Read Probability Space Online

Authors: Nancy Kress

Probability Space

BOOK: Probability Space
9.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied so that you can enjoy reading it on your personal devices. This e-book is for your personal use only. You may not print or post this e-book, or make this e-book publicly available in any way. You may not copy, reproduce, or upload this e-book, other than to read it on one of your personal devices.

Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:
us.macmillanusa.com/piracy
.

CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Epigraph

Prologue

One.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United Atlantic Federation, Earth

Two.
Walton Spaceport, United Atlantic Federation, Earth

Three.
Lowell City, Mars

Four.
Luna City

Five.
En Route to Mars

Six.
Space Tunnel #1

Seven.
Lowell City, Mars

Eight.
World

Nine.
Gofkit Shamloe

Ten.
Lowell City, Mars

Eleven.
Lowell City

Twelve.
Gofkit Shamloe

Thirteen.
Gofkit Shamloe

Fourteen.
Tharsis, Mars

Fifteen.
World

Sixteen.
At Space Tunnel #438

Seventeen.
At Space Tunnel #438

Eighteen.
Lowell City, Mars

Nineteen.
Aboard the
Murasaki

Twenty.
Aboard the
Murasaki

Twenty-One.
Aboard the
Murasaki

Twenty-Two.
Aboard the
Murasaki

Twenty-Three.
Tharsis, Mars

Twenty-Four.
Caligula Space

Twenty-Five.
Tharsis, Mars

Twenty-Six.
Artemis System

Twenty-Seven.
In Q Space

Twenty-Eight.
Aboard A Faller Station

Twenty-Nine.
Q Space

Thirty.
Tharsis, Mars

Thirty-One.
Space Tunnel #1

Thirty-Two.
Tharsis Plain, Mars

Thirty-Three.
Space Tunnel #1

Thirty-Four.
Thera Station, Mars Orbit

Bonus short-story.
Flowers of Aulit Prison

By Nancy Kress

Praise for
Probability Space

Copyright

 

For Jamie

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank both my editor at Tor, Jim Minz, and my husband, Charles Sheffield, for their many useful suggestions on revising this manuscript.

 

Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate,

All but the page prescribed, their present state.

 

—A
LEXANDER
P
OPE
, “A
N
E
SSAY ON
M
AN

PROLOGUE

MARS

July, 2168

B
ellington Wace Arnold of Arnold Interplanetary, Inc., arrived late at his opulent office. Beyond the top-floor window and the piezoelectric dome of Lowell City, the sun was already well above the Martian horizon. Not much dust today. The sky was only faintly pink, and Arnold could see all the way to the hard clutter of the spaceport.

“System on. Messages.”

“Yes, Mr. Arnold. Five messages.” It meant five for-your-ears-only transmissions; Arnold’s staff would have handled everything else. The wall screen brightened to visual. As he listened, Arnold settled into his desk chair and scanned the printouts his secretary had deemed important enough for his personal perusal. The chair, big enough to encase his impressive size, was made of imported Earth leather from calves genetically altered to produce hides in his favorite blue-gray.

The first four messages did not need his entire attention, even though two of them involved billion-credit transactions. There was a lot of money to be made in wartime, if you knew how. The longer the war with the Fallers went on, the better for Arnold Interplanetary.

The fifth transmission made him look up. There was nothing to see; this message was voice-only.

“Cockpit recording, personal flyer registration number 14387, transmission date July 3, 2168.” Yesterday.

And then the voice of Arnold’s son, Laslo Damroscher:
“Thass not ’sposed to be there.”

Slowly, pointlessly, Arnold rose from his expensive chair. Every line of his big body tightened.

The flyer had been a gift to Laslo on his eighteenth birthday. Arnold knew he did not love this son. Laslo, weak and whiny and easily led, was hard to love. A strange son for Bellington Wace Arnold to have, but then Laslo wasn’t his son only. It still took two people.

Arnold had other, better, legitimate sons. Still, he had always provided well for Laslo, even though the idea that Laslo might ever need money was laughable. He was his mother’s sole heir.

It had seemed a good idea to know where Laslo took his birthday-gift flyer, and what he did along the way. It might prevent danger, or embarrassment, or lawsuits. To that end, the flyer, unknown to Laslo, had been equipped with automatic continuous record-and-send equipment. A smart program flagged and relayed only those recordings that met certain parameters. None of the parameters meant anything good.

“Thass not ‘sposed to be there.”
Laslo’s voice, very drunk.

“What isn’t supposed to be where?
” Another young man, sounding marginally less drunk.
“Just an asteroid.”

“Isn’t ‘sposed to be there. Hand me ‘nother fizzie.”

“They’re gone. You drunk the last one, you pig.”

“No fizzies? Might as well go home.”

“Just an asteroid. No … two asteroids.”

“Two!”
Laslo said, with pointless jubilation.

“Where’d they come from? Isn’t supposed to be there. Not on computer.”

“N-body problem. Gravity. Messes things up. Jupiter.”

“Let’s shoot ’em!”

“Yeah!”
Laslo cried, and hiccuped.

“What kinda guns you got on this thing? No guns, prob’ly. Fucking rich-boy pleasure craft.”

“Got … got guns put on it. Daddy-dad doesn’t know. Illegals.”

“You’re a bonus, Laslo.”

“Goddamn true. Mummy doesn’t know either. ‘Bout the guns.”

“You sure ‘bout that? Isn’t much your famous mother don’t know. Or do. God, that body, I saw her in a old—”

“Shut up, Conner,
” Laslo said savagely.
“Computer, activate … can’t remember the word…”

“Activate weapons. Jesus, Laslo. YOU gotta say it. Voice cued.”

“Activate weapons!”

“Hey, a message from th’asteroid! People! Maybe there’s girls.”

“You are approaching a highly restricted area
,” a mechanical voice said.
“Leave this area immediately.”

“It don’t want us
,” Conner said.
“Shoot it!”

“Wait … maybe…”

“You are approaching a highly restricted area. Leave this area immediately.”

“Fucking snakes
,” Conner said.
“Shoot it!”

“I…”

“Fucking coward!”

“THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING! YOU HAVE INVADED A HIGHLY RESTRICTED AND HIGH-DANGER AREA. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY OR YOUR CRAFT WILL BE FIRED ON!”

And then a fourth voice, speaking rapidly,
“Unknown craft … SOS … Help! I’m being held prisoner here—this is Tom Capelo—”

A very brief, high-pitched whine.

“End flagged recording,” said Arnold’s system. “Transmission complete.”

Arnold stood in the middle of his silent office. He tried to think factually, methodically, without haste.

The electromagnetic impulse carrying the flyer’s last conversation would have sped at c toward the nearest far-orbit data satellite, of which Mars had thousands. There the information had been encrypted and relayed through closer satellites toward Mars. It had taken only a few minutes to arrive last night, when Arnold had been asleep. The transmission would have traveled ahead of the shock wave. The brief whine at the end of the transmission had been a proton vaporizer.

Laslo Damroscher was dead.

Arnold couldn’t blame whoever had shot Laslo down. Laslo had been where he shouldn’t have, had been adequately warned, had been old enough to understand that warning, had defied it anyway. Laslo, “Conner,” and that boy in the other craft, “Tom,” playing at war games when there was a real war on, pretending to be somebody famous to boost his own pathetic ego … irresponsible. All three of the boys. A corporation or a government had the right to protect its property. That was just reality. Most likely the restricted area had been government-controlled armaments, and in that case, Laslo’s death would not even rate a trial. Not in wartime.

The irresponsible behavior that had gotten Laslo killed had not come from Arnold’s genes. Arnold had made only one mistake in his entire life, and that mistake had produced Laslo. Whatever else Laslo’s death might be, it was not Bellington Wace Arnold’s fault. The responsibility lay elsewhere.

But …

To his own surprise, Arnold couldn’t maintain his factual objectivity. Sudden memories flooded him: Laslo’s birth, the beautiful baby in the arms of his preternaturally beautiful mother. Laslo toddling across the floor of this same office, holding out his small arms to be picked up. Laslo riding a toy red car, laughing and laughing. Laslo proudly printing his name for the first time, even though it was not his, LASLO D. ARNOLD …

Unexpected tears scalded Arnold’s eyes. He stumbled back to his chair. It seemed he had loved his lost son, after all. Although never as much as the mother who had cosseted Laslo and spoiled him and ruined him.

At the thought of Magdalena, Arnold’s tears vanished. He would have to call her, tell her. Send her the recording. For years Arnold had avoided any contact with the bitch. Well, it was going to be only minimal contact now: a prerecorded message. Her reaction to Laslo’s death would undoubtedly be violent, irrational, vengeful. Dangerous.

He could at least spare himself Magdalena.

ONE

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED ATLANTIC FEDERATION, EARTH

Three months earlier

S
ometimes it seemed to Amanda Capelo that she had the best life of any of her friends at Sauler Academy. Her father loved her and her sister a lot more than her friends’ fathers did. Everybody saw that. Plus, her father was famous. And her stepmother Carol was a nice person—she might have gotten somebody awful, like Thekla Carter had when Thekla’s father remarried. But Carol was great. Plus, Amanda’s grades were good, and her friends were the best, and even at fourteen she knew she was pretty and might even have a chance at being beautiful someday. She would go to college and become a scientist, like her father, although not a physicist because she didn’t have the math sense. A biologist, maybe. Meanwhile she had a nice home and the right clothes and a vacation every year on Mars visiting Aunt Kristen and Uncle Martin. A good position on the spacetime continuum, Daddy said, and Amanda agreed.

Other times it seemed to her she had been afraid her whole life, ever since her mother died. Afraid that the war with the Fallers would come to the Solar System. Afraid that something would happen to Daddy or Sudie or her aunt and uncle. Afraid that somehow Daddy would lose his money and they’d have to live in the terrible parts of cities that she saw on TV. But then Amanda discovered that, until the night the men took her father way, she hadn’t known what fear was at all. Not at all.

The evening had started badly, with another fight with her father. Before she turned thirteen, they’d never fought, but for the last year and a half it seemed they couldn’t stop. She loved him more than anybody on Earth, but why couldn’t he stop virusing her program? Other fathers weren’t like him. Thekla’s father let her go alone to the holos, and Juliana’s father let her free-fell, and Yaeko’s father would talk with her about absolutely anything that Yaeko wanted. There were so many things Tom Capelo would never talk about.

BOOK: Probability Space
9.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sealed With a Kiss by Gwynne Forster
The Randolph Legacy by Charbonneau, Eileen
Hunting Season by Erik Williams
Love Me To Death by Steve Jackson
Dark Kiss (Harlequin Teen) by Rowen, Michelle
Maldita by Mercedes Pinto Maldonado