- published in SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY: Adventures in the Liaden Universe book #22
- paired with Friend of a Friend
- See The Books (and other stories)
A Note from the AuthorEdit
Excerpt from the note
Science Fiction is full of place as character, and we've used it that way ourselves in a number of projects, including the Low Port anthology we edited for Meisha Merlin. When place is moody, changeable, and has depth, character is what you're dealing with.
Often, readers don't see place as character, but we're lucky in our readers and over time we've had requests for more about Delgado, or University, or –and this comes to the book you're reading now —— Surebleak.
Insofar as Surebleak is a character, full of mystery, unfolding new facets all the time, we've had direct requests from readers for "more about Surebleak." Surebleak is a planet and culture in collision not with one culture but an overwhelming series of cultures –the culture of space travelers, the culture of Scouts, the culture of a galactic Terran community that had been willing to let Surebleak and its population sink from view. And one of the ways those conflicts are best seen is through the way characters, and we mean human characters in this sentence to start, the way characters imbued with Surebleak's character hallmarks, meet the challenge of dealing with those who are not of the world.
Timeline: roughly concurrent with competition at Sherman's Shoot-Out (Dragon in Exile)
- previously Boss Goyan's turf
- Darby Bajek
- Ean, or just E, and his brother Peor
- Farnch, Ron, Ornil, Vesti - streeters
- Pablo Gerstein, who'd been Boss Goyan's insurance man until Goyan got retired
- Hestya van'Lorin, a Healer
- Gran Delaros (offstage)
- Kez Rel ter'Ista Clan Wilkin. A physician, not a Healer:
- “I am. . .sensitive. I may learn such things as the small wall, to separate and control. . .distress. And I am aware of a Healer's touch."
- Surebleak as a character (see authors' note)
- Questions pondered by Surebleak Culture Study
- The Healing Touch and Terrans (see Healers and The Dramliz)
- see also Block Party
- Old ways versus new
- The Streeters for Taking Back Surebleak Committee
- Families, friends, romance...
”I am Kez Rel ter'Ista Clan Wilkin,” he said. I thank you for your timely assistance, sir.”
"Darby Bajek, and I ain't a sir. Just Darby's good. You OK to walk down to my place?"...
"Thank you. . .Darby. I will come with you, and call a taxi."
"That's the ticket. Just right this way." He thought about offering an arm to lean on, remembered that half-gasp of insult and bit his tongue. He did set a slow pace, though, down the street, toward home.
Ean opened up a crack, took Kestrel Terista in with one wide blue stare, and stepped back to fling the door open.
"This is Kestrel Terista, E. He got on Pablo's bad side. Kestrel, this is my nephew, Ean, E for short. He'll show you where to get cleaned up." There was a weighted silence from his side, and he turned to look at his guest.... Darby concentrated, and caught something like humor and aggravation twisted around together, 'til it was hard to feel one from t'other."
- "Farnch just called him an auntie, and shoved him into the nearest wall."
- Anyway, the Streeters for Surebleak, they was thinking maybe to disrupt that shoot, and show the New Bosses a thing or three, and put the fear of winter into 'em.
- "Alien! I'm gonna stomp you into paste you little--"
- He didn't know what it was, and he sure didn't know what to do with it. . . . . .except to strike out, and strike down, and stop Farnch right now!
- “Call me, please, and let us meet for tea and --and chernubia --" a wry smile. "See how I am tired? I lose my Terran. I mean. . .dessert. Will you do this?"
- Ander's Sweet Shop was just a block away from the clinic, and in the not-so-far-away past he'd've had to pay a toll to get across that street, if the tollkeepers let him through at all, which wasn't that certain a thing, Boss Goyan and Boss Rinehart not bein' what you'd call best friends. Today, it was just zackly as easy as crossing the empty street --empty 'cause almost everybody'd gone to the big shootout at Sherman's.