Drumlin Circus / On Gossamer Wings

Drumlin Circus / On Gossamer Wings

by Jeff Duntemann
     
 

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A starship malfunctions and strands its 800 passengers on a planet eerily like the Pleistocene Earth, complete with prehistoric mammals including woolly mammoths, dire wolves, and smilodons. And something else: tens of thousands of abandoned alien machines consisting of a bowl and two pillars that respond with drum-like sounds when touched. Tap 256 times on the

Overview

A starship malfunctions and strands its 800 passengers on a planet eerily like the Pleistocene Earth, complete with prehistoric mammals including woolly mammoths, dire wolves, and smilodons. And something else: tens of thousands of abandoned alien machines consisting of a bowl and two pillars that respond with drum-like sounds when touched. Tap 256 times on the pillars in any combination, and...something...coalesces in the bowl. It might be a spoon or an axe or a twisted lump of silvery metal. These artifacts (dubbed “drumlins”) help the unwilling colonists survive, but there’s something a little weird about what comes out of the “thingmaker” machines. High-pitched sounds sometimes make drumlins twitch and combine into more complex things. Stranger still, what drumlins do seems to depend on the thoughts of nearby humans. Wish hard while you whistle just so...and something amazing may happen.

260 years on, the castaways have created a civilization resembling late 19th Century America, based in part on coal, steam, iron, and hard work--and in part on the mysterious drumlin artifacts. Both short novels in this volume are set against this background.

Drumlin Circus: Every spring, Bramble Ceglarek takes Pretty Alice’s Wonderland Circus down the dirt roads of the west country, dazzling townfolk with clowns, acrobats, calliope music, and trained animals — especially trained animals. His wife Julia trains them with a drumlin whistle, and they obey with peculiar precision. The cultlike Bitspace Institute, hoping to train animal assassins, sends agent Simon Kassel to steal the whistle. Unknown to him, Kassel has been set up to fail by his Institute rivals who want to be rid of him, and after Julia and her apprentice Rosa are abducted by Institute thugs who attempt to kill him, Kassel switches loyalties and joins the circus as a very scary clown.

He returns to Institute HQ to rescue Julia and Rosa, only to discover that the training whistle is much more than merely a whistle: a mysterious “function controller” that compels animals, human beings, and even the alien drumlin artifacts themselves to obey its bearer.

On Gossamer Wings: From out in the dry rye fields of the west, rumors have come to the Bitspace Institute that someone has drummed up something valuable from the alien thingmakers: a large sphere of pure iron. Institute agent Hiram König rides out to investigate, and discovers the strange, mute young woman who has done the drumming. He also learns that the Big Ball of Iron is just the beginning of the previously unknown drumlins that she has discovered in the vast "bitspace" of the alien thingmakers. Despite the slow progress of technology in the Valinor colony, where steam locomotives and the first primitive hydrogen airships are state of the art, Natalie Bishop is using her talents with the thingmakers to seek out the drumlin parts she needs to build a heavier-than-air flying machine. For her, the flier is her masterpiece, the work that will prove her worth to the people she cares about.

The race is on for König to extract Natalie from the pressure-cooker of a small town that is her home, before it blows up around her and before she takes the dazzlingly risky final step and tries to fly.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012335005
Publisher:
Copperwood Press
Publication date:
04/17/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
734 KB

Meet the Author

Jeff Duntemann has been selling science fiction and fantasy into professional markets since 1974, and has appeared in publications including the Orbit and Nova anthologies, Omni Magazine, and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He has twice been nominated for the Hugo Award in SF. His first novel, The Cunning Blood, appeared in 2005. His short fiction is available in two collections: Souls in Silicon and Cold Hands and Other Stories. Beyond SF, he has written over 20 technical books, including Jeff Duntemann's Drive-By Wi-Fi Guide and Assembly Language Step-By-Step. When not writing, Jeff tinkers with retro electronics and operates amateur radio station K7JPD. He lives with his wife Carol in Colorado Springs, along with four bichon frise dogs.

James R. Strickland wrote his first story at the tender age of 3. Publication took somewhat longer. His first novel, Looking Glass (ISBN 9780979588907) was published in 2007, followed by a second, Irreconcilable Differences (ISBN 9780981895710), premiered at the World Science Fiction Convention 2008 in Denver. He currently lives in the Denver Metro area with his wife Marcia and some number of cats.

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