The Sky People (Lords of Creation Series #1)

( 23 )


Marc Vitrac was born in Louisiana in the early 1960’s, about the time the first interplanetary probes delivered the news that Mars and Venus were teeming with life—even human life. At that point, the “Space Race” became the central preoccupation of the great powers of the world.

Now, in 1988, Marc has been assigned to Jamestown, the US-Commonwealth base on Venus, near the great Venusian city of Kartahown. Set in a countryside swarming with sabertooths and dinosaurs, Jamestown is...

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Marc Vitrac was born in Louisiana in the early 1960’s, about the time the first interplanetary probes delivered the news that Mars and Venus were teeming with life—even human life. At that point, the “Space Race” became the central preoccupation of the great powers of the world.

Now, in 1988, Marc has been assigned to Jamestown, the US-Commonwealth base on Venus, near the great Venusian city of Kartahown. Set in a countryside swarming with sabertooths and dinosaurs, Jamestown is home to a small band of American and allied scientist-adventurers.

But there are flies in this ointment – and not only the Venusian dragonflies, with their yard-wide wings. The biologists studying Venus’s life are puzzled by the way it not only resembles that on Earth, but is virtually identical to it. The EastBloc has its own base at Cosmograd, in the highlands to the south, and relations are frosty. And attractive young geologist Cynthia Whitlock seems impervious to Marc’s Cajun charm.

Meanwhile, at the western end of the continent, Teesa of the Cloud Mountain People leads her tribe in a conflict with the Neanderthal-like beastmen who have seized her folk’s sacred caves. Then an EastBloc shuttle crashes nearby, and the beastmen acquire new knowledge… and AK47’s.

Jamestown sends its long-range blimp to rescue the downed EastBloc cosmonauts, little suspecting that the answer to the jungle planet’s mysteries may lie there, among tribal conflicts and traces of a power that made Earth’s vaunted science seem as primitive as the tribesfolk’s blowguns. As if that weren’t enough, there’s an enemy agent on board the airship…

Extravagant and effervescent, The Sky People is alternate-history SF adventure at its best.

* Mp3 CD Format *. Extravagant and effervescent, "The Sky People is alternate-history SF adventure at its best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For this rollicking first of an alternate history series, Stirling (Island in the Sea of Time) uses the terrific premise that Mars and Venus are exactly as depicted in pulp-era SF, eerily Earth-like and populated by prehistoric people and creatures. When 1960s space probes find that Venus is habitable, the Americans and Russians scramble to set up colonies and get in good with the natives. In 1988, a Russian rocket crashes in the wilderness and can only be reached by an airship from the U.S. Commonwealth base of Jamestown, crewed by a classic love triangle: Ranger Lt. Marc Vitrac, Harlem-born geologist Cynthia Whitlock and ultra-British anthropologist Christopher Blair. Stirling doesn't stint on old-fashioned elements, most notably the gorgeous native princess with magical powers, but the multiculturalism sidesteps most stereotypes while retaining a broad-brush pulp sensibility; the science is refreshingly realistic; and everyone cusses (sometimes in awkward translation). Readers will eagerly anticipate a trip to Mars in the sequel, In the Halls of the Crimson Kings. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The Cold War still rages in 1988, and the Eastern and Western Blocs compete for colonies on Mars and Venus, both homes to humanlike sentient though primitive races. American Marc Vitrac, assigned to the U.S. base of Jamestown, finds the lands outside the Venusian colony teeming with quasiprehistoric life as well as filled with mysteries that could threaten the human presence on Venus. Stirling's alternate histories have dealt with misplaced islands ("The Island in the Sea of Time" series), asteroid impacts (The Peshawar Lancers), and technological disaster ("Dies the Fire" series). Now he tackles the world of pulp sf popularized by Edgar Rice Burroughs, bringing to the genre his talent for verisimilitude and appealing characters. A good choice for most sf collections, particularly where the author has a following. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A fanciful, politically tinged tale from Stirling (The Ship Avenged, 1997, etc.), set on the frontier of Venus circa 1988 as the Eastern Bloc rivals the US Sky People in the great space race. The Sky People have established a stronghold on the Gargarin continent of Venus, at the settlement called Jamestown, directed by Ranger Lieutenant Marc Vitrac, formerly of Louisiana Cajun country. He welcomes the arrival of fresh reserves on the spaceship Carson, including an attractive young geologist, Lieutenant Cynthia Whitlock, and RAF Wing Commander Christopher Blair. Together they comprise "explorers at the cutting edge of the human story." However, there are other settlements entrenched in the strange land habitable by both dinosaurs and mammals: the small community of Kartahown, made up of numerous Earthlings and local tribespeople, traders and pilgrims; rank, savage tribes of marauding Neanderthals of the Wergu tribe; and the blond-haired, ethereal Cloud Mountain People of the Far West, in fur loincloths and bearing blowguns. And all kinds of curious beasts flourish here, such as giant mountable reptiles called ceratopsians and strong, scary raptor-like Quetzas. While the Sky People explore the geography of Venus, Blinkis, captain of the low-hovering Eastern Bloc space shuttle Riga, crashes into Wergu territory and is captured and brainwashed by the hairy brutes, who nonetheless shelter and heal him. Among the superior Cloud Mountain People, young female warrior Teesa has visions of invaders, who turn out to be Marc Vitrac and his gang in pursuit of the Russians. In fact, Blinkis's own pilot wife, Jadviga, arrives with blimp and crew to find her husband, and all of them end up confrontingthe nasty, smelly Wergus. Stirling offers an easygoing, atmospheric tale airbrushed with fuzzy political overtones, along with a good bit of humor and lively characterization. The adventures of these nutty space dudes will surely set off a series of its own. Agent: Russell Galen/Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"McLaren imparts a sense of adventure that does justice to" —-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765353764
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Series: Lords of Creation Series, #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,489,292
  • Product dimensions: 4.28 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

S.M. Stirling
Former radio broadcaster Todd McLaren has been heard on more than 5,000 TV and radio commercials; narrations for documentaries on such networks as A&E and the History Channel; and films. His book narrations have earned him a prestigious Audie Award as well as a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award.
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Read an Excerpt

The Sky People

By Stirling, S.M.

Tor Books

Copyright © 2006

Stirling, S.M.

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0765314886

Chapter One
Encyclopedia Britannica, 16th Edition
University of Chicago Press, 1988
Venus: Parameters
Orbit: 0.723 AU
Orbital period: 224.7 days
Rotation: 30hrs. 6mins. (retrograde)
Mass: 0.815 ¥ Earth
Average density: 5.2 g/cc
Surface gravity: 0.91 ¥ Earth
Diameter: 7,520 miles (equatorial; 94.7% ¥ Earth)
Surface: land 20%, water 80%
Atmospheric composition:
Nitrogen           76.2%
Oxygen            22.7%
Carbon dioxide 0.088%
Trace Elements: Argon, Neon, Helium, Krypton, Hydrogen
Atmospheric Pressure: 17.7 psi average at sea level
Venus differs from Earth, its sister planet, primarily in its slightly smaller size and slightly lower average density, as well as the lack of a moon or satellite, and its retrograde (clockwise) rotation. The composition of the atmosphere is closely similar to that of Earth, the main differences being the higher percentage of oxygen and the somewhat greater mass and density of the atmosphere as a whole.
Average temperatures on Venus are roughly 10 degrees Celsius higher than those on Earth, due to greater solar energy input, moderated by thereflective properties of the high cloud layer; isotope analysis suggests that these temperatures are similar to those on Earth in the Upper Cretaceous period, at which time Earth, like Venus today, had no polar ice caps.
Most of Venus' land area of approximately 40,000,000 sq. miles is concentrated in the Arctic supercontinent of Gagarin, roughly the size of Eurasia, and the Antarctic continent of Lobachevsky, approximately the size of Africa. Chains of islands constitute most of the remaining land surface, ranging in size from tiny atolls to nearly half a million square miles . . .
Venus, Gagarin Continent--Jamestown Extraterritorial Zone
One of the ceratopsians in the spaceport draught team raised its beaked, bony head and bellowed, stunningly loud, as the team was led around to be hitched to the newly arrived rocket-plane. The supersonic crack of the upper stage's first pass over the dirt runways at high altitude had spooked them a little, but they were used to the size and heat of the orbiters by now.
Some of the new arrivals from Earth filing carefully down the gangway from the rocket-plane's passenger door started at the cry. When one of the giant reptiles cut loose it sounded a little like the world's largest parrot; the beasts were massive six-ton quadrupeds with columnar legs, eight feet at the shoulder and higher at their hips, twenty-five feet long from snout to the tip of the thick tail, and they had lungs and vocal cords to match their size. The long purple tongue within the beak worked as the beast called, and it shook its shield--the massive bony plate that sheathed its head and flared out behind to cover the neck. The shield was a deep bluish-gray, the pebbled hide green-brown above, with a stripe of yellow along each flank marking off the finer cream-colored skin of the belly.
Then it added the rank, musky scent of a massive dinosaurian dung-dump to the scorched ceramic odor of the orbital lander's heat-shield.
Welcome to Venus, Marc Vitrac thought, as the score or so of new base personnel and the six spaceship crew gathered at the foot of the ladder. I'm glad it waited until the harness was hitched. That could have landed on my feet if it had happened while we were getting things fastened.
He switched his heavy rifle so that it rested in the crook of his left arm--it was a scope-sighted bolt-action piece with a thumbhole stock and chambered for a heavy big-game round, 9¥70 mm Magnum. Then he waved his right arm forward and called:
"Take it away, Sally!"
"Get going, you brainless lumps!" the slender ash-blond woman shouted from her seat in a saddle high on the shoulders of the left-hand beast.
That was purely to relieve her feelings. Nobody really liked the dim-witted, bad-tempered dinosaurs, useful though they were. The joystick in her hand was the real control; she shoved it forward, and the unit relayed its signals to the receivers on each beast's forehead, hidden under hemispheres of tough plastic. That triggered current through the implants running down through skulls and into the motor ganglions and pleasure-pain centers of their tiny brains. The two ceratopsians leaned into their harness, and the yard-thick hauling cable of braided dinosaur hide came taut with a snap. After a moment's motionless straining, the rocket stage lurched into motion and trundled down the long strip of reddish dirt towards the hangars and cranes where it would be mated with the big dart-shaped booster and made ready for its next lift to orbit.
It was a lot cheaper to ship electronic controller units from Earth than tractors and bulldozers, not to mention the non-existent infrastructure of fuel and spare parts. All you needed to collect ceratopsians was a heavy-duty trank gun; they'd eat anything that grew, including the trunks of oak trees, and they lived indefinitely unless something killed them.
Marc wiped his face on the sleeve of his jacket as the rocket-plane left, trailing dust, taking with it the radiant heat still throbbing out of its ceramic underbelly and a stink of burnt kerosene. The coastal air of Gagarin flowed in instead, the iodine scent of the sea half a mile northward, and smells of vegetation and animals not quite Earthly. The sun was a little bigger in the sky than it would be on the third rock from the sun, partly because they were closer to it, and partly from the light white haze that never really cleared from the blue arch above. Otherwise, apart from the weird fauna--and the size of the bugs--it might have been a spring day in California, temperature in the seventies and air fairly dry, yellow flowers studding a rolling plain of waist-high grass around them, just turning from rainy-season green to champagne color. Already some of the birds and fliers scared off by the rocket-plane's descent were winging back in. Something with iridescent blue-and-yellow feathers, a twelve-foot wingspan, and a beak full of teeth screeched at him as it passed, snapping at dragonflies six inches across.
Most of the Carson's six-person crew were here as well, looking a little more relieved than usual: There had been some sort of problem with the main fission reactor this time, just after the final insertion burn. The Aerospace Force kept two nuclear-boost ships on the run between Venus and Earth, the Carson and the Susan Constant.
The little clump of new fish in their blue Aerospace Force overalls stood at the base of the wheeled gangway, woozy even in Venus' ninety-percent gravity after three months of zero-G despite all that exercise en route could do. At least they were used to the denser air and higher oxygen, since the passenger ships adjusted their own gradually on the trip. Some of them were looking a little stunned; others were grinning ear to ear. He knew exactly what they were thinking, and his lips turned up as well--the thrill wasn't gone for him yet, not by a long shot:
Yeah, I've finally made it! All the tests and psych tests and physical tests and trials and qualifications and all the millions who started out on the selections and I was the one who made it!
One young black woman with civilian-specialist shoulder-flashes--she looked to be a couple of years short of Marc's twenty-five--bent down and gently touched the Venusian soil; when she straightened, a look of astonished delight was on her face. He met her eye and winked; on his first day he'd gone down flat and kissed the dirt.
"Welcome to Venus in general and the Jamestown Extraterritorial Zone in particular, folks! I'm Lieutenant Marc Vitrac, USASF, and one of the Ranger squad here, which means specimen-collector, liaison with the locals, and general dogsbody. We've got a howdah laid on. I know three months in zero-G makes you feel like a boiled noodle when you get back dirtside."
A murmur of "no problem, feeling fine" and shaking of heads: You had to be nearly Olympic caliber physically as well as qualified in two or three degree-equivalents even to get onto the short list for Venus. All of them were probably proud of it, and they were all aggressive self-starters by definition. He shrugged mentally; he'd done exactly the same thing when he arrived, and had been puffing by the time he made it to the reception hall. The plain fact of the matter was that it took weeks to months of carefully phased acclimatizing before you got full function back. That was why they used the more expensive nuclear-rocket craft for shipping people between planets, instead of the cheap but slow solar-sail freighters. A big nuclear booster could get you here in a hundred and twenty days, give or take, depending on orbital positions--the robot freighters took three or four times that long, and nobody could stand a year and a half without gravity, not to mention the risk of solar flares en route.
Instead of arguing, he turned to the four spaceport laborers. "ImiTaWok s'wee, tob," he said in the tongue of Kartahown: Get it back to the building, guys.
The locals grabbed the shamboo-framed wheeled staircase and began dragging it off after the rocket-plane. The newcomers spared a few startled glances at them: You had to look fairly closely to see that they weren't common garden-variety Caucasoid Earthlings. People around here tended to medium-tall height, olive coloring, and mostly brown or black hair, with a minority of blonds and a smaller one of redheads; only the sharply triangular faces and hooked noses were even a little out of the ordinary. The four workers were shaved and barbered Terran-style and dressed in ordinary-for-Jamestown pants and shirts of parachute cloth; they couldn't be told from Earthlings until they spoke. Put Marc Vitrac into an off-the-right-shoulder tunic, grow his hair long and tie it in a knot on the left side of his head, and give him a bronze sword, and he'd fit right in on this coast.
"Yeah, those guys are from Kartahown," he said, pointing east along the coast. The Bronze Age city-state, which was Venus' highest civilization, was about forty miles thataway. "Some of them have picked up English, too, since they moved up this way looking for work."
Including some escaped slaves we're sheltering from people who'd like to beat them to death with bronze-tipped scourges, but let's not get into that right now.
"That's quick," said the oldest of the newcomers, in his midthirties and with a bird colonel's insignia. "We've only been here six years, and the base was pretty small for most of that period."
"Well, we're even more exotic and interesting to them than they are to us, sir," Vitrac said. "And by local standards, we're wizards and richer than God. A steel knife or a couple of yards of parachute fabric is real money here."
Plus we don't beat people to death with bronze-tipped scourges.
"And if you'll all follow me . . ."
He led them off, slowly, across the cropped grass near the landing strip; there were two in an X-shaped combination, each several thousand yards long. Another ceratopsian stood waiting patiently; in fact, it was blissed out by a trickle charge to the pleasure center, drooling slightly onto the grass. On its back rested a twenty-foot howdah made of laminated shamboo, with a shaped and padded underside and two broad leather girths running under the dinosaur's belly to hold it on. The seats were stepped like those in a movie theater to accommodate the slope of the animal's back from the high point over its hips. Marc stood by the short folding ladder at the right foreleg, once or twice discreetly helping a passenger with his free hand.
More than one gave the bigger-than-elephantine beast a dubious look; its steady breathing was a machinelike whoosh . . . whoosh . . .  and the heavy reptile stink was strong, like a neglected cage full of iguanas at a pet shop. The massive columnar legs were taller than a big man, too.
When everyone was settled Marc folded up the ladder, put his foot on the ceratopsian's knee, grabbed the edge of the bony shield, and vaulted into the front seat to take up the controls. Once you got your muscle tone back, the combination of lower gravity and extra oxygen made you hell on wheels physically--and they'd all been distinctly above-average specimens to begin with.
"Fasten your seat belts, please," he said.
And keep your barf-bags handy. This thing sways like a sonofabitch.
Unlike many, he didn't bother to say git or the equivalent, just pushed the control forward a notch and rotated the joystick. The beast gave a low coughing grunt and then a wince-inducing screech of complaint as it came out of a daze of quasi-reptilian ecstasy and turned in place before pacing forward; the weight of howdah and passengers wasn't really noticeable to something that weighed about as much as a big dump truck, and everyone clutched the grab-bars. The strings of silver bells around the edges of the howdah chimed in chorus at the first lurch, then settled down into a ting-ting-ting-ting beneath the heavy thud of footfalls as the animal paced along. It wasn't doing more than walk, but each stride covered a lot of ground.
Marc did start a little as the black woman slid into the front seat beside him. He didn't think it was his own overwhelming attractiveness; he was a slim, wiry man of medium height for Jamestown--five-ten--built like a gymnast or track-and-field star, which he'd been, with a pleasant open face, olive skin, and dark green eyes. His black hair was cropped short. She just seemed exuberantly happy to be on Venus, and less returning-gravity-whipped by the voyage than most of the newcomers. And of course she was less constrained than someone in the Aerospace Force, although military formality was distinctly low-key here. For one thing, there was scarcely anyone below commissioned rank. A lieutenant was on the bottom of the heap.
She touched the plank of the seat as if seeking reassurance in the rough, slightly splintery surface.
"I like the bells," she said.
"Me too," he replied. "It's mostly to warn people out of the way. These things aren't what you'd call maneuverable, even Iced."
"Ah, Jamestown slang. Internal Control Device: I-C-D, and so-Iced."
"You've been here awhile, right, Lieutenant?" she asked.
"Weh," he agreed cheerfully in the dialect of his childhood.
He was no more immune than most young men to attention from a good-looking woman, and on Venus you had the added pleasure of knowing she was in the top of the bell curve for brains and general ability, too. He went on:
"More than a year now, Venus year, that is. Mostly in construction, maintenance, supply, but just recently we've had more time for real exploring and research--fascinating stuff. What we're learning is going to shake the Earth. And a lieutenant is small potatoes here, ah, Miss . . ."
"Cynthia Whitlock, Lieutenant," she said, and held out a hand. "Sorry, I didn't catch your name--I was paying more attention to the surroundings than the spiel!"
"Marc Vitrac. Ethnology and linguistics, power systems and lighter-than-air pilot."
"Geology, minors in paleontology and information systems. And . . . imiKartahownai 'n dus-jas?" she asked.
She had a pretty good accent for someone working from recordings rather than talking to native speakers. The hand that gripped his was firm and strong and dry, slender and long-fingered; shaking it meant he had to juggle the rifle he was holding in the crook of his other arm.
"Yeah, I've picked up a fair amount of Kartahownian. It's damned useful here; a lot of people along the coast speak it, sort of a lingua franca. Some of them have acquired a bit of English over in the town, too. They've got some very smart people there--it doesn't pay to underestimate them."
She tilted her head to one side. "Louisiana?" she said.
"Evangeline, eh, she was my mawmaw," he said, exaggerating the Cajun lilt for a moment. "Bayou born and bred. Grand Isle."
"Harlem born and bred," she replied, with only a trace of it in her General American.
Then her brows went up slightly as he took a quick glance skyward and started to raise the rifle. "Nope," he said, lowering the weapon. "He's not going for us. Guess we look too much like a 'saur."
When he'd relaxed, she went on, indicating the rifle with a glance, "That cannon is a bird-gun?"
"Mais, for those things, weh, certainly," he said, turning a thumb upward.
He was unsurprised she knew her way around firearms, even though she was a civilian. The selection program tended to pick intellectuals who were also outdoors types or vice versa. Then he raised his voice a little so the rest of the score of passengers could hear, and it took on a slight tour-guide tone. One that he realized was based on something he'd heard an uncle use when he conducted tours of the bayous in his swamp boat, throwing marshmallows to the quasi-tame gators for the tourists.
"Y'all might want to take a gander skyward. First big Quetza of the season, and they're quite a sight."
Most of the passengers did look up. He heard gasps. It was one thing to watch a video of a flying creature with a wingspan of eighty feet, but another to see one with your naked eye. Even back in the Cretaceous, nothing that size could have flown on Earth, but the gravity was a bit lower here, and the air wasn't just thicker but also had more oxygen per unit to power flight muscles. This Quetza was coming in low, coasting down from the inland cliffs where they nested, banking to avoid the built-up area of Jamestown, and then sweeping back seaward.
The thin long-headed body was bigger than a man's and roughly the same shape, but it was tiny between the vast leathery expanses of wing that caught the thermals; the eyes in its long, narrow-beaked head were huge and yellow and it turned one of them towards the wagon as it went by overhead. Then the wings half-folded, and the great beast came down on the other side of the runways like an arching thunderbolt of brown hide and white-and-scarlet body-fuzz and yellow jaws. Those were slender, like a great pickaxe beak, balanced by a bony crest behind, and full of jagged teeth.
"Ah, shit, it's going for that herd of churr, probably after a bebette. Sorry, people--I'm going to have to take a shot. Fire in the hole!"
It was the claws on the ends of the long legs that struck first, in a puff of dust. More dust fountained into the air as the giant wings flogged the air, and something struggled beneath them as the thirty-odd adults and younglings in the herd spattered like water on a waxed floor, bawling and shrieking in terror. The week-old churr colt was the size of a medium pig except for the longer legs, and it squealed like one. Churr were what the locals used instead of horses; Venus didn't have any equivalent of equines, as far as they knew. The shaggy, social omnivores were actually more like bears, and still more like horse-sized dogs with the digestive systems of hogs.
The pterodactyl worked for height, looked down at the animal thrashing in its claws, and dropped him from two hundred feet. The squeal ran all the way down as the falling beast thrashed his legs, then cut off abruptly at the meaty thud of impact. The winged reptile turned in a circling gyre as it descended and then settled to the ground like a flying avalanche, mantling its wings over the dead animal as it fed. After an instant, the long head came up with a dripping chunk in its jaws. It bolted the food whole, and you could see the lump traveling down the throat.
Marc brought the ceratopsian around and pressed the bliss-out button to freeze it in place before he came up with one knee on the bench, taking a hitch of the rifle sling around his left elbow to give a three-point rest and working the bolt to chamber one of the heavy rounds. Cynthia slid down and went flat to peer over the edge of the howdah, her thumbs on her ears and mouth open. The pterodactyl's huge eye with its star-shaped pupil leaped into view through the sight: about nine hundred yards. Now shift a little for the wind, stroke the trigger . . .
Recoil punched into his shoulder despite the rubber pad and the weapon's muzzle brake and the fourteen-pound mass of the heavy rifle. Through the scope he had a brief glimpse of the predator's brain splashing away from the hollow-point bullet. When he took the scope from his eye, the forty-foot wings were thrashing the soil in a last frenzy. As they stilled to twitching, the churr herd closed back in, standing in a circle for a moment before settling in to feed amid ripping and crunching sounds; the shaggy animals liked meat more than acorns or grass, though they'd eat anything in a pinch. They'd have it down to tatters and a skeleton by sundown, with the corpse beetles making sure not enough was left to smell by tomorrow.
This planet had an active ecosystem.
Marc worked the action and caught the empty shell as it ejected. That was one hundred and seventy-five dollars of the taxpayers' money in shipping costs, right there, and they had their own reloading shop now. The sharp, acrid chemical stink of nitro powder hung in the air for a moment, then drifted away into the flowers-hay-hot-dirt-and-ocean smells.
"Jesus, Lieutenant!" the bird colonel said reverently.
"Yeah, sir. You've got to watch out for the Quetzas, take a glance skyward every so often; the older ones like that can lift a grown man into the air with a high-speed snatch. They can't carry that much weight for long . . . but they don't have to. And you don't let kids go out without an armed escort! The First Fleet people shot a half-dozen daily around the town for a while and that seems to have taught them to avoid it. Lucky there aren't all that many of the really huge ones."
"They can learn?" the colonel asked. "The reports say they're not very big-brained."
"About like a smart bird, say a parrot or a bald eagle--some of the smaller dinosaurian land predators are like that, too. The herbivores like this one"--he kicked the ceratopsian's shield--"are dumb as geckos. The big Quetzas migrate to the southern hemisphere in the winter, right down to the Antarctic continent, so you only have to worry about them from this time of year to the start of the fall rains. It's a good thing there aren't more of the thunder-lizards this far north, or it'd be impossible to live outside a cave."
The colonel nodded as Marc got their mount back into motion and headed into town. "What's that over there?" he said, pointing left and southward.
Copyright 2006 by S. M. Stirling. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from The Sky People
by Stirling, S.M.
Copyright © 2006 by Stirling, S.M..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Clever set-up, good story, strong characters

    Highly recommended, especially if you read SF from pre-1970 authors and miss their imagined worlds... or if you like B-movies from the 1950's- there is a bit of both here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Back to the Golden Age

    Stirling does a great job of channeling authors from the Golden Age of science fiction. Great fun!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2010

    Fun Story - Great homage to Burroughs

    This is a very fun action story. SM Stirling took the old SF stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs of "Tarzan" fame and improved them.

    Instead of blindly accepting a that Venus can be occupied by beautiful princesses, steaming jungles and dinosaurs such as Burroughs did, Stirling creates a Venus which has been terraformed a long time ago and "seeded" with Earth life, including several different human species.

    In an alternate reality, everything is the same on Earth until technology advances far enough in the 50's for early space travel to discover that life "does" exist on other planets in our solar system, and that life is human. From there the cold war of is replaced with the race to space and the planets.

    But all this is simply the background to a rip-roaring adventure of explorers on a strange planet teaming with dinosaurs. An adventure in the old pulp style. There are heroes, there are villains- there is "Adventure" !

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

    Pure Fun

    All the fun of the old pulps without the musty smell...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    Very "Stirling-like" and interesting.

    A good story with a different background story. I look forward to reading more of this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    Vintage SF revisited.

    In this novel Stirling asks, what if Venus was inhabited by sentients who are very much like Earth's human beings. Throw in a bunch of ravenous neanderthals, dinosaurs, and just for laughs add a couple of cases of AK-47s and you have a recipe for a meal of non-stop action. The story takes place in an alternative reality in which the United States and the Soviet Union extend the Cold War off world to both Mars and Venus. The book very much resembles the classic Sci Fi of the 50's. Cover art should have included a beautiful blond Venutian woman wearing a fur bikini astride a dinosaur firing an automatic rifle. This book is nothing but fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2006

    Venus as it Should Have Been

    Science fiction readers of a certain age remember those stories written before the 60s where Venus was covered with jungles, teaming with life. Alas, modern space probes discovered instead a hell world, choking in a sulferous atmosphere with temperatures of near nine hundred degrees. Steve Stirling imagines a Venus as it should have been, with the jungles, the teaming life (including dinosaours!), and human space explorers. A space race such as people could only dream about is on, with America and the British Commonwealth on one side, the Soviet Bloc on the other. A US/British expedition is sent forth to rescue the crew of a crashed Soviet space ship. An adventure begins such as we have not seen since the first Mariners and Veneras ruined things for us. Enjoy.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    homage to pulp fantasy and science fiction

    After the probes proved that people can live on Venus, a new space race was engaged between the Americans and the Russians. Both forge colonies on the second planet from the sun. The Americans Sky People and their western allies establish the U.S. Commonwealth base of Jamestown on the Gargarin continent while the Russians have their own settlement. However, there are also natives on the planet including dinosaurs and humans. --- In 1988 the Russian ship Riga crashes somewhat near Jamestown but in the heart of the deadly Neanderthals Wergus. Instead of dining on Captain Blinkis, they welcome him as one of them. The Americans led by Ranger Marc Vitrac, astro geologist Cynthia Whitlock and British anthropologist Christopher Blair search for the missing Russian at the same time that the Soviets led by the missing cosmonaut¿s wife Jadviga and the native Cloud Mountain People seek him too. --- This is a wild ride (with Mars up next) as S.M. Stirling pays homage to pulp fantasy and science fiction with this often amusing, somewhat politically satirical, but always fun alternate history in space. The story line is filled with action but it is the cast that makes the tale fast-paced as readers will wonder who will get the girl that is which girl. THE SKY PEOPLE is a terrific space opera that has a little of everything. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2011

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