of a former king. Though he had been cast aside when his father sired a legitimate heir, Luap believed that he had inherited the ability to rule... if not his father’s kingdom, then one of his own, somewhere. But his essential dishonesty, his inability to face the truth about himself, doomed him and his followers, and set the Fellowship of Gird on a path very different from that Gird would have chosen.
Paksenarrion could never have fulfilled her destiny had it not been for one who came before. Gird, the peasant, the armsman, the Liberator who taught his people that they could fight—and win—against oppression. This is his story, the first of two prequels to the “Deed of Paksenarrion” trilogy.
The worst has happened: Fleet is tearing itself apart. Some of the mutineers see injustice in the unequal spread of the rejuvenation drugs that offer virtual immortality to the rich; others are simply thirsty for power, or for blood. The Loyalists, meanwhile, fight desperately to preserve the rule of law in Familias Regnant space.
Rejuvenants fear the backlash caused by bad drugs; they want to ensure that nothing interferes with their pursuit of long life—or the profit that comes from promising it to others. Neighbor states fear the aggressive expansion of the Familias Regnant, fuelled by population growth and extended lifespan. Within the Regular Space Service, those who have received experimental rejuvenations fear they may have been given bad drugs on purpose. Esmay Suiza’s family fears that her marriage to an offworlder will damage their position. Barin Serrano’s family fears that his marriage to a Landbride of Altiplano will damage his career and their reputation.
Fear begets violent reactions—from foreign governments, from great Families determined to maintain or increase their power, from internal rivalries in the Fleet—and nothing escapes the resultant bloodbath unscathed. As Esmay and Barin struggle to reconcile their families, others have more cosmic struggles to win.
Esmay, a gifted Fleet officer, and Brun, daughter of the Speaker of the Grand Council, have much in common, but their enmity is the talk of the base. When Brun falls into the hands of a fanatical religious militia group, Esmay finds herself in disgrace, suspected of conniving in the abduction.
Booted from the Fleet on trumped up charges after saving a villainous superior from catastrophe, Heris Serrano has been marking time captaining the deluxe interstellar yacht . Now, Heris has been offered a chance at vindication and reinstatement in the Navy. All she has to do is save the galaxy from an interstellar mafia gone berserk.
Heris Serrano—formerly a commander in the Regular Space Service—must take whatever job she can get after her resignation under a cloud. What she can get is the captaincy of a rich old lady’s space yacht... a rich old horsewoman, who has little liking for the military, and whose spoiled nephew Ronnie (and his equally spoiled friends) have been foisted on her after his folly embarrassed the family. Lady Cecelia’s only apparent interest is horses—she intends to go fox hunting on the private pleasure planet of a friend of hers, Lord Thornbuckle. But events conspire to make it far more than a fox hunt.
Paksenarrion—Paks for short—was somebody special. Never could she have followed her father’s orders and married the pig farmer down the road. Better a soldier’s life than a pig farmer’s wife, and so, though she knew that she could never go home again, Paks ran away to be a soldier. And so began an adventure destined to transform a simple Sheepfarmer’s Daughter into a hero fit to be chosen by the gods.
Once a sheepfarmer’s daughter, now a seasoned veteran, Paksenarrion has proven herself a fighter. Years with Duke Phelan’s Company taught her weaponry, discipline, and how to react as part of a military unit.
Now, though, Paks feels spurred to a solitary destiny. Against all odds she is accepted as a paladin-candidate by the fellowship of Gird. Years of study will follow, for a paladin must be versed in diplomacy and magic as well as the fighting arts. But before she is fully trained, Paks is called on her first mission: to seek out the fabled stronghold of Luap far to the west. The way is long, the dangers many—and not even the Marshal-General of Gird can say whether glory or ruin awaits.
The story begins by introducing Paks as a headstrong girl of 18, who leaves her home in Three Firs (fleeing a marriage arranged by her father) to join a mercenary company and through her journeys and hardships comes to realize that she has been gifted as a paladin, if in a rather non-traditional way.
Failure to become a successful space colony, plus fear of the indigenous non-human population, forces the abandonment of Sims Bancorp Colony. Ofelia, tired of taking orders and too elderly to survive the trip to the next colony, hides until all fellow humans are evacuated. Alone but unafraid, she meets the challenges of survival and eventually befriends the natives who call themselves “The People.” Gradually, Ofelia becomes an important member of The People and acts as their diplomatic liaison when a new group of humans return to the planet. Once downtrodden and overlooked, Ofelia rises above her old position to rebuild her self-esteem and redefine herself as she rises to situations calling for her to use her intelligence, emotional fortitude, and abilities. Once she has power, she uses it wisely and justly.
The Nebula Award Winner–2003
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal.
Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use “please” and “thank you” and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself.
But then his quiet life comes under attack. It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music—with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world—shades and hues that others cannot see? Most importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Would it be easier for her to return the love of a “normal”?
There are intense pressures coming from the world around him—including an angry supervisor who wants to cut costs by sacrificing the supports necessary to employ autistic workers. Perhaps even more disturbing are the barrage of questions within himself. For Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world . . . and the very essence of who he is.
Thoughtful, provocative, poignant, unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping exploration into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.