Finisterra

An imaginative and richly descriptive tale … definitely one of the winners of this issue.
Sarah Jackson, The Fix
A neat “sense of wonder” idea … colorful, with a hint of an interesting larger backstory, and plenty of nice ideas and nice action at the front.
Rich Horton, Locus
The suspense grows steadily, and always the huge vertiginous gulf looms below. Astonishing.
Nick Gevers, Locus
Go get the December issue and check it out. Moles doesn’t write enough, but when he does write something it’s always worth reading.
Jonathan Strahan
It’s a beauty. It is classic science fiction in the grand tradition. … If this is the way Moles customarily writes, then he is in the straight line of evolution from the Golden Age Grand Masters down through the best New Wavers to today’s top writers.
Robert Silverberg

There was nothing noble about the way the nameless zaratán died. Anemopters landed men and aliens with drilling tools at the base of each hundred-meter fin, to bore through soil and scale and living flesh and cut the connecting nerves that controlled them. This took about fifteen minutes, and to Bianca there seemed to be something obscene in the way the paralyzed fins hung there afterwards, lifeless and limp. Thus crippled, the beast was pushed and pulled by aerial tugs — awkward machines, stubby and cylindrical, converted from the stationkeeping engines of vacuum balloons like Transient Meridian — into position over Encantada’s killing ground. Then the drilling teams moved in again, to the places marked for them ahead of time by seismic sensors and ultrasound, cutting this time through bone as well as flesh, to find the zaratán’s brain.

When the charges the drilling teams had planted went off, a ripple went through the zaratán’s body, a slow-motion convulsion that took nearly a minute to travel down the body’s long axis, as the news of death passed from synapse to synapse; and Bianca saw flocks of birds started from the trees along the zaratán’s back as if by an earthquake, which in a way she supposed this was. The carcass immediately began to pitch downward, the nose dropping — the result, Bianca realized, of sphincters relaxing one by one, all along the zaratán’s length, venting hydrogen from the ballonets.

Then the forward edge of the keel fin hit the ground and crumpled, and the whole length of the dead beast, a hundred thousand tons of it, crashed down into the field; and even at that distance Bianca could hear the cracking of gargantuan bones.

2 thoughts on “Finisterra

  1. Belated thanks for this wonderful story, which I just read last night. Gardner Dozois was so right in leading his 2007 Year’s Best with your story. Wow.

    Keep them coming!

    Cheers — Pete Tillman

    “Don’t roach me, funker,” she said. “And don’t shirk off in your electro-steamer. This mopsy wants to poke.”
    –Mack Reynolds, _Commune 2000 A.D._, 1974

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