Excerpt: Re-Coil by by J.T. Nicholas
The BiblioSanctum is pleased to be participating in the tour for Re-Coil by J.T. Nicholas, a high-concept science fiction standalone that has been described as The Expanse meets Altered Carbon! Today we are sharing an exciting excerpt from the book, available March 3, 2020 from Titan Books wherever books are sold! Check it out, and be sure to also visit the other stops on the tour!
Out on a salvage mission with a skeleton crew, Carter Langston is murdered by animated corpses left behind on this ship. Yet in this future, everyone’s consciousness backup can be safely downloaded into a brand-new body, and all you’d lose are the memories of what happened between your last backup and your death. But when Langston wakes up in his new body, he is immediately attacked in the medbay and has to fight once again for his life—and his immortality. Because this assassin aims to destroy his core forever.
Determined to find his shipmates and solve this evolving mystery, Langston locates their tech whiz Shay Chan, but two members are missing and perhaps permanently killed. Langston and Chan are soon running for their lives with the assassin and the corporation behind him in hot pursuit.
What Langston and Chan ultimately find would signal the end of humanity. What started as a salvage mission just might end up saving the world.
Excerpt from Re-Coil by J.T. Nicholas, published by Titan Books. Copyright © 2020 by J.T. Nicholas
I moved to the first row of acceleration chairs and turned my attention to the first corpse. The coil was bio-female, young, and, at least when imagined with the full flush of life, attractive. It showed no signs of decompression or trauma, and the eyes remained, thankfully, closed. I tried to stop thinking of the coil as a person—what made it a person was safely locked away in the core, anyway. It was just a shell, and one that had outlived its usefulness.
The rational part of my mind knew that to be true. It didn’t stop the twisting in my guts as I pulled the frozen body forward, and moved the auburn hair out of the way, baring the hollow in the base of the skull. The laser cutter and the knife did their work, and in a few minutes, I was sliding another core into the bag on my harness.
The work was grisly, but not particularly difficult. The entire coil and core were engineered so that it took only a passing familiarity with anatomy to affect the retrieval. It wasn’t the sort of task that required my full attention—in fact, it was the sort of task that begged for that attention to be turned elsewhere. Sarah, why are the coils not showing signs of decompression?
Insufficient data at this time. I ground my teeth together. Guess. As you wish, Langston. The first and most likely cause is sufficient time during decompression for the fluids and gasses in the body to adapt to the changing pressures. Other possible causes decrease greatly in probability and include flash freezing, absence of fluids or gasses in the system to begin with, or administration of outside agents to prevent decompression.
I knew Sarah was right—no one spent long in space without garnering a basic understanding of how decompression sickness and sudden decompression worked. Yet, at the same time, none of her answers made any sense. Who would sit idly in their acceleration chairs while the pressure in the cabin slowly went from one atmosphere down to vacuum, presumably taking with it all the breathable air? The coils showed no signs of flash freezing or desiccation, and the only outside agent I knew of that could prevent decompression was a vacc suit. What had happened to these people?
I moved down the line of chairs, the laser cutter doing its gruesome work, and the little pouch of cores at my hip slowly filled. I was down to three rows when I felt a slight shiver course through the derelict’s hull.
I paused in my work and waited for a moment. The shiver came again, and then grew into a steady vibration. I felt the faintest tug pulling me toward the back of the cabin. The ship was accelerating.
“Persephone?” I asked aloud. At the same time directing a mental, Status? at Sarah.
“What the hell’s going on over there, Langston?” Miller demanded. “Our sensors show that the derelict’s engines just came online.”
The vessel is powering up and accelerating toward Sol, Sarah confirmed.
“Shit,” I swore. “I don’t know, Persephone. The damn engines just fired. By themselves. Are you sure no one’s aboard?”
“Sensors aren’t showing anything living over there except you, Langston.” There was a momentary pause. “Time to get off that boat.”
“Yeah, that’s a big roger. Heading to the airlock, now.” I panned my light across the last three rows. Nine souls lost, at least for a few months. I turned to go, but something stopped me in my tracks. Something had been different on those last bodies. I swept the flashlight back, panning it over the coils, looking for whatever had caught my attention.
One of the corpses, its pale, lifeless eyes wide open, stared back at me.
J.T. Nicholas is the author of the upcoming science fiction novel ReCoil (February 2020 from Titan Books) and the neo-noire science fiction series, The New Lyons Sequence (available now from Rebel Base Books).
J.T. was born in Lexington, Virginia, though within six months he moved (or was moved, rather) to Stuttgart, Germany. Thus began the long journey of the military brat, hopping from state to state and country to country until, at present, he has accumulated nearly thirty relocations. This experience taught him that, regardless of where one found oneself, people were largely the same.
When not writing, J.T. spends his time practicing a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop, and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on.
J.T. currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife, a pair of indifferent cats, and two Australian Shepherd puppies intent on destroying anything and everything that fits in their mouths.