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EVE: The Empyrean Age Mass Market Paperback – August 4, 2009

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About the Author

Tony Gonzales was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1973. He graduated from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a BA in Political Science in 1995, and has an MBA from Rutgers University. He is a Lead Writer for CCP Games in Reykjavik, Iceland, and is the author of two EVE Online novellas, Ruthless and Theodicy. EVE: The Empyrean Age is his first published work.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The first experience of life was a bright point of light followed by the sound of distant, muted whispers. A flood of sensory information registered self-awareness, when just before there was only a sea of blackness. A new mind took inventory of the world surrounding him: his chest, rising and falling with the sensation of air rushing into his lungs; the taste of saliva and the contraction of throat muscles as he swallowed; hands that opened and closed into fists as he commanded; all virgin experiences, so it seemed, for a man who was just born inside a coffin.

Lying supine, he blinked several times, struggling to make sense of his narrow confines. A glass shield was just inches from his face, where he gazed with frustrating uncertainty upon a reflection that was his own. An older man, with creases stretched across a high forehead and steel-grey eyes set upon severe cheekbones, returned the bewildered stare.

Who am I? this lost soul asked, struggling to reach backwards in time for a memory or reference, anything to place this surreal state of being into context. But there was nothing there, and the sea of blackness prevailed.

As he tried to lift his shoulders, a medical device descended from inside the chamber and passed a bluish light over the entire length of his body. It was then that he realized the base of his skull was fastened to the bed's surface, and that the connection was through a metallic socket implanted directly into the bone.

I am a capsuleer, he realized, peering through the glass at a ceiling high above. One of the immortals, but . . . what happened to me? The device hovered over his squinting eyes before an artificial voice spoke softly:

'Good morning. Your vital signs are excellent. Try to relax while I assess the rebuilding progress of your temporal lobe. Scanning . . .'

With the centre light focusing on his eyes, additional beams were projected onto his face. Then he felt a tingling sensation in the back of his head.

'I'm going to ask you several questions,' the voice continued. He found her voice soothing, despite its artificial tone. 'Do you know what today's date is?'

'No,' he answered. 'Where am I?'

The voice remained impassive, but gentle. 'Do you know what your name is?'

He was about to answer 'No' in desperation again when a bright flash illuminated the room beyond the glass, followed by a loud muffled thud that shook the chamber. He felt his pulse accelerate as his instincts registered danger for the first time.

'Good morning. Your vital signs are excellent,' the automated voice repeated. 'Try to relax while I . . . Good morning. Your vital signs are . . .'

The device hovering above him flickered once, and then retracted back into its lair. He realized that a new face was staring at him through the glass, and that the predatory look in this stranger's eyes was reason enough to be very afraid.

With a series of mechanical clicks and hisses, the chamber's lid began to open.

Hidden above the chamber was a camera lens, one of hundreds located throughout the starship. Optical data was routed directly into a cybernetic implant which, like the man inside the chamber, was embedded within the skull of the ship's pilot. Using onboard processors and the raw computing power of his cerebral cortex, telemetry was converted into ocular images that he could therefore 'see', despite being hundreds of metres away from the chamber itself.

Terrifying events were unfolding before him: an assassin had infiltrated the ship, sealed himself in the cargo bay, activated the CRU (Clone Reanimation Unit) prematurely, and was now moments away from murdering the most important figure in Theology Council history.

The same cybernetic implant feeding data to the pi lot's brain made his ship a natural extension of his own physical self. All he needed was to will his starship into action, and his biochemical signals were translated into digital instructions that were executed immediately by automated systems or the hundreds of crew members onboard. Because of this union between man and machine, the ship could react as quickly as its pi lot could think - but only if he knew how to act. Dealing with onboard saboteurs was a situation that had, until now, been unthinkable.

Opening a command channel through the cruiser's subspace communication arrays, the pi lot watched helplessly as the assassin stood over the CRU and began taunting the vulnerable clone of Falek Grange.

'Lord Victor, we have an emergency,' the pilot said.

'Lieutenant Thornsson,' the stern voice replied from dozens of light years away. 'Go ahead.'

'We escaped from Karsoth's forces and survived a Covenant ambush,' the pi lot replied. 'But there's an assassin onboard and—'

The pilot lost his concentration as the attacker's clenched, metal-plated fist crashed down upon Falek Grange's face, spraying droplets of blood across the room.

DESPITE THE PHYSICAL appearance of an older man, this incarnation of Falek Grange was less than five minutes old. Every cell in his body was an exact replica of the original man, who by now had been dead for almost forty minutes. Although the brain of this clone contained elemental knowledge artificially distilled from simulated life experiences that an older man should have, in this case the core attributes of Falek's original personality and personal memories were absent. A person awakening in this state has knowledge, but lacks the understanding of why he knows what he does.

To call this condition 'amnesia' would be inaccurate, for the term implies that there was once a memory to lose. This was far worse. For Falek Grange, there were no memories. Every experience from now on would seem both new and distantly familiar all at once.

But there was nothing familiar about the horrid violence that Falek was enduring now. With each blow, Falek could feel both skin and bone breaking beneath the assailant's mailed fists. Every strike was perfectly placed to inflict maximum pain; just when Falek thought he would lose consciousness, the assassin instructed the CRU to inject him with enough adrenaline to keep him awake. With his head still attached to the neural interface and his hands clamped to the chamber walls, Falek was helpless to defend himself.

When the sparks of pain and numbing disorientation parted for just a moment, he gurgled out a single, pleading question:

'Why . . . ?'

The assassin - a much younger man, with features similar to Falek's - removed his gauntlets, unveiling thick, calloused hands. As if in prayer, he murmured a series of phrases in a foreign language, closing his eyes while speaking.

Then he pressed both his hands into the deep, symmetric lacerations on Falek's eye sockets and jawbone.

'Unholy beast! THORNSSON raged as he watched Falek scream. 'The assassin is Covenant!'

'You have to seal him inside the CRU,' Victor answered. 'Force it shut if you have to—'

'I can't! He disabled the hatch - my crew can't get inside!'

The assassin raised both blood-soaked hands upwards as if to make an offering, and then lowered them to allow droplets of the crimson fluid to fall into his mouth.

'There's nothing they can do at all?' Victor pleaded.

'They're trying everything to break in,' the pilot replied.

'We don't stow any explosives onboard to blast through . . .'

He thought about that for a moment, and then added:

'Unless . . .'

'A PITY THAT you'll never know your crimes,' the assassin said, manipulating the bloody controls of the CRU. 'They are too numerous to mention in the time we have left.'

Falek Grange would have sobbed if he could; his eyes were swollen shut as his body rushed fluids to the trauma sites on his face. But the physical pain was no less excruciating than the mental anguish of not knowing if this cruel fate was deserved.

A shudder wracked his aching body as the locking shunt connecting his implant to the CRU withdrew from his skull.

'My master has passed judgment on you,' the assassin continued, placing one hand over Falek's disfigured face and running it slowly towards his neck. 'It is my devoted honour to serve him.'

Using his free hand, the assassin brandished a small sceptre. As Falek felt the grip around his neck tighten, he wished for the nothingness that was before the whispers brought him to life.

'This will purge New Eden of your curse once and for all.'

'YOUR CLONES HAVE been destroyed, as all of ours have,' Victor warned. 'You know what that means!'

'I believe in her, my lord,' Thornsson said, swallowing hard as the assassin forcibly yanked Falek upright by his neck and positioned the sceptre beneath his head. 'And she believed in him.'

With a single thought, Lieutenant Thornsson armed the self-destruct sequence for his ship.

'This is all I can do to save him,' he said, just as the assassin thrust the back of Falek's exposed skull downward. 'Tell her that I did this for her glory . . .'

'She already knows, my friend,' Victor replied.

FALEK HAD LITTLE time to scream as the electrically charged sceptre made brief contact with the implant's socket, producing a sickening flash of white and red. As the surrounding tissue vaporized along with metal, the lid of the CRU forcibly closed down, knocking the sceptre loose and forcing the assassin to release his choking grip. Falek collapsed, unconscious, onto his back within the chamber as the lid shut completely and formed an airtight seal. The last thing the enraged assassin would ever see was a reinforced blast shield rise from the floor and enclose the CRU, where his prey continued to breathe.

Powered by an aneutronic fusion reactor, the Prophecy-class battle-cruiser pi loted by Lieutenant Thornsson relied on magnetic containment fields to regulate the flow of plasma used for propulsion. If these fields collapsed, the plasma would scatter internally and destroy the surrounding structure.

They also served as the primary self-destruct mechanism for the ship.

Lieutenant Thornsson was sacrificing himself and his crew in a desperate attempt to save the life of Falek Grange. Normally occurring after a sixty-second countdown, the fail-safes regulating the fields were instructed to switch off earlier, making it impossible for anyone onboard to escape. In the exact instant when the blast shield locked into place over the CRU, the containment fields ceased, and the engine room's plasma began incinerating everything in its path, eating its way back into the fusion reactor within seconds.

Expanding outwards in every direction, the resulting explosion tore the ship in two, obliterating the decks leading up to the forward superstructure. Fragments of superheated debris travelling at immense speeds perforated every remaining section of the ship. For the crew closest to the engine room at the time of the blast, death came as quickly as a thought. For those in the forward compartments, there may have been just enough time to grasp the severity of what was happening, but not much more.

For Falek Grange, the experience was the same as the blackness from which he had emerged. Protected by the blast shield, the CRU continued to function, keeping him alive for the time being. Suspended inside the chamber, he floated among the ruins of a shattered starship, unwillingly clinging to an existence whose single memory was of being tortured and beaten to within an inch of his life.

Copyright © 2008 by CCP hf.
Published in August 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Thus edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765363909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765363909
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Justin Rossetti on August 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
As an Eve player, I picked up this book hoping to gain some greater insight into the events and people behind the stirring of war that was recently introduced with the 'Empyrean Age' expansion to the game. As an avid fan of sci-fi literature, I was just hoping for a good read.

As an Eve player, I was entirely satisfied. So much, in fact, that I piloted my ship through the game to visit the places discussed in the book and examine the remnants of those horrors witnessed while reading (and nearly got podded more than once).

The sci-fi levels in this book were also pretty high, and the story draws you in, and you really have no choice but to finish the book.

However, the book, alone is incomplete. Several of the characters have unfinished stories, the last chapter does not fit the scope of the book in any way, and throughout the book are inconsistencies of style and language.

If you can ignore these flaws, pick up a copy, and enjoy a rather thrilling journey across 4 nations and those heroes that love them.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Holt on August 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I haven't written a book review before and I don't have a lot of time so this will be short and sweet. I have to say that this is one of the most well written books I have read in a long time. Even if you have never seen or heard about the computer game, EVE Online, this is just an all around great sci-fi. It always takes two or three chapters for any book to really start drawing me in but once I was into this book I couldn't put it down. It is rather dark however and I would not recommend it for children or anyone not old enough to handle violence and torture. The characters are all well written and fleshed out for the most part although I wish there had been a little more story on a few characters, but maybe we will see a sequel. Well done Tony Gonzales.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Murat Tekin K on December 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While this is clearly based on the background story of the EVE Online game you actually dont need to have played that game to understand what is happening in this pretty good book, in fact most of the specific terms that EVE Online gamers will easily understand can be easily looked up in the Eve Online story/game manual which is free to acquire from the official web site. In this case it only adds to the experience of this book.

This space opera is actually a collection of four different stories told from four different perspectives which are linked together by the declining political situation in the Eve Online universe.

The novel is very descriptive of the situation the characters find themselves in and a notice to parents some areas of this space opera are very graphic in their detail. People who are unaware of the background material of the Eve Online MMO will find the extended descriptions very helpful.

Essentially this is a lead up of events style book that leads to the apocalyptic war in the Eve Online Empyrean Age expansion, overall it is easy to read and understand, written for lovers of sci fi/space operas and for those of us who love galaxy wide political power plays.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Ponce on December 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Very few books draw me in so completely as did Tony Gonzales' first novel based on the folklore of Eve: Online. This is a series of background stories that explain all to anyone who has played Eve :The Empyrean Age" in the past year. What drew me in the most was not the attachment to the game, but the style of writing that demanded I continue to the next chapter. I found myself in disbelief at times at the way things unfolded "behind the scenes" - since all action is based on "news releases" online within the game of Eve.
The way all storylines are intertwined is masterful. The introduction of minor characters that are not flushed out is similar to people you meet once and never see again. The definitions of good and evil, life and death, and even religious fervor are questioned. This is a book based on "reality" even though it is considered science-fiction. A wonderful read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kerozelvin on January 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I greatly enjoyed the read and would recommend the book to any Sci-Fi fan, regardless of whether they play EVE or not. As an EVE capsuleer, I feel like the book helped enrich the backstory and brought to life many areas that I have found myself roaming through. Overall, the plot and characters are engaging. There are perhaps too many concurrent plot lines, and while the complex plot provides excitement, the downside is that character development is severely constrained by the lack of focus.

The book succeeds in providing the story that leads to the current situation with the Factional Warfare system in game. I also enjoyed that the characters have turned up in later EVE chronicles to further develop the story. Perhaps it is a consequence of being part of a living, breathing universe, but the hardest part about the novel is that it leaves you hanging at the end. I am still not sure what happens on Caldari Prime, and I have been playing the game for months since the novel came out. We have also been given very little additional insight into the craziness within the Amarr Empress, or what becomes of the racist and bloodthirsty leader of the Caldari. While the recent freeing of slaves may have been forshadowed by the experiences of the Empress' right hand man in the book, we are left on our own to figure out how the story ends.

I am personally counting on Mr. Gonzales to publish a sequel soon to explore these hanging threads. I hope he can slow down enough to really develop his characters while retaining the gripping quality he created in The Empyrean Age.

Overall, a good read for any Sci-Fi fan; a great read for those interested in jumping into the EVE world, and a must read for current players!
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