By Wu Ming
Whilst a fireplace rips during the Venetian Arsenal in 1569, the enigmatic Emanuele De Zante, spy-catcher and secret agent, is betrayed by way of his lover, imprisoned, and accused of treason. Given the opportunity to flee, he embarks on a trans-European odyssey that would attempt his loyalty and strength him to query even his own identity.
via a sequence of lethal political video games top the entire technique to the Sultan’s palace in Constantinople, De Zante and his partners spiral headfirst toward a clash within which the good empires of the Republic of Venice and the Ottomans threaten the very foundations of civilization.
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I mean it's not that old thing again, is it, when people asked why men climbed Mount Everest and they said, “Because it's there”? I never understood. ' Five minutes, he thought. Time ticking . . his wrist-watch . . a wheel in a wheel . . little wheel run by . . big wheel run by . . way in the middle of . . four minutes! the men snug in the rocket by now, the hive, the control board lit like Christmas morning. . His lips moved. 'All I know is it's really the end of the beginning. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age; from now on we'll lump all those together under one big name for when we walked on Earth and heard the birds at morning and cried with envy.
It was white as the whitest vanilla ice-cream, as the bottled milk in tenement halls at dawn. White as a winter cloud all alone in the moonlit sky late at night. Seeing it here in the warm summer night room made their breath almost show on the air. Shutting his eyes, he could see it printed on his lids. He knew what colour his dreams would be this night. 'White . . ' murmured Villanazul. ' 'Say that again,' said Gomez. Villanazul, proud yet humble, was glad to repeat his tribute. ' . . ' Shocked, the men whirled to see Vamenos in the door, wine bottles in each hand.
Manulo, Dominguez, Villanazul, Gomez, and at last, Martinez stepped on to the scales which flipped ink-stamped cards at them as Vamenos, still smiling, wildly fed pennies. Heart pounding, Martinez read the cards. 'One hundred thirty-five pounds . . one thirty-six . . one thirty-three . . one thirty-four . . one thirty-seven . . ' They all smiled upon that genius who now circled them with his arms. ' he wondered. 'All the same size, all the same dream — the suit. ' 'I haven't looked beautiful in years,' said Martinez.
Altai: A Novel by Wu Ming