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The rule for solving a maze is this: put your shoulder to a wall and walk. This works less well for a maze with doors in it, but Aldous knows better than to try mapmaking. The rooms here don’t play fair.

The library, for instance, is stalking her. She keeps smelling it behind her, dust and wood acid and the cruel alchemy of glue. She doesn’t trust it, but it must be trying to tell her something.

She enters, finally, and pulls a book down expecting blank pages. Instead it’s full of handwritten names: Cording, Cordovan, Corey, Corinna, Corinne, Corwin, Cosette.


The autobiography of Cording Vance–callsign Rakehell; alias Cordwood Vance, alias Thomas Cording, alias Tommy Bombshell; interfederal fugitive on charges of racketeering, assault, contraband weapons trading and a number of murders so great it is technically classified as a war crime; called the Fire on Algol, the Sunkiller, Slick Burn Tommy, Bloodbather or the Terricide; subject of the late Jacen Knobpop’s #1 intergalactic megasingle “Demon Star;” threat to disobedient children; pimp, controlled nucleotide dealer, enforcer, executioner, gangster, petty warlord and, of late, writer–reads in its entirety as follows: “Listen man don’t EVER fuck with librarians that’s all I’m gonna say.”