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The Sky People (Lords of Creation Series #1)

The Sky People (Lords of Creation Series #1)

by S. M. Stirling

Paperback(First Edition)

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765327277
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 04/27/2010
Series: Lords of Creation Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

S. M. Stirling is the author of numerous SF and fantasy novels, including the popular "Nantucket" series that began with Island in the Sea of Time, Dies the Fire and The Protector's War. A former lawyer and an amateur historian, he lives in the Southwest with his wife, Jan.

Read an Excerpt

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 the reflective 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

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