Theodore wondered again what Outriding looked like, to someone else. Could the blind woman see her, electric and flickering in the darkness? Just a voice? And if so, would it even be the same voice? Same language? Something he would ever be able to conceptualize?
“Is Outriding here now? Is she in this room?”
The old woman coughed a dusty laugh at that. “Sweet boy she is this room, she say. She is all of the rooms. Everywhere, she say. Safe now in the crook of my own Elbow.”
Does she see me smiling back at her? Do either of them?
“Now you are everywhere too.”
In one moment of insubordination, the military-bred. corporate-sponsored librarian Theodore Castelline is exiled to an incalculably old archive on the rim of the galaxy. Bonding with the station’s batty ancient AI, serving as diplomat to the billion known races of the galactic Union, and navigating Outriding’s crew of pirates, celebrity terrorists, graduate students and cloned police: none of these things were in the job description, but Theodore’s flexible.
By the end of his first day in his new home, he’ll become a wanted man, a digital copy of himself, witness to an impossible murder, and the key to stopping a deadly virus before it takes the ship—and he hasn’t even started work yet.
Theodore Castelline has always pledged allegiance to the company of his birth easily, and with full faith. A man without a home in a future where our homes are only ever where we are, Theodore will have to find a way to live among the aliens, or become one himself.
Outriding is a glitchy and infinite intelligence in desperate need of a tuneup. The center of her crew’s world and a powerful force in the galaxy, her history is a palimpsest of wonders and horrors that only Theodore can help decode.
A feral child raised by an alien race, Shen B was her people’s last shaman before their extinction. Her brief career as a terrorist, taking anarchic vengeance on the corporation of her birth, made her a galactic pop hero—and her devotion to Outriding gives her a last chance at redemption.
Bobby Greener serves as cruise director, ambassador, and nanny to the entire crew at Outriding. He’s also the meanest boy Theodore’s ever met: an identity thief and an underworld criminal… when he has to be.
Captain Annaliese Bellar was a cybernetic merc in another life, but along with her second—All-American rocketship war hero and general tool Bryce Dexter—she’ll use Outriding and its crew to protect the galaxy from any threat, by any means.
While the day-to-day workings of the station are best left to the experts—her twisted and kind majordomo, the army of academics studying her societies and infrastructure, a living five-body problem for a medic and a private police force spliced together from the best and most uncanny DNA—Outriding’s place in the center of galactic politics means the stakes never drop and the dangers are hyperevolving. Theodore will become her steward, her lover and her eventual captain. Future saint and war criminal, kind librarian and brutal survivor, Theodore’s future with Outriding may just outlast them all. It begins here.
For Fans Of: Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Farscape; CJ Cherryh, Genevieve M. Bujold, Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison; Prophet, Saga.
Former Gawker editor and Television Without Pity staff writer Jacob Clifton presents a new take on self-publishing with a wide array of novels, definitive recaps from the last fifteen years of television, and serial works of science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Jacob’s fiction has been published in Clarkesworld and at Tor.com. Visit jacobclifton.com for more info and join the mailing list.
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