Today I am on the blog tour for The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams. I have an exclusive excerpt for you to enjoy.
Back of the Book
In an effort to save the universe, she just might destroy it. THE STARS NOW UNCLAIMED is the incredible debut by a brilliant new voice in science fiction, one of Tor.com’s Best of 2018: ‘an escapist, gleeful, explodey space opera’
A century ago, a mysterious pulse of energy spread across the universe. Meant to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, it instead destroyed technology indiscriminately, leaving some worlds untouched and throwing others into total chaos.
The Justified, a mysterious group of super-soldiers, have spent a hundred years trying to find a way to restore order to the universe. Their greatest asset is the feared mercenary Kamali, who travels from planet to planet searching for gifted young people and bringing them to the secret world she calls home. Kamali hopes that those she rescues will be able to find a way to reverse the damage the pulse wreaked, and ensure that it never returns.
But Kamali isn’t the only person looking for answers to unimaginable questions. And when her mission to rescue a grumpy teenaged girl named Esa goes off the rails, Kamali suddenly finds herself smack in the centre of an intergalactic war… that she started.
Drew Williams has been a bookseller in Birmingham, AL since he was sixteen years old. Although he got the job because someone had called in sick the day he applied, working with books became a vocation. It is full of amazing moments like arguing with coworkers about whether Moby Dick is a brilliant encapsulation of the human condition (it’s not) or an overlong, over-obvious metaphor for futility (it is.) It is discovering authors like (fill in people here) and sharing them with his customers. He loves to write, and he hopes you will love these characters and their story as much as he does.
I started walking. I had a ways to go
Since the pulse had hit this world harder than most—left the atmosphere soaking in radiation that would burn out anything with an electrical system in hours, faster if it saw heavy use—walking was about my only option for locomotion. That was one reason I’d had Scheherazade—that’s my ship— drop me off at the top of the refinery: so she didn’t have to land. Trying to do so would have left her damaged, badly, even if she just set down for the brief time it would take me to disembark.
The other reason I’d set down so far from my target area was to make sure we weren’t in view of anybody as she descended. It had likely been generations since anyone visited this world from the greater galaxy beyond; it was in a mostly forgotten system of a mostly forgotten corner of unclaimed, untended space. I didn’t need to be hailed as some sort of savior by the locals, come to rescue them from their pulse-soaked world and lead them back to the halcyon years of never-was. And that would be the better option: more likely was to be marked as some sort of demon, here to finish the job the pulse had started. You never knew which it might be on worlds thrown back this far; better not to risk it at all.
Worlds like this one—even those designed for a single purpose, like agriculture—had been terraformed and designed for vehicles like high-speed rail and sublight orbital shuttles, not for perambulation, which meant I had a bit of a walk ahead of me. Still, I’d been cooped up inside Scheherazade for a long hyperdrive flight on the way here, so I didn’t mind stretching my legs. Starting my trek out in the boonies also meant I got a chance to know the local populace before they got to know me. Which, this time, started with screaming. It often did, for some reason.
The scream shattered the quiet of the open fields. High-pitched, piercing, a great deal of fear and pain and confusion. A child. I broke out into a run. All these years later, that’s still reflex. You’d think, after watching the pulse eat the universe and being helpless to stop it, that I’d be immune to the sound of others crying for help. You’d be wrong. What you can ignore en masse—the death of millions or billions—just by telling yourself it’s too big, there’s nothing you can do, is much more difficult to move past when it’s just one person, right in front of you, and there is a way for you to help.
That’s the same logic that had been used when the pulse was first dreamt up, after all. Just because it went wrong didn’t mean the argument wasn’t sound. I slowed as I crested the hill, parting the grass with my rifle barrel; my weapon had been drawn as soon as I heard the child shriek. Down the incline below me was a simple wagon—probably the height of technology in these parts, wood and nails and iron-rimmed wheels—that had come to a stop, mostly because the beasts in its harnesses had been shot dead.
I didn’t recognize the creatures, though the build and rough size suggested Wulf-homeworld extraction. It didn’t much matter, really—they were whatever fauna had been on planet at the time of the pulse that the people here had enough of for breeding stock. What was more important, at that given moment, was the family seated at the front of the wagon, and the rough circle of men with guns surrounding them.
On every world, there are always men with guns. Even the pulse couldn’t change that.
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