Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In the Mouth of the Whale 8 - Paul J. McAuley

"Nowhere else in the Archipelago is privilege and status so nakedly displayed as in Thule, the thistledown city, the city of tiers. It was built by swarms of machines long before the first generation of Quicks was created from their seedship's genetic templates. The machines dropped a superstring of entangled gravitons into the centre of an icy planetesimal to deepen its vestigial gravity (one of the many technologies we have lost or failed to master), blew a roof shell from its surface and spun a forest of fullerene and diamond spines to support it, cooked off an atmosphere and a hydrological cycle, extended platforms from the spines at different levels and landscaped their surfaces. Platforms near the bases of the spines, just above the elaborate interlacing of the buttress roots that clutch the silica rock core, and in the permanent shadow of platforms higher up, support Quick kennels and tank farms, and congeries of machines and makers that recycle waste water and waste material, regulate partial pressure of the various components of the atmosphere and perform other essential maintenance tasks, and spin all kinds of goods, from styluses to skycars. The platform which bears the Permanent Floating Market and the Library of the Homesun is down there too. Above this twilight zone are platforms where freemartin True live and work in dense urban arcologies, and above those are the platforms owned by great clans, where trueborn scions live in sculpted parklands and estates."

4 out of 5