Monday, May 06, 2013

An Education

Hari was schooled in every aspect of the family trade by Agrata and his two brothers, received a patchwork education in philosophical truths and methods from his father and various travelling scholars, and played with the children of passengers and specialists in the many disused volumes of his family’s ship. It was a ring ship, Pabuji’s Gift, a broad ribbon caught in a circle five hundred metres across, with a twist that turned it into the single continuous surface of a Möbius strip. The ship’s motor hung from a web of tethers and spars at the centre of the ring; its hull was studded with the cubes and domes that contained workshops, utility bays, power units, an industrial maker, and the giant centrifuges, light chromatographs, and cultures of half-life nematodes and tailored bacteria; its interior was partitioned into cargo holds, garages for gigs and the big machines used in salvage work, and the lifesystem. Much of this space was unused.  The ship could support more than a thousand people, but even when Hari’s father had been alive it had never carried more than a tenth of that number.

Hari and the children of passengers and specialist crews had the run of the empty cargo holds, habitats and modules, the mazes of ducts and serviceways. A world parallel to the world of the adults, with a social structure equally complicated, possessing its own traditions and myths, rivalries and challenges, fads and fashions. Endless games of tig on one voyage; hide-and-seek on another. One year, Hari organised flyball matches inside a cylinder turfed with halflife grass; when interest in that began to wane, he divided the children into troops that fought each other for possession of tagged locations scattered through the ship.

He was fifteen, then. Tall and slender, glossy black hair done up in corn rows woven with glass beads. Even though every adult – everyone over the age of twenty – still seemed impossibly old, adulthood was no longer mysterious and unattainable, but a condition he was advancing towards day by day. He knew that he would soon have to give up childish games and shoulder his share of the family’s work. He was beginning to understand the limits of his life, beginning to realise how small his world really was, how little it counted in the grand scheme of things.

From Evening's Empires


Blogger Andrew Cummins said...

An excellent teaser...I'd buy it sight unseen anyway because of my enjoyment of the previous Quiet War novels - but hey!

-- Andrew

May 07, 2013 1:54 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Thanks, Andrew. Greatly appreciated.

May 07, 2013 7:11 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts