The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales

by Steven Erikson

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Overview

Steven Erikson has carved a name for himself among the pantheon of great fantasy writers. But his masterful storytelling and prose style go beyond the awe-inspiring Malazan world. In The Devil Delivered and Other Tales, Erikson tells three different, but captivating stories:

"The Devil Delivered" tells a story set within the near future, where the land owned by the great Lakota Nation blisters beneath an ozone hole the size of the Great Plains. As the natural world falls victim to its wrath, and scientists scramble to understand it, a lone anthropologist wanders the deadlands, recording observations that threaten to bring the entire world to its knees.

"Revolvo" takes place in an alternate Earth where evolution took an interesting turn and the arts scene is ruled by technocrats who thrive in a secret, nepotistic society of granting agencies, bursaries, and peer-review boards, all designed to permit self-proclaimed artists to survive without an audience.

"Fishin' with Grandma Matchie" is told in the voice a nine-year-old boy, writing the story of his summer vacation. What starts as a typical recount of a trip to see Grandma quickly becomes a stunning fantastical journey into imagination and perception in the wild world that Grandma Matchie inhabits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765330024
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Archaeologist and anthropologist Steven Erikson's debut novel, Gardens of the Moon, was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. His New York Times bestselling series, 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen, has been hailed as a masterpiece of epic fantasy. He lives in Cornwall.

Read an Excerpt

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales


By Steven Erikson

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2012 Steven Erikson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0389-3



CHAPTER 1

TO JOHN JOHN FR BOGQUEEN: Out of the pool, into the peat. Found something/someone you might want to see. Runner 6729.12 for the path, just follow the footsteps moi left you. Ta, lover boy, and mind the coyotes.


JIM'S STORY

Saskatchewan, Dominion of Canada, August 9, A.D. 1959

Bronze flowed along the eagle's broad wings as it banked into the light of the setting sun. Jim's eyes followed it, bright with wonder. His horse's russet flanks felt hot and solid under his thighs. He curved his lower back and slid down a ways on the saddle.

Grandpa had clucked his palomino mare ahead a dozen or so steps, out to the hill's crest. The old man had turned and now squinted steadily at Jim.

"What do you see this time?" Grandpa asked.

"It's just how you said it'd be," Jim answered. He remembered what his grandfather had told him last winter. There'd been a foot of wind-hardened snow blanketing this hilltop, and the deep drifts in the valley below had been sculpted into fantastic patterns. They'd covered the six miles from the farm in the morning's early hours, jogging overland and using the elk-gut snowshoes Grandpa had made the day Jim was born, nine years past. And he remembered what Grandpa had talked about that day—all the old, old stories, the places and lives that had slipped into and out of the family's own history, on their way into legend. Batoche, Riel, McLaren and the Redcoats, and Sitting Bull himself. It was the family's Métis blood, the old fur trade routes that crossed the plains, and of course the buffalo. All a part of Jim now, and especially this particular hilltop, where heroes had once gathered. Where they had talked with the Old One, whose bones slept under the central pile of stones.

Jim let his gaze drop and scan the space between the two horses. The pile remained—it had barely broken the snow's skin last winter, but now the hub of boulders threw its lumpy shadow across the west half of the Medicine Wheel, and the rows of rocks that spoked out from it completed a perfect circle around them.

"Who Hunts the Devil," Grandpa said quietly.

Jim nodded. "The Old One."

The wind blew dry and hot, and Jim licked his parched lips as Grandpa's blunt French and Plains Cree accent rolled the words out slow and even, "He was restless in those days. But now ... just silence." The old man swung his mount round until the two horses and their riders faced each other. Grandpa's weathered face looked troubled. "I'm thinking he might be gone, you know."

Jim's gaze flicked away, uneasily studied the prairie beyond. The sun's light was crimson behind a curtain of dust raised by the Johnsons' combines.

Grandpa continued, "Could be good for wheat, this section. ..."

The boy spoke slowly. "But that'd mean plowing all this up—the Medicine Wheel, the tepee rings—"

"So it would. The old times have passed, goes my thinking. Your dad, well, soon he'll be taking over things, and that's the way it should be."

Jim slumped farther in his saddle, still staring at the sunset. Dad didn't like being called Métis, always said he was three-quarters white and that was good enough and he didn't show his Indian blood besides. Jim's own blood was even thinner, but his grandfather's stories had woken things in him, deep down inside. The boy cleared his throat. "Where did your grandpa meet Sitting Bull again?"

The old man smiled. "You know."

"Wood Mountain. He'd just come up after killing Custer. He was on the run, and the Redcoats were on their way from the East, only they were weeks away still."

"And that's when—?"

"Sitting Bull gave your grandpa his rifle. A gift, because your grandpa spoke wise words—"

"Don't know how wise they were," Grandpa cut in; then he fell silent, his gaze far away.

Jim said nothing. He'd never heard doubt before, not in the telling of the stories, especially not in this one.

After a long moment filled only by the wind and an impatient snort from the palomino, Grandpa spoke on, "He told Sitting Bull that the fight was over. That the Americans would come after him, hunt him down. That the White Chief couldn't live without avenging the slaughter—that the White Chief's justice counted only with the whites, not for Indian dogs. Sitting Bull was tired, and old. He was ready for those words. That's why he called them wise. So after McLaren arrived, he took his people back. He surrendered, and was starved then murdered. It would've been a better death, I think, if he'd kept his rifle."

Jim straightened and met his grandfather's eyes. "I don't want this plowed up, Grandpa. Maybe Who Hunts the Devil is gone, but maybe he isn't. Maybe he's just sleeping. If you wreck the Medicine Wheel, he'll be mad."

"Your father wants to plant wheat, Jim. That's all there is to it. And the old times are gone. Your father understands this. You have to, too."

"No."

"Once the harvest's in, we'll come out here and turn over the land."

"No."

"It's empty, you see. The buffalo are gone. I look around ... and it's not right. It'll never be right again."

"Yes, it will, Grandpa. I'll make it right."

The old man's smile was broken, wrenching at Jim's heart. "Listen to your father, Jim. His words are wise."


Val Marie, Saskatchewan Precinct, June 30, Anno Confederation 14

William Potts opened his eyes to the melting snow puddled around his hiking boots. He rubbed his face, working out the aching creases around his mouth. A smile to make people nervous, but it was getting harder to wear.

Slouched in an antique chair and half-buried by his bootsuit, he turned his head an inch, to meet the eye of a diamondback rattlesnake probing the glass wall beside him. An eye milky white, the eye of a seer proselytized limbless and mute, but scabbed with deadly knowledge all the same.

The aquarium sat on a stained oak end table, its lower third layered in sand and gravel. Stone slabs crowded the near end. A sun-bleached branch stripped of bark lay in the center, angled upward in faint salute. At the far end, two small buttons of cacti, possibly alive, possibly dead—hard to tell despite the tiny bright red flowers.

The snake was avoiding its tree, succinctly coiled on a stone slab, its subtle dun-colored designs pebbled by scales that glittered beneath the heat lamp.

William watched its tongue flick out, once, twice, three times, then stop.

He grunted. "We are rife in threes."

At the crowded basement's far end, Old Jim rummaged through a closet, his broad hunched back turned to William.

"This guy's eyes," William said, frowning at the snake, "are all milky white." He lowered his voice. "Time to shed, then? Tease off the old, here's something new. Into the new where you don't belong. You know that, don't you? Because your sins are old."

Old Jim pulled out a walking stick, a staff, and dropped it clattering to the floor. "It's here someplace," he said. "I hid it when that land claim went through. Figured Jack Tree and his boys would swoop down and take everything, you know? The snake's blind, son. Burned blind."

William shifted in the narrow chair. "Conjured by thy name, huh? Makes you easier to catch, I suppose." The snake lifted its head and softly butted the glass. Once, twice, three times. "One day," William told it, "you'll wear my skin. And I'll wear yours. We'll find out who slips this mortal coil first." He shifted again and let his gaze travel over the room's contents.

Old Jim's basement was also the town museum. Thick with dust and the breath of ghosts. Glass-topped tables housed chert and chalcedony arrowheads, ground-stone axes and mauls, steatite tobacco pipes, rifle flints and vials full of trade beads. White beads, red beads, turquoise beads. Furniture shaped by homesteaders' rough, practical hands filled every available space. Cluttering the walls: faded photographs, racks of pronghorn, elk, deer, heads of wolf, bear, coyote, old provincial license plates from before the North American Confederation, quilts, furs, historical maps. A fossilized human femur dug out from three-million-year-old gravel beds that, before the Restitution, would have been called an anomaly and deftly ignored.

William smiled. "Three million ten thousand years of history jammed into this basement, Jim. Exactly where it belongs. In perfect context. In perfect disorder. With a blind snake curating the whole mess."

He ran a hand through his unkempt brown hair. "This stuff ever been cataloged, Jim? Diligently recorded and filed on memchip, slipped into envelope, envelope sealed and labeled, inserted into a storage box, box stacked on other boxes, shifted to a dark, deep shelf beside the rat poison, behind the locked door in the university basement a few hundred miles from here? And you presume the guise of science? Hah."

Old Jim didn't answer.

Answers are extinct. "I'm an expert on extinction," William said. "A surveyor of the exhausted, the used up, notions made obsolete by their sheer complexity. It's a world bereft of meaning, and who knows, who cares? I don't and I do. The last gasps of a dying science. The last walkabout, the last vision quest. We've digitalized the world, Jim, and here I am riding the sparks, in bootsuit and eyeshield and sensiband. Out under the Hole."

"Got it!" Old Jim straightened. In his hands was a rifle. He grinned at William. "Right after Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull ran up here to hide out from the Americans." He hefted the rifle. "This was his. Used it against the Seventh. Left it behind when he went back to get killed. And you know what he said?" Old Jim's eyes were bright.

William nodded. "He said, 'The ghosts are dancing.'"

Old Jim shook his head. "He said, 'We have fired our last shot.' That's what he said. And that's why he left it here." Old Jim stepped close and placed the rifle, reverently, in William's hands.

William ran his fingers along the barrel's underside until he found the maker's mark; then he straightened and held it close to the aquarium's lamps. "English, all right. So far, so good."

"That's gone down the family line, you know? Hell, my family goes back to before Batoche. Métis blood." He removed his baseball cap and ran his forearm along his brow. "It's Sitting Bull's rifle, son, sure as I'm standing here."

"The stock's been carved some," William said. He handed it back, then rose. "You might be right, Jim. Couldn't prove otherwise."

"Some of you fellas should come down here and record all this stuff," Old Jim said. He returned the rifle to the closet. "Jack Tree gets his hands on this, and you and your university can kiss it all good-bye."

"I'll suggest it to my employers," William said, pulling on his gloves. He paused, glancing at the rattlesnake.

Old Jim said softly, "Most of them gone now."

Again, William nodded.

"Burned blind, you know. Can't hunt, can't eat. Fulla tumors and stuff, too. Course, not much left to eat out there, anyway. Sure you don't want a hot chocolate?"

"Can't. I'm fasting."

The old man shook his head again. "A damned strange thing to be doing, son, if you ask me. Exactly what kind of research you into?"

"I'm cataloging ghosts, Jim."

"Huh?"

"I walk on the winds, ride the snows. My heart beats in time with the ticking of stones."

Old Jim's eyes held William's. Slowly, he said, "You'd better get something to eat, son. Soon." He reached out and tapped the goggles hanging around William's neck. "And don't take those off out there. Even when it's snowing. Blowing snow and clouds don't stop the rays. Nothing stops those rays."

"Burned blind." William nodded.

Old Jim walked over to the aquarium and studied the snake. "Around here, years back," he said, "these fellas were called Instruments of the Devil."

"Yea verily," William said. "'And into the pit God casts all vermin, and into the pit shall they slither unending among the implements of history.'"

"Never heard that Scripture before," Old Jim said.

William smiled, then headed for the stairs.

Old Jim followed. He watched William pull on the goggles and activate maximum shielding, then raise the bootsuit's hood and tighten the drawstrings. "Back out in the Hole," Old Jim said, shaking his head once more. "I used to ride horses out there."

"The horses run still," William said. He faced Old Jim. "Keep squinting."

"You, too. Mind the Hole, mind the Hole."


Net

14.30.06 STATUS REPORT 00:00.00 GMT

Means:

Sea Level: +82.37 cm AMR

Temperature: +2.6012 C. AMR

Carbon Dioxide: +.06% AMR

Carbon Monoxide: +1.12% AMR

Methane: +.089% AMR

Nitrogen Oxide: +.0112% AMR

Organochlorine Count: +.0987 ppm (holding)

Airborne Silicia Count: +1.923 ppm (holding)

Aerosol Sporco (volume): +367 AMR

Mare Sporco (sq. km): 113000 (Med.) (rising)

86950 (Carib.) (holding)

236700 (Ind.) (rising)

Nil Ozone areas (since 01.01.14):

Midwest Hole: holding

Arctic Hole: +23416 sq. km

Antarctic Hole: +3756.25 sq. km

Australian Hole: +6720 sq. km

Spawns: 24 (varied) (down 13)

Rad Drift Alerts:

India (north)

Korea (south)

Bio Alerts:

Ciguatera Epidemics (+1000s): 17 (holding)

Retroviral General: 07 (+6/01.01.14)

Ebola-16/Hanta Outbreaks: 112 (+7)

Undifferentiated ISEs: 316 (+45)

BSE/CJD/CWD composite index: 2.4b.

Species Count: 117

Malaria N. edge: +2.7 Lat.

Suvara N. edge: +3.12 Lat.

Cholera Count (/millions): 270

Bubonic: 113 (14 known bioflicked)

White Rash Deaths: 12.67

Morbilivirus-B22 Closed Zones: 16 urban (+1)

Transmutative Viral Count: 1197 (+867)

Hotzone Alerts Political:

Pakistan/India (last nuke 07.03.14)

Zimbabwe (closed since 27.05.13)

Congo Republic (closed since 11.07.08)

Rep. Lapland/Consortium Russia

Georgia/Chechen Rep/Consortium Russia

Iran (closed since 13.04.04)

Iraq (closed since 22.11.03)

Sinjo/Taiwan

Quebec/NOAC

Puerto Rico/NOAC

United Ireland/Eurocom

Israel/Assorted (no recent nukes/biochem WMD)

Argentina (internal, last Bik flicked 29.01.13)

S. Korea (closed since 15.10.07)

Indonesia (internal)

Guatemala/Belize/Consortium Honduras

Ukraine/Consortium Russia (no recent nukes/biochem WMD)

Confirmed Dead Zones:

N. Korea

Iran

Syria

Afghanistan

Columbia

California

Confirmed Dead Cities (excluding those in nations above):

Jakarta

Seoul

Hong Kong

Jerusalem

Cairo

Berlin

Sarajevo

Baghdad

Denver

Toronto

Old Washington, D.C.

Refugee-Related Minor Conflicts/Incidents: +103

Flicked Biks this month: 0

Flicked Biobiks this month: 2

Worldwide weather forecast: Hot and sunny. Hey, folks, looks like another balmy day out there!


Net

Suppressed File Index (NOACom) 219.56b

Subtitle: The Restitution

Category: Social Sciences

Subcategory: Biological Evolution/Paleoanthropology/Archaeology

Abstract: The record of anomalous finds began with the first generation of archaeological investigations originating in Europe in the nineteenth century. Prior to a defined paradigm asserting an acceptable structure to human biological and cultural evolution, many of these initial discoveries, subject to the same diligent application of accepted and then-current methodologies, were taken at face value and incorporated into the then-malleable formulation of said structures. The institutional and informal suppression of anomalous discoveries soon followed, at the expense of countless professional careers, and continued well into the twentieth century and early twenty-first century.

Deep subsurface exploration for economic purposes repeatedly yielded unexplainable evidence of human presence at periods in geologic history deemed scientifically impossible; however, the academic and scientific institutions were securely entrenched and fully capable of suppressing said discoveries. It was not untilA.C. 07 that incontrovertible evidence was uncovered in Cretaceous gravel beds at the Riddler Site in west Antarctica (for a composite list of evidence, cross-referenced dating techniques, and excavation report, see SFI NOACom 222.3a), proving conclusively that the accepted evolutionary scheme for Homo sapiens was in dire need of restitution.

Current theories on this issue—


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Devil Delivered and Other Tales by Steven Erikson. Copyright © 2012 Steven Erikson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.

Table of Contents

Contents

Title Page,
Dedication,
The Devil Delivered,
Epigraph,
Prologue,
Chapter 1,
Chapter 2,
Chapter 3,
Chapter 4,
Chapter 5,
Revolvo,
Epigraph,
Part One: Culture Quo,
1. In Which a Man Seeks Diagnosis,
2. In Which Conspirators Conspire,
3. Meeting the Throwback,
4. Ambition's Slow Burn,
5. Lessons in History,
Part Two: The Peers,
1. In Which the Diagnosis Is Revealed,
2. "You're Our Man, Max!",
3. The Ends of the Line,
4. Anything but Craft,
5. Homo Vegetabilis,
6. The Late-Night Hate Session,
Part Three: The Fruitful Church of Disobedience,
1. Thursday's Lounge,
2. The Sanger Sock,
3. The Table Invites,
4. The Dance of Dances,
5. Discoveries,
6. Escape!,
7. Revelation!,
8. Liberation at Last at Last,
9. And They Shall Be Rewarded,
10. From on High,
Fishin' with Grandma Matchie,
1. This Is Where I Want to Start,
2. No Rest for the Wicked,
3. Lunker, Where Are You Bound?,
4. The Devil, We Say,
Tor Books by Steven Erikson,
About the Author,
Copyright,

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