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By Stephen Baxter

Learning a brand new point, Anti-Ice, a mysterious substance that unleashes colossal energies while warmed, a millionaire industrialist desires of energy from an merchandise that provides global peace--or international destruction.

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Portières of rich crimson silk hung over the doorways, while sofas of Utrecht velvet, buffets of carved walnut, and leather-topped tables were strewn across a maroon carpet. Chandeliers sparkled with flame, even though the hour was so close to noon. Holden leaned close to me. "Acetylene lamps. " "You're far too cynical, old man," I said. "The effect is pleasing to the eye. " After collecting more champagne we strolled toward one of the octagonal pillars. Now I realized that its four wider faces had been mirrored to reduce the impression of obstruction while its smaller panels were adorned with arabesques showing emblems of the sea.

Holden leaned close to me, a sour amusement in his eyes. "This Dever fellow. " I frowned. "Well, perhaps the fellow's busy, Holden. " "Really? The purpose of today's event is to drum up funding for the operation of the vessel. We should be charmed, wined, welcomed, even here, in the stinking belly of the ship! I'm sure our Mr. Dever knows his stopcocks and bulkheads, but he is a diplomatic disaster. " I peeked at the French, but I disagreed with Holden's gloomy diagnosis; the young continentals, looking like a handful of flowers thrown into the midst of the great machines, peered at the huge engines with every sign of excitement and anticipation.

Perhaps, I reflected, the advances wrought by anti-ice were not without their cost. At some comfortable length we debated this point, and our talk broadened out into the role and impact of anti-ice technology in general; and finally Holden, becoming more expansive as he relaxed, settled down to relate to me the intriguing tale of the discovery of anti-ice itself... *** The story of anti-ice (Holden said) began with obscure legends of the aboriginal Australians. According to these savage fellows, at the time the Little Moon first appeared in the European heavens (around 1720), "fire locked in ice" fell from the Australian sky.

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