The Ariadne Cycle #1
by Grey Wolf
Beholder is the earliest surviving story by Grey Wolf, dating to 1995 or 1996 and written on a hired Olivetti PC, running Windows 3.1. It was saved mini-chapter by mini-chapter on floppy discs and, over the almost two decades since, several attempts were made to put it together to make a cohesive whole. Once the rented PC was returned to Radio Rentals, only these floppies remained, and thankfully the files remained viable, and were frequently copied, so that when it was finally decided to compile it as the first full-length novel to independently publish, it was possible – but not easy.
It is probable that some mini-chapters are lost for ever. The numbering sequence would often jump to the next decade number, or even the next century number, to mark a significant shift in plot development, but where a numeral was missing in mid range (eg between 115 and 119) then it is highly probable that this marks a lost part of the story.
Nevertheless, Beholder is a cohesive story that reads perfectly and easily as a novel in its own right. What is lost, is sad but has not been seen for perhaps fifteen years, and the story without these few additional mini-chapters works fine as an example of grand space opera.
Most of the action in Beholder takes place in Station One, a world in miniature where criminal organisations, not all outside the governing structure, plot to gain advantage. Into this comes on the one hand Joban, an adventurer looking for a crew and an adventure to go on, and Admiral Locust Huws upon the battlecruiser Hyperion, sniffing that something is wrong, something is a-stinking at Station One.
Vignettes in Beholder see visits to the Imperial Senate and the Imperial Palace upon the Moon, and the ship of Joban as it encounters the Delh aliens. Story threads unite, and we soon see the Delh at Station One, a war in the offing and the characters we have come to know caught up in this. Station One is vulnerable, it is a man-made world in miniature that can be destroyed as it could be constructed.
Key among the characters are Vorp, leader of a criminal cartel, Marat, one of his young lieutenants, and Tarli, an eleven year old girl, used as a runner in normal times, but accompanying Marat as a scout as the mission unfolds.
Character interplay, the alien menace, political skullduggery, and the aftermath of disaster, see Beholder reach the stars where space opera is concerned.
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