Gunpowder
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Gunpowder

by Joe Hill
Release date: 2008
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction

A novella. Cover art by Vincent Chong.

Because he didn't have The Talent – because of his random, pointless, terrible, irrevocable difference – Charley's brothers could be brutal to him, if they could get him alone. Even Jake could be cruel, could be talked into cruelty, if it was presented properly. Or no, that wasn't right. No one could talk Jake into anything. He was serenely above the persuasive force of social pressure. And yet it was Jake's weakness, that he could talk himself into doing terrible things, if he felt some greater, probably illusory, good might be served.

So it happened one day when she went with Jake and Niles and Charley to service the core, which wasn't its good old self these days. Every few months it would get stuck, just when it was shifting into an automated maintenance cycle, so that it couldn't restore software or optimize the system... or shut down the rods to dump heat. Which meant the cycle had to be completed manually.

”What happens if the rods overheat?” Jake asked Elaine once.

”About a third of the planet would go up in a flash of light bright enough to blind God,” she told him.

Welcome to Gunpowder, a 22,600-word novella from Joe Hill... set in the far reaches of space on a small planet that serves as a home for a very special band of children.

updated 2017-02-03

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