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Edition 14: The Tyranny of Distance by Sean Williams

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Part of the Twinmaker series, this story follows Maudlin Tom, a father working through the loss of his son by following the journey his son had planned. What he discovers in a sleepy rural town lands him in the midst of danger and destruction, but Tom cannot turn away from those that could be saved. SY

For Jason Konstas, 1967-2014.

Maudlin Tom was seven kilometres out of Cowell when he learned of the crash. The Air was suddenly full of the news that some teenaged terrorist had marched into the headquarters of the global d-mat network and singlehandedly shut it down. It was all anyone could talk about, and with good reason, Tom supposed, although he himself hadn’t used d-mat for months now. Wholesale matter transmission had revolutionized transport, saved the environment and created a post-scarcity utopia unlike anything in human history. Without d-mat, the world literally ground to a halt.

“Bet you’re pleased,” a dozen or so people went out of their way to tell him. The simple sentiment was depressing on at least two levels. One, because he wasn’t pleased at all. And two, he wasn’t as popular as he had been when he’d left Sydney. Then, riding high in the public consciousness on a wave of either sympathy or notoriety—he could never tell the difference—it had seemed for a while as though people understood. And understanding was what he wanted, wasn’t it? It was hard to be sure, with his followers down to a few hundred, and of those only a dozen who were willing even to gloat.

Tom trudged on, wondering if Georgie would have been pleased. Probably, but who could be sure about that either? In the final days, he felt that he had hardly known his son at all.

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