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40 Years Serialisation

The Great Race is an interstellar competition between humans and the bug-eyed Pfrlanx, the only two species that have the technology and military might to claim and hold a world. After wars that claimed the lives of billions on both sides, they have come to an arrangement: the first to reach and claim a new planet is to have unequivocal dominion over it.

Any indigenous races have no say in the matter.

The Empire of Man sends forth fleets of interstellar ships to colonize—or, if necessary, pacify—new worlds. Planetside warfare is handled by Augmented Combat Personnel, soldiers whose physical augmentations and advanced weaponry make them more than a match for any planet’s inhabitants. These soldiers spend their lives in cryogenic sleep as they are transported from one planet to the next, only to be awakened when it is time to fight.

Wonder has no opposite; it springs up already doubled in itself, compounded of dread and desire at once, attraction and recoil, producing a thrill, the shudder of pleasure and fear.
- Marina Warner

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The Man who never was