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By Iain M. Banks

There's a international that hangs suspended among triumph and disaster, among the dismantling of the Wall and the autumn of the dual Towers, frozen within the shadow of suicide terrorism and worldwide monetary cave in. any such international calls for an organization hand and a guiding mild. yet does it desire the fear: an omnipotent association with a malevolent presiding genius, pervasive impression and numberless invisible operatives in ownership of amazing powers?

Among these operatives are Temudjin Oh, of mysterious Mongolian origins, an un-killable murderer who trips among the peaks of Nepal, a model of Victorian London and the darkish palaces of Venice below snow; Adrian Cubbish, a restlessly grasping urban dealer; and a anonymous, faceless state-sponsored torturer identified merely because the thinker, who strikes among time zones with sinister ease. Then there are those that query the worry: the bandit queen Mrs. Mulverhill, roaming the worlds recruiting rebels to her facet; and sufferer 8262, less than sedation and feigning insanity in a forgotten clinic ward, in hiding from a grimy past.

There is a global that wishes aid; yet even if it wishes the fear is a unique subject.

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Just like that! The nerve of the woman! Madame d’Ortolan was unsure who had come out best from the exchange. For most if not all the way through she had felt that she was having the best of it, but then the Mulverhill woman had been the one to hang up on her, which counted for something. Most vexing. And to be called a racist! Not for the first time, she wondered what Mrs Mulverhill herself might have to hide in that regard. She habitually wore a veil; Madame d’Ortolan had always assumed this was mere affectation, but perhaps the lady wished to conceal some angle from which she looked less than racially pure, when the race concerned was human.

Theodora. ” “Whatever decisive, divisive step it is you intend to take. ” Madame d’Ortolan was losing patience. She sat forward in her cane chair, flicking free the twisted phone cord from her left hand. “Alors, my sweet, my pretty! What do you really care about the fate of people you’ve already turned your back on? People you oppose by opposing the Council. What are they to you? ” A thought struck her and she beamed. “Unless she excites you, of course, our crepuscular friend; so well camouflaged, in the dark.

They should have statues to her where the pit wheels were. Anyway, by the time I came along that stuff was all ancient history. Well, it was as far as I was concerned. It might as well have happened yesterday from the way everybody around me kept banging on about it constantly. We lived in a semi so there was a family right next door, obviously, right? Well, we weren’t allowed to acknowledge they even existed because the guy, who’d been one of dad’s best mates apparently, had joined the Democratic Union of Miners of Britain or whatever and so he was a blackleg as far as my old dad was concerned and seemingly that was worse than being a paedo or a murderer.

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