Mongol Empires, Mongrel Swarms [2 of 3]


The Defiant Agents, by Andre Norton (pen name of Alice Mary Norton), is in the public domain. You can download the text version here or the audiobook from this librivox page.  In Norton’s novel, written in the 60s, the Russians and Americans are in a war to colonize planets, after Earth was visited by time-traveling aliens (in a previous volume in the Time Trader series, which I haven’t read) endowing them with a glactic library of unknown worlds.

The American use a Redax machine to activate the ancestral memories of their Apache agents, as a way of increasing their odds of survival on the savage planet. Use of the machine causes them to lose their memories, but allows them to telepathically communicate with coyotes. Which is awesome.

Those rascally Reds, though, have sent their own temporal agents to the contested world, with the resurfaced instincts of the Mongol horde.

The Defiant Agents hints at the commonality of human instinct, in that once the Ruskie and Yankee colonizers start to regain their memories, they begin to question their respective missions, and to defy their superiors that want to drag the new world into needless war and conflict.

With little else to read, I downloaded, while in Ollantaytambo,  old Science Fiction pulp novels and magazines. Many of these hadn’t survived whatever scanning process had pulled them up into the cloud—they might be pseudo-readable for 60 or so pages and then drift into gobbledegook, like DNA cooked by solar radiation, replication breeding entropy and unreadable mutations.

I like to read that way, hopping through dimensions, skimming legible levels, treating all those old degraded texts like a distributed multiverse, an unwitting collaboration of coincidence by mostly extinct authors who never expected their readers to defy them, to ignore their outdated conflicts and perceptual frames, and take the alien outposts for themselves.

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By Source, Fair use,

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