is a science fiction novel by Kevin J. Anderson
. Anderson sent the novel to Brian Herbert
as a sample of his work in order to let him collaborate on the post-Frank Herbert Dune
This novel provides examples of:
- Designer Babies: The Truthsayers are a group of genetically-engineered people trained from birth with the use of the Veritas drug. While it is possible for a normal person to use the drug, the results are unpredictable. However, not all trainees become Truthsayers, meaning the genetically-engineered process is not perfect.
- The secondary purpose of the genetic engineering is to keep Truthsayers separate from any familiar relationship with any of the rulers.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Truthsayers wear white robes and spend their days training their mental abilities, not worrying about things like food, which are provided to them. They live in a temple with hydroponic gardens. Averted for everyone else, though. Most people live in squalor.
- Dirty Mind-Reading: The Big Bad has sex with his mistress and takes a dose of Veritas in order to read her thoughts during the experience. To his surprise (and anger), he sees that she's fantasizing about having sex with his cook and, in a fit of rage, chokes her to death.
- Feudal Future: The Atlas colony is divided into several territories ruled by local lords, usually descended from the officers of the original colony ship. Most people don't live in very nice conditions, while the lords live in palaces. All territories are connected via a hub where the Truthsayer temple is located along with the Space Elevator.
- Living Lie Detector: The Truthsayers.
- Meaningful Name: The drug Veritas (Latin for "truth"), used to make Living Lie Detectors.
- Mindfire is a deadly mutation of Veritas that literally fries a person's brain. Unlike Veritas, Mindfire is airborne.
- Mind Rape: Near the end of the novel, the head of the Truthsayers does this to The Dragon in order to find the location of the Big Bad. The dragon is left a vegetable.
- The reverse happens near the beginning, when the female protagonist reads the mind of a fanatical killer who's convinced that he was doing what's right. Being in his mind is too much for her, and she suffers from Heroic BSOD after that.
- This is why Veritas is illegal for anyone except for the Truthsayers, as those using it can forcibly extract secrets from others.
- Miscarriage of Justice: The plot revolves around a man wrongly convicted in a justice system where the use of Living Lie Detectors is supposed to make wrongful convictions impossible.
- It should be noted that only capital crimes are brought before the Truthsayers. Smaller offenses are handled by local Magistrates, some of whom are washed-out Truthsayers.
- Mistaken Confession: A mental version. Troy's feelings of guilt over breaking into the office after hours in order to file a late report is interpreted by Kalliana as admission to the murder of Troy's boss. Normally, Truthsayers are trained to distinguish the different thoughts and feelings, but Kalliana has recently been traumatized by the mind of a crazed killer and the supply of Veritas used by the Truthsayers has been diluted.
- My Grandson Myself: Done by the villain, who uses a cryopod to become a Human Popsicle for a few years before re-emerging to see how things are progressing.
- This has the side effect of making him sterile, although he has managed to spread clone embryos of himself throughout the colony.
- The villain is actually one of the captains of the original colony ship.
- Oh Crap: As the leader of the Truthsayers is scanning the Big Bad's mind, discovering all his plots, he finds out that not only is he the Big Bad's clone but that the Veritas capsule he took is laced with Mindfire. He dies a few seconds later.
- Penal Colony: Criminals sentenced to life without parole are sent to a small orbital lab that grows the Veritas drug. The job is extremely dangerous, due to a small but ever-present chance of mutation into the deadly (and airborne) Mindfire variety, which kills almost instantly. If a mutation is detected, the compartment is automatically vented into space, along with any prisoner working there.
- Space Elevator: The elevator to the space station is located at the center of the colony. It is the only means the colonists have of going to the station and from it. The Big Bad blows it, and the station, up at the end.
- Telepathy: The Truthsayers use the Veritas drug, which temporarily increases their brains' receptive abilities, allowing them to detect another brain's EM impulses (i.e. read thoughts).
- The War of Earthly Aggression: This almost happened to the Atlas colony. A regime change on Earth resulted in the new government sending a warship to take control of the remove colony. After two decades of traveling, during which the captain of the warship successfully convinced the colonists that they were merely another colony ship, the ship arrives in orbit. One of the delegates sent from Atlas just happened to be the first guy to experiment with Veritas. He shakes the captain's hand and instantly realizes the truth. During the tour of the ship, he gets on the bridge and uses the command codes he learned from the captain to set all missiles to explode in their tubes, if the soldiers don't surrender. The soldiers are forced to join the colonists, while the ship is brought down and turned into the temple for the new Truthsayer caste (the missile tubes are used to water plants).