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The Edge of Ruin [NOOK Book]

Overview


A novel of the eternal battle between science and superstition

I’m Richard Oort. I’m a cop.

Two months ago I had learned there were unseen worlds on the borders of our reality. Dimensions filled with horrific, nightmare creatures. ...

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The Edge of Ruin

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Overview


A novel of the eternal battle between science and superstition

I’m Richard Oort. I’m a cop.

Two months ago I had learned there were unseen worlds on the borders of our reality. Dimensions filled with horrific, nightmare creatures. Things that viewed humans as prey. Things that drove us to acts of unspeakable violence.

I had to fight them. To defend the people I loved, and to find out who I was. And am.

I’m still a cop. But now I’m also CEO of Lumina Enterprises, a mysterious, globe-girdling operation even I don’t know the full extent of. Replacing the previous guy, who appears to have also been Prometheus, really and truly. Now Prometheus is bound, and the job of taking the fight to the next level is mine.

Because the horrors aren’t over. And they’ll use any human weakness they can get hold of. This is a fight for the world. For keeps.


At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Suffering a touch of “middle-itis,” this sequel to 2008's The Edge of Reason continues the war of science versus magic as Albuquerque cop Richard Oort struggles to take charge of the forces of reason. Learning that an interdimensional gate has given the terrifying and grotesquely gluttonous Old Ones access to our universe, Richard tries to get the U.S. government to intervene before a rising tide of irrationality abetted by religious leaders and spiritual hucksters reduces humanity to madness. Though the plot advances, most of the focus is on Richard's familial relationships, particularly with his father. Even his cinematic raid on the gate is mostly a bonding moment with his sister. Snodgrass strongly and convincingly highlights the danger of unreason, but the necessary setup for the concluding volumes bogs this one down. (Apr.)
Library Journal
A conspiracy of religious cultists has opened a gate to another dimension and allowed nightmarish creatures known as the Old Ones to enter. Policeman Richard Oort and his family have the knowledge and the ability to combat the intruders with the weapons of reason, science, and an antimagic sword. This sequel to The Edge of Reason brings the champions of reason face to face with the promoters of superstition in a battle that could decide the fate of the world. VERDICT Snodgrass, cocreator with George R.R. Martin of the popular "Wild Cards" novels, has crafted a fast-paced science fantasy that combines a Lovecraftian atmosphere with modern-day sensibilities. Combining high-impact action with a thought-provoking premise, this volume should appeal to the author's fans and to readers of speculative fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429934022
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 653,961
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


MELINDA SNODGRASS was a story editor and executive script consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her acclaimed episode, “The Measure of a Man,” was nominated for the Writer’s Guild Award for outstanding writing in a drama series. With George R. R. Martin, she cocreated the popular Wild Cards series of shared-world novels and anthologies. She lives in New Mexico.
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Read an Excerpt


Prelude
EDDIE Tanaka dug his elbows into the mud, releas­ing the sweet and sickening smell of rotting vegetation. He wriggled frantically toward the river. It was monsoon season, and the leaves of the bushes, disturbed by his passage, sent water pattering along the length of his body. Some trickled down his collar and joined the sweat bathing him. His sweat wasn’t due entirely to the tropical heat. Most of it was because of gut- trembling, bowel- loosening terror.
What were those things?!
Behind him he heard screams of pain and terror from his col­leagues, maddened, triumphant screams from the attackers, and over everything the keening wail of the things. Eddie pressed his belly against the muck, reached out for a tree root coiling up from the earth like an exposed rib, and pulled himself forward. Ahead was the soft gurgle and slap of running water. Not much farther now.
He wondered if anyone else had made it out of the lab, and even as he crawled he hated himself for not going back. To look for any other survivors.To help them escape. But the only reason he was alive and outside was because he had been on the catwalk suspended high over the accelerator. There was a narrow access tube used to replen­ish the hyperpure oil surrounding and shielding the rest of the build­ing from the massive, though brief, release of atomic particles created by their experiments. Experiments that tried to approximate condi­tions nanoseconds after the Big Bang. Though Eddie was tall, he was also thin, and he had been able to squeeze through the pipe.
The men who attacked the lab offered no mystery. Brandishing knives and machetes, faces obscured behind headcloths, they had ex­tolled their god in voices made shrill by nerves and euphoria. Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar. It was what was with them that froze the throat with pure, blind terror.
Things like whirling dervishes constructed of slivered glass. The sound as they spun was a mind- numbing howl. When they swept across a person their passage ripped away clothes and .esh.
Eddie pushed up on his elbows and vomited. He had seen Anne just before he entered the pipe. Clothing and skin .ayed off, scream­ing, still standing, not dead. He retched again and brought up only bile. It wasn’t just water and sweat bathing his face now. He tasted tears. Anne had liked him. After they got past him following her into the bathroom that time. They had been discussing the results of that day’s experiment, and Eddie just hadn’t noticed. She liked me. She had told me so. And I didn’t do anything to help her.
Tears blinded him and he found the edge of the river without meaning to. Arms .ailing, he rolled down the bank and into the wa­ter. The current took him. The pockets of his lab coat .lled with water, but despite the added drag Eddie waited until the water had carried him perhaps a mile downstream from the lab before kicking off his tennis shoes and shrugging out of the coat. He didn’t want the things realizing too quickly that someone had survived and escaped.
He had to .nd a phone. Call the emergency number he’d been given.Tell the man who ran Lumina Enterprises what had happened. Hope he didn’t get committed as a madman. The low hum from the big jet’s engines and the underoxygenated air of the cabin conspired to send her to sleep. Dagmar Reitlingen blinked hard, removed her wire- rim glasses, rubbed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose. Another .ve hours and they would arrive in Dallas. A three- hour layover, then the two- hour .ight to Al­buquerque. Add to that the hours she had already spent sitting in the .rst- class lounge at London’s Heathrow airport. The ground crew kept saying there were “phenomena” which were keeping them from departing, but they never said what “phenomena” meant. Dagmar did the calculation and realized she had left her house twenty hours ago. Only ten more to go, she thought glumly, assuming there aren’t more “phenomena.”
She had tried to take the Lumina jet, but discovered that Brook was in jail in Baltimore, and the Gulfstream GV was parked in a hangar in Mary land. Since she had a new boss, she didn’t feel com­fortable just hiring another pi lot. It was a quirk of her charming, though secretive, CEO that Lumina Enterprises owned only one plane and employed only one full-time pi lot. When she’d crabbed at Kenntnis after one particularly daunting journey back from Singa­pore, he’d given that rollicking, .xture- shaking laugh, and told her he didn’t want his chief of.cers becoming too distant from the aver­age run of humanity. He’d then added that it wasn’t like he made them .y coach. So she only got to travel on the GV when Kenntnis was aboard. She had spent a lot of hours on the private jet, but com­pared to How many she spent .ying it wasn’t near enough, and she’d tell him so next time. The thought choked and shifted to a worse thought. Maybe there would never be a next time.
The call had come from George Gold, chief counsel for the company, on Christmas Day, informing Dagmar that certain criteria had been met which set in motion the transfer of control of the com­pany into the hands of—
Dagmar pulled a copy of the Washington Post from her briefcase and studied the face of the man who now controlled a vast corporate empire more valuable than Microsoft and far less visible.
Despite the grainy quality of the photo the young man’s extraor­dinary handsomeness came through, although his face was marred by what looked like dark bruises. He was .anked by two older men, one whose severe features showed kinship. It was clear from the rel­ative heights that Richard Oort was not a tall man. His expression was tense and hunted, and he held out a hand as if to ward off the photographer. The headline shouted out BOMB PLOT UNCOVERED.In smaller type was American evangelist sought to bring about Armaged­don in nuclear .re.
All of Dagmar’s instincts screamed out fraud, and she said as much to George. The lawyer had disabused her of that notion.
“No, the documents were carefully drawn. Mr. Kenntnis was very spe­ci.c in his instructions. Oort is to have total control of the company up to and including liquidating all the assets.”
As the COO of the company, Dagmar was left shaken and sick­ened by that bit of news.
“When did this happen?” Dagmar had demanded.
“December second.”
“As if Kenntnis knew something might happen.”
“I couldn’t say.”
“Is he dead?”
“I couldn’t say.”
She had wanted to scream and curse him for the legalistic caution and cold precision. Tell me if Kenntnis is alive or dead! But perhaps George didn’t know either.
“What do we know about this Oort?”
“He’s a policeman. From a well- to- do and respected Rhode Island family. Father’s a federal court judge.”
So Richard Oort was not a con artist, but he was certainly heed­less and indifferent to the welfare of his employees. Why hadn’t he obtained Brook’s release?
Well, she would .nd out in a few hours. She hoped that Oort was bright as well as beautiful.
The paper crackled as Dagmar lifted it from her lap and studied that face again. She wondered if this insane action by Kenntnis was due to passion, although she hadn’t thought Kenntnis had been in­clined that way. But why else would you leave a multibillion- dollar company in the hands of a young cop in a nondescript city in a non­descript state? The Reverend Mark Grenier stood on the verge at the edge of the westbound I-81 freeway trying to thumb a ride. It wasn’t easy to do when your right hand was missing. Overhead the moon struggled among the heavy clouds, occasionally breaking free and touching the ice- clad branches of the trees with silver.There had been an ice storm two nights ago, and the cold was so intense none of it had melted.
He couldn’t keep standing still. Grenier began to walk along the shoulder. His thin-soled Italian loafers offered little protection against the cold, and the buttons of his shirt and coat barely closed over his burgeoning paunch, allowing .ngers of cold to lick at his skin. He was losing sensation in his feet, and he stumbled on tussocks of winter-brown grass.
He had made bail yesterday and rushed to his Washington apart­ment, the apartment he’d maintained so he could be close at hand when a president had need of a little midnight counseling. He was desperate for a shower in privacy, the thick lather of verbena soap, the crackle of a starched Egyptian cotton shirt, and the caress of a cashmere sweater to drive away the memory of that polyester prison jumpsuit. But he’d found the locks changed. He rushed to the bank and discovered his accounts had vanished. He had always been a subtle man; he didn’t need a skywriter to get the message: He had failed his overlords, and they had jettisoned him.
Resentment burned in his gut. He had given his life to the study and attainment of power, but not just the power of wealth and in­.uence. Through long and arduous study he had become a sorcerer. Magic .owed through his hands and sang in his blood. He had worked hard to open the gates between the dimensions and allow the Old Ones to return, and they had fucking succeeded.
Then, because of one tiny miscalculation, because he underesti­mated the strength of will of Richard Oort, he forever lost his ability to do magic. He remembered that black blade swinging through the air, and the glitter of Richard’s pale blue eyes seen over the sword, and then Grenier’s hand was gone, the stump pumping a jet of blood into the air. There was a twinge of pain, and the memory of movement from his missing right hand. Grenier laid his remaining hand over the stump. It was as sore as his emotions.
Headlights swept around a broad curve in the road. Grenier stepped onto the edge of the pavement and frantically waved at the car. It was an older model Chevy; two doors, its white paint peeling in leprous gray patches. Grenier had an instant to see the driver’s reac­tion, an upthrust middle .nger, before the car swept past. The wind from its passage blew his coat hard against his body, and a blast of exhaust set his eyes to watering. He hated pollution. Well, the Old Ones’ arrival would eventually put a stop to that. Unless they were thwarted, and that didn’t seem likely with Prometheus bound and all hope resting on one slender young man.
He plodded on for another mile or so before another pair of head­lights swept across the verge. Light shattered against the ice- encased boles of the lea.ess trees lining the roadway. It was a big tan RV. To Grenier’s surprise it didn’t rush past, but instead pulled onto the shoulder.
The passenger- side window lowered. Grenier could barely hear the man’s voice over the dull rumble of the RV’s diesel engine. “How far you going?”
“As far as you’ll take me.”
“Hop in.”
Grabbing the handhold beside the door with his left hand, Grenier hauled himself onto the running board and into the RV. He tucked his stump under his coat, a protective if useless gesture. Grenier settled into the passenger seat and studied his rescuer. Early sixties, unusually .t for that age. Grenier noted the almost military haircut, short and tight over the ears, and the way the man canted slightly to the right. Grenier leaned forward slightly and spotted the holstered pistol on the man’s left hip. Cop or soldier. He was suddenly acutely aware that he was jumping bail.
He glanced back through the door leading into the body of the RV. A woman sat at the small table. She cradled a long ri.e the way an­other woman might hold a child, or a child might hold a teddy bear. The woman looked to be in her late twenties with brown hair that brushed at her chin, a chin too square for real beauty. Straight, thick eyebrows frowned over brown eyes that welled with tears. Grenier checked, worried that the barrel might soon be facing him.
The man seemed to read Grenier’s concern. “It’s not loaded,” he said in a low voice. “She really freaks if she’s not holding it, so I let her.” The man put the RV back in gear, and they went bumping off the shoulder and back onto the freeway.
The man held out his hand. “Syd Marten.”
Grenier slid his arm from beneath the concealing coat and held up the ban daged stump. Marten jerked back his hand.“Consider your hand duly shaken,” Grenier said, stalling for time while he thought what name to offer.
Grenier had been a famous man. Preaching on the Christian cable networks, lending his support to various “culture of life” issues, leading prayer breakfasts at the White House, attacking scientists on the twenty- four-hour news channels, spouting his nonsense with neither challenge nor argument for the national media. He had been written up in Time and Newsweek as the most powerful voice of Amer­ica’s evangelical movement. Would he be recognized? But while in jail he had grown a beard and mustache, and being assigned by a sympathetic guard to kitchen detail had enabled him to eat constantly as he alternately cursed and wept for his lost power. He decided to offer a false name.
“Mark Jenkins,” Grenier said, using his mother’s maiden name.
“Where are you headed?” Marten asked.
“West.” It seemed a safe, if vague, response.
“Us, too,” he said. Marten gestured at the eastbound side of the freeway with its steady line of cars, their headlights like a chain of diamonds. “If they were smart they’d be hightailing it the other way, too, but their government isn’t leveling with them.”
“About what?” Grenier probed gently.
Beads of moisture popped out on Marten’s forehead, and a trem­bling shook his body. He wiped away sweat and sucked in a quick, deep breath. “What’s happening in Virginia,” came the choked reply.
He’s been to my compound. He’s seen. What a strange coincidence. Grenier wondered if some vestige of his magic was still working. Or perhaps it was one of those .ukes of quantum coincidence that scien­tists struggled to explain. What ever the reason, Grenier would have to be careful. He thanked the cautious instinct that had led him to give a false name.
“What’s happening to our world?” Grenier asked.
“Damned if I know. Whatever it is, it ain’t good. I’ve seen this thing, and I went nuts. Ended up locked up in the booby hatch. Look at her.” He gestured back toward the woman. “That’s my daughter, Samantha. The girl who had to outjock every jock in the FBI. Prove to me it’s okay that she’s a girl and not a son . . . like I care, but she just won’t accept that.”
It was a gift, Grenier thought. He’d always had this ability to en­gender trust in people and elicit their con.dences. His career choices had been obvious, politician or preacher. Preacher had paid better.
“Anyway, she volunteered to go out there. She’s in the FBI, just like me. She’s a trained sniper, and since she went there all she does is sit and cry. I think this thing, this effect . . . whatever it is, is going to spread. So I loaded up the RV and we left.” The man fell silent, but Grenier could tell he was eager to talk more. Grenier inclined his torso forward, softened his expression, begged to receive the con.dence. Marten obliged.
“I didn’t give notice or anything. The last guy who tried to leave got locked up. Jacobson. They say it’s because he refused to go out there, but I can’t help but wonder if he got locked up because he’s a Jew. Next it’ll be the blacks. All the old hates and distrusts are com­ing to the surface. The world’s gone a different kind of nuts.”
The same old nuts, Grenier thought, but what he said was, “You seem very sane.”
“Yeah, now.”
“What did they do for you?”
“Who?”
“The doctors.”
“Not a damn thing.”
For Grenier a certainty began to grow. It was all too perfect. He was going to do his bit to try to fuck his former masters.
“It wasn’t the doctors who .xed me, but this young guy, Richard Oort. I don’t remember much about him, but there was this sword.”
“With a blade as black as space, shot through with glittering points of light like the swirl of stars, and when it’s drawn you feel the bass tones growling and reverberating in your chest like the notes of a mas­sive organ,” Grenier said softly as he remembered.
“You know him,” Marten said.
“Oh, yes.” Grenier softly stroked the bandage over his stump.
“I’ve got to reach him. Have him help my Sam like he helped me.”
“I’d like to find him, too.” And Grenier clenched his left .st, and felt his phantom right hand also close. “For a lot of reasons.” Excerpted from The Edge of Ruin by Melinda Snodgrass.
Copyright © 2010 by Melinda Snodgrass.
Published in April 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 7, 2012

    I read this book out of order, and glad to say the story line wa

    I read this book out of order, and glad to say the story line was not limited to the reading order of the series. I am also impatiently waiting for the sequel. Melinda, when are you sending it in? I love the idea of a free spirit as our hero. Richard is an intriguing character that each chapter brings you closer to see the motivation of his spirit, his strength, regret and purpose. The artistic aspect of his character plays genteelly into the story line of facing other worldly creators that are threatened by music, math and science. I hope to see that he over comes his difficulties, find his inspiration and finally save the world from the Old ones. The villains of the book are not just evil, debased, and insane but have human flaws even when they are half human. I found the premise of the book intriguing, imaginative, and totally fresh and new... I have to read edge of reason, and wait patiently for the next book in the series.

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    Posted July 11, 2011

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    Posted March 17, 2012

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