Authors: David Marusek
Mind Over Ship
Tor Books by David Marusek
Mind Over Ship
A Tom Doherty Associates Book
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2009 by David Marusek
All rights reserved.
“Big Plan,” by Derick Burleson, is excerpted from
copyright © 2007 by Derick Burleson. Reprinted by courtesy of Marick Press.
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mind over ship / David Marusek.—1st ed.
“A Tom Doherty Associates Book.”
Sequel to: Counting heads.
1. Twenty-second century—Fiction. I. Title.
First Edition: January 2009
Printed in the United States of America
0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To my daughter, Kalina,
who makes Earth my favorite planet
A big thank-you goes to my indefatigable crew of first readers without whom I would still be paddling in circles: Vince Bonasso, Terry Boren, Sandra Boatwright, Derick Burleson, Dixon Jones, Marion Avrilyn Jones, and Paula Kothe.
Thanks also to Avi Loeb and my brother, James Marusek, for helping me with the science (as always, any errors are mine alone); to my editor, David G. Hartwell; and agent, Ralph Vicinanza; and to Sharron Albert, whose sharp eyes are the bane of typos great and small. And thanks to Kat and Steve Haber, who loaned me their lovely guest house in Homer, Alaska, to finish the manuscript in comfort and style.
It was a short walk from Mary’s suite on the north side of the Starke Manse to the library on the south. Along the way she greeted doris maids and russ security men. The main parlor was closed off—fleets of household arbeitors and carpet scuppers were giving it a thorough spring scrubbing—and she detoured through one of the smaller banquet rooms. A solitary jerome sat at the head of the long, empty table going over house accounts on a dataframe.
“Myr Skarland,” he said, nodding to her as she went by.
“Myr Walker,” she replied with mock formality.
When she reached the library, Mary was surprised to find no one there. “Hello?” she said to the empty room.
Lyra, Ellen Starke’s newly made mentar, appeared at once in her latest persona, that of a plain young woman in a featureless blue smock with a slate tucked under one arm. “Good morning, Mary,” she said, her voice burbling with cheerfulness. “I trust you slept well.”
Mary knew that the mentar knew that she had indeed slept well, since its job was to monitor everything and everyone on the Manse premises, but she said, “Yes, I did, Lyra. Thank you for asking.” Then she said no more and only looked around at the empty chairs.
“Oh!” the young mentar said at last. “I should have informed you of the room change. Nurse Eisner moved the care plan meeting to the atrium because of the lovely weather. I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize, Lyra. You’re learning very quickly, but, yes, next time inform me of schedule changes.”
Mary took a shortcut through Ellen’s bedroom to reach the atrium. Both the bed and the hernandez tank next to it were unoccupied. A jenny nurse was wadding up purple-stained towels from the floor and tossing them into the hopper of an arbeitor. She was a new staffer Mary hadn’t met. When she noticed Mary, she said, “We’re bathing her.”
“Actually, I’m just passing through. Don’t mind me.”
But as Mary went by, the jenny’s jaw dropped, and though Mary wore no name badge, the tall woman recognized her all the same. “Mary Skarland?”
“Yes, that’s me,” Mary said and paused to offer her hand. “Good to meet you”—she glanced at the nurse’s name badge—“June.”
The nurse clasped Mary’s hand, but instead of shaking it, she pulled the smaller woman into a full embrace, which was what jennys often did when they met Mary for the first time. Sometimes they cried a little. To Mary it was odd: not every member of the jenny germline reminded her of Hattie Beckeridge, but some of them did, and then she cried too. Not this time, though, and in a little while she freed herself and said, “Welcome to Starke Manse, June. We’re so glad you could join us.”
THE ATRIUM COURTYARD roof had been scrolled back, and the morning sun painted the walls with creamy light. The air was fresh and a little chilly. Three night jennys sat on wooden folding chairs alongside Mary’s two evangeline sisters, Georgine and Cyndee. Mentar Lyra stood in front of them posing in what appeared to be a period costume of some sort.