Which Art In Hope
Spooner Federation, no. 1
Francis W. Porretto
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Hope circles a white dwarf 26 light years from Earth. Its denizens are the descendants of the Spooner Federation: anarchists who fled the Solar System just ahead of a military expedition intended to annihilate them.
When the Spoonerites' planetoid-starship entered orbit around Hope, it looked like a dream world. The planet was strikingly Earthlike. Its atmosphere was breathable, with slight overages of oxygen and argon. Only plant life showed on the scanners. Fresh water was abundant. The crust was rich in antimony and copper, but otherwise terrestrial in composition.
Yet Earth flora introduced to Hope's soil withered and died rapidly. Earth fauna would not reproduce. Human birth rates were sluggish, and many of the children were handicapped. Only longevity therapies developed in flight prevented the colony's demise. For many years the colony scratched by on hydroponics, until a secret Cabal learned to create Gods of Hope: men gifted with unusual psi powers, trained and drugged into undertaking the protection of Earth-based life from the flows of heavy metals that perfuse Hope's soil.
The job is lethal. Despite the ingenious longevity therapies available, within 50 years each God succumbs, first to madness, then to progressive neurological deterioration and death. Immediate replacement is mandatory.
In 1200 years, there have been 24 Gods of Hope. The Cabal seines candidates from the population on the basis of demonstrated psi powers, subjects them to an unchanging conditioning program, and elevates them to the Godhood when the time is right.
Outside the Cabal, Alain Morelon, sole survivor of the interstellar Hegira and the most revered individual on Hope, alone knows of and supports its work. In exchange for that support, the Cabal has agreed that no Morelon shall ever be deified, regardless of suitability. The restriction is severe, for the Morelon clan is rich in the psi powers.
But the current God is deteriorating, and the Cabal has no candidate for his replacement. Some Cabal members fear that they've unwittingly bred psi powers out of Man on Hope.
Armand Morelon is 18 years old, heir apparent to the Morelon holdings, and an exceptional psi talent. He passes through the screening at Gallatin University with the highest scores ever achieved on the ancient Rhine tests. But he is a Morelon.
Only Armand and a classmate, Victoria Peterson, have scored high enough to be worth considering. Parental abuse has made Victoria psychotic. Normally she'd be deemed unsuitable, but the lack of choices causes the Cabal to stretch its usual standards...and to keep Armand in the program despite its promise to Alain.
For the first time since the beginning, all the candidates are unsuitable for some reason. Yet Armand's psi prowess is all that the Cabal could want. Victoria's psychosis is well hidden, her powers, while less than Armand's, are more than adequate, and her training proceeds.
When he becomes aware of the responsibility for which he's being groomed, and the sacrifices it will require of him, Armand recoils. He and his fiancee Teresza decide to flee. Alain, unaware of their decision, assumes that the Cabal has deified his heir.
-- It's mentally unstable Victoria whom the Cabal will deify;
-- Armand and Teresza have taken refuge among the Hopeless, Hope's ostracized criminals and ultra-anarchists, who practically worship them;
-- Unbeknownst to all, Idem, the original God of Hope and the real reason the Cabal's deities inevitably die on their thrones, is stirring, attempting to make alliance with Armand in a desperate try for freedom;
-- Victoria's psychosis and a series of disasters will turn her into a threat to the entire planet. Armand and Idem must join forces against her, with little hope of success.
-- No radio emission from Earth has reached Hope since the Spoonerites made planetfall.
The survival of Mankind hangs in the balance.
- 2,99 €
- Category: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
- Published: 10 February 2010
- Publisher: Francis W. Porretto
- Print Length: 516 Pages
- Language: English