Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread by Athena Andreadis

Release date: March 26, 2017
Subgenre: Space opera

About Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread:


Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread is a diptych of two interlinked space opera stories (“The Stone Lyre” and “The Wind Harp”) that tell of interplanetary cultures in conflict — and in perilous alliances — over psychic talents and the dominance they can confer.

These two stories are wisps of a vast nebula. In this universe the Minoan civilization partly recovered from the Thera explosion and some of its descendants eventually took to the stars, as did their adversaries. This is the universe of “Dry Rivers” and “Planetfall” which appeared in Crossed Genres in 2009.


 "The Wind Harp"

      Just then, I heard a low hum behind me.  Through the barrier came the Tel-Kir who had harassed the Sedói.  A whiff of barely suppressed triumph hovered around him.  He went to the dais, touched the edge of Teg-Rav’s over-robe.  A discharge ran through his fingers and the musk in the room got overlaid with the acrid scent of burnt flesh.  When he withdrew his hand, I saw spots of blood glisten on the garment.  The dull throb behind my eyes sharpened to a fiery spike.  I felt such spikes whenever I faced a Tohduat who could not – or would not – control his Talent.

      “Please greet our guest,” Teg-Rav told him.  He stood stock-still, looking down at me from his great height.  “Properly this time, Tan-Rys.”  The scent in the room turned slightly bitter and his yellow eyes flickered like brush fires.  He ostentatiously went on one knee, touched my ankle.  Unlike her, he was easy prey, I sensed him think.  We’ll demand his ship’s weight in water.

      “Do you wish to best your adversaries?” I challenged him as he snapped upright.

      “With your puny help?” he jeered.  I inhaled and spoke as fast as I could, switching to the tonals forbidden to all but the Dor-Nys.
      “I brought a drug that can put some of your people into temporary suspended animation.  This will let you repair the reservoir ducts without a Whittling.”  I kept addressing her but pinned my gaze on him.  “Do you want to protect your people as you have vowed to do?  Or do you seriously think that capturing the Melhuat’s low-Talented brother will be your salvation?”
      “I should have pulverized you when I had the chance!” he growled.  I dove for the floor.  A needle from his arm darter flew through where I had just stood and buried itself in the wall.
      "Pause!" I heard Teg-Rav shout, an arena fight command. When I looked up, she was standing at the edge of the dais, the sconce lights swirling restlessly in her wake.
      "Who else knows you're Talented? And that Tan-Rys is an Amplifier?"  I asked her as soon as I was reasonably sure he would obey her.  "How long before the resonance between you grows so strong that the dampener fails?  And what will happen when the Nim-Zad realize you let the Idriem test you so that they could customize the dampener?"
      Slowly she removed her mask.  Her fine-hewn face bore no decorative scars, except for the two interlocking circles inlaid on her left temple and cheekbone.  She was young, younger than I, but the skin around her eyes was as discolored and cracked as her lips.
      "My people must not find out," she said, her tonals shifting to equal address.  "At least not before Kem-Fir has fully recovered.  We will exchange Serkadren's brother for water – or for Behtalkat engineers without tithes of people or skills from us.  I thank Ténli for its offer, but my people would never accept it.  Even if it works as you say, it will make us dependent on you."

Amazon | Candlemark & Gleam


About Athena Andreadis:

Athena Andreadis was born in Greece to parents who were part of the WWII resistance, spent her adolescence under the military junta and was lured to the US at age 18 by a full scholarship to Harvard, then MIT. She spent her adult life doing basic research in molecular neurobiology, focusing on the mechanisms of mental retardation and dementia. She has also given many invited talks (that included NASA venues and the 100-Year Starship Symposium) on the biological and cultural issues of space/planetary exploration and settlement.

Athena is an avid reader in four languages across genres (though she has an accent in all of them unless she's singing) and cherishes every moment she gets to spend with her partner. She’s the author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek and writes speculative fiction and non-fiction on a wide swath of topics. She conceived of and edited the widely acclaimed feminist space opera anthology The Other Half of the Sky (2013, Candlemark & Gleam), followed by To Shape the Dark (2016, Candlemark & Gleam). The latter focuses on women scientists and looks poised to emulate its predecessor in eliciting an avalanche of accolades. Her work can be found in Scientific American, Harvard Review, Belles Lettres, Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, Stone Telling, Cabinet des Fées, Bull Spec, Science in My Fiction, SF Signal, The Apex Blog, World SF, SFF Portal, H+ Magazine, io9, The Huffington Post, and her own site, Starship Reckless.

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