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Autorzy: Marc Gascoigne i Carl Sargent
Data wydania: lipiec 1994
Shadowrun Novels #14
Cytat na okładce:
This ain't rock and roll. This is genocide.
Mag Serrin Shamander ucieka przed śmiertelnym wrogiem. Jego desperackie poszukiwania uciekiniera z Nowego Jorku doprowadzają go aż do Europy, ale jego wróg nie spieszy się w jego pochwyceniu. Nieustępliwy, potężny i demoniczny - czekał na Shamandra ponad trzysta lat...
by Carl Sargent & Marc Gascoigne (1994)
When an ancient elven vampire plots genocide, it's up to a handful of shadowrunners to save the human race.
Decent book. 3 out of 5.
While doing magical research in Manhattan at the University of Columbia, Serrin Shamandar chances to save the Mayor of New York from an assassination attempt by a Damascus League terrorist. In doing so, he attracts the interest of a tabloid reporter who publishes an exposé, making him the celebrity hero of the hour in the UCAS. Fleeing the glare of publicity, Serrin leaves the city on the first available overseas flight, which takes him to Germany. He ends up in the small tourist town of Heidelberg.
In Cape Town, Kristen sees Serrin's picture on the cover of Newsday and becomes fascinated by him.
Serrin narrowly escapes a kidnapping attempt in Heidelberg. He considers flying to London to enlist the aid of a friend, Geraint, but the Welsh nobleman is in Hong Kong on business. Serrin decides to fly to Seattle instead, where he hopes to find help from friends in the local shadowrunning community.
In Tir Tairngire, an elven mage named Magellan reports to his mistress, the powerful noblewoman Jenna Ni'Fairra. On her behalf, he has been investigating an elven nosferatu, Luther, in rural Germany. Magellan has discovered that Luther has a very specific and rare dietary requirement, forcing him to send minions far abroad in search of prey. One such victim, Serrin, recently escaped his grasp. Magellan has also discovered that one of the ruling families of Tír na nÓg, the O'Connors, has also been watching the nosferatu closely. Luther is pursuing a project of great interest to extremist factions in both elven countries.
Geraint calls Serrin in Seattle, and Serrin relates his current troubles. Geraint offers to help, mentioning a Cambridge classmate, a phenomenally talented decker named Michael Sutherland. Serrin makes a few calls looking for local muscle, which lead him to another old friend, a troll street samurai named Tom. Serrin is amazed to learn that the troll has become a Bear shaman in the five years since he last knew him. While Serrin and Tom are reminiscing, they are joined by Michael, the decker hired by Geraint to help Serrin.
Kristen witnesses a kidnapping near Cape Town's red light district. One of the kidnappers drops a palmtop computer in the struggle. Kristen recovers it and finds a list of names -- one of them is Serrin Shamandar. Kristen contacts Serrin to warn him. Immediately afterward, she narrowly escapes a hit squad sent to the location from which she placed the call.
In New York, Serrin, Tom, and Michael are the targets of careful magical surveillance by Magellan and another elven mage, Niall O'Connor. Neither mage notices the runners' secretive departure.
Michael, Tom, and Serrin travel to Cape Town to meet Kristen. Comparing Kristen's list to Michael's own investigations, they identify a series of kidnappings in locations all over the world, apparently at the direction of a single person. The common thread connecting them is a very rare, very specific blood type. The pattern of kidnappings (first mundane humans, then Awakened humans, then Awakened elves as a prey of last resort) suggests that the kidnapper might be an elf. An eminent geneticist confirms Michael's guess based on the blood group of the victims. The runners are on the trail of an elf nosferatu.
Apart from Serrin, there has only been one other failed kidnapping attempt, of an elven shaman named Shakala in the Umfolozi Domains, a nature preserve in the Zulu Nation. The runners track down Shakala, who agrees to help them after a ritual confrontation with Tom. From information supplied by his visitors, Shakala connects his attackers to a nearby corporate biomedical research laboratory. Accompanied by the runners, Shakala leads an assault force on a raid to the facility, only to find it already in ruins, destroyed by a recent fire.
At odds with his family over the actions of the nosferatu, Niall O'Connor determines to deal with him independently. In desperate need of power with which to confront Luther, he succeeds in harnessing the power of the daoineann draoidheil, a magical storm at Rathcroghan in Tír na nÓg. Armed with the power of the storm trapped in a focus, Niall prepares to face Luther.
Luther begins the final testing of his project, the culmination of several decades' work -- a virus that will devastate humanity, leaving elves (and for the moment, other metahumans) untouched.
Magellan follows the runners' trail, and finally catches up to them in the Zulu nation, where he kidnaps and interrogates Serrin. In the course of their interview, Serrin learns about Luther's goal, and that Magellan represents a faction in Tir Tairngire that wants the nosferatu to succeed. Michael, Tom, and Kristen rescue their companion from his captors, but Magellan escapes.
The runners return to New York. In order to bring Kristen through immigration, Michael marries her. From there, Michael is able to trace the ownership of the Azanian research facility through various holding companies to Luther von Hayek at a monastery outside Regensburg, Germany. After coaxing a six-figure bankroll out of Geraint, the runners fly to Berlin. Immediately after cutting a deal with a local arms dealer for weapons, Michael is shot in the back by Magellan. Once Michael is stable in intensive care, Kristen closes the weapons deal while Tom and Serrin negotiate for muscle, fourteen ork samurai and a street shaman.
Niall arrives at Luther's monastery, only to find it protected by an impenetrable barrier. He despairs until the runners appear.
Attacking in force, the runners and the orks overcome automated defenses and corpses animated by toxic spirits, finally breaking into the compound with heavy losses. Once they reach the heart of the building, however, Luther kills the remaining orks and magically seizes control of Tom, Serrin, and Kristen. In classic villain style, he gloats to his captives about his impending triumph.
From outside the monastery, Niall is finally able to penetrate the barrier through Tom. By blasting a hole through the earth to the surface, Niall exposes Luther to daylight and the nosferatu is destroyed.
Serrin Shamandar: An elf magician born in Louisiana. Serrin's parents were corporate researchers who traveled regularly. They lived in Johannesburg in the Cape Republic for a few months when Serrin was nine years old. When Serrin was eleven, his parents were killed by a shadowrunner -- Serrin had to identify the bodies at the morgue. As an adult, Serrin became a shadowrunner, partly in the hope of finding his parents' killer. His right leg was badly injured during a shadowrun for Renraku, leaving him with a permanent limp. Serrin is a specialist in magical defense, surveillance, and watcher spirits.
Tom: A troll street samurai who found his calling as a shaman late in life. Serrin knew Tom as a street samurai in Seattle in 2050. At the time, Tom was involved with an eco-activist troll shaman named Anna. When Anna was killed in a gang fight, Tom became a violent, self-destructive alcoholic. Serrin fought to help the troll clean up, but ultimately gave up on him. Serrin succeeded, however, because shortly afterward Tom met his Totem, Bear, and became a shaman. His magical abilities are greatly handicapped by his cyberware -- wired reflexes, muscle augmentation, and smartlink. Tom is an active reformer in Seattle's Redmond Barrens. He is allergic to silver.
Kristen: A human girl of mixed ethnic background, half-Xhosa (black African) and half-Caucasian, living on the streets of Cape Town. Kristen had an abusive, alcoholic father who abandoned her at a very young age. She learned to take care of herself the hard way, drifting and scavenging. She is smart, resourceful, and resilient, beyond her limited means. Kristen is nonetheless illiterate.
Michael Sutherland: A human decker from England, classically educated at Cambridge (along with Geraint, a Welsh nobleman and one of Serrin's closest friends). Michael enjoys dual citizenship in Britain and the UCAS, and he lives in Manhattan. Michael is six feet tall, tan, with bleach-blonde hair. He is good-natured and garrulous, and something of a control freak. His only real vice is a weakness for expensive clothes. Michael is a hyperactive insomniac and probably one of the world's foremost deckers. His Matrix icon is a university professor.
in order of their appearance:
Julia Richards: reporter for the Newsday tabloid, interested in the supernatural and the occult
Andrew T. Small: mayor of New York
Dan McEwan: reporter for the New York Times
Randy Simmons: cameraman for the Times
Geraint: wealthy Welsh nobleman, close friend of Serrin
Francesca Young: female human decker, friend of Serrin and Geraint, currently in Saudi Arabia
Ganzer: ork, regular patron of Crusher 495 in Redmond
Janus Koskey: owner and manager of Crusher 495 in Redmond
Denzer: large ork, regular patron of Crusher 495 in Redmond
Nasrah: Javanese human, educated, living in Cape Town
Muzerala: black troll bodyguard and bouncer in Cape Town
Indra Maharana: madam of a cheap Cape Town flophouse
Nasser: Cape Town fixer
Jenna Ni'Fairra: female elf, ruthless, member of Tir Tairngire's ruling Council of Princes
Magellan*: elf, investigator for Jenna Ni'Fairra
Sean Laverty: elf, altruistic, member of Tir Tairngire's ruling Council of Princes
Rani: Punjabi ork street samurai, works for Geraint in Wales
Gulrank: ork street samurai in Seattle
John: street samurai in Seattle
Torend: street samurai, recently moved from Seattle to Nagoya Japan
Manoj Gavakar*: shopkeeper and fence in Cape Town, half-Indian
John: Manoj's brother, smuggler and black-marketeer in Simon's Town
Martin Matthaus*: elf, principal henchman of Luther
Luther Hayek (Lùtair)*: elf nosferatu
Lothar: another one of Luther's henchmen
Netzer: ork bouncer at Indra's
Sunil: street doc in Cape Town
Niall O'Connor: powerful elf magician in Tír na nÓg, opposing Luther and the Tir
Mathanas: extremely powerful spirit allied to Niall
Mujaji: the Rain Queen, Great Dragon living on Table Mountain above Cape Town
The Fool: mystic, oracle in Tír na nÓg
Prof. Richard Bruckner: geneticist, isolated the Bruckner-Langer strain of HMHVV
Ruanmi: safari guide, Lion Shaman, Zulu Nation
Intulo: safari guide, Crocodile Shaman, Zulu Nation
Nholo: safari guide, Zulu Nation
Shakala: Cheetah shaman, Zulu prince
Patrick: faithful henchman of Niall O'Connor
Walter: arms dealer in Berlin
Gunther*: ork street samurai in Berlin
Mathilde*: ork Cat shaman in Berlin
Grunnden*: ork street samurai in Berlin
*these characters are dead by the end of the novel.
Columbia University (NAGtNA, p.123)
Times Square (NAGtNA, p.124)
JFK Airport (NAGtNA, p.116)
Crusher 495 (Seattle, p.131; New Seattle, p.63)
Warwick Hotel (Seattle, p.27; New Seattle, p.120)
Bargain Basement (Seattle, p.130)
Frankfurt (Germany, p.85)
Heidelberg (Germany, p.86)
Rhine-Ruhr Megaplex (Germany, p.66)
Berlin (Germany, p.102)
Metropolitan (Germany, p.125): luxury hotel
Meld In (Germany, p.126): bar
Tarantel (Germany, p.128): bar
Azania (Confederated Azanian Nations, including the Cape Republic, Zulu Nation, Oranje-Vrystaat, and the Trans-Swazi Federation)
Cape Town (capital, Cape Republic)
Simon's Town (city, Cape Republic)
New Hlobane (capital, Zulu Nation)
Nkandla (city, Zulu Nation)
Umfolozi Domain (nature preserve, Zulu Nation)
Babanango (industrial city, Zulu Nation)
Crater Lake (Tir Tairngire, p.21)
Tír na nÓg:
Rathcroghan (Tír na nÓg, p.91)
Points of Interest
Carl Sargent and Marc Gascoigne together are the authors of the London Sourcebook (1991), Tír na nÓg (1993), Celtic Double-Cross (1993), and three Shadowrun novels: Streets of Blood (1992), Nosferatu (1994), and Black Madonna (1996). On his own, Carl Sargent is also the author of Imago (1992) and Paranormal Animals of Europe (1993). Both men live in Britain, and given their publishing history could be considered FASA's designated regional experts on Europe.
About the cover: once again, the cover by Romas Kukalis is quite good on its own merits, but bears no similarity to the events of the novel.
The first line of David Bowie's Diamond Dogs is quoted on the bookcover: "This ain't rock and roll. This is genocide." The central plot of the book concerns Luther's planned genocide of the human race, but what does rock and roll have to do with it?
Good interior illustrations by Karl Waller, better known for his superb chapter portraits in the Tir Tairngire sourcebook, among others.
The main antagonist of the novel, Luther, is something of a contradiction: an elven nosferatu. Nosferatu (Paranormal Animals of Europe, p.74) are victims of the Bruckner-Langer strain of the Human-Metahuman Vampiric Virus (HMHVV). This strain is supposed to be lethal to non-humans, but Luther is a one-in-a-million statistical exception. Since Carl Sargent is the author of Paranormal Animals of Europe as well as co-author of this novel, I suppose he's justified. In the context of the novel, Professor Richard Bruckner (who isolated the Bruckner-Langer HMHVV strain in the first place) himself confirms the remote possibility of an elven nosferatu.
Niall O'Connor is the nominal author of the Tír na nÓg posting to Shadowland. He received a bequest in Dunkelzahn's Will (Secrets, p.29), so he was probably still alive in '57 despite the stated intentions of the anonymous Tír na nÓg mage at the end of the novel.
p.6: Andrew Small is the mayor of New York. He is described unflatteringly in The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America (p.120) as "a vacillating Democrat with one finger in the air to test the political winds and another up his butt... a veteran of the corporate machine... knows as little about city government as he does about personal hygiene." Small's security is provided by Knight Errant.
p.8, 27, 31: Serrin has a spell lock (or in SR3 terms, a sustaining focus) devoted to a Detect Enemies spell.
p.15: Chinese proverb, "both guests and fish stink after three days." Cute.
p.19: Serrin's background in a nutshell. "His murdered parents, the leg shattered during his stint with Renraku, the Atlantean scam, even the story of how he and Geraint and Francesca had helped solve the gruesome murders in London last year." The latter reference is to the events of Streets of Blood.
p.22: Thanks in large part to Tom, the Plastic Jungles (Seattle, p.130; New Seattle, p.65) recently received a large grant from Redmond's mayor, Jeffrey Gasston, to detoxify the soil. It is currently able to support agriculture suitable for animal feed, producing income for the residents. No mention of the clean-up effort is made in New Seattle (Steve Kenson, 1999), which states that the soil remains toxic, so the reclaimed soil may be limited to certain areas of the Plastic Jungles rather than the entire region.
p.34: In Cape Town, the insult kaffir, once applied to black people by whites, is in 2055 attached to people with mixed ethnicity, usually by pureblood Africans.
p.36: The basic unit of currency in the Cape Republic is the rand.
p.38: Jenna Ni'Fairra is supervising Tir Tairngire's operation at Crater Lake, mentioned on page 21 of the Tir Tairngire sourcebook (Nigel Findley, 1993). She herself is described on page 51 of that sourcebook.
p.58: Michael keeps two modified Fairlight Excalibur cyberdecks at his apartment in Manhattan. "Serrin was astonished, not least by the plural. Any decker he knew would have killed his own mother to get his hands on just one of the most advanced cyberdecks on the market. To even dream of owning more than one was somewhere between hallucinatory and criminal hubris."
p.64: The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town were converted into a prison in 2035.
p.115: Mujaji the Rain Queen is described alternately as a woman, a dragon, and a spirit. She lives on Table Mountain above Cape Town. According to myth, she protects the Xhosa people from their traditional enemies, the Zulus. SR3 (p.269) lists her as a Great Dragon, feathered serpent.
p.136: The daoineann draoidheil are described in the Tír na nÓg sourcebook, page 101.
p.146: the Confederated Azanian Nations is composed of four member states -- the Cape Republic, Zulu Nation, Oranje-Vrystaat, and the Trans-Swazi Federation. Azania's administrative center is Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vaal (PWV), a city held jointly by all four states. Zulu Nation is an elven country, governed by a King from its capital in New Hlobane (formerly Pietermaritzburg). Zulu has the second-highest per capita income in Africa.
p.155: the safari passes a pride of shaman lions, Awakened critters capable of casting illusions. Shaman lions are not described in any sourcebook.
p.172: According to Serrin, Shakala exhibits the characteristics of both mage and shaman. His magical tradition defies conventional categorization. This is touched upon in Cyberpirates (p.151), which describes African magical traditions as being Totem-based, shamanic and hermetic alike.
p.218: "Julia's chummer has tabs on a Luther Hayek, citizen of Zvolen -- in Slovakia -- circa eighteen-ten." Later, on p.272, Luther himself states, "I've been waiting for nearly three centuries for my own people to be born into the world." Luther is not an immortal elf in the conventional sense. He's a "spike baby" born in the late eighteenth century, infected by a nosferatu. Talk about a spectacularly improbable origin -- first a spike baby elf born centuries before the Awakening (which would have required an enormous mana spike), second an elf with the extremely rare genes to survive infection by the nosferatu virus.
p.223: "Ever get a massage from a troll who really knows what he's doing?" There's a massage agency in Manhattan called the Troll Roll that provides this service. Sounds fun.
p.226: "[Magellan's] mind flashed to the nightmare portrait of Jenna back in Tir Tairngire. Her beautiful face, but on her body the thorns and the endless blood." A reference to the Tir Tairngire sourcebook, page 51, in which an anonymous runner describes the portrait in Jenna's home.
p.272, 275: As a side effect of Tom's possession by Mathanas, the troll's body is completely purged of cyberware and his Essence and Magic restored to their uncorrupted values. Mathanas is a phenomenally powerful entity.
p.276: According to Niall, Serrin and Kristen were doomed lovers in previous lives. This life is their long-awaited opportunity to be together.