Written by Mary Fan
Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar
Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam,
kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to
report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin,
believes her account.
Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the
woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that
causes him to be framed for murder.
With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee
with Devin, racing through the most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches
for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about
both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the
people she loves.
All the More Perfect
“Story older than the skies,
“It’s been told ten thousand times,
“Not the first, won’t be the last,
“Same old tale in different rhymes.”
As Devin entered Sarah’s apartment, he noticed she’d left her demo song playing on her
digimech. She must’ve left in a rush.
“Still, there’s something to be said,
“Maybe something to be heard,
“Faiths adrift in falsehoods found,
“Meanings lost within a word.”
Sarah’s voice shimmered in the air, rich as emeralds, glowing softly like a distant star—
perfect. Devin was certain she would make it as a singer.
The door closed behind him. Outside the window, airtrains on ribbon-thin rails and flying
transports swam around Kydera City’s gleaming skyscrapers.
A Moray spacecraft soared across the atmosphere, its serpentine form heading toward the
resplendent headquarters of the Interstellar Confederation in the heart of the Silk Sector. Gray
diplomatic markings. Probably the delegation from the Wiosper system.
Devin pulled his black slate out of his pocket, unfolded it from its triangle shape, and
snapped it flat. The silvery touchscreen glowed. He checked the time at the top, then realized he
had no idea when Sarah would be home. He considered calling her, but he didn’t want to risk
disturbing her in the middle of something important. The workday hadn’t ended yet.
All he could do was wait. He might be there for hours, or she might walk through the
door the moment he looked up. Either way, the thought of seeing the woman he loved terrified
him. He had stared down laser guns and betrayed warlords, knowing how deadly the
consequences could be, and yet a mere question had him pacing and almost shaking in fear.
Sarah DeHaven, will you marry me?
Every rational instinct within him had warned him not to come, but for once, he’d
allowed himself to follow the siren’s song of impulse instead.
* * *
Less than an hour ago, that afternoon had been an ordinary, monotonous workday at
Quasar Bank Corporation. Devin had waited idly at his desk for his manager’s approval before
moving forward with his project. Although the company was armed with more money than the
entire Republic of Kydera, it was still bogged down by bureaucracy.
The weekend was only a day away. Devin thought about how he and Sarah would spend
it. Then he remembered she’d scheduled back-to-back auditions, meetings, and singing gigs.
Ever since her career had taken off, he’d seen less and less of her, and he was beginning to feel
It hit him.
Sarah was a rising idol, poised to become a pop culture icon. Her perfectly sculpted face
and luminous black eyes were made to splash across the stars. Soon, her mesmerizing voice
would reach into the souls of trillions. Every person in the galaxy who was touched by her songs
would adore her, revere her. Ordinary citizens and exalted celebrities, workers and bosses, wage
slaves and royalty—all would want her, and all would love her. Perhaps even as much as Devin
And there he was, just another Silk Sector drone, a “tool” like any other.
Why is she with me?
She elegantly wove her way through a perilous thicket, never living the same day twice,
while he’d walked the straight and narrow path to normality for more than six years. Sarah
embraced life’s passions with a daring élan, whereas Devin had done his best not to care, not to
think, in an attempt to simply… be.
It wasn’t because he was afraid of the unknown. No, he’d been down that path, following
his passions straight to hell. Although many would call his current situation dull or meaningless,
he found it infinitely preferable to his turbulent teenage years and the white hole of chaos his life
became after that. Those days were behind him, and he wanted nothing more than a normal,
Sarah, who melted his self-imposed prison bars in a haze of light, who showed him that
life could have meaning beyond the frozen ideal he’d tried to become.
A second realization struck Devin:
I want to spend the rest of my life with her.
It was irrational. He had known her less than half a year. It was insane—and stupid—but
he’d never been more certain of anything. Perhaps he would get shot down, but he had to ask,
and soon. That day.
Devin had abruptly locked his computer and left. As he passed his coworkers, ignoring
their odd looks and indignant questions, he contacted his bank via slate.
After retrieving the engagement ring bequeathed to him by his mother, he’d found
himself on his way to Sarah’s apartment, hardly knowing what he was doing.
The holographic calendar on the wall indicated that Sarah had a meeting with a producer,
but neglected to mention the time. Not very helpful.
Outside, the serene logo of Ocean Sky Corporation lit up as the golden Kyderan sun
faded behind the twisting tower of the company’s headquarters. Sarah was in that building or
maybe one of its chiseled satellites. Whichever housed the music division.
Devin couldn’t remember the last time he’d been scared. Whether he’d had a gun to his
temple or an arsenal exploding around him, he’d always managed to keep his head straight. But
waiting for Sarah to come home, he practically panicked as the lunacy of what he intended spun
through his head.
Yet if everything else were cast into doubt, he would still hold on to the one absolute
truth that brought him there:
I love you, Sarah DeHaven. Will you marry me?
* * *
Their first encounter had been like a scene from one of those hackneyed holodramas for
teen girls and lonely women. Devin had waited in the reception area of Ocean Sky’s
headquarters with the rest of his Quasar team, preparing to pitch the old tech corporation a new
financial product to increase investment. Even an institution as large and established as Ocean
Sky wasn’t immune to the dangers of time. Although it produced headline-grabbing machines
that pushed the limits of the Interstellar Confederation’s restrictions on AI technology,
consumers responded more to the company’s rival, Blue Diamond Technology Corporation.
The double doors opened. Sarah’s loose sapphire dress flowed behind her as she
approached the reception screen. She glowed with an ethereal aura that was otherworldly and
enticing, a radiance beyond mere beauty.
“Sarah DeHaven. I have a meeting with Ocean Sky Talent at two.”
The computer responded with mechanical crispness, “Have a seat, Miss DeHaven.”
Sarah glided into a seat across from Devin and crossed her shapely legs. She carried her
neck long like a swan queen, betraying no emotion. She glanced around the room. Her full ruby
lips became a thin line as she fiddled with a strand of long, black hair.
Knowing he shouldn’t stare, Devin forced his gaze away. He wasn’t alone in his
fascination. All eyes in the room fixed on Sarah with longing expressions that seemed to say,
“Look my way.” There was something magnetic about her delicate face, slender wrists, and
perfectly curved figure.
Sarah’s alluring onyx gaze met his. Her face warmed into a demure, inviting smile. She
lowered her eyelids.
Against his better judgment and almost against his will, Devin got up and approached.
Her gaze followed him.
He didn’t know what else to do, so he smiled and tried to make conversation. “I couldn’t
help overhearing that you’re meeting with the talent division. Are you an actress?”
“Singer, actually.” Sarah extended a hand. “I’m Sarah DeHaven. And you are?”
Devin took it. “Devin Colt.”
Sarah glanced around the room again. “Everyone’s staring at me. Is there something
caught in my hair?”
“No. You’re perfect.” He meant it as an offhand comment, but Sarah looked down as
though embarrassed. It must have come out more expressive than intended.
Silence. Now what?
“You could have smiled at anyone here.” Too late, Devin realized he was saying aloud
the question he should have kept to himself. “Why me?”
Sarah regarded him with slight confusion. “I don’t know. It’s like something was telling
me I should get to know you.”
“I’d like to know you too. Are you doing anything later?”
Her face brightened. “No. Not anymore.”
Previously, Devin had preferred the company of shallow beauties he barely knew and had
no intention of knowing. Sarah wasn’t one of them. She avoided the hollow flirting and
meaningless banter he’d grown accustomed to, navigating around his shield of artificiality, the
façade he presented to the world. She even confessed the reason she’d agreed to go out with him.
Her career-driven life left her craving any kind of human connection outside her industry, and so
she had chosen to take a chance on him.
The night had ended with a promise for another, which ended with a promise for yet
another—and by then, Devin had allowed his walls to crumble.
It hadn’t taken long for his father, who insisted upon knowing every detail of his grown
children’s lives, to learn that Devin finally had a steady girlfriend.
Dad had pulled him into his office, closed the door, and lowered the shades. He crossed
his arms and expressed his displeasure at having learned of his son’s social life from a third
party, then probed Devin for every detail. “It’s about time you got your act together. Is she
intelligent? Is she ambitious? Are you sure she’s not using you, that she’s not simply better than
the others at hiding it?”
Devin had been sure. He’d been equally sure that nothing he did—short of, perhaps,
being elected President of Kydera—would be good enough for the illustrious Victor Colt. Even
then, his father would probably ask why he hadn’t reached higher and aimed for Chancellor of
the Interstellar Confederation. Although Devin did everything he could to become the person his
parents wanted him to be, he knew he lacked the ambitious desire that had driven Victor Colt and
the late Elizabeth Lin-Colt to become two of the most influential people in Kydera. He
sometimes wondered if he’d inherited anything from them other than his mother’s dark eyes and
hair and his father’s height and angular bone structure.
He also knew that, at twenty-eight, he should choose his own future, but after the hell his
decisions had caused seven years ago, he had silenced any notions of “Could I?” or “Should I?”
and surrendered to “I will.” He would do as his father commanded—and remain indifferent to
what it was. Yet he still wasn’t good enough.
“Come on, baby,” Sarah had said once. “Don’t let your father bother you. He loves you,
Devin. He wouldn’t care so much if he didn’t.”
She was so perceptive, willing to listen patiently and always ready with the right kind of
counsel. She was also as busy as he was. Rather than being irritated or saddened by his lack of
spare time, she’d said she preferred it that way so she could advance her own career without
neglecting him. At the same time, Sarah had told him many times how much she appreciated
having him there to save her from isolation.
So she would be happy if he proposed, right?
Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently
working in financial marketing. She has also resided in
North Carolina, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. She has
been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and
especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-thisworld
experiences of science fiction and fantasy.
Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition,
from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as
much as writing stories. She also enjoys kickboxing,
opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll try
almost anything once.
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Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review of Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan
At the heart of this science-fiction novel is the theme of consciousness. What does consciousness entail? Are only humans conscious? Set in the future on a far-flung solar system, wealthy siblings Jane and Devin Colt must confront these questions, while simultaneously on a race to preserve their lives, and to acquire the right and capability to live those lives as they choose to live. Much of the novel revolves around “Artificial Intelligence.” In our world today that simply signifies computers which can think for themselves; in the future, in this world, it means so much more. Of course, nothing is going to be as or what it seems, and both Jane and Devin will discover this, and then need to find the strength in themselves to break out of the mold their powerful father has chosen for them. “Artificial Absolutes” is a story of evolving consciousness, and evolution in personal growth.
I reviewed a complimentary e-book copy provided in return for my fair and impartial review.
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