I've already posted the front of the cover for the Pyr edition of Gardens of the Sun; but here's the whole thing, front and back, ready for publication in March. Thanks once again to artist Sparth for such a dynamic and imposing piece of 'spaceship epicness' artwork. He's working on the cover for the Pyr edition of Cowboy Angels, out later this year, and the rough I've seen is pretty damn good too.
Readers can sample a big chunk of the novel for free. Here's the the first chapter, followed by a link to the rest:
A hundred murdered ships swung around Saturn in endless ellipses. Slender freighters and sturdy tugs. Shuttles that had once woven continuous and ever-changing paths between the inhabited moons. Spidery surface-to-orbit gigs. The golden crescent of a clipper, built by a cooperative just two years ago to ply between Saturn and Jupiter, falling like a forlorn fairy-tale moon past the glorious arch of the ring system. Casualties of a war recently ended.More after the jump...
Most were superficially intact but hopelessly compromised, AIs driven insane by demons disseminated by Brazilian spies, fusion motors and control and life-support systems toasted by microwave bursts or EMP mines. In the frantic hours after their ships had been killed, surviving crews and passengers had attempted to make repairs or signal for help with lasers pried from dead comms packages, or had composed with varying degrees of resignation, despair and anger last messages to their families and friends. In the freezing dark of her sleeping niche, aboard a freighter sliding past the butterscotch bands at Saturn’s equator, the poet Lexis Parrander had written in blood on the blank screen of her slate We are the dead.
They were the dead. No one responded to the distress signals they aimed at the inhabited moons or the ships of the enemy. Some zipped themselves into sleeping niches and took overdoses, or opened veins at their wrists, or fastened plastic bags over their heads. Others, hoping to survive until rescue came, pulled on pressure suits and willed themselves into the deep, slow sleep of hibernation. In one ship people fought and killed each other because there were not enough pressure suits to go around. In another, they huddled around an impedance heater lashed up from cable and fuel cells, a futile last stand against the advance of the implacable cold.
Many of the ships, fleeing towards Uranus when they’d been killed, had planned to pick up speed by gravity-assist manoeuvres around Saturn. Now they traced lonely paths that took them close around the gas giant and flung them out past the ring system and the orbits of the inner moons before reaching apogee and falling back. A few travelled even further outwards, past the orbits of Titan, Hyperion, or even Iapetus.
And here was the black arrowhead of a Brazilian singleship approaching the farthest point of an orbit that was steeply inclined above the equatorial plane and had taken it more than twenty million kilometres from Saturn, into the lonely realm where scattered swarms of tiny moons traced long and eccentric paths. Inside its sleek hull, a trickle charge from a lithium-ion battery kept its coffin-sized lifesystem at 4̊ Centigrade, and its mortally wounded pilot slept beyond the reach of any dream.
A spark of fusion flame flared in the starry black aft of the singleship. A ship was approaching: a robot tug that was mostly fuel tank and motor, drawing near and matching the eccentric axial spin of the crippled singleship with firecracker bursts from clusters of attitude jets until the two ships spun together like comically disproportionate but precisely synchronised ice-skaters. The tug sidled closer and made hard contact, docking with latches along the midline of the singleship’s flat belly. After running through a series of diagnostic checks, the tug killed its burden’s spin and turned it through a hundred and eighty degrees and fired up its big fusion motor. The blue-white spear of the exhaust stretched kilometres beyond the coupled ships, altering their delta vee and their high, wide orbit, pushing them towards Dione and rendezvous with the flagship of the Greater Brazilian fleet.