I’m so happy to be bringing you an excerpt from the forthcoming book BLIGHT by Alexandra Duncan. See below for information about the book, and a chance to win a copy!
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.
From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called “Brilliant, feminist science fiction” by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion.
Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again.
Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.
About Alexandra Duncan
Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
You can visit her online at http://alexandra-duncan.com/
1 winner will receive a signed hardcover of BLIGHT, US Only.
And now, here’s the excerpt!
I brace the rifle against my shoulder and press my eye to the sight. The night pulses with cricket chirps and the deep, throaty calls of frogs somewhere in the neighboring forest. The moon has long gone down.
“Two scavengers outside the south perimeter,” I mutter into my coms. “Engage?”
“Hold.” Crake’s voice crackles back to me. “Scanning.”
The wind stirs, lifting my hair and carrying the scent of new corn over the company fields, up to the guard nest where I stand. I pull back my rifle’s bolt and chamber a round in preparation, then follow the scavengers with my scope. There are two of them this time, thin things in drab clothes, about 30 yards out. One male, one female. They run forward at a crouch.
“Approaching the fence,” I tell Crake.
Metal glints in the moonlight. I refocus my scope. One of them – the man – clutches a pair of wire cutters. The other one will have the sacks, then. She scuttles through the brush, two hanks of long, matted blond hair escaping her hood.
“Permission to engage.” Crake’s voice flares in my headset. “Looks like we have some repeat offenders out tonight. Fire when ready.”
I steady the rifle and find the man’s forehead in my sights. He kneels beside the fence, already making fast work of the chain links beneath the first run of razor wire.
“Gotcha.” I move my finger to the trigger.
Just then, he whips his head up to say something to his accomplice and the moonlight catches his face. He’s young. My age, maybe a little older. His dark hair sticks up as though it’s been cut with a blunt knife. The girl grips his hand and strokes the back of his palm with her thumb. My throat closes.
“Tempest.” Crake’s voice cuts in. “What are you waiting for? Take them out.”
I swallow and refit my eye to the scope. The boy has cut two of the links already. Any second, they’ll have a hole big enough to wriggle through.
Old enough to know better, I try to talk myself up to it. Old enough to have made his choice. He’s stealing the company’s lifeblood, stealing the food straight from my mouth. He’s a shirk, a parasite, living off hardworking people. But for some reason, I can’t shoot.
“Tempest!” Crake shouts. “You deaf, girl? Fire.”
His voice jolts me into action. On instinct, I drop my sight from the boy’s head to his hand and fire. The cutters fly from his fingers exactly as the rifle’s recoil jostles my shoulder, ruining my view. A smothered yelp echoes through the night.
“Did you get them?” Crake is in my ear again. “Are they down?”
I swing my scope over the dense brush, trying to find them. There, the fence. A four-link section partially pried up from the dust. I scan the no-man’s land between the fence and the woods. A flash of white flits through the weeds. The girl’s hair in the moonlight. They’re doubling back to the forest.
A burst of static crosses my coms. “Tempest—”
“Negative.” I trail the rifle’s sight across the field, closer to the tree line. “They’ve gone rabbit.” A stir of movement. Found them.
“Shit,” I mutter. Now all I can do is make this look good enough to keep a reprimand off my file. “I’m on it, Crake. Just let me do my job.”
I snap off my coms and focus on the pair running full tilt for the trees. The boy cradles his right hand against his chest as the girl pulls him along through the dark. I aim low and fire into the dust at their feet. Clods of dirt kick up as the rifle cracks again and again. The scavengers burst forward, hands locked. I fire a final shot, high this time. It sinks into one of the trees, spraying bark as they finally cross beneath the arms of the oaks bordering the wood. And like that, they’re gone.
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