Read Atlantis and Other Places Online

Authors: Harry Turtledove

Atlantis and Other Places

Table of Contents
Ruled Britannia
In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Days of Infamy
End of the Beginning
Opening Atlantis
The United States of Atlantis
Liberating Atlantis
The Chernagor Pirates
The Bastard King
The Scepter’s Return
Published by New American Library,
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
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First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, December 2010
Copyright © Harry Turtledove, 2010
All rights reserved
Story copyrights can be found on page 441.
Turtledove, Harry.
Atlantis, and other places/ Harry Turtledove.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47509-6
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Science fiction writers often read a wide variety of books. I was going through one on the ecology of New Zealand before humans arrived when it noted that New Zealand had drifted away from Australia about 85 million years ago. It occurred to me to wonder what would have happened if the same thing had happened to a large chunk of eastern North America at more or less the same time. Suppose that chunk had no native mammals except for bats. Suppose the Native Americans never found it—it would be in the middle of the Atlantic, after all. When Europeans came along, they’d almost certainly call an immense island right there Atlantis. ...
Delicate as if walking on eggs, the riverboat
Augustus Caesar
eased in alongside the quay at New Orleans. Colored roustabouts, bare to the waist, caught lines from the boat and made her fast. The steam whistle blew several long, happy blasts, telling the world the sternwheeler had arrived. Then black smoke stopped belching from the stacks as the crew shut down the engines.
The deck stopped quivering beneath John Audubon’s feet. He breathed a silent sigh of relief; for all the time he’d spent aboard boats and ships, he was not a good sailor, and knew he never would be. Any motion, no matter how slight, could make his stomach betray him. He sighed—a long sea voyage still lay ahead of him.
Edward Harris came up and stood alongside him. “Well, my friend, we’re on our way,” he said.
“It’s true—we are. And we shall do that which has not been done, while it may yet be done.” As Audubon always did, he gathered enthusiasm when he thought about the goal and not the means by which he had to accomplish it. His English was fluent, but heavily flavored by the French that was his birthspeech. Even with an accent, he would have spoken more mushily than he liked; he was nearer sixty than fifty, and had only a few teeth left. “Before long, Ed, either the great honkers will be gone from this world or I will.”
He waited impatiently till the gangplank thudded into place, then hurried off the
Augustus Caesar
onto dry land, or something as close to dry land as New Orleans offered. He was a good-sized man—about five feet ten—with shoulder-length gray hair combed straight back from his forehead and with bushy gray side whiskers that framed a long, strong-nosed face.
Men and women of every color, wearing everything from rags to frock coats and great hoop skirts, thronged the muddy, puddled street. Chatter, jokes, and curses crackled in Spanish, French, and English, and in every possible mixture and corruption of those tongues. Audubon heard far more English than he had when he first came to New Orleans half a lifetime earlier. It was a French town then, with the Spanish dons hanging on where and as they could. Times changed, though. He knew that too well.
Not far from the Cabildo stood the brick building that housed the Bartlett Line. Edward Harris following in his wake, Audubon went inside. A clerk nodded to them. “Good day, gentlemen,” he said in English. A generation earlier, the greeting would surely have come in French. “How may I be of service to you today?”
“I wish to purchase passage to Atlantis for the two of us,” Audubon replied.
“Certainly, sir.” The clerk didn’t bat an eye. “The
Maid of Orleans
sails for New Marseille and Avalon on the west coast in . . . let me see . . . five days. If you would rather wait another week, you can book places on the
Sea Queen
for the east. She puts in at St. Augustine, St. Denis, and Hanover, then continues on to London.”
“We can reach the interior as easily from either coast,” Harris said.
“Just so.” Audubon nodded. “We would have to wait longer to leave for the east, the journey would be longer, and I would not care to set out from Hanover in any case. I have too many friends in the capital. With the kindest intentions in the world, they would sweep us up in their social whirl, and we should be weeks getting free of it. The
Maid of Orleans
it shall be.”
“You won’t be sorry, sir. She’s a fine ship.” The clerk spoke with professional enthusiasm. He took out a book of ticket forms and inked his pen. “In whose names shall I make these out?”
“I am John James Audubon,” Audubon replied. “With me travels my friend and colleague, Mr. Edward Harris.”
“Audubon?” The clerk started to write, then looked up, his face aglow. “
Audubon? The artist? The naturalist?”
Audubon exchanged a secret smile with Edward Harris. Being recognized never failed to gratify him: he loved himself well enough to crave reminding that others loved him, too. When he swung back toward the clerk, he tried to make the smile modest. “I have the honor to be he, yes.”
The clerk thrust out his hand. As Audubon shook it, the young man said, “I cannot tell you how pleased I am to make your acquaintance, sir. Mr. Hiram Bartlett, the chairman of the shipping line, is a subscriber to your
Birds and Viviparous Quadrupeds of Northern Terranova and Atlantis
—the double elephant folio edition. He sometimes brings in one volume or another for the edification of his staff. I admire your art and your text in almost equal measure, and that is the truth.”
“You do me too much credit,” Audubon said, in lieu of strutting and preening like a courting passenger pigeon. He was also glad to learn how prosperous Bartlett was. No one but a rich man could afford the volumes of the double elephant folio. They were big enough to show almost every bird and most beasts at life size, even if he had twisted poses and bent necks almost unnaturally here and there to fit creatures onto the pages’ Procrustean bed.
“Are you traveling to Atlantis to continue your researches?” the clerk asked eagerly.
“If fate is kind, yes,” Audubon replied. “Some of the creatures I hope to see are less readily found than they were in years gone by, while I”—he sighed—“I fear I am less well able to find them than I was in years gone by. Yet a man can do only what it is given to him to do, and I intend to try.”

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