2014 WINNER for the EPIC eBook award for Science Fiction!
We were born in the tears of God.
When the First Creator wept at the fate of His Creation, His tears fell like burning rain to melt the polar ice and swell the seas, the cradle of all life. His grief swallowed the mighty human cities of the coast and gave them over to the realm of Mother Ocean. Humanity, who did not aggrieve the Maker out of malice but out of ignorance, wished to atone for their sins against the Earth. We are that atonement. We are Humankind's offering to the First Creator, the Maker of All. The Great Father â a man, and nothing more â crafted his transforming virus and infected his own kind, so that we might be born as the children of Man and Mother Ocean. Humanity became the Second Creator, Aquarius the Second Creation, and we the stewards of its bounty.
We owe much to Man, who is our father and our brother. We must honor our debt to him. But we must always remember this: he who has the power to Create also has the power to Destroy.
â Delphis, Third Pod Leader of Tillamook Reef Colony, from a speech to commemorate the Fiftieth Aquarian Birth Day
CHAPTER 1âBIRTH DAY
Ocypode dove through the turquoise waters of Tillamook Reef toward the fringes of the celebration. Revelers floated everywhere. Strings of limpets, whelks, and periwinkles glittered around their necks, clicking when they moved. Brightly colored pigments stained their skin of blue and gray and silver with pictograms symbolizing the history of Aquarius. Ocypode ghosted through the crowd in silence. His own flesh bore no ornaments.
Ocypode of Tillamook had no desire to draw attention to himself.
He slipped through the window of an ancient building, its barnacle-encrusted frame long devoid of panes, and hovered in the opening like a misshapen eye thrust into the socket of a skull. Birth Day throngs made him want to flee toward open ocean. He preferred to watch from the shadows.
The surface shimmered overhead as sunlight filtered down to paint the reef. The drowned Human city had been reborn, bones of steel and concrete covered with a growth of corals. Fish darted between caves marked by crumbling doors and windows, danced across the reef like fragments of a shattered rainbow. Waves soughed beneath the chatter of the crowd. When he listened, Ocypode could almost grasp the secrets hidden in that ceaseless whisper.
Ocypode hated secrets. They had ruled his life for far too long...but not today.
On an Earth ravaged by climate change, and a disastrous attempt to reverse it, human-dolphin hybrids called Aquarians have built thriving reef colonies among the drowned cities of the coast. Now their world is under siege from an enemy above the waves whose invisible weapon leaves no survivors. Ocypode of Tillamook is an Atavism: half-human and half-Aquarian, marooned in the genetic limbo between species. Only he knows why the colonies north and south of Tillamook Reef have been destroyed, literally turned to stone. Ocypode knows that Tillamook will be targeted next, but sharing the reason might prove as deadly to Aquarius as the Medusa plague itself.
Ocypode and his Aquarian and human comrades flee into the open ocean to escape Medusa, until another Aquarian's treachery leaves them at the mercy of a killer storm. Ocypode must pass through the Electric Forest, where he faces nightmarish creatures and a legendary sea witch who becomes an ally. Finally, he must confront the cyber-ghost of the human he most despises: Peter Cydon, the Great Father who bioengineered the mutagenic virus that gave birth to the Aquarian species. These unlikely allies provide the only chance to stop the Redeemers, rogue scientists who are determined to resurrect the land by slaughtering the sea. Even these allies will not be enough, and Ocypode must decide whom to trust with a secret as lethal as any plague.
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Brian Burt works as an information security engineer in West Michigan, where some of his most bizarre flights of fancy wind up in threat assessments. He's been blessed with a wife and three boys who tolerate his twisted imagination and even encourage it. He enjoys reading, cycling, hiking, horseplay, red wine, and local micro-brews (so hopefully the virtues balance the vices, more or less). At every opportunity, he uses his sons as an excuse to act like an overgrown kid (which is why his wife enjoys rum, school days, and migraine medication).
Brian has published more than twenty short stories in various markets, including print magazines, anthologies, and electronic publications. He won the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award in 1992 for his short story, âThe Last Indian War,â which was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII. His story âPhantom Painâ received an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Tenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. He's a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. His debut novel,Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. Book 2 of the Aquarius Rising trilogy, Blood Tide, is scheduled for release from Double Dragon Publishing in 2015.
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