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Authors: Ryk E Spoor

Paradigms Lost

BOOK: Paradigms Lost
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Paradigms Lost

Ryk E. Spoor

Being an expert in information searches, image processing and enhancement, pattern matching, and data forensics earned Jason Wood a lot of money – from private contracts and working with the police. And it was a nice, comfortable job most of the time. But then an informant showed up dead on his doorstep, a photograph didn't show someone who'd been in the viewfinder when the picture was taken, and Jason's world is suddenly turned upside-down.

Against things that violate the very reality he thought he understood, Jason has only three weapons: his best friend Sylvie, his talent for seeing patterns… and his ability to think 
beyond
 the pattern and see a solution that no one else imagined. Against the darkness of the unknown, the greatest weapon is the light of reason.

A vastly expanded and revised edition of 
Digital Knight
, Ryk E. Spoor's first published novel, 
Paradigms Lost
 adds two brand new adventures for Jason and includes many chapters of additional material within the originals.

Baen Books by Ryk E. Spoor

Digital Knight

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix In Shadow
(forthcoming)

Paradigms Lost

GRAND CENTRAL ARENA SERIES

Grand Central Arena

Spheres of Influence

Baen Books by Ryk E. Spoor and Eric Flint

Boundary

Threshold

Portal

Castaway Planet
(forthcoming)

P
ARADIGMS
L
OST

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

Copyright ©2014 by Ryk E. Spoor

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

Portions of this novel appeared in substantially different form as
Digital Knight
(copyright © October 2003 Ryk E. Spoor).

A Baen Books Original

Baen Publishing Enterprises

P.O. Box 1403

Riverdale, NY 10471

www.baen.com

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3693-8

Cover art by Stephen Hickman

First printing, December 2014

Distributed by Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Spoor, Ryk E.

Paradigms lost / Ryk E Spoor.

pages ; cm

“A Baen Books Original.”

ISBN 978-1-4767-3693-8 (softcover)

I. Title.

PS3619.P665P37 2014

813

.6—dc23

2014034545

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Pages by Joy Freeman (
www.pagesbyjoy.com
)

Printed in the United States of America

eISBN: 978-1-62579-335-5

Electronic Version by Baen Books

www.baen.com

I want to thank my beta-readers for all their support, commentary, and criticism that made
Paradigms Lost
a better book.

This book is dedicated to:

Jim Baen, for giving me a chance;

Toni Weisskopf, for giving Jason Wood a
second
chance;

my wife, Kathleen, for her constant support;

the “Butcher of Baen” for his invaluable help.

Foreword

Paradigms Lost
is a greatly expanded edition of
Digital Knight
, my first published work. It is not just a polishing and slight reworking of
Digital Knight
—indeed, in many areas I have tried
not
to touch the writing overmuch, as I don’t want to damage the “flavor” that made it work in the first place.

What I
have
done is add incidents and actions that would have happened—foreshadowing and “crossover” events that are part of Jason’s universe—but which I didn’t fully know when I first wrote
Digital Knight
, some portions of which were written as far back as 1987 and 1988. I have also reconciled a few contradictions and confusing incidents to make more sense and clarified the
dating
of the stories, as some readers might have found it unclear; Jason’s adventures begin in April 1999.

In addition to these changes—some of which are quite substantial—I have included two more of Jason’s adventures, “Shadow of Fear” and “Trial Run,” to make this a truly worthwhile read for those of you who may have read the original. Overall, this means that more than a short novel’s worth of material has been added to
Paradigms Lost
; the original
Digital Knight
was about 103,000 words, while
Paradigms Lost
runs well over 160,000.

Jason’s world is very like ours . . . but not precisely, and it
changes
for him as time goes on. His adventures also connect—sometimes in surprising ways—with other stories and events in his universe. Those who have read
Phoenix Rising
will perhaps not be surprised to see his encounters with a certain young man, and possibly make other connections with things that have happened . . . or will happen.

Join Jason, then . . . on the day that everything changed.

PART I

Gone in a Flash

April 1999

CHAPTER 1

Dead Man Knocking

I clicked on the JAPES icon. A second picture appeared on the Lumiere RAN-7X workstation screen next to the digitized original, said original being a pretty blurry picture of two men exchanging something. At first the two pictures looked identical, as always, but then rippling changes started: colors brightening and darkening, objects becoming so sharp as to look almost animated, a dozen things at once. I controlled the process with a mouse, pointing and clicking to denote key items that would help JAPES interpret the meaning in the image and bring out details.

Fortunately, I had a lot of pictures of the same area—and the same individuals—from the same batch of photos Lieutenant Klein had given me, which provided me with a considerable amount of material for enhancing and interpreting what was in this photo. JAPES, which stood for Jason’s Automatic Photo Enhancing System, was the whimsical name I’d given to my own specialized image analysis and processing suite which combined multiple standard (and not so standard) photographic enhancement techniques into a single complex operation controlled partly by me and partly by a learning expert system.

I stiffened; suddenly I was overwhelmed by the sense that I was being watched. Some people say they get that feeling often when they’re alone; since I live alone, and work in the same building I live in, I’ve never been prone to that sensation. But the feeling was so strong that I turned quickly to the plate-glass window that was the front of Wood’s Information Service.

For
just
an instant—that split-second between turning and focusing—I thought I saw something: a very tall figure in the mist of evening, dressed in what seemed—in that vague glimpse—to be robes or a longcoat of some sort, with a peculiar wide-swept hat like nothing I’d ever seen. Long white hair trailed off below the hat, and the figure was leaning on, or holding, some kind of staff.

But when I focused, I could see there was nothing there at all; just mist and the cotton-fog glow of a streetlamp beyond. I stared out for several minutes, then shrugged.
What the hell, brain?
I thought to myself.
Not even seeing things that make
sense.

The delay had, at least, allowed JAPES to complete its work. The computer-enhanced version was crisp as a posed photo—except that I don’t think either the assemblyman or the coke dealer had intended a pose.
Yeah, that ought to give Elias Klein another nail to put in the crooks’ coffins.
I glanced at my watch: eight-twenty. Time enough to digitize and enhance one more photo before Sylvie came over. I decided to do the last of Lieutenant Klein’s; drug cases make me nervous, you never know what might happen.
Come to think of it,
I realized,
that’s probably why I had that weird feeling; I’m twitchy over this one.

So let’s get back to it.
I inserted the negative into the enlarger/digitizer, popped into the kitchen for a cream soda, sat down and picked up my book. After seventeen minutes the computer pinged; for this kind of work, I have to scan at the best possible resolution, and that takes time. I checked to make sure the scan went okay, then coded in the parameters, set JAPES going, and went back to
Phantoms
. Great yarn.

After the automatic functions were done, I started in on what I really get paid for here at Wood’s Information Service (“Need info? Knock on Wood!”): the ability to find the best “finishing touches” that make enhancement still an art rather than a science.

A distant scraping sound came from the back door, and then a faint clank. I checked the time again: nine twenty-five. Still too early; Sylvie’s occult shop, the Silver Stake, always closed precisely at nine-thirty, and besides, Syl would just ring the bell or walk in from the front. “Lewis?” I called out.

Lewis was what social workers might call a displaced person, others called a bum, and I called a contact. Lewis sometimes did scutwork for me—as long as he was sober, he was a good worker. Unfortunately, when he was drunk, he was a belligerent nuisance, and at six-foot-seven, a belligerent Lewis was an ugly sight. Since it was the first Friday of the month, he was probably drunk.

But I didn’t hear an answer, neither his voice nor the funny ringing knock that the chains on his jacket cuffs made. Instead, I heard another clank and then a muffled thud. At that point, the computer pinged again, having just finished my last instructions. I checked the final version—it looked pretty good, another pose of the assemblyman alone with his hand partly extended—then downloaded all the data onto two disks for the lieutenant. I sealed them in an envelope with the original negatives, dropped the envelope into the safe, swung it shut, pulled the wall panel down and locked it. Then I stepped out and turned toward the back door, grabbing my book as I left. Just then the front doorbell rang.

It was Sylvie, of course. “Hi, Jason!” she said, bouncing through the door. “Look at these, we just got the shipment in today! Aren’t they great?” She dangled some crystal and silver earrings in front of me, continuing, “They’re genuine Brazil crystal and the settings were handmade; the lady who makes them says she gets her directions from an Aztec she channels—”

There was a tremendous
bang
from the rear and the windows shivered. “What the hell was that?” Sylvie demanded. “Sounded like a cannon!”

“I don’t know,” I answered, “but it wasn’t a gun. Something hit the building.” I thought of the photos I was enhancing. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had decided to erase the evidence before I finished improving it. I yanked open the righthand drawer of the front desk, pulled out my .45, snicked the safety off.

“You’re that worried, Jason?”

“Could be bad, Syl; working for cops has its drawbacks.”

She nodded, her face serious now. To other people, she comes across as a New Age bimbo, or a gypsy with long black hair and colored handkerchief clothes. I know better. She reached into her purse, yanked out a small .32 automatic, pulled the slide once. I heard a round chamber itself. “Ready.”

BOOK: Paradigms Lost
13.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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