Captives of the flame, p.1
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       Captives of the Flame, p.1

           Samuel R. Delany
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Captives of the Flame


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  * * * * *

  CAPTIVES OF THE FLAME

  by SAMUEL R. DELANY

  [Transcriber's Note: Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

  ACE BOOKS, INC. 1120 Avenue of the Americas New York 36, N.Y.

  CAPTIVES OF THE FLAME

  Copyright (C), 1963, by Ace Books, Inc.

  All Rights Reserved

  Printed in U.S.A.

  * * * * *

  _This is for Marilyn, of course._

  * * * * *

  SAMUEL R. DELANY considers _Captives of the Flame_ to be the first of a trilogy dealing with the same epoch and characters. It is, however, his second published novel, his first being _The Jewels of Aptor_, Ace Book F-173, which has received considerable acclaim.

  A young man, resident in New York City, Delany is a prolific and talented writer, whose work in poetry and prose have won him many awards. Asked for comment on his literary ambitions, he preferred to quote one of the characters from one of his works:

  "I wanted to wield together a prose luminous as twenty sets of headlights flung down a night road; I wanted my words tinged with the green of mercury vapor street lamps seen through a shaling of oak leaves in the park past midnight. I needed phrases that would break open like thunder, or leave a brush as gentle as willow boughs passed in a dark room.... The finest writing is always the finest delineation of surfaces."

  * * * * *

  PROLOGUE

  The green of beetles' wings ... the red of polished carbuncle ... a webof silver fire. Lightning tore his eyes apart, struck deep inside hisbody; and he felt his bones split. Before it became pain, it was gone.And he was falling through blue smoke. The smoke was inside him, cool asblown ice. It was getting darker.

  He had heard something before, a ... voice: the _Lord of the Flames_....Then:

  Jon Koshar shook his head, staggered forward, and went down on his kneesin white sand. He blinked. He looked up. There were two shadows in frontof him.

  To his left a tooth of rock jutted from the sand, also casting a doubleshadow. He felt unreal, light. But the backs of his hands had real dirton them, his clothes were damp with real sweat, and they clung to hisback and sides. He felt immense. But that was because the horizon was soclose. Above it, the sky was turquoise--which was odd because the sandwas too white for it to be evening. Then he saw the City.

  It hit his eyes with a familiarity that made him start. The familiaritywas a refuge, and violently his mind clawed at it, tried to find otherfamiliar things. But the towers, the looped roadways, that was all therewas--and one small line of metal ribbon that soared out across thedesert, supported by strut-work pylons. The transit ribbon! He followedit with his eyes, praying it would lead to something more familiar. Thethirteenth pylon--he had counted them as he ran his eye along the silverlength--was crumpled, as though a fist had smashed it. The transitribbon snarled in mid-air and ceased. The abrupt end again sent his mindclawing back toward familiarity: _I am Jon Koshar_ (followed by themeaningless number that had been part of his name for five years). _Iwant to be free_ (and for a moment he saw again the dank, creosotedwalls of the cabins of the penal camp, and heard the clinking chains ofthe cutter teeth as he had heard them for so many days walking to themine entrance while the yard-high ferns brushed his thighs andforearms ... but that was in his mind).

  The only other things his scrambling brain could reach were facts ofnegation. He was some place he had _never_ been before. He did _not_know how he had gotten there. He did _not_ know how to get back. And theclose horizon, the double shadows ... now he realized that this was_not_ Earth (Earth of the Thirty-fifth Century, although he gave itanother name, Fifteenth Century G.F.).

  But the City.... It was on earth, and he was on earth, and he was--hadbeen--in it. Again the negations: the City was _not_ on a desert, norcould its dead, deserted towers cast double shadows, nor was the transitribbon broken.

  The transit ribbon!

  No!

  It couldn't be broken. He almost screamed. _Don't let it be broken,please...._

  The entire scene was suddenly jerked from his head. There was nothingleft but blue smoke, cool as blown ice, inside him, around him. He wasspinning in blue smoke. Sudden lightning seared his eyeballs, and theshivering after-image faded, shifted, became ... a web of silver fire,the red of polished carbuncle, the green of beetles' wings.

 
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