This dark novella movingly illustrates the wasted cities of Earth and the people left in the wake of mankind pushing out to Luna, Mars, Ceres and beyond. The ocean-drowned city of Baltimore is in the hands of crime syndicates filled out with slaves, prostitutes, junkies, the unregistered and more. Most are born into this life.
An off-scene flurry of administration sends security forces through the hard-scramble streets and businesses, toppling syndicate structures. To the underworld, this is the churn–a time to keep uncaught, unkilled and out of sight.
The history of her corrupted world echoed with the names of the dead; the expendable and the expended.
The tale follows a handful of characters of different levels through the churn. Burton, the boss, has lieutenants disappearing, some into the woodwork, others into security vans. Lydia, a has-been prostitute lifted to a higher position by her affair with her boss, a lieutenant, takes to hiding when betrayed. Timmy, a coming-of-age unregistered son-of-a-prostitute, has only one familial connection in his deceased mother’s best friend, Lydia.
The social order of loyalty is upended in this prequel to an off-world sci-fi series. This novella stands alone and is highly recommended.
The Churn: A Novella of the Expanse appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas: 2015 edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books. It first appeared as The Churn (Orbit).
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