By John Harrison

John Truck used to be to outward appearances simply one other lowlife spaceship captain. yet he was once additionally the final of the Centaurans ' or at the very least, half him used to be ' which intended that he was once the single one who may well function the Centauri equipment, a sentient bomb which would carry the foremost to settling a vicious area battle. M. John Harrison's vintage novel turns the conventions of area opera on their head, and is written with the precision and brilliance for that is famed.

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Plucky Angina patched them rat off down the street, heading for the dock. They were dressed almost like spacers. She put her Chambers away and helped him into the Phoenix. 'Well, Captain Truck,' she said. 'You would think, wouldn't you, that they'd at least leave their own kind alone. ' Truck said nothing. One of his lower canines was giving him trouble; and between tentative explorations of his mouth, he was listening to the wind. ' She smiled encouragingly at him. ' he asked suspiciously. It was all the same to him.

But you're safe here. ' He tilted his blunt, lizardlike head to one side. 'A lot of them would like to, though. ' Truck zipped his jacket up. 'Thanks. That's all I wanted to know. I'd better go. ' Chalice Veronica held his hand up in the ancient mainliner's gesture, forearm stiff from the elbow, palm open. 'There'll be no raid,' he murmured. 'The party won't stop. Stay. Circulate. Some of the finest minds in the Galaxy are here, Artists, thinkers, revolutionaries. Criminals. ' Truck caught Tiny's eye.

You think about that, while we talk about you. You were born in the Pontisport hinterland on Parrot, in the rest room of a bakery. Your mother was a part-time port whore, one of the refugees who came down the Carling Line in refrigerators from Weber II. She was mainlining adrenochrome activators cut with the ribosomes of a local breed of bat. She asked for a cure, but the port authorities already had her scheduled for resettlement as a displaced person. No, I'm not asking you any of this, I'm telling you — because I know more about you than you know about yourself.

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