Halfway Human

Halfway Human

by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Halfway Human

Halfway Human

by Carolyn Ives Gilman


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"The best science fiction novel I've read in a long time"-St. Louis Post-Dispatch **** A Starflight Reader nominee for best book of the year **** Tedla is a 'bland, ' an asexual class of people that exist only to serve their fellow beings. **** Val is an expert on alien cultures but has never seen a bland before. They come together after Tedla is found light-years away from its home planet-alone, isolated and suicidal. Val's mission is to help Tedla recover. But the more she learns about the beautiful alien being, the more she discovers about the torment Tedla and its kind suffer on their planet. **** Little does the rest of the universe know of the hidden world of the blands, a world that hides shocking secrets and unspeakable crimes. **** Halfway Human is a mesmerizing look at an intricately created alien world which is strange and distant, yet hauntingly familiar. **** "Beauty, pain, wit, and wisdom all suffuse this powerful novel, as it uses imagined futures to reveal our own world in starkest clarity...and yes, with a whisper of hope." -Locus

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604504408
Publisher: Arc Manor
Publication date: 02/23/2010
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 840,908
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)

Read an Excerpt


By night, the enclave of Djenga Shana glittered and smelled. The palaces of temptation clustered around the waystation, feeding on the nutrient wash of tourists that issued from the wayports, ripe with money and desires. The Worwha Shana, natives of the enclave, made no secret of their wish to eradicate all infidels who didn't share their odd religion; but they had no intention of doing it by violence. Instead, they provided the deadly vices that allowed the infidels to destroy themselves.

It had just rained in Djenga Shana. The streets were smeary with neon rivulets, and a steam-haze rose from hot pavement. Down a dark side street, where the walls were plain gray brick, a door opened for a moment, exhaling a hot breath that smelled of stimsmoke and ambergris. The light from the door silhouetted a figure that slipped out, barefoot and wrapped in a raincoat that was sizes too big. In the dim light it was impossible to tell whether it was a boy made up to look like a woman, or a large-boned woman trying to conceal her sex. Pulling the raincoat lighter and cinching the bell, the figure thrust hard fists into the pockets and headed for the street.

Participarlors, stimulation studios, creep shows, and druggeries showed their wares for the passing crowds. Beneath a patch of translucent pavement, a naked dancer writhed under shifting lights, first scalded red, then skeletal while, jerking like a marionette on piano-wire strings. The wanderer in the raincoat paused to watch, collar turned up high. Then a nearby door opened its moist, fleshy lips, and a feedback buzz of music issued, making the tense body under the coat flinch back. Over the music came a woman's laugh, sharp as aneedle, and the wail of a pocket alarm going off. Then the door pursed shut, choking off the noise.

Underfoot, the pavement was strewn with discarded things whose pleasure-value had been used up: a fresh corsage, partly crushed; a tangled wad of shorn hair; a lost endorphin-brooch, the kind made to be pinned direct through skin. The barefoot figure stopped to reach out for the brooch, then thrust the outstretched hand into a pocket instead, where it closed over something hard. For an instant the light from a sign that read Every Wish Fulfilled picked out a glint of touseled golden hair as the wanderer turned down a narrow alley.

The sound of a sharp explosion ricocheted out onto the street. A panhandler paused in midspiel; two drunken students with songbirds tethered to their shoulders peered down the alley. But there was nothing to see, no novelty to lure them, and they turned away. The streetlights cycled through the spectrum, hallucination bright. Their glare hid the trickle of blood mingling with the greasy rain.

Copyright ) 1998 by Carolyn Ives Gilman

What People are Saying About This

Nicola Griffith

Fascinating...the best SF novel I've read in a long time.

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