About Walking to the Stars, Australis Liminus 3
by Laney Cairo
247 pages / 65900 words
Ebook zipped file contains -
html, lit, Adobe and Sony optimized pdf, prc, epub, also available in
In the third Australis Liminus novel, the war is over and Samuel is on a
secret mission in Australia for the rising World Government's space program.
He knows he is under-prepared, and expects hardships, challenges and
kangaroos. He wishes someone had told him just how large the kangaroos are,
and how scary. And about the magic.
Nick's farm is cold and bleak in the wild winter, but Samuel is grateful for
the shelter, and for the chance to be close to Nick. It's there he meets
Nick's friend, Talgerit, who is a budding magician with a taste for
adventure, no boundaries and far too much enthusiasm. Beyond the farm is a
wasteland, ruined by the war, where small outposts of people live surrounded
by echoes of the past. Secrets live in the city, too, and bigger challenges
face the three of them than forests and ghosts.
All Samuel, Nick and Talgerit have to do is go to the city, find what
Samuel's looking for, and get home again.
The future is a long way to walk, even with someone you love.
Also in this series: Running the Nullarbor and Monsters Past.
J. Rocci, author of Taction, writes: Picking up Walking to the Stars, I
didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away by Laney Cairo's
fantastic world-building and gritty realism. Walking to the Stars is a
post-apocalyptic story based in
Australia that focuses on Nick, an older doctor trained before the
Collapse, and Samuel, a younger man from Guyana who was injured
traveling from South America. Samuel comes to stay with Nick and his
adult son Josh on their farm to recuperate, and enters a world
struggling on with broken pre-Collapse equipment, where the spirits of
the land are as real as the kangaroos and the Feathermen provide
protection to those living on Noongar land as long as their rules are
obeyed. Helping Samuel makes Nick confront his own loneliness, and the
two find themselves sharing a surprising connection.
My favorite part of the story, as an American and an anthropologist, was
Cairo's amazing world-building. As I read, I found myself guessing what
was a common "Australian-ism"; and what was part of the story's mythos.
As a fan of hard core sci-fi and fantasy, I loved Cairo's blend of magic
and science. Samuel's engineering knowledge and the farm's down-to-earth
animal husbandry easily mixes with aboriginal folklore and Dreamwalking.
The rich history of the Feathermen and their folklore play an important
role in the plot, and each scene
comes to life with vibrant imagery. The world's unbelievable scope of
destruction, twenty-five years after the Collapse, is juxtaposed with
the survival of the human spirit and their determination to continue.
The plot itself is intriguing and rife with tension as Samuel enlists
Nick and Talgerit, a local aspiring Featherman, in a quest that can
change the fate of humanity. I was on tenterhooks the entire
read-through! For sci-fi / fantasy fans, as well as suspense and
post-apocalypse fans, this story has it all and then some.
There wasn't any question of which way to go, a peeling
and faded road sign made that clear, when they found the remains of a
bitumen road on the other side of the hill. Perth, 102 kms it said, and the
arrow pointed west.
"Toward the sea," Talgerit said.
They walked, following the road, broad bitumen expanse, designed to carry
trucks and buses, now slowly being taken over by the bottlebrushes and gum
trees, but it felt like they were walking between tall trees, and even in
the sunshine it was cool and shady.
Soon, the shapes of the trees were visible, looming over them, casting a
deep shade, and the ground smelt of wet soil, not bitumen.
Samuel stopped, gripping Nick's arm, and he sounded panicked when he said,
"Nick! Talgerit! What's happening?!"
"Dead trees," Talgerit said. "There used to be a forest here, and the land
A phantom kangaroo hopped past them, appearing from nowhere, and
disappearing just as rapidly, and Nick said, "Seems the land remembers other
Talgerit's dog yipped, up ahead of them, and Talgerit said, "C'mon."
Every step forward, the remembered forest became more and more real, and
Nick wound his hand securely around Samuel's wrist and hung on tight. If the
stories, and songs, were true, the land remembered lots of things, more than
just trees and kangaroos.
They kept on walking, focussing on the faded painted lines on the bitumen,
trying to ignore the phantoms around them, Talgerit pausing occasionally,
with his dog, to wait for Nick and Samuel to catch up.
It was hard work, as hard as walking through real forest, and Nick found
himself inordinately proud of how long Samuel kept going, eyes down on the
road, ignoring his surroundings. For someone who was terrified of devils and
small people, he did remarkably well.
The sun set, up ahead, and Talgerit kept them walking until it was so
completely dark that it was impossible to find the lines on the road.
"We need water," Nick said. "And to sleep, Talgerit."
A sphere of light formed on Talgerit's hand, lighting his face, then slowly
their surroundings, and Talgerit did not look pleased. "Bad place to stop,"
"Are there any good places here?" Nick asked rhetorically, and Talgerit
shook his head.
This was the bad lands, the place that no one went voluntarily, there were
no good places and Nick knew it.
Talgerit led them down into a gully, lighting the way with a sphere of
light, and they all stumbled and slid down the hillside, unable to
distinguish real boulders and trees from remembered ones, not by the
ethereal light of the sphere.
They found a clearing, where there were neither real nor remembered trees,
and Samuel sat in the middle of it, his arms wrapped around his knees and
his eyes shut, hanging onto Talgerit's dog, while Nick and Talgerit foraged
a little, collecting twigs and leaves to start a fire with.
They found water, at the bottom of the gully, and Nick took Samuel down
there to drink while Talgerit started the fire with one of his spheres. The
bush around them rustled, and eerie faces peered out of the darkness. When
Nick lobbed a rock, the rock sailed right through the figures, but they
still drank from the creek as quickly as they could.
The fire was burning brightly in the darkness when Nick stumbled back into
the clearing, pulling Samuel along behind him.
They had damper, flour mixed with water to make a paste, then stuck onto
twigs and held over the fire, because, as Talgerit said, "No good hunting,
can't tell live from dead, and it won't be good eating dead."
Talgerit built the fire up high, so sparks flew up into the night, to keep
them warm in the cold that crept up the gully, and Samuel shivered and
wrapped his jacket closer around himself. They sat like that, the three of
them around the fire, and things that Nick didn't know the names of were
attracted to the light of the fire.
They saw remembered people, too, ghosts of Noongar and whiteman both,
peering out of the darkness, and Samuel kept his eyes tightly closed and
hung onto Talgerit's dog and Nick.
None of them slept.