© 2012 Kae Cheatham
Print edition: $16.95
Sinoa. Zaya. Nathan. Gerren.
They live in a time of deception, where generations of government duplicity have led to inequality and segregation. It's a time of uncertainties, with the star, Lambda2, from a neighboring galaxy on a tangential orbit that will closely pass New Esrii. Preparations to withstand the predicted hardships have been underway for several years. But now comes a new problem. A fleet of ships is approaching from another planet in their system; the planets are separated by a rift in space. The covert Hurist Coalition, watchdog of New Esrii culture, is certain these approaching ships will attack them. The reason for their alarm is deep in the culture's history, when dissidents were shunted aside so advancements could be made in this vitalistic society.
In the past 400 years, New Esrii's culture has become a caste system, although few will admit it. There are the Terms, normal folks—except they are barren; the Sigens, people who have laboratory-produced bodies, but their intelligence and true awareness is generated by two other humans in a sort of mind-meld. Sigens have long been considered the essence of True Insight—the foundation of the culture. But in the last generation, another caste has been developed through Astral Genesis. Some noetics in the atmosphere have been identified as having innate intelligence. After decades of research and experimentation, these free-forms have been drawn in and given lab bodies (same as the Sigens). It's a phenomenon that has set the culture at odds—again. And the prejudice that has sprung up toward theses Astral Genesis people as well as the Terms is intense.
Nathan is twenty-four; he doesn't have a last name. He sometimes uses the surname of his sponsor, Ricostam Deece, but that isn't too often. The mandatory ID tag every New Esrii citizen wears, tells that Nathan is without parents; formed by Astral Genetics, Nathan is an AG.
Nathan also thinks he might be going mad. Aberrant thoughts and ideas spring to mind at odd times; he has trouble with telepathy—a basic skill for New Esrii citizens—and the only person he seems to relate to is Sinoa Glen-Berklin, a woman his age.
Sinoa has a special talent that is unique even among the advanced mentalist society of New Esrii. Her psychometry skill leads her to unexpected conclusions about Nathan, and her mother, Zaya Glen, demands that Sinoa avoid Nathan at all cost.
Zaya is part of the Hurist Coalition, drawn to them by happenstance and dream therapy. Zaya is also one of several scholars who have kept Nathan from continuing his education. She has to make tough decisions that could affect Nathan's future, and that of the culture.
But no one on New Esrii has a clue who is leading the expedition they see headed their way. Most would be surprised to know that Fleet Commander Gerren Simsun is one of their own—a Sigen—lost as a child in a strange war between people of the planet Yiven and their own New Esrii. Another had been lost then, too: Edgar Jahn. Gerren takes comfort in remembered words of Edgar, who disappeared when Gerren was sixteen. Gerren began this expedition thinking he was part of an altruistic venture to aid the New Esrii people during the passage of Lambda2. He quickly learns things aren't as they seem.
Hurists are certain some people on New Esrii know about this possible attack, and accuse the Terms of anarchy. They also think Nathan is an instigator—that AGs are really under the influence of these attackers from Yiven.
It comes down to civil war. Nathan, Sinoa and her entire family are in danger from other citizens. And Lambda2 moves closer.