QSFer Stephen Graham King has a new queer sci fi book out:
The Maverick Heart is bored. That is until ey discovers a top team of engineers and scientists in a barren, backwater system have created the Gate, a stable, artificial wormhole that will revolutionize interplanetary travel forever. Breaching the wall of secrecy around this radical new technology is a temptation too sweet for em and es human partners, Keene and Lexa-Blue to resist.
Ember Avanti is a thief, with the highest of high tech toys in his arsenal. And he’s damned good at it, too. But, sooner or later, every thief chooses the wrong mark. When he targets Quintaine DiaStellar, he soon learns the corporation will stop at nothing to make the Gate its own.
Ember’s team and the Maverick Heart crew must unite in a desperate attempt to stop the most vicious act of industrial espionage in the history of the Pan Galactum.
*I don’t spend all my time nosing around in your personal affairs. I’ve actually been doing some research into that anomaly I mentioned, and I think it might intrigue you.*
“Well, don’t keep us in suspense,” Lexa-Blue said. “Share.”
Vrick downloaded es carefully collated data spurt to their nodes, where it opened as a translucent pane at the edge of vision. The results of es searches scrolled past.
*It’s still a mystery. I know something is there from the readings and the data trail, but I’m not sure what.*
Keene and Lexa-Blue exchanged a look of mild surprise. Vrick being mystified was a rare event and likely warranted investigation.
*I detected some…unusual energy fluctuations out near Black Rim. I don’t know what to make of them. If I had to guess, I’d have said that a star suddenly accelerated past the speed of light. Which couldn’t have actually happened or we wouldn’t be here to talk about it, as it would have ruptured space-time across the quadrant.*
“So what was it?” Lexa-Blue said.
*I wish I knew. I can tell you that the area where I picked up the readings is under a research interdict lease to a consortium of some of the most influential tech corp-states in the Galactum, including our favourite Technarch himself.*
“What does this have to do with Daevin?” Keene said, frowning.
*Not much, from what I can tell. He’s a signatory on the documentation, but mostly because of his stake in supplying AI. He signed a deal to deliver one hundred high capacity AI cores, all with exactly the same specs, to this very same region of space. The shipments are all disguised to look innocuous, and rerouted several times, but they all end up there.*
“But, that doesn’t make any sense,” Keene said. “AI cores are specially grown and customized for specific uses. No two are grown the same way. What would anyone need with a hundred of them all made to the same spec?”
*That’s exactly what I’d like to know. I was able to track from the original request for the research interdict to the transfer of construction materials. There are some heavy non-disclosure agreements all down the line, but they built something out there. Something big that requires a hundred identical AIs to run. And I want to know what it is.*
“And how do you propose going about this?” Keene said.
*We go there.*
“Oh, come on, Vrick. Are you suggesting we just show up and knock on their door and say, hey, do you mind showing us your top secret project?”
*I have a plan.*
“I’m in,” Lexa-Blue said.
“Blue, you don’t even know what it is yet,” Keene said, trying to remain the voice of reason.
“Don’t you want to know what ey is thinking before you commit to it?”
“I’m bored,” she said with a shrug.
“No,” Keene said. “You are not seriously thinking about this.”
*I knew she would be up for anything that involved being somewhere she shouldn’t be. You, I had a hunch that the possibility of a controlled, anomalous space-time rupture might pique your curiosity.*
“Oh, come on, Tech-rat. Tell me that this doesn’t have you slobbering to know more.”
“Damn you, Vrick, and your encyclopaedic understanding of human behaviour,” Keene said with a laugh. “You were right. I’m intrigued. What is this grand plan of yours?”
*Well, one of the conditions for the construction and sale of AI is a clause buried in the legalese that requires inspection to ensure the use of the cores doesn’t contravene any of the Galactum statutes on the limitation of Artificial Intelligences. The contract allows the manufacturer rights for unilateral inspections and oversight of the installation.*
“How did you find all this out?”
*Well, remember how I had to take over and run Daevin’s corp for several weeks while Qoios was being repaired? I may or may not have left a back door into the system. Just in case. Possibly.*
Keene rolled his eyes. “Oh, Vrick.”
“Oh, I’m definitely in then,” Lexa-Blue said, grinning. “Pissing off His Techness will be an extra special treat.”
“Not again, Blue,” Keene said. “When are you going to let it go?”
Before she could answer, Vrick forestalled the coming argument.
*And it just so happens that Daevin’s AI Division has not made arrangements for said inspection yet. I, on the other hand, have. Congratulations on your promotion to AI Installation Inspectors. Whoever they are, they’re expecting you.*
Born on the prairies, Stephen Graham King has since traded the big sky for the big city and now lives in Toronto. His first book, Just Breathe, tells the blunt, funny, and uncompromising story of his three-year battle with metastatic synovial sarcoma. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II (“Pas de Deux”), Desolate Places(“Nor Winter’s Cold”) and Ruins Metropolis (“Burning Stone”). His first novel, Chasing Cold, was released in 2012, and the first Maverick Heart novel, Soul’s Blood came out in 2016 and the second, Gatecrasher in 2017. He is currently working on the next book in the series, A Congress of Ships.