Anti-ice by Stephen Baxter

By Stephen Baxter

Studying a brand new aspect, Anti-Ice, a mysterious substance that unleashes big energies while warmed, a millionaire industrialist goals of strength from an merchandise that provides international peace--or global destruction.

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Unfortunately the Russians would not play the game. The Czar's men stayed in their fortifications and sent a most murderous hail of grape and musketry showering down over us. Quite how I survived those minutes I shall never know, Father; for all around me better fellows than I fell sprawling. At last my boot caught in the soft mud of a shell crater; I pitched forward and found myself lying at the bottom of the hole. Russian grape filled the air like a sheet inches above me, and so I lay flat in the mud, knowing that to rise at that point was to face certain death.

We were fifteen days coming to Balaclava; and then we faced some days' march along the road north to the Allied encampments around Sebastopol. I beg your indulgence to describe the situation I found here; while the campaign has evidently been reasonably well reported at home by such correspondents as Russell, perhaps the views of an ordinary infantryman of the Army--for such am I, and proud to be--will be of some interest. Sir, you know why we are here. Our Empire girdles the World. And our dominion is held together by the threads that are our lines of communication: roads, railways, Light Rail routes and sea lanes.

The party moved on at length to the largest stand--the British. My pulse quickened with anticipation as we approached; but the Germans, no doubt keen to score some obscure point, stalked past the spectacular exhibits quite rapidly, their graying military heads held erect. However, I saw more than one rheumy eye flicker involuntarily sideways; and as for myself, I stared hungrily, anxious to drink in every detail of these marvels. The exhibit was dominated by large, gleaming machines which, with their brooding pistons and tall stacks, looked like caged animals in this delicate Cathedral.

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