The Humani, by Stephen Palmer

Stephen Palmer

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Link: The Humani: Amazon.co.uk: Palmer, Stephen: 9798861580335: Books

My return to far-future SF after fifteen years away is to be published a fortnight tomorrow. I'm self-publishing this one. It's been rewritten, edited, honed, rewritten, re-edited and honed a few more times since that first draft of 2010. As regulars here will know, re-drafting, especially over such a long period, is highly unusual for me. This novel, however, is an unusual one...
I will say a few things about it in days to come, but in the main I'm going to experiment with visual promotion.
Watch this thread...

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Stephen Palmer

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“The Machinati are in every way unlike us,” said Abiuravi. “Where we have communities that in general subscribe to Humani ethics, the Machinati have ten aspects that seem random to us, each with their own customs. The second aspect is characterised by volatility of state.”

“Speak to it. I think it recognises that you hold a coin.”

Abiuravi cleared his throat. “Do I speak with a Machinati of the Levis aspect?”

A thin, whistling voice replied, “You do. Do you want to make a purchase?”

“Yes. I have a coin. Will you accept it?”

“That depends on what you want. Coin buys knowledge. Some knowledge is cheap, some expensive.”

“What I wish to learn could not be more expensive,” Abiuravi replied, pushing the coin into the slot at the side of the screen. “I want to know how to get into Divinita without first dying.”

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Stephen Palmer

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They approached the block, walking around it until they came to a great window that flickered with rainbow colours. “It is a view into the library,” Abiuravi said. They stood now between the block and the external wall, with only a few people visible, distant and consulting other libraries. He pulled out the circular coin.

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Stephen Palmer

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On Via Machinor they rested at a grove of screens powered by the energy of the sun. The screens showed nothing except random grey and white patterns, and after a minute Larva became bored of them. “We can rest here,” she said. “We are concealed from the road.” She pointed south and concluded, “I can see the green roof of Aedes. Almost there!”

Moliri chewed at a rasher of meat, passing Periculum a flask of water. Eggs lay loose on the ground, but although they tested as Simi food she did not like their smell. Then Larva stood up and listened.

“What d’you hear?” Moliri asked.

“I do not know.”

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Stephen Palmer

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To Moliri it seemed too small, just a wooden gate painted white, but the hedge above had been sheared into an HH symbol. “It must be,” she said.

Without delay she opened the gate and pushed Larva through. Before her lay a bowl garden, fifty feet below her the centre, filled with tall trees and flowering bushes, with a spiral path leading all the way down. At the centre stood a small stone dome. Three people walked up the path.

“Dead Humani who’ve just arrived,” Moliri said.

“We’ll appear strange going the wrong way.”

“Just act confident,” Moliri said. “Remember, we know something we shouldn’t – Decinominis’ name. That’ll bring him. Anyway, who’s to say it’s the wrong way?”

“The Orbis only goes one way.”

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“We’ve been told many things that turned out to be untrue,” Moliri replied.
 

sknox

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Intriguing, both in the art and the narrative. Stephen, when will this see the light of day as a completed work?
 

Stephen Palmer

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Their journey stretched for one league, and was swift. At the end of a cobbled street the Myriapoda turned right, whereupon Abiuravi saw a straight edge ahead, a perfect line, marking the boundary between stone and metal, that stretched without curving in both directions as far as the eye could see. Machinatiregio lay before them.

Abiuravi could not descry much – great metal buildings, flashes of colour, vapours rising into the air – but it was clear they had arrived.

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Stephen Palmer

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For this novel, I'm going to say very little... but I am going to illustrate it.
"The morning passed without incident as Abiuravi kept watch, but the diurnal hubbub of the forest made him nervous; booming noises sounded from nearby bone dumps, while, in the pale and hair-strewn canopy, the perpetual chirruping of flying leaves sounded. Often there would be a splat or drip as humours fell to the earth: phlegm, blood and bile. Neither did he like the look of the webs that appeared around them, and he warned Subrufus to watch them, not least because they seemed to have no makers."

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Stephen Palmer

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A man trying to get into Divinita (Heaven) without dying, a woman trying to get out, and a young woman who may or may not have been born in Divinita...
"The people of the quarter paid them no attention, and indeed looked just like them, so that Abiuravi had to keep reminding himself that all locals were dead Humani. What state these residents were in – what aspect of the Orbis they traversed – was unknown, and he dared not ask, though there were a hundred questions in his mind. His one hope, therefore, was Machinatiregio."

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Stephen Palmer

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Amazing art. How are you creating it?
Over several weeks I used Midjourney, in combination with lengthy, designed prompts based on text from the novel, to prepare a series of images giving a flavour of the scenario. Although for previous books I've typically written blogs etc, this time, mostly because I've had to self-publish, and because this novel has been 'in production' for eleven years, I decided that a picture was worth a thousand words... @THX1138, it seems my idea has struck a chord!
Thanks for your comments, and ready yourselves to see some truly extraordinary insect inhabitants of Divinita.

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Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
They look amazing, but - and I think it's a big but - there is a huge backlash against using AI generated art for promotion etc. I know this is different as you would have been the creator regardless, but feel I'd be remiss not mentioning it.
 

Foxbat

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I’ll be buying the book and I like the images but there seems to be a disconnect between the varying styles of vistas - from high-tec, Dune-like, a city that wouldn’t look out of place in an album cover, arboreal and almost spiritual.

Perhaps the book covers all these aspects but, if not, I’d have gone for a more consistent style for all the images.

Just my view:)
 

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