Deathless (REQ) - Catherynne M. Valente Category: Adults, Contemporary, Fantasy Read by Kim de Blecourt Summary: Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to Deathless_Catherynne_Valente. epub. Deathless is a fantasy novel by Catherynne M. Valente, combining the Russian fairy tale the Death of Koschei the Deathless with the events. Free (DRM-free) Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente [Russian Myth promo page (DRM-free ePub & Mobi available only to Canada & the US.
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Though the space between gates was vast, it was not so vast as the spaces between stars. Everything depended on them, colonization, communication, and of course, shipping. Have any of you seen a Yuuhi gate? I imagine not, they are considered obsolete now, and we took out so many of them during the war. They still hang in space like industrial mandalas, titanium and bone—in those days an organic component was necessary, if unsavory, and we never knew whose marrow slowly yellowed to calcified husks in the vacuum.
The pylons bristled with oblong steel cubes and arcs of golden filament shot across the tain like violin bows—all the gold of the world commandeered by Salvatore Yuuhi and his grand plan. How many wedding rings hurled us all into the stars? I suppose one or two of them might still be functional. I suppose one or two of them might still be used by poor souls forced underground, if they carried contraband, if they wished not to be seen.
The is a pre-war vintage, but only just. Every wine-producing region from Luna to the hydroponic orbital agri-communes found itself graced with inspectors and customs officials who wore no uniform but the curling M-D seal on their breasts. Every Yuuhi gate was patrolled by armed ships bearing the APV crest. There were outposts where chaplains used Super Cola-nade! Governments rented space in their holds to deliver diplomatic envoys, corn, rice, even mail, when soy-paper letters sent via Yuuhi became terribly fashionable in the middle of the century.
I am not a mean woman. I will grant that though they boasted an extraordinary monopoly, the Debrouillard wines were and are of exceptional quality. Their pedigrees will not allow them to be otherwise.
But you must see it from where we stand. I was born on Avalokitesvara and never saw Earth till the war. They were forcing foreign, I daresay alien liquors onto us when all we wished to do was to drink from the land which bore us, from Golubash, who hovered over our houses like an old radio tower, fretting and wringing his-her-its hundred hands.
Saleeng-Carolz was a bunker. It looked like a pleasant cloister, with lovely vines draping the walls and a pretty crystal dome over quaint refectories and huts. It had to. I played with Golubash—with the quicksalmon and the riverweed that were no less him than the gargantuan thin man who watched Simone Nanut plant her vines three centuries past and helped my uncles pile up the bricks of Saleeng-Carolz.
Hyphens do not die, any more than continents do. We made weapons and stored wine in our bunker. Bayonets at first, and simple rifles, later compressed-plasma engines and rumblers. Every other barrel contained guns.
The grapes were tainted, not even entirely vegetable matter, grown in living Golubash. In some odd sense, they were not even grown, but birthed, springing from his-her-its living flesh. The barrels, too, were suspect, and none more so than the barrels of Saleeng-Carolz. Until the APV inspectors arrived, we hewed to tradition. Our barrels were solid cobalt alder, re-cedar, and oakberry.
Strange to look at for an APV man, certainly, gleaming deep blue or striped red and black, or pure white. And of course they were not really wood at all, but the fibrous musculature of Golubash, ersatz, loving wombs.
They howled biohazard, but we smacked our lips in the flare-light, savoring the cords of smoke and apple and blood the barrels pushed through our wine. But in Saleeng-Carolz, my uncle, Grel Nanut, tried something new. They were essentially hollow, no organs to speak of, constantly taking in grass and air and soil and fruit and fish and water and purifying it before passing it industriously back into the ecology of Golubash. Uncle Grel was probably closer to Golubash than any of us.
He spent days talking with the tall, three-faced creature the APV still thought of as independent from the river. He even began to hyphenate his sentences, a source of great amusement. We know now that he was learning. About horses, about spores and diffusion, about the life-cycle of a Hyphen, but then we just thought Grel was in love. Grel first thought of it, and secured permission from Golubash, who bent his ponderous head and gave his assent-blessing-encouragement-trepidation-confidence.
He began to bring the horses within the walls of Saleeng-Carolz, and let them drink the wine deep, instructing them to hold it close for years on end. In this way, the rest of the barrels were left free for weapons. It is specifically banned by every planet under APV control, and possession is punishable by death. The excuse? Intolerable biological contamination. This is a wine that swallows light.
Its color is deep and opaque, mysterious, almost black, the shadows of closed space. Revel in the dance of plum, almond skin, currant, pomegranate. The musty spike of nutmeg, the rich, buttery brightness of equine blood and the warm, obscene swell of leather. The last of the pre-war wines—your execution in a glass. White Tara is the second moon of Avalokitesvara, fully within the orbit of enormous Green Tara. My mother died there, defending the alder barrels.
My sister lost her legs. Domaine Zhaba had committed the cardinal sin of becoming popular, and that could not be allowed. We were not poor monks on an isolated moon, orbiting planet-bound plebeians. Avalokitesvara has four healthy moons and dwells comfortably in a system of three habitable planets, huge new worlds thirsty for rich things, and nowhere else could wine grapes grow.
The APV could and did tax exports, and so we skirted the law as best we could. The whole thing is preposterous. The Hyphens have always been hostile to them; offworld crops give them a kind of indigestion that manifests in earthquakes and thunderstorms.
The Marubouzu corporals told us we could not eat or drink the things that grew on our own land, because of possible alien contagion!
My mother was testing the barrels—no wild ponies on White Tara. Her bones vaporized before she even understood the magnitude of what had happened. The aerial bombing, both lunar and terrestrial, continued past dawn. Like tears.
A ripple of red pear and butterscotch slides over green herbs and honey-wax. In the low range, you can detect the delicate dust of blueberry pollen, and beneath that, the smallest suggestion of crisp lunar snow, sweet, cold, and vanished. A secret war of soil came close to annihilating the entire apparatus of wine-making in the grand, venerable valleys of the old world. But no blanketing fire was at fault, no shipping dispute.
My namesake. I was named to be the tiny thing that ate at the roots of the broken, ugly, ancient machinery of Marubouzu. I have done my best. For a while, the French believed that burying a live toad beneath the vines would cure the blight. We are the mites that brought down gods, and we are the cure, warty and bruised though we may be.
When my uncle Grel was a boy, he went fishing in Golubash. Like a child in a fairy tale, he caught a great green fish, with golden scales, and when he pulled it into his little boat, it spoke to him. Well, nothing so unusual about that. Golubash can speak as easily from his fish-bodies as from his tall-body. Help-hold-carry me. Vineyards take lifetimes to replace, but Golubash is gentle, and they will return, slowly, surely. So Julka, so Heeminspr, so kind Niflamen.
The burnt world will flare gold again. Grel knew this, and he sorrowed that he would never see it. He made a promise—we could not hear him then, but you must all now know what he did, the vengeance of Domaine Zhaba. The Yuuhi gates went one after another. We became terribly inventive—I could still, with my one arm, assemble a rumbler from the junk of this very platform.
But in the end, that, too, went blazing into the sky, gold filaments sizzling. We were alone. But we ended interstellar travel for fifty years, until the new ships with internal Yuuhi-drives circumvented the need for the lost gates.
They are not defeated, but they are. An M-D cruiser trailed me here. I lost her when I used the last gate-pair, but now my cousins will have to blow that gate, or else those soda-sipping bastards will know our methods. No matter. Valente book from motorola read book Deathless author Catherynne M.
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