I am so pleased today to reveal the cover of my upcoming collection, Telling the Map. The art is by the wonderful Kathleen Jennings, and I couldn't be happier with what my publishers at Small Beer Press have done with the design. The concept for the cover originated with Gwenda Bond, who was inspired by the maps of Pauline Baynes.
The book, due out July 11th, collects ten of my stories, one of which—a forty thousand word novella—is new. The new novella is "The Border State," a prequel to my Hugo- and Nebula-nominated story, "The Voluntary State," and here, friends, is the opening.
Look down on the Liberty Hills of Kentucky where they spring up north of the traitorous, twisting Green River. Look down on untended fields and tumbledown houses; look for a clean pavement line stretching along a ridge top, a road punctuated by empty churches and empty stores.
See twin bicyclists, working hard. The gold of their jerseys matches the springing hawkweed crowding the lowland fields, the blue of their shorts is a half dozen shades deeper than the cloudless sky.
Here is the brother, Michael, a sprinter. His legs are sculpted pistons, bunched muscles that push and demand, exhort and explode. Michael is an unsubtle cyclist, capable of terrifying speed along the flats, of finishing spurts that demoralize other riders and electrify the Viewers at Home.
Here is the sister, Maggie, a climber. She dances—this is the parlance of commentators—she dances on the pedals. She is a bird with strengths hidden and unhidden, with secret discipline and public fire. She breathes metronomically; she pedals in perfect circles.
This day above the Green, they trained for a race they might not ride. They awaited trustworthy word but had given up hope of anything but an unremarkable day in the saddle.
Then Michael killed a telephone.
The book is available for preorder here or at the usual online retail places.