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The Rounds are humans with the sex organs of both genders. Artificially created to test the limits of the human body in space, they are now a minority, despised and hunted by the terrorist group the Vessel of Life. Aboard Jupiter-I, a space station orbiting the gas giant that shares its name, the Rounds have created their own society with a radically different view of gender and of life itself. Security chief Shirosaki keeps the peace between the Rounds and the typically gendered “Monaurals,” but when a terrorist strike hits the station, the balance of power is at risk...and an entire people is targeted for genocide.
Born in Hyogo Prefecture, Sayuri Ueda is one of the more innovative science fiction authors in Japan. She won the 2003 Komatsu Sakyo Award with her debut novel, Mars Dark Ballade. The Cage of Zeus, her second novel, was originally published in 2004. Her recent short fiction collection, Uobune, Kemonobune (Fish Boat, Animal Boat), was highly acclaimed in the SF community and was nominated for the 2009 Japan SF Award. Also nominated for the Seiun Award in the short story category was “Kotori no haka” (The Grave of the Bird) from the collection. Her latest novel, Karyu no miya (The Ocean Chronicles), won the first prize of Best SF 2010 in SF Magazine and was one of the most noteworthy books of the year in any genre.
Fortia sat before the computer terminal and endured Dan Preda’s barrage of instructions for several moments.
“There’s been an incident in the docking bay. It’s likely the terrorists are behind it. The infirmary and lab were hit as well. I have a feeling the terrorists may have infiltrated the station during the commotion. I want you to keep the access door to the special district secure. Even if someone on the staff requests access, I want you to check with control first.”
“How many of them are there?”
“We don’t know.”
“Just what was the security staff doing?”
“Let’s just say they dropped the ball.”
“Utterly useless,” said Fortia. “We would have fared better if we’d been the ones carrying the guns.”
“What’s done is done. Just stay alert.”
Fortia ended the transmission and went into the next room.
Album was sleeping in the double bed with the covers pulled over eir head.
“Wake up,” said Fortia, patting Album on the cheek several times. “Nap time is over. We have to issue an alert.”