Monday, 29 May 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett Extract

Today I'm excited to share with you an extract from The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett, which is out on June 1st!

From Chapter One 


Survival was a one in a million chance. The virus was a near-perfect killing machine. Contagious as hell, it had a vicious little sting in its tail. It mutated with every reinfection. A single exposure was survivable – with luck – but it was as though it knew us. As the disease spread, people did what people always do. They clung and grabbed and mauled one another. They queued at the hospitals. They died in the waiting rooms. They clutched at their lovers and held on to their children. And the disease rampaged joyously, burning through thought and will, then flesh, and, at the very last, through bone – until there was nothing but dust, and no one left to mourn over it.

Dust to dust, Jamie thought, rising slowly onto one elbow. The sun was slanting under the top edge of the window, illuminating the interior of the single-roomed croft that had been her home for the last three months. It was a standard settler’s dwelling, flat-packed as part of some colonist family’s baggage allowance when the first ships made their way through the void.

Jamie’s head was aching, and her mouth was so dry that she might as well have been dust herself.
Had she breathed them in? The dead? Were they inside her now, clinging to her throat, hoping for some chance word that might carry them back to an echo of life?

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent.

She yanked herself back from the fall that lay beyond that thought. It might be different here. They’d had some warning. And they didn’t live crushed up close against each other, like on the central worlds.

But . . . the silence.

Something snagged in her throat, and she coughed, and then retched, doubling over.

Water.

The thought instantly became an urgent need, with enough force to tip her over the edge of the bed and into a sprawled half-crouch on the stone floor. She pushed herself upright, leaning hard on the bed, and then crossed the floor, moving with a club-footed awkwardness. When she reached the sink, she clung to it with both hands. The mirror in front of her was clouded and warped. The distortion had always unsettled her, with the way it caught her features and twisted them if she turned too quickly. But today the clouded surface was a relief. She didn’t need a reflection to know how reduced she was. She felt shrunken, stretched too tight over her bones, her dark hair hanging lank and lifeless on her shoulders, her olive skin bleached to a sallow hue.

The tap sputtered, kicking out a little spurt that grew into a steady stream. She splashed at her face, the cold water forcing the shadows back to the edges of her mind, leaving nothing to hide that pitiless statistic.

Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine per cent dead.

Ten billion people scattered across space.

Nought point nought nought nought one per cent of ten billion.

Ten thousand people should have survived.

Spread across how many populated worlds? Three hundred, or thereabouts. Thirty-three survivors per world. And a few left over.

She had a nagging sense that her maths was wrong. But then she was weak, reduced by her illness. It was making it hard to think clearly.

When the answer struck her, she initially felt only a little snick of satisfaction at figuring it out. All worlds were not created equal. Almost half the total human population lived on Earth and the capital planet cluster. There must be a couple of billion people on Alegria alone.

That meant two thousand survivors. Set against the ominous silence outside the croft, that seemed like a vast number, and she felt a flicker of relief.

But then there were all the fledgling colonies, right out on the edges of civilisation, some of them numbering only a few hundred people.

Soltaire fell somewhere between those two extremes. Its single land mass was sizeable enough – about the size of Russia, she’d been told – but settlement had been slow. There were ten thousand people, or thereabouts, most of them clustered around the port, or over in Laketown. Then a few smaller towns, and a clutch of smallholdings, as well as the two main cattle-breeding centres, at Gratton Ridge and here at Talgarth.

Ten thousand people.

All the heat seemed to drain out of her body.


The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett is published by Pan Macmillan, 1 June 2017, £12.99 hardback.

Anne Corlett has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has won a number of awards for her short stories, including the H. E. Bates Award. She works as a criminal solicitor and freelance writer, and lives with her partner and three young boys in Somerset. The Space Between The Stars is her first novel.



Check out the other awesome blogs taking part in the tour:



No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...