Only Superhuman Annotations

Only Superhuman MMPB coverThis document explains background, scientific concepts, allusions, in-jokes, and the like in Only Superhuman that were not already addressed in the book’s appendices. Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of the novel.  I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novel, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later scenes or chapters.

UPDATE August 2013: These notes now cover the audiobook edition released by GraphicAudio as well as both the hardcover and paperback editions. Note that the audiobook is partly abridged, with a number of scenes and passages removed, and is also based on a slightly earlier version of the manuscript than the final published novel, so that it contains a few minor discrepancies. Significant changes, omissions, and errata are noted.

Page numbers are given for the hardcover edition (HC) in bold and the mass-market paperback (PB) in normal text. Audiobook time references are given by disc, track, and time based on the compact-disc edition. If no time code is given, the note refers to the entire track. Notes specific to the audiobook only are in italics.

Cover The cover painting is by Raymond Swanland, based on my own design sketches for Emerald Blair. It’s a somewhat idealized rendering of Emry; her hair isn’t that long and is more tightly wavy and frizzy, and her outfit as depicted in the text isn’t that skimpy or flimsy (the idea is that the front seam and the gap between tunic and trousers could both be sealed up prior to action). And her sidearm design would be somewhat more practical. But the face and physique are pretty accurate.I always wanted Emerald to be a very powerful, muscular woman, yet undeniably feminine and beautiful at the same time. I’ve always admired strong women and wanted to counter the stereotypical assumption that muscularity was a masculinizing trait, hence her ample curves. I also wanted to buck the trend of equating feminine beauty with extreme, anorexic thinness by giving Emry the kind of curvaceous build that most modern-day fashion editors or modeling agencies would consider overweight, while making it clear that she was superhumanly fit and healthy. It took me a while to find the most realistic model for her physique, though. For a time, I considered basing her on a bodybuilder like Cory Everson; but then I learned that bodybuilders’ muscles are tailored more for display than use, and that athletes who don’t specialize in bodybuilding don’t generally look so bulgy and well-defined on the surface. It wasn’t easy finding an appropriate exemplar, and there were times when I doubted I could make it work realistically — until Serena Williams took women’s tennis by storm. Here was an incredibly strong, fast, agile female athlete who was at once very muscular and very curvy — exactly what I was looking for. So in my design sketch, I modeled Emry’s physique on photos of her — although Emry’s a few inches shorter. I think Swanland’s interpretation is a little more bodybuilderish than what I had in mind, but still pretty close.The scene portrayed on the cover doesn’t occur in the novel, but is an amalgam of elements from the opening action sequence in Ch. 1 and the climactic one in Ch. 20. I suppose the robot arm is meant to be part of Arkady’s symbot suit. Note that the cover art is rotated clockwise 90 degrees on the paperback, yet its composition allows it to work both ways.Some have interpreted Emry’s pose here as anatomically improbable, like the oversexualized female poses in many novel covers and comic books today. While it’s true that the pose is somewhat sexualized (while also, in my view, conveying Emry’s strength, confidence, and skill very well), I don’t think it violates anatomical credibility. It’s hard to tell from the angle, but her upper torso is tilted to the side rather than bent backward or twisted around; I can come pretty close to the pose (while standing up) myself, and Emerald is far more athletic and flexible. Plus this is a split-second glimpse of a twisting midair maneuver, not a held pose.
Page Audiobook
HC (PB) Disc/Track/
Time
7 (vii)   n/a Epigraphs:
For most of the history of this project, Eliot Thorne was named Elias instead. After selling the book, I discovered that Elias Thorne was the name of the main character from Topps’s Dinosaurs Attack! bubblegum card series. Though that was relatively obscure, my editor Greg Cox recommended that I change the name — which in retrospect may have been wise, since a movie based on the card series is now in development. I’m still getting used to “Eliot.”
  n/a The Stan Lee quote is, of course, the closing line from the debut story of Spider-Man. I did not specifically model Emerald Blair on Spider-Man, but when I wrote Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder in early 2007, I found myself using a lot of the same creative muscles to write Spidey that I’d previously used to write Emry.
Ch. 1: The Sky is Falling
11 (1) 1/2/0:00 According to my more bloated 2007 draft of the novel, “Chakra City was one of the older, smaller Cislunar States.  It was really more of an orbital town, originally a small Stanford torus with a population of a few thousand, mostly of South or Southeast Asian origin.  But not long ago, it had relocated its geosynchronous orbit to place it near the Kalimantan Space Elevator, and since then it had been expanding, building two new rings with plans for more, to accommodate its aspirations as a bustling port city.” Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, and it sits on the equator, where a space elevator would need to be.
14 (4) 1/3/0:45 I’m aware that the 1988 movie Elvira: Mistress of the Dark features a song with the lyrics, “If you’re looking for trouble, here I am.” I’m reasonably certain that I came up with Emry’s battle cry before I ever saw that movie.
1/3/1:10 Arkady’s patronymic was lost in the editing process. His full name is Arkady Changxievich Nazarbayev, indicating that his father was named Changxi Nazarbayev. He’s probably 1/4 Chinese.
Audio: I always assumed Arkady’s name sounded like “arcade-y,” but the audiobook correctly renders it  with an “ah” sound.
14-15 (5) 1/3/1:30 Audio: Several sentences about UNECS’s devotion to maintaining order and their intolerance for mods are deleted here, so the reference to their fanaticism is somewhat unclear (although Richard’s narrative in disc 1, tracks 11-12 should clarify).
16 (6) 1/3/3:50 A Gauss pistol would be a gun that uses a compact magnetic accelerator to fire bullets rather than a chemical explosion. I forgot to include that one in the appendix.
17 (7)   n/a Wuxia (pronounced roughly “woo-sha”) is the genre of Chinese martial-arts literature and film that tends to elevate the characters’ fighting prowess to a supernatural degree, including the ability to defy gravity and make impossible leaps. The film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the best-known examples in the West. The Hercules/Xena and Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra franchises owe much to it as well.
And here we establish early on that Emry is a fangirl. For all her glamour, she’s an unapologetic sci-fi/fantasy/comics/action-movie geek — which is part of why she so readily embraces the superheroine persona right down to the Spidey-like wisecracks and sexy costume.
1/3/4:50-5:00 Audio: The audiobook  uses “kung fu” instead of “wuxia.” Also, it omits the explanation of how Bast’s tail allows her to shift her center of mass, enabling her seemingly impossible acrobatics.
17 (8) 1/4/0:45 Of course, Emry’s outfit is far more practical than your standard comics-superheroine costume, as mentioned above. With her top sealed up for action, only her arms are bare. Though as we see in the text, that can be a problem, even with her super-tough skin and rapid healing. In the future, as hard experience overcomes youthful vanity, Emry may adopt sleeves, or maybe Korra-like armbands.
I thought it was clever to use “selfone” as a future elision of “cell phone”—the phone as an extension of the self, one’s primary form of identification and electronic interface. In retrospect, it feels a bit old-fashioned. These days, we’re more likely to call them just “phones,” or “mobiles” in the UK.
19 (10) 1/4/3:10 It’s worth asking: Why do these people fight hand-to-hand instead of just shooting at each other? The real answer is because I wanted to write about superhero action, not gun battles. I hate guns; in real life they do horrible (and avoidable) things, and in fiction it’s just boring and unpleasant to watch people hiding behind stuff and pointing things that go bang at each other. Martial arts or superpowered combat are more entertaining to me because they’re a more engaging demonstration of athletics and skill.
My in-universe rationalization, which I came up with too late to address in the text, is that people modded and/or armored for combat are generally tough enough that it would take a lot of firepower to bring them down — enough firepower to endanger the hull integrity of a spaceship or habitat. Ordinary bullets wouldn’t pose as great a danger in that context as is often assumed in fiction; after all, they’re no worse than the micrometeoroids that ships and habitats would have to be designed to cope with as a matter of course. But the heavier weapons needed to neutralize a mod from a distance could endanger others as well — either by rupturing the hull or (for something chemical, biological, or nanotechnological) creating an environmental hazard within the enclosed, tightly controlled ecosystem of a ship or hab.
1/4/4:15 Audio: A shock laser is essentially a wireless Taser, so ideally it should have more of an electric-arc crackle. The sound at 1/5/0:33 is closer.
22 (13-14) 1/5/4:10 The adjectival form for Ceres can be either “Cerean” or “Cererian”; for Vesta it’s either “Vestan” or “Vestian.” The latter forms may be more proper Latin, but in modern usage the former ones are preferred, at least by the JPL in discussing the Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres, although the Planetary Society still uses “Vestian.” Technically, the term for people or things associated with Vesta should be “Vestalian,” but since I have a Vesta-orbiting habitat called Vestalia (the Hollywood/Vegas of the Belt), I needed to draw a distinction between the two.
It may seem unlikely that the Asteroid Belt will be so heavily settled just 95 years in the future. I admit it’s a rather optimistic projection. But since I conceived of the Troubleshooters and their milieu in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the technologies of human enhancement have advanced far more quickly than I’d anticipated, so I didn’t want to push the story too far into the future — even though human progress in space has conversely been slower than I anticipated. But I think the timeframe is still within the realm of possibility. The future history I devised for this universe (see the Historical Timeline page) features new space stations and the start of Near-Earth asteroid mining in the 2020s, permanent space habitation and crewed missions to Mars and Ceres in the 2030s, and colonies at Mars and Ceres by the early 2040s. Some of the real proposals we’re now seeing are similar to this, and are coming from a variety of quarters. The Obama administration’s space policy calls for a crewed Mars mission by the 2030s and an asteroid mission even sooner. China hopes to have a space station up by 2020, and China, India, Japan, Russia, the European Union, and Iran have all proposed to undertake crewed lunar missions during the 2020s, as have several private companies pursuing either space tourism or mining. A company called Planetary Resources, backed by multiple billionaires including director James Cameron, is pursuing plans to begin asteroid mining by the 2020s. SpaceX has succeeded in sending private supply rockets to the International Space Station, and has ambitious plans for the future, including founder Elon Musk’s proposal for a Mars colony.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of these plans will go off on schedule, if at all. But here’s the thing: there are a lot of them. With this many different governmental and private efforts underway to get people back into space on a permanent basis, the odds of success go up. As of 2012, things seem to be nearing critical mass for private spaceflight. And history shows that when private enterprise gets involved in developing a frontier with government backing — e.g. the fur traders in North America or Europe’s various East India Companies — that’s when things really start to take off. Once space begins turning a profit, and as the technology and organization get refined and show successful returns, expansion into space may well accelerate at an exponential rate — as it did in the case of this novel’s Strider civilization.
And yes, “Strider” is a bit of an oblique Tolkien reference.
24-27 (15-20) 1/6 My first idea for the Chakra City disaster was completely different. I imagined a cylinder ringed by a torus, blown off-axis by an atmosphere breach and twisted until the two hulls collided and tore open. Once I did the math and estimated the acceleration from the atmosphere breach, though, I found it was far too minuscule to push the habitat off-axis, particularly with the gyroscope effect resisting the deflection. It took a while to come up with an alternative that preserved the scenario that closes the chapter.
Ch. 2: The Troubleshooters
28 (21) 1/7/0:25 Until very late in the process, Emry worked for the Troubleshooter Agency. After selling the book, I realized that “TSA” was not a particularly popular acronym in the United States (due to the rigorous searches conducted at airports by the Transportation Security Administration). But while I’m still struggling to get used to calling Thorne “Eliot” instead of “Elias,” the name “Troubleshooter Corps” and its initialism TSC sounded right to me the moment I came up with them, even after seven years of calling it the Agency. (In my original ’80s/’90s version, the Troubleshooters were a branch of the FBI-like Solar Security Bureau, serving the Solar Alliance. I eventually realized that worked against my idea of a Solsys that was divided and chaotic, so the Troubleshooters became a non-governmental organization.)
1/7/0:40 Audio: Villareal’s surname should properly be pronounced as in Spanish, approximately as “Vee-a-ray-all.”
30 (23-24) 1/7/4:10-
5:50
Demetria is named for Demeter, the Greek equivalent of the Roman harvest goddess Ceres. The Sheaf and the Band are named by analogy with a sheaf of wheat stalks. It’s worth noting that a sheaf is similar to a fascis, the bundle of wooden rods for which the fascist movement is named; I believe I was cognizant of that subtext in choosing the name. (The focus in early drafts was on Earth vs. the Belt, hence an attack on Earth setting things off; but then I decided to diversify the Belt more and play up the differences between different habitats and regions, and it was then that I created the Sheaf and Band to flesh out Cerean civilization.)
Originally, I went with the common SF assumption that space colonists would be libertarian and resistant to authority. But somewhere (unfortunately I forget where), I came across an essay or article that did a good job debunking that idea. Space habitats would have to be tightly regulated environments in order to function, their ecosystems kept in very careful balance. There’s no way people would be free to go their own way and risk disrupting that balance; they’d have to live under a firm set of constraints and subordinate the individual good to the good of the community. That required me to rethink how I portrayed the Striders, and hopefully end up with something less cliched. Instead of libertarianism, the philosophy that kept the Striders fragmented became rampant nationalism — loyalty to their own communities to such a degree that it came at the expense of their neighbors.
In addition to the references cited in the acknowledgments, I got a lot of useful input about space habitats from the website Mobile Suit Gundam: High Frontier. The Gundam anime franchise has drawn heavily on concepts from Gerard K. O’Neill’s seminal book on space colonies, The High Frontier, as did Only Superhuman. The site is a good overview of the science and technology behind the space habitats of the Gundam franchise, and a useful resource for writing about space habitats in general.
31 (25) 1/7/7:15-
7:25
For more information on the Troubleshooters and other characters in the novel, see the Character Profiles page.
34ff (28ff) 1/8 Audio: Most of this scene’s discussion of Kari’s backstory and powers is deleted from the audiobook, as indeed is the majority of Kari’s material in the novel. Thus the remaining references to the heiwa (which should be pronounced “hey-wah”) at 1:00 and to her guilt about her father at 3:25ff are unexplained. Neither of these turns out to be particularly relevant to Kari’s heavily abridged role in the audiobook, however.
35 (29) 1/8 A number of the Troubleshooters are pastiches of different character types in superhero/adventure stories. Emry is the buxom, sexy redhead. Kari is the kawaii anime babe. Sensei is your classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler, albeit with Japanese ancestry. Cowboy, whom we’ll meet later, is the ultraviolent ’90s-style antihero; in retrospect I should’ve given his costume a lot of unnecessary pouches. And so on. To some degree, yes, this is an extended in-joke on my part, but the case could be made that people who identify with certain classic superhero types would be drawn to the TSC more than those who don’t. Or, to look at it more cynically, the TSC might deliberately favor candidates who fit superhero archetypes — although that wouldn’t explain Cowboy, since one of the explicit purposes of the TSC is to tame the excesses of the more violent or disreputable mod crimefighters.
36 (31)   n/a Kari’s interpretation of the colors of her dogi, along with her general Zen-like philosophy while in the battle peace, indicates that she’s a Buddhist rather than a Shintoist. I’m not sure whether that’s her family’s religion; I think she may have converted to help her cope with her guilt about her past. There are Japanese Buddhists, of course, but Koyama Saburo strikes me as a traditionalist/nationalist sort, so I’m not sure if he’d be one of them.
  n/a Some readers have felt that the novel suffers from “male gaze,” the excessive or gratuitous sexualizing of female characters in a way that can distance or alienate the reader, and I think this scene is one of the main reasons why. Overall, I tried to avoid such things — to make the sexuality serve a story purpose rather than being gratuitous titillation, to portray both male and female characters sexually in proportionate degrees, and to specifically avoid the objectifying portrayals of female characters in superhero comics. For the most part, the male gaze in the novel is mostly seen from male characters’ viewpoints, and there’s plenty of female gaze as Emry sizes up the men around her. However, although my intent in writing Kari’s musings about her appearance vs. Emry’s was merely to describe them for the reader, in retrospect I realize that I was too self-indulgent, dwelling on what I found beautiful and exciting about the women, which is incongruous in a scene from a heterosexual woman’s POV. Now, it’s not unprecedented for people of either sex to think about their attractiveness to the opposite sex; I’ve certainly done my share of pondering myself in the mirror. But it is somewhat arbitrary for Kari to be thinking about it in this context. And there are other instances that have a similar tone, like the one in Ch. 3 of the teenage Emry reflecting on how her chest has blossomed, or the one in Ch. 7 where she’s thinking about her revealing dress, so cumulatively, it is a bit much — and it’s something I don’t do with any male characters, so it’s a failure of my goal to treat both sexes equally. Between the men in the book who are preoccupied with women’s looks and the women who are preoccupied with their own looks, I did fall into the male-gaze trap here, and that’s a mistake I’ll be more careful to avoid in the future.
37 (31)   n/a My inspiration for Emerald’s voice was Lenore Zann, who played Rogue in the ’90s X-Men animated series — not necessarily the Southern accent Zann used for Rogue, but her vocal timbre and speech rhythms and the mercurial personality she gave the character. Then again, Emry’s mother was from eastern Tennessee, so Emry probably has some Appalachian inflections in her voice, but mixed with Greenwood’s Irish-influenced accent and whatever influences she picked up during her years wandering the Belt.
38 (33) 1/8/2:25ff I cut a line from Kari’s speech here: “Your boobs are the only parts of you that aren=t enhanced!” On the one hand, I wanted to make it clear that, despite all her bodily augmentations, Emry’s looks are entirely natural; but ultimately I felt the line was contrived, not something Kari would be motivated to say in that context. Also it might not be strictly true; presumably Emry’s skin, muscle fibers, tendons, etc. are as enhanced on her chest as they are everywhere else.
As I mentioned above, I wanted Emry to be curvaceous, but in a realistic way for a physically active woman, not an exaggerated comic-book way. By my best estimate based on my design sketch, Emry’s measurements in inches are around 37D-28-36. Her bra size is actually a bit below the current American average (reportedly 36DD due to rising obesity), though moderately above average for a fit, athletic woman. Her dress size in US measurements, if I read the charts correctly, would be around 10 or 11.
Ch. 3: Origin Stories: Emerald’s Dawn
40 (35)   n/a The chapter title is a nod to Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn, a 1989-90 miniseries rebooting the Green Lantern’s origin story for the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics continuity. Which, admittedly, I have never actually read. But I couldn’t resist the lame pun.
The vernal equinox in 2085 will be on March 19 at 21:52 UT. Emry’s birthday is March 20.
44 (40) 1/10/3:00 Audio: I conceived this dialogue-only scene as someone coming to Lyra’s door to give her the news in person, in keeping with Greenwood’s small-town community flavor, but the audiobook interprets it as a phone call. I suppose either interpretation is valid.
46 (42) 1/10/5:25 From my notes:ANNIE MINUTE AND THE TIME TRIPPERS:  Vidnet series, premiered June 2088
Annie Minute and the Time Trippers were a musical group who travelled throughout time and space performing concerts and battling forces of cosmic evil along the way.  Each band member’s instrument also functioned as a weapon for this purpose; the band members were also skilled martial artists.
This children’s series was critically reviled, and indeed became infamous for its awfulness.  Issues of temporal paradox and anachronism were completely ignored, and little effort was put into acheiving historical accuracy.  (For example, in one episode, the band’s drummer/engineer Ringo Planett helped United States President Kennedy build a rocket and fly to Luna.)  Of course, the kids loved it.
Basically, Annie Minute is a cross between Power Rangers, Josie and the Pussycats (or Jem), and something like Peabody’s Improbable History or the Bill and Ted cartoon. I envision it as a live-action show, though the lines between live-action and animation are bound to be even more blurred in the 2080s-90s than they are now.
47 (43) 1/11/1:25 The Cyborg Corps and Lady M are among the superheroes I created back in college when a friend had dragged me into his fantasy of starting up an indie comics company. This was part of the same creative period in which I developed plans for an Emerald Blair comics series, many characters and ideas from which ended up in Only Superhuman. Indeed, I originally developed Emerald’s backstory for the comics, intending to tell it over a series of five annuals. I may have been a wee bit overoptimistic. Once the bottom fell out of the indie comics industry — and once it became obvious my friend’s ambitions were all talk and no follow-through — I folded those ideas back into my prose plans for the character.
47-48 (44) 1/11/2:10ff All Richard and Lyra’s examples of the historical use of masks and dissguise are real. Much about the ninjas has been exaggerated, though; for instance, they didn’t really wear black, but just blended in with the commoners. The trope of black-costumed ninjas originated in Japanese theater, where the convention was for black-costumed stagehands to be treated by the actors and audience as invisible. Somewhere along the line, someone had the clever idea to subvert this convention and have an “invisible” stagehand suddenly turn on and assassinate one of the characters, as an illustration of the legend of ninja invisibility. This became a common theatrical trope and has influenced fictional portrayals of ninjas ever since.
49 (45-46) 1/11/6:00 Richard is in error to say that people lacked 3-D printers prior to the Molecular Revolution; they’re already becoming increasingly common today. Assume he’s either oversimplifying or misremembering.
50 (46) 1/11/7:25-1/12/0:05 In case anyone doesn’t know, J. Jonah Jameson is the nemesis of Spider-Man, Senator Kelly was an anti-mutant politician in X-Men comics and film, and Sentinels are giant mutant-hunting robots featured throughout the X-Men franchise.
54-55 (51-52) 2/1/0:15-1:00 Emry’s pursuits of the prudish Greenwood boys are based on things that a few girls in high school did to me at an age where they were more sexually mature and aggressive than I was. Although I was flattered and curious, I was also too inexperienced, shy, and socially clumsy to know how to cope. These boys are in much the same boat I was, besides which their upbringing was so prudish that they’re too embarrassed to admit their interest in what Emry is offering.
2/1/0:25 Audio: The reason the boy Emry’s own age is described as “younger” is because it follows a passage, deleted from the audiobook, about how the precocious Emry handles the advances of older boys.
56-58 (53-55) 2/1/2:55ff The sequence of Emry discovering her mother’s death is one I never altered after the first draft, aside from copyediting. I let it come out in a very visceral, stream-of-consciousness way, and never wanted to dilute that raw emotion by polishing it later.
Ch. 4: Trouble Shared
59ff (56ff) 2/2 The Pellucidar sequence is based on one of the stories I devised for the abortive Emerald Blair comic.
60-61 (57-58) 2/2/1:25-3:35 Originally this sequence had Emry battling a second fictional counterpart as well — her porn-parody version, Emerald Bare, who was useless in a fight because of her excessively top-heavy, wasp-waisted proportions. I intended her as a satire of the ludicrously exaggerated figures of comic-book superheroines, in order to underline that Emry was more realistic. I deleted the character when I trimmed the novel for length, finding it a little too crass, even though my intent was to mock that crassness.
64 (61) 2/2/7:20 From my notes again:Sam Murai, Private Eye was a Japanese-American private detective descended from a long line of samurai warriors.  He inherited a sword possessed by the spirits of his ancestors, which enabled him to transform into a superpowered, armored warrior. Sam Murai was a bizarre blend of the hard-boiled detective and martial-arts fantasy genres, and was widely criticized for its violence, repetitive plotting and general mindlessness.
Unlike Annie Minute, I see this as an anime, complete with a standardized, prolonged henshin (transformation) sequence when Sam changes.
66 (64)   n/a I was fortunate that the Dawn probe reached Vesta while this novel was still in copyedits, allowing me to incorporate a mention of the newly named Rheasilvia Basin and Rheasilvia Mons. The latter is the tallest mountain currently known in the Solar System, but there are many dwarf planets and maybe even full-sized planets in the outer system that we haven’t discovered or mapped yet, so I hedged my bets here by saying it was merely the tallest mountain humans had climbed.
2/3/2:55ff Audio: In the book, the sentence about Demetria’s neutrality is followed by one about Russell City’s, leading into the passage about Russell City’s docking bay. But the passage about Russell City’s neutrality is deleted in the audio, creating the confusing impression that the docking bay is at Demetria.
2/3/3:05 “Somewhere there is a crime happening” is a line from the film RoboCop, and was Robo’s catchphrase in the 1994 RoboCop: The Series. I’m a big fan of the series (one of the few, it seems), and incorporated the line as a nod to it, not remembering that it actually came from the original movie. But I suppose it’s more plausible that Emry would be familiar with the movie than the series.
68 (66) 2/3/6:05 Audio: The reference to Lodestar as “one of the founding Troubleshooters” is a misleading word choice on my part which I didn’t catch until the copyedit stage, too late to be fixed in the audio script. The final text in the print versions is “one of the original, pre-Corps Troubleshooters.” Lydia actually resisted Sensei’s initial efforts to recruit her into the TSC. Hopefully I’ll get to flesh this out in a later work.
73 (71)   n/a Bollywood Westerns, also called curry Westerns (by analogy with Italian spaghetti Westerns), are yet another bit of conjectural future pop culture; I assume there will be a Western fad in Indian film sometime in the next nine decades. The reason for all these pop-culture references is because I was tired of things like Star Trek where there never seems to be any Earth literature or entertainment from any later than the present day. Trek gives us characters who are fans of Dumas or Shakespeare or pulp detectives or Westerns or James Bond movies or Gothic novels or ’30s film serials, or who play classical music or jazz or dance-band standards, but never anyone who’s a fan of, say, Martian colonial literature of the early 2100s or the musical styles of the Space Boomer diaspora. I didn’t want to fall into the same trap; this novel is immersed in pop-culture geekery, so I wanted the pop culture of Emry’s own era to be lively and active as well. Although, like present-day pop culture, quite a lot of it is ridiculous and cheesy. It’s more fun that way. And admittedly it’s easier to create a bad idea than a good one.
Audio: Unfortunately, the bizarre blend of Hindi and Western accents I imagined for Cowboy (or rather, a Hindi interpretation of a cowboy accent) is easier for a novelist to describe than for a voice actor to create. Thus, the audio production substituted a more straightforward comedy-Western accent.
73 (72) 2/4/6:25ff I’m a little embarrassed by the discussion of predictive algorithms to anticipate trouble before it happens, because I present it as something fairly new in Emry’s time when in fact it’s already happening today. The problem with taking so long to get this book published is that reality caught up with me a lot faster than I expected. But perhaps it could be rationalized by assuming that the interconnected, open-sourced, web-linked society of Earth has been using these methods for generations while the more fragmented, self-reliant, hardscrabble Strider communities have not. I fear that doesn’t entirely hold up, though.
74 (72) 2/4/7:55 Yes, here’s a throwaway assumption that life has been discovered in other star systems by 2107, which seems highly likely to me. This probably includes Cybele, the planet targeted for colonization in my stories “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide” and “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele.”
74 (73)   n/a The one problem I’ve always had with the name “Troubleshooters” was the fear that the “shooter” part would be taken too literally, so I took care to address that here in the discussion of Cowboy’s attitude toward the use of force. Why call them that in the first place, then? At the time I conceived of this series in the late ’80s, there were two TV figures who used the title “troubleshooter.” One was the action hero MacGyver, a free-ranging solver of all types of problems, whose rather nebulous position with the philanthropic Phoenix Foundation was occasionally referred to by that term. The other was a local TV reporter in my city who investigated consumer complaints and exposed fraud, incompetence, hazardous products, and such. So to me, “troubleshooter” denoted someone whose job was to respond to crises and calls for help and find ways to fix whatever was wrong. That fit my desire to portray superheroes not as warriors or revenge-seekers, but as public servants and problem-solvers.
Ch. 5: Looking for Trouble
78 (77) 2/5/1:35 “Tin Lizzy” was the nickname (more properly spelled “Tin Lizzie”) of Henry Ford’s Model T. Apparently it was originally the nickname of a specific Model T, an underdog that won a 1922 race. It’s a bit of a stretch for a 22nd-century Strider to use the nickname, but it’s not easy to come up with fresh superhero code names.
2/5/2:40ff The main reason I established a limit on the level of intelligence a natural or synthetic brain could achieve was to justify why AIs like Zephyr had comprehensible minds instead of being vast superintelligences — and, in general, so I could justify writing about a future populated by recognizable, relatable beings. However, I believe there are valid arguments for the idea. In a lot of cases, mental illnesses are the result of normal brain processes being amplified to the point that they become excessive and counterproductive; for instance, too much imagination results in schizophrenia, too strong a patterning impulse leads to paranoia, etc. Our level of intelligence may represent a point of balance between a mind that’s too simple and one that’s too complex, too caught up in its internal activity, to engage practically with the external world. It’s also by analogy with physical evolution; we only have two eyes instead of six, four limbs instead of twelve, because the more excess organs you add, the greater the metabolic cost for a diminishing set of returns. Past a certain point, more isn’t better, and the same might be true of intelligence — at least, intelligence as we know it. This is an idea I hope to explore further in other fiction.
78 (78)   n/a The “Iwakura incident” is a nod to the amazing, mindbending cyberpunk anime series Serial Experiments Lain. As for the incident itself, that’s a story from Emry’s past that hopefully will see print one day.
79-80 (79) 2/5/5:15-5:40 Calling back the notes from Ch. 1 about personal combat vs. firepower, now we touch on why human beings are sent into danger at all instead of using combat drones. We’re increasingly reliant on drones even today, so the question is, why would Troubleshooters even be needed in the first place? Mainly because Troubleshooters aren’t soldiers. They’re general problem-solvers, which means they may be called upon to be rescue workers, detectives, diplomats, hostage negotiators, you name it. And of course they’re public figures as well, using their heroic personas to connect with the public, advocate for good causes, and win the trust and cooperation of wary Strider governments. Maybe they avoid sending in combat drones most of the time because they’re hoping to find less violent alternatives. Or maybe it’s part of the TSC’s general policy to avoid giving the appearance of a military — since by the 2100s, most militaries will probably consist largely of drones.
83 (83) 2/6/4:20ff This is my third published work in which I describe self-replicating (auxon) robots, after “Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele” and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder. I’m kind of proud that I was able to come up with a different design and a different replication mechanism each time.
86 (86)   n/a Dulcinea is named for Don Quixote’s fantasy woman in Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote and the musical Man of LaMancha. Nausicaa, while technically the name of a character from Homer’s Odyssey (and thus perhaps a sibling of sorts to Zephyr), is actually an homage to Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, one of the many anime references in the novel.
87 (87)   n/a In retrospect, the offhand manner in which I dealt with Elise’s rape history — particularly in the context of an otherwise playful, sexually oriented scene — comes off as rather trivializing. This was unintentional and I regret it very much. The thing is, I wanted this book to convey the impression of a comic-book crossover where characters with their own ongoing series drop in and the reader may get a glimpse of the storylines going on in their own books. More generally, I wanted it to feel like these other characters had their own lives and histories and ongoing storylines that we only glimpsed in passing (as seen more fully in the following scene). But that was not the best approach when it came to this particular subject matter, and I wish I’d handled it better — say, held off revealing it until Elise’s later scene where it would’ve been a better fit emotionally.
Then again, perhaps the phrasing fits Emry’s personality at this point. As established elsewhere in the book, her experience with sexuality has been positive overall and she has no firsthand understanding of what it feels like to be sexually vulnerable or victimized. So while she’d sympathize with Elise in the abstract, it would be kind of a detached, offhand sympathy. Her experiences later on might give her a deeper understanding.
93 (94) 2/7/9:05-9/15 Audio: Tai’s “Make sure the uniform stays on” is in reference to a line from the previous scene, deleted from the audiobook: “Emry was too reckless and too bad at hiding her emotions to be a decent poker player. That was why she only played strip; she didn’t mind losing.”
Ch. 6: Origin Stories: Banshee’s Cry
99 (101) 3/1/6:05 I’m not sure if Emry’s conclusion about the origin of the emeralds is accurate. The Dawn space probe has discovered evidence of hydrated minerals on Vesta, brought to it by cometary bombardment. I’m not sure if that water would’ve existed in circumstances that could’ve allowed the creation of emeralds, but all my conclusions about asteroidal gem formation are somewhat conjectural.
3/1/6:15 Emry’s pseudonym (and hairstyle) at this time are an homage to the redheaded Kei character from the Dirty Pair anime series.
100 (103) 3/2/1:20 Audio: “CA” stands for “collision avoidance.”
101 (103)   n/a Since there’s no actual gravity in a rotating space habitat, an object inside wouldn’t fall toward the ground normally, or at all if it were in vacuum. But with an atmosphere present, the rotation of the air pushes it sideways, which takes it farther from the axis and therefore “down” toward the inner surface — and the air is moving faster there, so it pushes the car sideways even harder, so it “falls” faster. To an observer in the habitat’s rotating frame of reference, it appears to follow a spiral path toward the ground.
107 (110) 3/3/3:55-4:15 Ruki’s foxlike appearance is an homage to Renamon from the anime Digimon Tamers (a kids’ show produced to sell toys, but from the same writer behind the aforementioned Serial Experiments Lain and thus surprisingly intelligent and dark). Renamon’s human partner was named Ruki in the original Japanese version of the series (renamed Rika in America).
108 (111) 3/3/5:50-5:55 Erratum (HC/Audio): “Hikkaku” actually translates as “Scratch,” not “Slash.” This is corrected in the paperback.
109 (113) 3/4/0:00 The Niihama habitat is named after the main setting of the Ghost in the Shell franchise.
3/4/0:15-1:05 Doc Kamiyama is named for the director of a different (and far more adult) anime series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The gynoid receptionist is a nod to the ubiquitous androids and cyborgs of that franchise’s setting. Dr. Shibumi is named for another Digimon Tamers character, though I didn’t realize it was actually his hacker nickname, a Japanese word meaning “effortless perfection,” rather than his surname (which was Mizuno). Apparently it can be a surname, but it’s rare.
Ch. 7: She Never Metahuman She Didn’t Like
115
(120)
  n/a The chapter title is a pun on Will Rogers’s famous aphorism “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
3/5/0:10 The Sundiver route is named in honor of David Brin’s Uplift-Universe novel of that name (probably in-story as well as in reality).
It’s been pointed out to me that I never described Zephyr‘s appearance. That’s partly because his class of ship is able to change configuration to adapt to different propulsion methods — deploying a magnetic sail for drive beams, a lightsail for the Sundiver route or laser propulsion beams, an inflatable aerodynamic shell for aerogravity assists, etc. He would probably also need some kind of ablative or aerogel shielding to guard against dust and micrometeoroid impacts, given the very high velocities at which he often travels through the Asteroid Belt. The fact is, I’m not a good enough designer to think up a suitable configuration that would have all these capabilities (and ideally still look cool).
117 (122) 3/5/2:05-2:25 If the casual nudism on Vanguard and elsewhere in the book seems gratuitous, keep in mind that many real cultures have much less of a nudity taboo than Americans have, or do not perceive nudity as automatically sexual. Indeed, America’s own nudity taboos have eroded considerably over the generations; you can wear things in public or show things on TV today that would’ve gotten you arrested in the 1950s. So in writing about a multicultural society a century from now, it stood to reason that attitudes toward nudity might be far more casual. I felt it was important to avoid treating future societies’ values and practices as identical to present-day America.
This is also part of my effort to find plausible justifications for superhero and adventure tropes — in this case, the skimpy outfits worn by comic-book superhumans. The justification? If those superhumans come from a culture without bodily taboos. Which makes sense for a culture like the Vanguardians, who take such pride in their physical perfection. Even the Vanguard leader is represented to the public by a fully nude, anatomically correct statue of himself in the habitat’s main square, and as we’ll see, he likes to wear outfits that bare his chest. This is a culture that sees nudity as elevating rather than demeaning. (As we’ll see later, Neogaians are also pretty much nudists, because of their back-to-nature philosophy.)
121 (127) 3/5/7:10ff Although Hanuman Kwan’s accent should be Australian, I wrote him with Roddy McDowall’s voice in mind. Yes, I know monkeys aren’t apes, but come on, it’s Roddy McDowall! (Audio: I find that Richard Rohan’s version of Hanuman reminds me of Tony Randall, which works almost as well.)
124 (130) 3/6/3:40 Of course the Moreau Foundation is named for H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, the seminal SF work about uplifting animals to higher intelligence.
126 (133) 3/6/9:20 Audio: I intended the name “Lydie Clement” to have a French pronunciation.
132 (139) 3/8/2:45-2/50 Audio: Erratum: The line here is supposed to be “Thus, she mostly remained quiet and observed,” not “unobserved.” Emerald Blair is not someone who would go unobserved even if she weren’t actively calling attention to herself.
Ch. 8: Psyche and Eros
139 (147) 3/8/6:50-7:30 For Psyche’s discussion of sex and political influence, I’m drawing on my college studies of world history, particularly women’s and subaltern history and the attempt of modern scholars to acknowledge women’s contributions that were formerly overlooked. What you learn from such a study is that women were much more influential than was usually acknowledged, because the men were writing the history books and thereby chose to paint the male sphere — politics and war — as the only one that mattered and devalue the traditional female sphere of family, hearth, and home. But in practice, women had enormous “informal” power in a variety of ways. They controlled marital decisions, which could have a profound influence on political alliances. They educated the young and taught them the values that guided their lives. They controlled the finances of the household and thus had considerable influence over economics and material culture. And, yes, they wielded influence through sexuality as well — another thing it suited the patriarchal agenda to discredit or denounce, but that feminist historians today are more inclined to acknowledge as a valid exercise of informal social or political power, or at least a way in which a nominally marginalized group were able to use the resources available to them to improve their lot in life. (More on Xishi; more on HurremLysistrata is the Aristophanes comedy about the woman who tried to end the Peloponessian War by convincing the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands until they agreed to stop fighting.)
At the risk of making the book sound more pretentious than it was intended to be, my goal here was to counter the often juvenile and exploitative use of sexuality in comics by approaching it from a feminist angle, informed by my college studies — to come up with a plausible reason why superpowered individuals of either sex might choose to use sexuality in their work, to apply it as a tool that pragmatically advanced their own goals rather than merely gratifying their spectators. As with so much else in the book, it was about taking an existing superhero or adventure trope and finding a valid reason for it, a more plausible way of handling it. The character of Psyche (and, as we’ll see, her father) is largely about exploring how sexuality can be a source of genuine power. I also wanted to refute the assumption that macho stuff like physical violence and intimidation is the most effective form of power. Personally I think brute force is the crudest application of power, and gentler, more subtle forms of social, psychological, and emotional persuasion can be far more potent. Which is why several of my published works (also including The Buried Age and DTI: Watching the Clock) feature characters whose ability to persuade through verbal and psychological manipulation or seduction gives them enormous control over others.
3/8/7:39-8:00 Psyche’s discussion of touch deprivation and social pathology is based on another college course, the human sexuality class taught at the University of Cincinnati by the late Professor Robert Hatfield. Here’s Dr. Hatfield’s paper on the role of touch and touch deprivation in human psychology, which pretty well sums up the ideas he conveyed in his course. These ideas informed the sexual politics of this novel, such as Lyra Blair’s emphasis on the positive, healing value of sexuality — a lesson that Emry needs to re-learn over the course of the novel, after years of using empty sex and promiscuity as a shield against emotional intimacy.
140 (148) 3/8/8:15-9:10 I haven’t decided whether Emry’s story about the ultra-Puritans is basically true or just a fabrication to set up the punch line. Probably closer to the latter.
Ch. 9: Thornes of a Dilemma
146ff (154ff) 4/1/3:40ff I had to be subtle about it here, since I didn’t want to give away the Thornes’ true intentions, but Psyche’s “playful trick” of getting Emry naked in front of Eliot is actually a step in the subtle brainwashing campaign she’s engaged in — making Emry feel exposed in order to wear away at her defenses. Psyche talks a good game about using sexuality as a positive force for building trust, but in fact she uses it exploitatively. Like most of the main antagonists in the book, her words represent a legitimate ideal but her actions betray it.
151 (160)   n/a Naturally, Psyche’s enhanced abilities enable her to project exactly the microexpressions, body language, and vocal inflections she wants, making her immune to attempts to read deceit by those means. Eliot can do the same to a lesser extent; he relies more on decades of practice at self-control and political persuasion.
153 (162)   n/a The “ancient whoevers” were the Gileadites described in the Bible (Judges 12:5-7), who used the Hebrew word “shibboleth” (meaning an ear of corn or a stream, depending on context) as a password to distinguish their own people crossing the Jordan River from enemy fugitives whose language lacked the “sh” sound and thus mispronounced the word. Emry’s problem with the pronunciation comes at the other end of the word because of her attempt to turn it into a verb. (Too many works of fiction have every character use language perfectly. I like to have them stumble and flub their lines sometimes like real people do.)
Ch. 10: Origin Stories: Great Power
159 (167) 4/3/0:00 I don’t recall my reasons for naming this habitat Bhaskara, but it was probably in honor of the great Indian mathematician/astronomers Bhaskara I and Bhaskara II.
162 (171) 4/4/0:00 Most of what I know about Chinese came from the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary, a site listing all the Chinese dialogue and signage used in that series and film. Joss Whedon had the right idea in trying to depict a blended, multicultural and multilingual future society, but he and his fellow writers took liberties by having the characters speak pure English except when they cursed in pure Chinese. In reality, the languages would quickly blend into a pidgin or creole rather than remaining segregated. That’s what I’ve tried to convey with the “Chinglish” here.
Audio: I’m unsure why the audiobook gives Peter a cowboy accent rather than a Chinese one. Perhaps they were thinking of Firefly too.
168 (179) 4/5/2:45 Why do Striders still use the Earth calendar anyway? Perhaps the question is, why not? Mars might use a different calendar fitting that planet’s cycles, but in Strider habitats, orbital cycles wouldn’t really mean that much, any seasonal changes would be artificially induced, and days would just be around a thousand-odd rotations. There’s no particular reason for them not to stick with the Earth calendar.
Ch. 11: Character Assassination
180 (192) 4/6/7:40 Audio: Emry’s line should be “See you in a few weeks,” not “days.” This is another error of mine that I didn’t catch until copyedits.
180 (193) 4/7/0:35 Zenj, or Zanj, was the medieval Arab name for the central East African coast, and is the source of the name Zanzibar.
182 (195) 4/7/4:20 Audio: Disregard the footstep sound effects as Blitz leaves the cavern; as stated earlier, the scene is in microgravity. The same error occurs at 5/3/0:15 (in Vanguard’s docking hub), 6/4/2:45ff (in Neogaia’s hub warehouse), 7/4/0:30 (aboard Zephyr, while thrusters are in use but not enough to permit walking), and in the final scene at 7/7/7:30 (aboard a coasting ship).
184 (196) 4/7/6:20-6:35 Audio: The lines from “And with his endorsement” to “when they come in” should actually be spoken by Emry, showing that she’s catching on. It still works reasonably well as a monologue by Psyche, however.
185 (198) 4/8/2:15 Gagaringrad, of course, is named for Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. No doubt its founders had more idealistic goals than the mobsters who later took root there.
186ff (199ff) 4/8/3:00ff At the time I wrote the assassination sequence, I knew less about snipers than I’ve subsequently learned from shows like Flashpoint and Mythbusters, and now I realize the situation I set up here was rather naïve. A skilled and well-equipped sniper, as Cowboy certainly is, could take a shot like this from kilometers away, so long as he had line of sight. And in a habitat like Gagaringrad (which my notes say is a Bernal sphere), he could have line of sight from virtually anywhere. So there would’ve been no need for Cowboy to be anywhere near the building his target was on. When I finally figured that out after it was far too late to rewrite the book, I thought I’d made a terrible mistake.But then I realized — Cowboy was sent to frame someone else for the assassination, so he deliberately “dumbed down” his methodology. He probably wanted the sniper’s nest to be easily found, and had most likely planted evidence there to implicate one of Lenski’s people. Not an entirely satisfying explanation for my blunder, and it doesn’t explain why Emry didn’t consider more distant buildings (though her inexperience might), but it’s something.
There’s another possible problem, though, involving a technology I only recently learned of. We’re already close to having smart bullets that can lock onto a target and maneuver in midair to track it. So even if Cowboy’s target was spooked at the last second, wouldn’t the bullet still have hit him? Well, Lenski’s electronic jamming around the rooftop would’ve probably been designed to interfere with smart bullets’ navigation. And even if that weren’t the case, a smart bullet wouldn’t be able to stop if someone got between it and its target.
187 (200) 4/8/4:05 Audio: The “curt whine of a Gauss rifle” described in the text is replaced here with a standard gunshot. While this is inaccurate, I suppose it was necessary for clarity.
Ch. 12: Crossover
192-3 (207) 5/1/3:00-3:15 It was important to me to establish that Emry had neither the opportunity nor the desire to seek vengeance on her mother’s killers. I hate revenge stories. Revenge is an ugly, destructive thing. It only perpetuates a cycle of cruelty and destruction, creating more pain rather than healing or ending it. So there’s nothing heroic about vengeance, and I don’t like stories about protagonists seeking it out. Besides, it’s such a hackneyed cliche. The noble hero finds the person who murdered his parents/spouse/child/babysitter, goes on a vengeful rampage with intent to kill, and has the villain at gunpoint/dangling off a ledge until the partner tells them “If you do this, you’ll be just as bad as they are,” whereupon the hero spends a tense moment debating whether to shoot/drop the bad guy, then finally spares him (whereupon half the time the bad guy then ends up dying from his own actions or karma or something). Every time, it plays out pretty much the same way, and it’s tedious as hell. So once I realized that Emerald’s backstory included the lingering question of what specific person actually shot her mother, I made sure to resolve the question in a way that decisively ruled out any possibility of such a cliched revenge tale.
Audio: Unfortunately most of this discussion is deleted from the audiobook, leaving only a passing reference to Emry not looking into it, with no explanation why.
194-5 (209) 5/2/1:45-2:50 Audio: I think I intended the reporter “Yee” to be male (following the precedent of actor Yee Jee Tso). From what I can find, while Yee is uncommon as a given name, it is generally used as a male name. But then, girls have been given male names before, and this is a multicultural future society, so who knows?
196 (212) 5/2/5:25-5:30 Audio: Here’s another minor manuscript error that I caught too late for the audiobook. The interval between Emry mentioning Arkady’s name and Zephyr interrupting in reply is about one second here (or three words, as I originally wrote it). But as stated earlier (at 4:57), Emry is “within a couple of light-seconds of Vanguard,” so I belatedly realized that Emry shouldn’t hear Zephyr’s interruption until around four seconds after she said “Arkady,” due to the signal lag time. So I added a few more words to the final print version (“I’m sure Arkady would understand if you wanted to—“). This only adds about one second, though, or maybe two if Emry spoke hesitantly (as Alyssa Wilmoth does here around “understand if”). But Zephyr could’ve gained nearly a second by extrapolating that she was going to say “Arkady” the moment she began to form the first vowel. Indeed, if he were following the signal from her transceiver implant, then he might be able to pick up the words as they form in her speech center before she even says them. Normally, out of courtesy, he would wait to respond until she actually finished speaking; but in this situation he might respond sooner to shorten the time lag, though not eliminate it altogether at this range.
Granted, though, the scene in the audio leaves out the communication lags completely. This is understandable poetic license.
200 (215) 5/3/4:10-4:35 I don’t hate the cliche of double-helix graphics on sci-fi or police-procedural monitor screens as much as I hate the cliche of revenge, but yeah, I get kind of sick of it.
Ch. 13: Bed of Thornes
204 (220) 5/4/1:30 The “Bugs maneuver” is, of course, a reference to Bugs Bunny. As I discussed in my interview on the Qwillery blog, Chuck Jones’s writings about Bugs Bunny and comic heroes were one of my inspirations for Emerald, who was my attempt to defy the conventional wisdom that villains are more fun or more interesting than heroes. (Audio: The “Bugs maneuver” description is deleted, but the maneuver itself, the kiss on the nose, remains.)
205 (222) 5/4/3:55 Audio: The “Terran upbringing” line is another mistake I caught too late for the audio, a leftover from earlier drafts before I decided that the Vanguard had begun in space. The corrected line in the print editions is “Perhaps to one who lived on Earth for a time, it seems a greater reward.”
207 (224)   n/a Again I had to keep it implicit, but the reason Emry so easily accepts that her budding romance with Psyche was just a friendship after all is because that’s what Psyche has conditioned her to feel, on orders from Eliot. First she made Emry fall for her, now she’s conditioning Emry to forget those feelings and fall for Eliot instead. It seems overcomplicated, but given the suspicions Emry came in with, it was easier for Psyche to win her trust and affection first and then transfer her loyalties to Eliot. (True, Emry’s been fantasizing about Eliot for years, but that’s just why she’d be on her guard about any feelings toward him.)
208 (225) 5/4/7:15 Audio: The line “Call your own vacking ambulances” was added for the audiobook, and I fear it rather ruins the joke. The setup line I wrote was “she . . . told them to call themselves an ambulance.” It’s a variation on the old “Call me a cab” joke. So her actual words would’ve had to be something like “Go call yourselves an ambulance,” or else the “call yourselves a few other names” gag wouldn’t follow.
210 (227) 5/5/2:40ff Audio: I intended Emry and Rachel’s conversation to be over brunch in Rachel’s home, but apparently I was vague enough about the location that the audio producers interpreted it as a lunch scene in a restaurant. Given the intimacy of their conversation, I suggest imagining that they’re in a private booth, at least.
Ch. 14: Origin Stories: Great Responsibility
213 (231) 5/6/0:00 The al-Khwarizmi Science Institute is named for the great medieval Persian mathematician who was responsible for introducing decimal numbers and algebra to the West, and whose name is the source of the word “algorithm.”
I chose to put the institute at the L3 point opposite Jupiter in its orbit because that’s probably the closest part of human-settled Solsys to Neptune as of December 2105. The Saturn L5 point (60 degrees behind Saturn in its orbit) would be closer, but human settlements are sparser that far out. Of course, orbital mechanics make it more complicated than straight-line distance, but with the kind of powerful drives available in this era, ships don’t have to rely solely on orbital trajectories.
5/6/0:55 The “Jones” reference is a personal in-joke. When I decided to create a character named Emerald, my first thought was that under no circumstances would I give her the last name Jones. There were already too many fictional characters with exotic first names paired with Jones: Star Trek‘s Cyrano Jones and Miranda Jones, Cleopatra Jones, Indiana Jones, Jughead Jones, Cirocco “Rocky” Jones (and her namesake, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger), and so on. “Chang” is meant to be along the same lines, one of the most common Chinese surnames (and thus one of the most common human surnames, period), although in the preferred modern transliteration it should be Zhang. But that won’t necessarily still be the case in Strider culture, so I let it slide.
214 (232) 5/6/1:50 All of Emry’s aliases are references to redheads from comics and animation. Kei was covered in Ch. 6. The other references are to Jean Grey (Marvel Girl/Phoenix), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle), Mary Jane Watson (Spider-Man’s love interest), and Disney’s Kim Possible.
216 (234)   n/a According to Dr. Laura Woodmansee’s book Sex in Space, bondage might become a fairly normative sexual activity in microgravity conditions, since some degree of restraint might be necessary for maintaining position and leverage in the absence of gravity. Thus it’s probably seen as less kinky for Striders than it is today — and even today it’s relatively commonplace.
221 (241)   n/a “Lana Gordon” is a reference to Lana Lang (Superboy’s love interest) and Barbara Gordon again.
223-4 (243-4) 5/7/7:25ff In the early, longer drafts of this novel, I ended this chapter with the scene I have Emry describe here, of returning home and resolving to become a Troubleshooter. Her break-in came in a fifth flashback chapter (after what’s now Ch. 16) which covered some of her Troubleshooter training. Once I realized the book was too bloated, one of the biggest cuts I made was the removal of most of that chapter, which contributed little to the story and which interrupted the building momentum of the narrative. Moving the break-in scene to here, and cutting out the earlier resolution scene, made it stronger since it created some ambiguity about whether Emry’s break-in had a nefarious intent.
224 (244) 5/8/1:10 Audio: The line in the text is “‘I owe you a lot,’ she said to Arkady.” I think that if she had addressed him by name here, just after she’s met him, she’d say “I owe you a lot, Medvyéd,” or “Mister Nazarbayev,” rather than “Arkady.” But the fault is mine; I carelessly referred to him as Arkady in a scene written from her POV before she would’ve learned to think of him that way. The audio scripter just followed my lead.
Ch. 15: A Many-splendored Thing
228 (248) 5/8/5:35 Audio: Emry should say “thirteen years” here, not twelve. Another manuscript error I didn’t catch in time for the audio.
230 (250-1) 5/9/1:50ff It’s an unfortunate irony that Rachel’s sincere efforts to help Emry heal and move past her emotional hangups have the unintended consequence of making her more vulnerable to Thorne’s manipulation of her emotions.
231 (252) 5/9/3:50-4:00 I never clearly specified how strong Emry is, but the statement that she can bench-press a tonne (1000 kg) in one Earth gravity helps us set a lower limit. From what I can find, the current world record for an unassisted or “raw” bench press (without the use of a bench shirt, a rigid garment that supports the muscles and augments the amount they can lift) for a woman in Emry’s weight class seems to be held by Vicky Steenrod at 275 lb/125 kg. Assuming Thorne was referring to what Emry could lift raw, that would make her 8 times stronger than Ms. Steenrod, at least where those particular muscles are concerned. And Emry’s training isn’t specialized for powerlifting but is more general, so that would probably make her even stronger overall. Not to mention that Thorne seemed to be talking about her typical performance, not a personal record. So as an adult Troubleshooter, with bionic upgrades on top of her Vanguardian mods, Emry might be at least 10 times the strength of an unenhanced female athlete of her size and build. That may be conservative, given some of what I’ve read about the possibilities of artificial muscle fibers. On the other hand, there are limits to how much stress the organs of even an enhanced body could endure.
By the way, the all-time raw bench-press world record is 323.4 kg by Scot Mendelson, who’s 6’1″ and over twice Emry’s weight. The assisted world record (with a bench shirt) is 487.6 kg by Ryan Kennelly, who’s about the same size and whose unassisted record is much lower. So going by what I figured before, that would make Emry nearly 4 times as strong as the strongest human beings alive today, and that’s without the added assistance her light armor would provide her (though she’d need to add sleeves to her armor to get the full effect). And that’s the lower limit. In any case, given all the bionic enhancements she’s added to her native strength, she might well be the strongest person in Solsys in proportion to her weight class, or at least right up there with the record-holders of her day. Indeed, she’s proportionally stronger than Thorne himself — but he has the advantage of being twice her mass and having greater height and leverage, as well as having decades more experience.
233 (253) 5/9/6:10 Ashoka was the greatest emperor of the Mauryan dynasty in India in the third century BCE. Originally a conqueror, he grew disgusted with the violence, converted to Buddhism, and devoted the rest of his reign to benevolent rule in service to his people. He was one of the first rulers in history to formulate the idea that rulers should serve their people instead of their own power and appetites.
233 (254) 5/9/6:20 Al-Bayyari is fictional, presumably a great Mideastern statesman/reformer who will arise sometime during the 21st century. I think that eventually a new generation must come along in the Mideast, reject the current nationalism and sectarianism, and work to build a new regional unity and prosperity. I had hoped that the Arab Spring of 2011 was the beginning of that process, but given the greater violence that has since erupted, it may take rather longer to come to fruition.
236 (257) 5/10/4:00-4:30 Androstenol and androstenone are real hormones, but parandrostenol is fictional, an outgrowth of future genetic and chemical engineering.
238 (259) 6/1/0:00 The registry number of Villareal’s shuttle, HV763M, is based on a Library of Congress call number. I wrote this scene in the university library, so when I needed a number, I grabbed it off a shelf near my kiosk. HV763 is for books on child welfare in Germany, and the M is the author’s last initial. (H is Social Sciences; HV denotes Social Pathology, Social and Public Welfare, and Criminology; and the 701-1420.5 range deals with children.)
  n/a Villareal’s lack of monogamy is somewhat inspired by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who stayed with his wife Majel Barrett for decades despite having many affairs (and who had been involved with her while still married to his first wife).
238-40 (259-61)   n/a Portions of the freefall sex scene, specifically the description of Psyche’s hair in freefall and the last half of the “two-body problem” paragraph, are recycled from the first spec novel I ever wrote. Though the book didn’t work out, I always liked that love scene and wanted to work some version of it into another book.
242-3 (264-6) 6/1/4:30ff I didn’t want to kill off Sensei — Emry had already lost one mentor and both parents, so it seemed excessive — but once I reached this point in the story, I realized it was unavoidable. For one thing, Emry was getting too complacent and domestic with the Thornes and I needed to restore tension and begin to reveal how dangerous Psyche really was. For another, I’d spent a few chapters setting up Sensei as Emry’s great hope for saving the TSC, and I realized there was no good reason why he wouldn’t intervene and solve things himself. He needed to be removed from the game in order for the story to play out as it needed to. These are the cold equations of drama.
Essentially, this is the end of the second act of the novel, which I’d say began in Ch. 5.
Ch. 16: Whose Side Are You On?
244 (267)   n/a The chapter title is a nod to the cult-classic TV series The Prisoner.
6/2/0:30 Should Emry actually have said that Sensei aimed himself away from Phobos, since the plasma exhaust would fire backward? I don’t think so. I believe my intent was that that the ship was some distance away from Phobos during Sensei and Psyche’s rendezvous and subsequently thrust toward it, passing within the safe radius for plasma-drive operation. There would be rules against using it within a certain radius regardless of which way it was pointed, due to the risk to the habitat and other traffic. Certainly if the ship had flown past Phobos, the exhaust would’ve been aimed more or less toward inhabited areas at that point.
248 (271) 6/2/4:00 This is our first indication that Tor Thorssen has resigned as an active Troubleshooter. Again, I’m going for the feel that the other characters have their own stories playing out offstage, while we only get occasional glimpses.
251 (274) 6/2/7:20 Audio: Erratum: The line here should be “She offered few suggestions of her own,” not “a few suggestions.” The intent is that Kari is reluctant to participate; she obeys, but doesn’t get actively involved beyond what’s strictly necessary.
253 (277) 6/3/1:45 Ferdinandea takes its name from Ceres Ferdinandea, the original name suggested by Ceres’s discoverer Giuseppe Piazzi in honor of his monarch, King Ferdinand III of Sicily.
260 (284)   n/a Giving Kari tessen fans as her trademark weapons was one of the last additions I made to the book, put in during the copyediting stage (and thus missing from the audiobook). Maybe it’s a little impractical, but the idea was just too beautiful to resist once it occurred to me. And tessenjutsu (fighting with war fans) is a real, if specialized, martial art, and it fits with Kari’s backstory. Since she was meant to be a concealed assassin, using weapons that initially seemed harmless would be in keeping with that. And it’s the sort of colorful, individualized skill that the TSC would like to play up, so long as it didn’t undermine the safety of the Troubleshooter or the people she had to protect. Besides, future technology could make it possible to design practical weapons in a variety of shapes.
262 (287) 6/4/5:20 Audio: Emry’s surprise that Kari and Maryam are working together is based on the tense history between the two women established in a scene deleted from the audiobook.
263 (288) 6/4/7:10 Audio: Tor shouldn’t be mentioned here, since the earlier Kari/Tai scene (in 6/2) established that he’d left the Corps. Another manuscript error I didn’t correct in time for the audio.
Ch. 17: Sex and Violence
266 (291) 6/5/2:25 Audio: Another glitch I didn’t catch in time: In the final text, “courier run to Demetria” became the vaguer “courier run to Ceres,” once I remembered the T-shooters snuck in on the ship from Ferdinandea. Maybe a run to Demetria could’ve been justified, but they probably would’ve played it safer and declared a different destination.
267 (292) 6/6/0:30 Audio: The line “How does she know I’m talking to you?” should be spoken by Zephyr, as he tries to push through the haze of obedience and get Emry to question Psyche’s actions. I suppose it could also work as presented here, showing that Emry is wrestling with doubts of her own.
270 (295) 6/6/5:00-5:15 When Psyche tells the story of her mythological namesake and how reality itself bent to her beauty, it reveals how perfectly her name was chosen in-story. But I have to admit, in reality it’s largely a happy accident. The character has been through many changes of identity and name over the two decades I’ve been developing this project. Originally in Troubleshooter, her mind-control powers were far more overt and potent, based on EM signals, and she was named Alicia “Brainstorm” Donner. Later on, I changed it to just Psyche, assuming (as Tai did earlier in the book) that the name only referred to the mind. When I started over with Only Superhuman, I replaced her EM mind control with the more plausible and subtle power set depicted herein; but initially, she was even more overtly seductive, and so I called her Sirène Thorne. Finally I decided to make her seductive abilities less blatant, to have her surface methods be more about social bonding and enhanced communication with the sexuality as more of an undercurrent. I felt that was a subtler and more plausible way to go. So Sirène no longer worked as a name, but I hesitated to go back to Psyche, fearing it would give away too much about her mind powers. So I read up on the name and its mythology to help me decide. The myth just drove home that it was the perfect name for the character after all. I had to use it, but I didn’t want to show my hand too soon. Fortunately I also found that Psyche is Greek for butterfly, so I played up the butterfly imagery as a red herring.
270 (296) 6/6/5:30 Audio: In the final edits, I changed the population of Solsys from “fifteen billion” down to “twelve billion,” which seemed more reasonable.
273 (299)   n/a I’m not sure if I named the Niihama delegate Ifukube after Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube, but it seems likely.
  n/a Note that the closing scene of this chapter is the first one written from Psyche’s point of view, the first time we get real insight into how she thinks. Naturally I couldn’t get inside her head until her secret was out. That’s often a good way to tell when a character is hiding something or not what they seem: if the writer avoids scenes from their POV.
275 (302)   n/a Emry’s difficulty keeping her clothes on is meant to be a running gag parallelling Captain Kirk’s frequent shirtlessness in Star Trek, and maybe a bit of a Barbarella nod as well. Kirk was one of my early role models for Emry, along with Bugs Bunny and my cat Natasha (a creature of pure impulse and intense appetites).
Ch. 18: Power Games
276 (303-4) 6/7/3:00ff I had to rewrite the opening paragraphs of this chapter after seeing the Mythbusters episode that debunked the efficacy of wading in a stream to elude bloodhounds.
I had an extensive debate with myself about how far to take Emry’s nudity in these next few chapters. Although I don’t shy away from sexiness and skin in most of the book, at this point Emry was in a more exposed and vulnerable situation, and I didn’t want her nudity to seem exploitative. But on the other hand I’d been using her clothing and nudity symbolically in much of the book. Her Green Blaze outfit is symbolic of her heroic identity, as superhero costumes generally are. As the Thornes lure her away from the TSC and undermine her sense of self, it’s symbolized by the loss of her uniform: first Psyche gets her out of it while trying to recruit her, and even more so when she first meets Eliot; then she dons her light armor again while she’s on the defensive and questioning the Thornes’ allegations, but once they win her over, she discards the armor and begins wearing Vanguardian attire (though this is glossed over in the audiobook). Now that Vanguardian affinity been stripped away, and she’s left exposed, having no allegiance to cloak herself with.  So that when she gets her uniform back later, the symbolic impact is enhanced.
I did seriously consider (and my editor did recommend) giving her a camisole at this point, but I felt that any upper garment would probably have gotten some of Psyche’s pheromones on it during their clinch before. So what I tried to do instead was to acknowledge her feelings of bodily vulnerability under the circumstances, to make her nudity less titillating and more a source of sympathy for the character — while also underlining that, under normal conditions, nudity per se was not something she or the people around her would’ve found troubling or threatening in any way. Context is everything.
But some people must be wondering: how well does Emry manage without a bra? With her proportions, running topless could be an inconvenience. Then again, she also has superhumanly strong ribs, back muscles, tendons, and ligaments and a superior resistance to pain and discomfort, so it seems likely that she can manage fairly well without support under normal circumstances. I did establish that the smart material of her light armor provides dynamic support without the need for undergarments, so she can manage under the more strenuous exertions of her work. But for the diplomatic meetings she was attending before this, she might’ve felt fine without a bra — and maybe her Vanguardian blouse provided its own built-in support. After all, the brassiere as we know it has only been in common use for a century, supplanting the corset in the West and, well, nothing most everywhere else. Who knows what the state of the art of women’s support garments may be a century hence?
278 (305) 6/8/0:05 Erratum (HC): Demodex brevis actually inhabits the sebaceous glands adjacent to follicles. The mite that inhabits the follicles themselves is called Demodex folliculorum (as stated in the audiobook).  In the paperback I chose to make it simply Demodex, since Zephyr couldn’t be sure which species Psyche used, and she could have used both (though D. brevis is smaller — the name basically means “short” — so D. folliculorum might be the more likely choice). This is the only dialogue alteration between the two print versions of the novel.
287 (316) 6/10/2:20ff The fictional trope of a bullet in the shoulder as a minor injury is generally nonsense; it can render the arm effectively useless, cause permanent nerve damage and loss of function, and be life-threatening if the bullet hits a major artery. However, it’s somewhat more justified that a superhuman like Thorne would react to being shot as merely an inconvenience, much as Emry’s able to shrug off a hairline wrist fracture. (Audio: Trust me, it’s a shoulder wound.)
288 (316) 6/10/2:45 Audio: At this point in the prose version, Rachel drapes her lab coat over Emry, who wears it until two scenes later at 7/2/1:45, where she sheds it in the lake to minimize drag.
Ch. 19: Everybody Out of the Gene Pool!
291 (320)   n/a This chapter title has been around since the very first draft of Troubleshooter, although it originally applied to an entirely different scenario. I’m pretty sure I included the lake sequence specifically so that I could use the chapter title.
292 (322)   n/a The Personal Digital Avian is, of course, the “little bird” who told Hanuman about Hijab as mentioned on p. 258 (282). (Audio: This reference is deleted, so Hanuman’s line at 6/3/9:07 goes unexplained.)
Ch. 20: Blood Ties
309 (340)   n/a The Symplegades were the clashing rocks faced by the Argonauts in Greek mythology — large rocks or cliff faces in the Bosphorus that actually moved and clashed against each other, a deadly obstacle course for mythological mariners.
311 (342) 7/3/8:00 I was in error (HC/Audio) when I said the shock wave slammed the lid shut. It’s a myth that shock waves push things, as the Mythbusters have shown. They really just pass over things. After all, a shock wave isn’t like a wind or anything — it’s basically a very intense sound wave, an increase in air pressure/density that propagates outward. Think of surfing. When a wave moves through the ocean, it doesn’t move the water forward, just lifts it up and down. A surfboard isn’t actually propelled forward by a wave; on the contrary, the surfer has to paddle forward and try to match velocity with the wave in order to stay atop it.
Upon further research, I’ve determined that it’s the initial blast wave from an explosion that exerts a pushing force. This is the highly compressed mass of air forced outward by the expanding gases of the explosion, and is the main cause of blast damage. This has been corrected in the paperback.
As before, the ability of the characters to survive events like being smashed around in the crate is justified by their superhuman durability. Bast has the added protection of being unconscious and thus completely limp, so her relaxed muscles would absorb the impacts better. Even if she weren’t unconscious, she probably has a cat’s instinct to relax in a fall. Nothing goes limp quite as well as a relaxed cat.
311-12 (342-3) 7/3/8:12-9:30 Audio: For the duration of this sequence, since they’re in vacuum, ideally there should be no sounds except narration and Zephyr’s voice in Emry’s head. The reason explosive decompression is called that is because it happens in one big burst rather than the steady wind so often depicted onscreen. So the warehouse and docking corridor should be airless almost immediately. But some poetic license may have been necessary here for clarity. It’s hard to tell a story in audio without sound effects.
315 (346) 7/4/4:40-5:00 That’s right, the countdown ends with roughly 20 seconds to spare. Take that, cliches! (Audio: For the record, “two minutes” comes at 2:49, “ninety seconds” is 44 seconds later at 3:33, “seventy seconds” is 26 seconds later at 3:59, and “thirty seconds” is 43 seconds later at 4:42, coming closest to the scripted interval—with the actual power-down coming at 4:56. In writing the scene, I read the dialogue aloud to make sure it could fit in the specified intervals, but naturally different people speak at different rates. Emry is a faster talker in my head.)
Ch. 21: Worth the Trouble
316 (348) 7/4/5:50-6:35 It bugs me that Kwan gets away unpunished after everything he’s done, but that’s often the way with supervillains — the evil plan is thwarted, but the villain escapes to menace another day. This will not be forgotten if there are sequels.
320 (353)   n/a Emry is in error to think of Zephyr’s avatar as a pegasus. Pegasus was the given name of an individual animal, the steed of Bellerophon. The name of the species is pterippus (literally, winged horse). But if I’d called him that, few readers would know what the hell it meant. Nor would Emry have reason to know that term.
323 (355-6) 7/6/1:05 The plot twist of how Tai is brought down is partly a subversion of the genre’s tropes and the audience’s expectations, and an opportunity for some much-needed comic relief. It’s also because the real climax of the book has already happened and I needed to get the loose ends tied up quickly. Plus it’s a way to give Sally Knox some payoff, and to reinforce the idea that the other Troubleshooters are heroes in their own right rather than just supporting players in Emry’s story. (I get so tired of the Enterprise or other hero ships in Star Trek always being the only ones who ever achieve anything important.)
324 (357) 7/6/3:30 I never came up with a name for Tai’s coalition. It wasn’t really important to the story, since Tai was the only one we ever saw.
7/6/4:00 The Sheaf’s capital is a small Bernal sphere because it’s one of the oldest Cerean habs (as is Demetria).
326-7 (359-60) 7/6/6:55-8:03 Emry’s speech about Jeanette LaSalle is the largest surviving piece of the original Troubleshooter spec novel (though less than half of it is heard in the audiobook). I’ve always hated seeing death in fiction treated as a casual, unimportant plot device. Having lost my mother when I was young, I can’t think of characters dying without thinking of the families and friends who survive them and mourn them. What might seem like the incidental demise of a redshirt or spear-carrier is going to be the greatest tragedy in somebody’s life. I feel it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise, to treat a death as though it doesn’t matter. But there was a scene in Troubleshooter that opened with a villain standing over the corpse of a guard who’d been killed to free him, and after writing it, I regretted how dismissive I’d been of that guard’s life. So after Emry recaptured the villain, she told him all about the guard, Jeanette LaSalle. It’s a piece of writing I’ve always been very proud of and didn’t want to abandon. So when I had the dancer in this version of the novel become an incidental victim of Cowboy’s assassination attempt, I decided she would be the new Jeanette LaSalle. (I also tried to acknowledge the nameless Neogaian guard’s death back on p. 316, but unfortunately I had to keep that one more basic. As much as I’ve tried to avoid ever trivializing death, I’ve found over the years that sometimes there’s just no room to give every character’s demise the commemoration it deserves.)
 Appendix B
346 (383)  n/a Erratum (HC): The orbital radius figure for Juno is missing. It should read “2.67” (in AU). This is corrected in the paperback.
349 (387)  n/a There is more to Sol System than indicated here, of course — much more than we ever used to think. Beyond Neptune is the Kuiper Belt of cometary bodies, including Pluto and other dwarf planets, and beyond that is the scattered disc and other assorted bodies until we get to the Oort Cloud, which stretches out to maybe a light-year from the Sun. We’re only just beginning to discover what’s out there; for all we know, there could be full-size planets we haven’t discovered yet. Today we think of the region between the Main Asteroid Belt and the Kuiper Belt as the outer system, but in Emry’s time, it’s more likely to be considered the middle part of the system, with the outer part being everything from the Kuiper Belt outward. I considered adding a further portion to the geography appendix to indicate this, but nothing beyond Neptune was ever relevant to the novel, and the focus of the appendix is on the locations referenced in the book (otherwise I would’ve mentioned the solar power satellites sharing Mercury’s orbit and the free-floating research colonies in Venus’s upper atmosphere). It’s doubtful there’s any human presence in the Kuiper Belt or beyond in Emry’s time. At least, not permanently.

Only Superhuman audiobook cast (in order of appearance)

  • Narrator: Nanette Savard
  • Bast: Tracy Lynn Olivera
  • Erich Krieger/Wulf: Richard Rohan
  • Taurean: Thomas Keegan
  • Emerald Blair/Green Blaze: Alyssa Wilmoth
  • Arkady Nazarbayev/Medvyéd: James Konicek
  • Yukio Villareal/Sensei: Christopher Scheeren
  • Koyama Hikari/Tenshi: Yasmin Tuazon
  • Lyra Blair-Shannon: Elizabeth Jernigan
  • Zephyr: Thomas Keegan
  • Sally Knox: Nanette Savard
  • Vijay Pandalai/Arjun: Eric Messner
  • Marud Pandalai/Bhima: Nick Depinto
  • Lydia Muchangi/Lodestar: Tracy Lynn Olivera
  • Gregor Tai: Evan Casey
  • Maryam Khalid/Hijab: Nora Achrati
  • Sanjay Bhattacharyya/Cowboy: David Coyne
  • Elise Pasteris/Tin Lizzy: Kimberly Gilbert
  • Juan Lopez/Jackknife: Joe Brack
  • Javon Moremba/Thrust: Ken Jackson
  • Jahnu Kwan/Hanuman: Richard Rohan
  • Psyche Thorne: Colleen Delany
  • Eliot Thorne: Elliot Dash
  • Daniel Weiss/Overload: Joe Brack
  • Ruki Shimoda/Hikkaku: Kimberly Gilbert
  • Detective Barbour: Tracy Lynn Olivera
  • Bimala Sarkar: Kimberly Gilbert
  • Aaron Donner/Blitz: Joe Brack
  • Rachel Kincaid-Shannon: Barbara Pinolini
  • Dr. Monica Railey: Nora Achrati
  • Ken Auster/Paladin: Terence Aselford
  • Additional Voices: Thomas Penny, Michael John Casey, James Lewis, Joel David Santner, Steven Carpenter

Thanks to Nanette Savard and Anji Cornette of GraphicAudio for providing the casting information.

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