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First edition on Kipple Officina Libraria, 2011
Second edition on International Speculative Fiction #5, 2014
Copyright © 2011, 2014 by Francesco Verso
Copyright of English translation © 2011, 2014 by Sally McCorry
Cover Art by David Romero
Cover Design by David Romero
Ebook Design by Elena Volkova
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce the book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Published by Future Fiction, an imprint of Mincione Edizioni
Via Basilio Puoti 50
1 - Bernardo's House by James Patrick Kelly
2 - Aethra / The Quantum Mommy by Michalis Manolios
3 - Two Worlds by Francesco Verso
4 - Big Bang Larissa / Case 74 by Cristian M. Teodorescu
5 - Flush by Francesco Verso
6 - An Eligible Boy by Ian McDonald
7 - Gene Wars / Rocket Boy by Paul McAuley
8 - Proposition 23 by Efe Tobunko
9 - Fernando Morales, This is Your Death by Francesco Verso
10 - Whole Truth Witness / Life of the Author plus 70 by Kenneth Schneyer
11 - Fragmentation by Tom Crosshill
12 - Dharmas / On Being Undone by a Light Breeze by Vajra Chandrasekera
Aruna turned to say good-bye to her parents, opened her arms and lifted them to free the plumage. She stretched out her neck, breathed in deeply, and let her calves lift her. Her torso was exceptionally ample, well suited to supporting her for a long time.
She was about to take-off for the Flight from the shelter of the Solar Tree, three metres outside the Shining Corolla. In a line behind her were the faces of many friends, tense, nervous, and distressingly thin.
The song of the Aeromancers, arranged in a semicircle for the Ceremony of the Flight, could be so hypnotic as to make you believe anything.
The horizon that called her to maturity flattened into an opaque strip, infested with clouds of ammonia. Below her a 15,000 metre drop plunged down to the static mass of the Global Ocean.
Old Canderum of the Purple Feathers finished explaining the goal of the Flight for the thousandth time, then solemn and haggard approached Aruna. He bowed his enormous beak to one side in a gesture of good luck, and stopped singing. With a gentle push to the back of her neck, he cast Aruna into the emptiness.
“Fly, Aruna! Fly towards hope!”
Canderum’s shout announced Aruna’s eighteenth birthday, when for the first time she would leave without having a precise destination.
The young woman dropped, together with another fifteen companions from the Solar Tree Major and perhaps none of them would ever return. Like everyone else who, year after year, had participated in the Ceremony.
Aruna closed her eyes, folded back her wings to gain speed, altered her trajectory and let the ascending currents take her westward.
Going back empty handed would be a terrible dishonour.
Not even the supercomputers had been able to predict that the hybrid genes would react so quickly and fill so many ecological niches. A number of sequences were dramatically defeated in a competition rendered ruthless by human alteration and an evolutional process that had been going on for millions of years.
Other sequences, a tough minority, took advantage of this situation to adapt, and incidentally, evolve into forms of life that from then onwards, populated the Modified Earth.
The “human race” in the form it presented before the Second Ecopoiesis, no longer existed. In their place, there were two races whose DNA shared 99.96% of their genes with the human race, but no longer walked the Earth.
Because they had not discovered intergalactic flight in time to populate new worlds, human beings had discovered a way to bend the barrier of time and conserve their lives for centuries.
When the human genome was decoded in the Second Millennium, scientists were surprised to find that it consisted of a mere thirty-five thousand genes. They had expected there to be more. Not least, because even a worm had twenty thousand.
So they enriched that sequence - a string of three billion letters formed from an alphabet of four elements containing the instructions for building and maintaining a human body - with a number of additional codes that would provide some highly desirable qualities: qualities useful for adaptation and survival, values that were commonly found in species other than the human one.