By John Crowley

Painter is a leo - half guy, half lion - the results of one in all man's genetic experiments, a robust, appealing, enigmatic creature deemed a 'failure' to be be hunted down. yet Painter has merits during this global of small bickering kingdom states and political lodging and compromise: his personal energy and integrity, and the guile of Reynard, one other of man's experiments, a refined and effective intriguer, a king-maker...

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Sample text

Far off, miles perhaps, he could just see for a moment a tiny, clouded orange spark. A fire lit on the plains. Where no fire was ever to be lit again. For some reason, his heart leapt at that thought. In the mornings, Meric moved comfortably in seas of people going from nightwork or to daywork, coming from a thousand meetings and masses, many of them badged alike or wearing tokens of sodalities or work groups or carrying the tools of trades. Most wore Blue. Some, like himself, were solitary. Not seas of people, then, but people in a sea: a coral reef, dense with different populations, politely crossing one another's paths without crossing one another's purposes.

She lit a cigarette. "There are no formalities. What there is is an absolute ban on entering the Preserve at all, on whatever pretext. This is a protocol signed by the Federal and the Autonomy governments. It works this way: you ask permission to move onto the Preserve or enter the Mountain on what you call official business; and we refuse permission. " Twenty years of bribery, public pressure, and passive resistance had gone into those protocols and agreements; Roth knew where she stood. "Excuse me, Director," The man in black spoke.

For another, he realized he had expected the leo to speak to him in some alien tongue, some form of speech as strange and unique as the creature itself. "You," Meric said. " He began rapidly to explain himself, about the Preserve, about the Mountain, but in the middle of it the leo walked away and sat down on the stone fence, out of earshot. With his gun across his knees, he looked down the slope to where the camp lay. Down there, where there had been no one before, there were leos. One, in a long loose coat like an antique duster, its head wrapped in a kind of turban, squatted by the door of the roofless farmhouse.

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