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New Release: Amalgam – Gustavo Bondoni

Amalgam - Gustavo Bodoni

QSFer Gustavo Bondoni has a new queer sci-fi book out (ace, gay), Emily Plair Saga book 3: Amalgam.

The trilogy that began with Outside reaches its dramatic conclusion as it spans the stars and visits worlds both physical and virtual.

Virtual Emily and Rome have returned to Earth’s simulation where they find all the people have vanished.

Revolt is brewing in the Tau Ceti colony, as Mira Heine refuses to accept defeat, and a mysterious crime boss eliminates all who ask the wrong questions.

Touk, physical Emily, and the Sextus colonists try to establish life on their new planet, but they become the frontline in a fight with a new enemy that threatens all of humanity, both natural and virtual.

Will Artificial Intelligence be humanity’s destruction or salvation?

In the midst of the chaos, can Emily and Rome – at least some versions of them – find happiness together?

“A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, rejoining a wide cast of its fascinating characters, and inviting you to consider the nature of humanity.” — V Anne Smith, author of A Code for Carolyn: A Genetic Thriller

Get It At Amazon | Publisher


“Look,” Sintia said nervously. “Not to doubt you, but you’re sure that program of yours is working, right?”

Stell grinned. “Of course it’s working. Didn’t you hear Professor Ooblah? They knew I had this thing, and never managed to do anything about it.”

“I’m don’t want to sound ungrateful or anything, but I just think the stakes are a lot higher now than when some student was using the same program to play hooky.”

He laughed again. “Oh, I wasn’t using it to play hooky. I was sneaking into the institute in the middle of the night.”

“What? Why?”

“Promise you won’t tell anyone?”

Sintia laughed. “Yeah. I’ll broadcast your secrets live on all the government net channels. I trust no one will attempt to track me down or that you’ll turn me in for blabbing.”

“All right. I used to sneak in to grow things,” Stell said.

Sintia raised an eyebrow. “Some kind of mind-altering mushroom? I know there’s a black market for most of the stuff that you can’t get from the nanofactories. The stuff that’s too dangerous for the public. But wouldn’t it be much easier to try to get some of the Cassius produced drugs? Safer, too, probably.”

“Not drugs. Organically grown tomatoes.”

“I don’t believe you. You risked what… Expulsion? Just for some tomatoes?”

“You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get good tomatoes in this city. And the amount of space allocated to student gardens is ridiculous.” His grin widened. “But I didn’t do it just for the tomatoes. The tomatoes were right in one of the university gardens. Everyone knew they were there, but no one knew who was breeding them. I actually did it to drive old Sinxi mad. She knew I was up to something, but she couldn’t guess what it was. I was a student hero. The mere fact that the situation existed would have been enough to get me laid three times a day, every day, if I’d been of the sort to enjoy men or women.”

“If not that, why, then?”

“Just knowing they were all looking and they couldn’t catch me was enough.” His grin disappeared. “And before you say it, the people looking for me were the very best of the best. The only reason they didn’t catch me is that they weren’t expecting me to use my system to get into the Institute at four in the morning. They knew I was always early to classes, so they were looking for something else. These people are much better than the kind of binarist who ends up working for the government.”

Now it was Sintia’s turn to smile. “Didn’t you work for the government during the Unity mission?”

“Oh, come on. You’re not seriously comparing a once-in-five-hundred-years mission with the drudgery of government audit work, are you? Come on… one of those things is not like the other. Hell, no one on the Unity was a government worker before the mission was announced. And every member of that crew beat out dozens of other candidates to be there. Hell, for a lot of us, the bragging rights around the competitive process were more than enough to get us to sign up.”

“Nartiya was a Naval Captain before the mission,” Sintia reminded him.

“Yeah. You’re right. She was.” Stell seemed to deflate at the mention of Nartiya’s name, and they walked in silence for some moments.

They’d traversed nearly half the Park ata decent clip—in the direction opposite from the Council Building—and no one had paid them the least bit of attention. Sintia had no illusions that she was some kind of celebrity. Only about one in a hundred citizens of Copernicus ever bothered to tune into the government information broadcasts. And even those would not likely recognize a Representative by sight: their air time was much lower than that of the various ministers and people in charge of specific projects.

Normally, that was a relief. Today, it might save her life.

She looked around again. A couple was sitting in the shade beside a fountain, dipping their feet in the water and talking. Three kids were playing tag along on the grass. Men, women and children went about their lives.

Not one of them seemed to be concerned that the government had been overthrown by a group which only a small percentage of the population supported.

Where was the outrage, the civic push to make things right?

The same place as Tau Ceti’s initiative and push for self-improvement. It was confined to the Institute and other tiny pockets of enlightenment. Most of the population had probably heard Heine’s announcement, but a lot of them probably didn’t know what it meant. They probably believed that some part of the government had been caught misbehaving and therefore a cleanup had ensued.

The rest would have spent the entire announcement trying to figure out how to get their Panorama Screens back to whatever they were doing before getting hijacked by the official channel.

Now, life was going on as it did every day. No one seemed particularly alert or concerned.

That was exactly what Sintia and Stell needed… and it also made her extremely sad. When the Engine Test Facility had left to found their new colony, she’d respected their bravery but felt they were premature. Surely, in a place with as much respect for civic order as Tau Ceti II, there were enough concerned citizens to ensure that people would push for progress as opposed to stagnation.

Now, she wasn’t so sure.

Preoccupied with these thoughts, she barely noticed when they emerged from Humanity Park and entered a residential neighborhood. Hab units surrounded by gardens replaced the manicured lawns and perfectly placed trees of the Park without altering the sense of openness and vegetation.

“We’re here,” Stell announced, stopping in front of a unit distinguishable from the rest only by the number in front of it. He opened the door and they entered a standard bachelor hab unit, airy and spacious enough for one person to live in ample comfort.

“That smells delicious,” Sintia said. “What is it.”

“Dammit,” Stell exclaimed. “I forgot that was on the stove. In all the excitement with Professor Ooblah’s call…” He disappeared through a door.

A pot clanged in the kitchen. Sintia entered to find Stell probing the contents of a pot with a wooden spoon. Where he’d gotten a wooden spoon on a planet that produced almost everything in nanofactories was something she’d have to ask him about.

He turned to her and smiled. “Your day is going to get much better,” he told her. “This is still all right. Tell me, have you ever eaten real cooking? With actual ingredients instead of the stuff the food synthesizers create?”

“I like what the synths build for me. They’re smart enough to tailor everything to my taste.”

“I’ll take that as a no,” Stell said.

“Also, synthesizer food is completely devoid of microbes and potential toxins.”

“Real food won’t make you sick,” he replied. “In fact, it will cure you of the desire to ever eat synth again.”

“I’m not sure…”

Stell grinned. Sintia felt this wasn’t the first time he’d had this conversation. “How about this: I’ll prepare the food. When it’s done, you can choose whether you’d like to try mine or something from the synth.”

“You have a synth… thank goodness,” Sintia said.

“Don’t act so relieved. You won’t be using it. Now get that apron on and help me cook.”

They went through the entire arcane ritual. Adding condiments and tasting the food as they went along. The meal consisted of synth pasta—not the standard long round noodles, but flattened ribbons—topped with the sauce Stell had been cooking before he got the call. He told her it contained mushrooms, tomatoes—from his own garden plot—basil, garlic and carrots. He also informed her that he’d been planning to put meat in it—real meat—but he felt that a first non-synth meal couldn’t be too exotic, so he’d changed the recipe for her sake.

“Unless, of course, you prefer to punch something up on the synth,” he said with a half-smile.

Sintia breathed. The odor of the sauce was so bewitching that she couldn’t have refused even if it had contained meat. Hell, what was the difference? Once you started putting biological stuff in your body, what difference did it make whether it came from a plant or an animal?

They sat down to dinner, and Sintia inhaled. Then, with trepidation, she took the first forkful.

“This is wonderful,” she told an expectant Stell. “Is all real food like this?”

He laughed. “Not in the least. Food is only as good as the cook. I’m pretty good, but there are some people right here in Copernicus who will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. It’s that good.”

“Wow. And synth?”

He shrugged. “It’s nutritious enough if you just don’t care. You don’t have to think about it.”

She ate another bite. “I can see why you enjoy this.” Then she gave him long look. “Thank you.”

“I already told the Professor. I’m doing this because I want to. There’s no need to thank me.”

“I know. I’m thanking you anyway. Not just for saving me, but for making me cook. I’m a politician, and I know when someone is trying to keep another person’s attention away from the matter at hand. You did it with consummate skill.” She smiled. “Hell, you would have made an excellent politico.”

Stell shuddered. “No way. And besides, I don’t have time for that. I have a long night planned.” He grinned.

“And what might that be?” she asked. Some men would have given her strange vibes if they’d said that in that tone, but Stell… he just didn’t seem interested in her.

“I’m going to find out where they’re holding Nartiya. And then I’m going to figure out how to spring her. You can have my bed.” Then he laughed. “And I know what you’re thinking. But you can relax. Asexuals don’t climb into bed with you at night and try anything. We’re funny that way.”

Sintia stood and met his gaze. “How can I help?”

“Right now, by going to bed. I’ll need advice on the political front soon. I’ll wake you then.”

Author Bio

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer with over four hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages. He is a member of Codex and a Full Member of SFWA. He has published six science fiction novels including one trilogy, four monster books, a dark military fantasy and a thriller. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019), Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).

In 2019, Gustavo was awarded second place in the Jim Baen Memorial Contest and in 2018 he received a Judges Commendation (and second place) in The James White Award. He was also a 2019 finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest.

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