Tom Maddox

From the author:

You may read these files, copy them, and distribute them in any

way you wish so long as you do not change them in any way or

receive money for them.

I have entered HALO into the distribution networks of the Net, but

I retain the copyright to the novel.

If you paid for these files, you were cheated; if you sold them,

you have cheated.

Otherwise, have fun and spread the book around.

If you have any comments on the book or this distribution, you can

send me e-mail at:


November, 1994


Tom Maddox

To the memory of George Maddox, my father; Paul Cohen,

my friend; and all our lamented dead, lost in time.


Here are some of the people I owe in the writing of this


My wife Janis and son Tom.  They have had to put up with the

problems of a novelist in the houseincluding arbitrary mood

swings and chronic unavailability for many of the usual pleasures

of life.  To both, my love and gratitude for their love, patience,

and understanding.

My best friends:  Leo Daugherty, Jeffrey Frohner, Bill Gibson

and Lee Graham.

My mother Jewell, my brother Bill and sister Janet.

Ellen Datlow:  she published my first stories in Omni and

showed me how a really good editor works.  Also, two friends who

patiently read through drafts of those stories before Ellen got

them:  Geoff Hicks and Larry Reed.

The readers of various incarnations of this book:  Beth

Meacham, my editor at Tor Books; Merilee Heifetz, my agent; Bruce

and Nancy Sterling, great readers; Melinda Howard and Gary

Worthington; Lynne Farr; Carol Poole.  Also, the members of the

Evergreen Writers' Workshop, especially Pat Murphy.

The Usenet community, friend and foe, for ideas about a quite

astonishing number of things, and for the continuing fascination

of life online; with special thanks to Patricia O'Tuana and the

members of 'eniac.'

The usual suspects at the Conference on the Fantastic, with a

special nod to Brian Aldiss, because we'd all be happier if there

were more like him running around.

At The Evergreen State College, many people who gave

technical advice.  (Perhaps needless to say, any consequent

blunders are entirely mine.)  Mike Beug and Paul Stamets, world-

class mycologists and explainers, talked to me about mushrooms and

provided invaluable references.  Mark Papworth applied a coroner's

eye to a carcass I made.  The faculty and students of the Habitats

Coordinated Studies Program, 1988-89 helped me to think about a

space habitat's ecosystem.

A list, much too long to include here, of friends, both

colleagues and students, at Evergreenthough I have to mention

Barbara Smith and David Paulsen, whose cabin and cat make cameo


And all I've known who can find a piece of themselves in this


PART I. of V

Everything is destined to reappear as simulation.

Jean Baudrillard, America

1. Burning, Burning

On a rainy morning in Seattle, Gonzales was ready for the

egg.  A week ago he had returned from Myanmar, the country once

known as Burma, and now, after two days of drugs and fasting, he

was prepared:  he had become an alien, at home in a distant


His brain was filled with blossoms of fire, their spread

white flesh torched to yellow, the center of a burning world.  On

the dark stained oak door, angel wings danced in blue flame, their

faces beatific in the cold fire.  Staring at the animated carved

figures, Gonzales thought, the fire is in my eyes, in my brain.

He pushed down the s-curved brass handle and stepped through

to the hallway, his split-toed shoes of soft cotton and rope

scuffing without noise across floors of bleached oak.  Through the

open door at the hallway's end, morning's light through stained

glass made abstract patterns of crimson and buttery yellow.

Inside the room, a blue monitor console stood against the far

wall, SenTrax corporate sunburst glowing on its face; in the

center of the room was the egg, split hemispheres of chromed

steel, cracked and waiting.  One half-egg was filled with beige

tubes and snakes of optic cable, the other half with hard dark

plastic lying slack against the shell.

Gonzales rubbed his hands across his eyes, then pulled his

hair back into a long hank and slipped a circle of elastic over

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