Acclaimed hard-SF author Linda Nagata introduces a new world: a human colony whose people have forgotten their past, on a tremendous structure that forms a great ring around the sun… where the sky is bisected by an arch of light and the mysterious “silver” rises from the ground each night to completely transform the landscape—and erase from existence anything it touches. Young Jubilee is devastated when her brother Jolly is caught and taken by the silver. But when a forbidding stranger with the incredible power to control the silver comes seeking Jolly—and claiming that Jolly knows him—Jubilee first distrusts the man, then fears him and flees. For she has learned an impossible secret: Jolly may still be alive… and may somehow become the catalyst for the annihilation of everything she knows if she does not find him first. Jubilee’s flight will lead her to discoveries she could never have imagined, from the secret history of her civilization and her people’s origins to the true nature of the silver, to the awesome forgotten memories within her. And with these she will forever alter her world’s future… unless the dark stranger, relentless in his pursuit, achieves his goal of destroying it. One way or another, Jubilee’s final confrontation will change everything….
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When I was ten I had a blanket that was smooth and dark, with no light of its own until I moved and then its folds would glitter with thousands of tiny stars in all the colors of the stars in the night sky. But the pale arch that appears at the zenith on clear nights and that we call the Bow of Heaven never would appear on my blanket—and for that I was glad. For if there was no Heaven, I reasoned, then the dead would always be reborn in this world and not the next, no matter how wise they became in life.
This was always a great concern for me, for my mother was the wisest person I knew and I feared for her. More than once I schemed to make her look foolish, just to be sure she would not get into Heaven when her time came. When my antics grew too much she would turn to my father. With a dark frown and her strong arms crossed over her chest she would say, “We have been so very fortunate to have such a wild and reckless daughter as Jubilee. Obviously, she was sent to teach us wisdom.” My father would laugh, but I would pout, knowing I had lost another round, and that I must try harder next time.
I seldom suffered a guilty conscience. I knew it was my role to be wild—even my mother agreed to that—but on the night my story begins I was troubled by the thought that perhaps this time I had gone too far.
I lived then in the temple founded by my mother, Temple Huacho, a remote outpost in the Kavasphir Hills, a wild land of open woods and rolling heights, infamous for the frequency of its silver floods.
As often as three nights in ten the silver would come, rising from the ground, looking like a luminous fog as it filled all the vales, to make an island of our hilltop home. I would watch its deadly advance from my bedroom window, and many times I saw it lap at the top of the perimeter wall that enclosed the temple grounds.