Friday 5 October 2012


From the back cover supplied by the Author

Once they were friends. Now two scientists race—one to save mankind, one to destroy it.

Nanotechnology made Eva Rozen the world’s wealthiest woman. Rage made her the deadliest.

Marta Cruz alone can stand between Eva and the death of millions. But will a crippling illness stop Marta first?

"… a work of descriptive art, with a sense of futuristic realism. I was riveted, page after wonderful page.” -Thomas M. Cirignano, 67 Cents: Creation of a Killer
“…A union of art and science in this thriller… marvelous characters amidst an age of nanotechnological advancement. Harry Steinman rips today’s discoveries from the laboratory and into an emotion-laden thriller with the promise—and peril—of this emerging science. –L. R. Drennan-Harris, Ph.D. Analytical Chemist
“…Little Deadly Things introduces the brilliant but psychotic Eva Rozen, a Boston scientist tormented by both her past and her present. Her mystery and madness propel the reader, revealing surprises at every turn."-- Deborah Swiss, The Tin Ticket

Harry Steinman’s life experience includes stints as a box boy in a toilet paper factory, security guard, hippie commune leader, recruiter in a toy factory, substitute math teacher, accountant,  New Age religious community troublemaker, headhunter, and dog trainer—the textbook background of a novelist. Today, Harry gets by while at work on All Dead Generations, the sequel to Little Deadly Things.

Expected Publication 12th September 2012.


2:00 PM
Eva Rozen strode into the waiting room looking like a shrunken
wraith—girlish, ghoulish.
The 29-year-old scientist and entrepreneur had pale skin that
could be compared to alabaster, if one were to be charitable, like
plaster if not. It was pulled taut against the uneven planes of her
face to produce an impression of constant tension, of perpetual
threat. To look at her for more than a few moments was to falter,
to lose one’s balance.
This tidal wave in human form could move with great stealth
but today Eva Rozen surged up to the receptionist’s station trailing
disturbance like a gunboat’s wake. Sparks flew up from the clinic’s
marble floor where her heels struck, and the air boiled around her.
The office administrator looked up and froze. She’d been linked,
but stopped speaking midsentence and tapped a small skin-toned
communication patch just above her jaw to end the conversation.
Eva held out her hand to the attendant. The gesture was not an
old-fashioned handshake. She dismissed ordinary social actions,
and especially any that required physical contact. Rather, the act
was part of a communications protocol. It signaled that Eva was
using her datasleeve to gather the receptionist’s cloud data, her
public information: Bethany Jamison, genetic female, age 41, no
criminal record. Eva’s sleeve displayed all manner of private information
as well. Jamison’s credit profile, medical history, sexual
preferences, augmentations, and other private and presumably
secure data were available to Eva at a glance.
Armed with the administrator’s name, Eva demanded, “Bethany,
get Jim Ecco.” Bethany Jamison, genetic female, age 41, no
criminal record, did not move.
“Bethany,” Eva repeated, “get Ecco. Now. Tell him Eva is here.”
The administrator struggled to regain her composure. “Uh, I
don’t, that is, he’s with a resident,” she managed, “and Mr. Ecco has
a full schedule,” recovering.
“His residents stink. Tell Mr. Ecco that Dr. Rozen is waiting.”
Then, an afterthought, “Please.”
Rozen’s glare activated Bethany’s survival instincts. The
unflappable gatekeeper of Boston’s largest animal shelter jumped
up and scurried down a well-lit hallway. Two minutes later Bethany
reappeared, stopping well short of the reception area. She looked
once more at the visitor and then dove into an examining room
like a soldier seeking cover.
In her place stood James Bradley Ecco—behaviorist, trainer,
and chief handler of Haven Memorial Animal Shelter’s threescore
rescued dogs. Eva nodded a brief greeting that took in her
old friend. He smelled of musk with traces of ammonia. Stray hairs
left multicolored streaks on his uniform—tan scrubs with a dark
blue logo, a paw print, and the word ‘Haven’ embedded over his
left breast. His name, employee ID number, photo, and title glowed
beneath the logo. His slight frame gave an impression of insubstantiality
that belied his strength, speed, and anger.
The dog trainer, husband, and father could claim another distinction:
in the entire world, he was Eva Rozen’s only remaining
Jim’s face lit up. “Eva! This is a surprise. What are you doing
here? I mean, it’s great you’re here. What have you been—”
He stopped midsentence. Few would have noticed the tightening
below her eyebrows and fewer still would have recognized
Eva’s sudden impatience. Jim Ecco seldom missed small warnings,
neither in dogs nor in people. He adopted a relaxed posture and
leaned back imperceptibly, giving Eva an inch more space to signal
his respect for her.
“Talk to me,” Jim said. “What exciting plans do you have?
Decided to adopt a puppy?”
“Nope. Don’t need any research animals.”
One corner of Jim’s mouth turned up in a half grin. “Ah, Eva,”
he sighed theatrically. “Ever the humanitarian.”
“Jim Ecco, ever the idealist. You make any kind of a decent
wage cleaning up after dogs? Or does Plant Lady carry you?”
He ignored the barb. “Here to sell me stock in NMech?”
“Not going public just yet. But you should help me. Leased
medical nanoagents means—
“Means NMech grows rich. Where on earth did you get the
idea of leasing medicine, anyway?”
“I copied my strategy from King Gillette.”
“King who?” asked Jim.
“King Gillette. That was his name, not a title. He invented
disposable safety razor blades, figuring that he could just about
give away the razor but charge for the blades, as long as they were
short-lived. He made a fortune. It’ll work for medicine, too.”
“Meds for the masses.” Eva’s eyes tightened again. Jim turned
just a degree or two. It was the same indirect body posture that
he would adopt with an agitated dog in his care. He fixed his gaze
just to the side of his old friend and then looked down at the floor.
Eva relaxed.
“I need your help,” she said abruptly.
“My help? Or Marta’s?”
“Yours. Hers. Both.”
“We’ve been through that,” said Jim. “We made a family
“Yeah, well, I can sweeten the deal. I have something that will
interest the Plant Lady.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Take my word for it. She’ll like what I can put on the table.
First I have to know if she can give me what I want.” Eva, the Needy.
“First, I need to see my patients. You know, the stinky ones?
Then we can talk.”
“Patients? The vets have patients. You have shovels.” Eva, the
Jim did not respond. She would take any response, even correction,
as tacit approval.
“I’ll wait,” she said. Eva, the Unexpected.
Jim stared. “You’ll wait? Now I’m confused. You stormed in,
a woman on fire. You lit up poor Bethany, demanded to see me,
and now you’ll wait? Why didn’t you just link to me? I’d have been
expecting you.”
“I need to talk to you, that’s why.”
“Yes, Eva, but most people link ahead. Courtesy doesn’t take
that much work.”
“Overrated,” she snapped. “When it’s time to do something,
it’s time to do it. Besides, I checked your schedule and I knew you’d
be here.”
“You checked my… ?” Jim looked down at his datasleeve and
frowned. “You’re still up to your old tricks.”
When Eva said nothing, Jim conceded, “Okay, it must be really
important. Make yourself at home.” He smiled and walked back
to the kennels.
Eva stood still in her friend’s cramped office. Only her eyes
moved as she examined her surroundings. After a few silent minutes,
she frowned and ran stubby fingers across her scalp, leaving
rows of dirty blond hair like freshly-plowed farmland.
She took in Jim’s neat piles of old-fashioned books and dataplaques.
They were stacked on every available surface except Jim’s
small desk, bare save for a coffee service. Eva touched her datasleeve
and launched a snooper application to search for key words, terms,
and algorithms on the chance that any of Marta’s work would be on
Jim’s datapillar. In the time that it took the handler to complete his
morning duties, Eva sifted through Jim’s pillar in an unsuccessful
search. Her frown was a brief departure from her normal expressionless
When Jim reappeared, he was covered in dog hair. Leashes
hung around his neck like leather boas. He looked drained. He
shuffled to his desk and brewed coffee. “Ah, sweet elixir of life,”
he said with his first sip and offered a cup to Eva who shook her
head impatiently.
“Anybody ever tell you that you’re full of crap?” Eva asked
without rancor.
“Only you, darling.”
Eva stood very still. She cocked her head, heard sounds within
her that grew and threatened to drown out the sounds around her.
She blinked hard, forcing a moment’s quiet, and when she could
hear again, she said, “Now it’s darling?”
“Eva, you could charm the skin off a snake. Wouldn’t you
rather have a lifetime friend?”
Eva said nothing. The inner din quieted.
Jim gave no sign that he’d observed her distress. He lifted his
cup in a toast to his old friend. “You never do anything without a
purpose. And to wait without complaint? What’s up?”
Eva looked at Jim. “I’ve got a problem. My project at Harvard
produced two medicines—”
“Your project?—”
“—Okay, our project at Harvard produced two medicines
that Plant Lady extracted from her rainforest. We showed that
they could be built in a nanoassembler. I turned that project into
NMech. I damned near went broke building an assembler that
could be implanted in a patient’s body. Getting FDA approvals was
murder. But we’re making a little money now.”
“You’ve got working internal assemblers?”
“Didn’t I just say so?”
The old manufacturing paradigm, whether for medicine or
metals, was to whittle larger hunks of material into smaller ones.
Nanotechnology, the science of matter at a scale so small as to be
nearly unimaginable, permitted products to be built up, molecule
by molecule. Eva’s company focused on synthesizing drugs using
this technology.
“Congratulations” Jim said. “So, what’s the problem?”
Eva said, “Control. Let’s say that you implant a nanoscale
assembler inside a patient’s body. It fabricates and dispenses the
meds automatically. But you need to be able to raise or lower the
dosage to match the patient’s condition. We need to control the
assembler after it’s been implanted.”
“An assembler at sub-cutaneous scale? That’s science fiction,
stuff of the future. What am I missing?”
“Everyone seems to think that progress is fantasy—until they
get their nose rubbed in it. About one-hundred years ago, movie
producer Darryl Zanuck predicted the end of television. Twenty
years later? The world watched the first moon walk on their televisions.
Trust me, I know exactly how to build a nanoassembler, and
make it small enough to be implanted. What I need is control.”
“Control is old hat,” said Jim. “Doctors have had wireless control
over drug implants for years.”
Eva interrupted. “The problem with wireless control is the
physician. Too busy to keep track. And the patients? They’re worse.
They skip appointments to recalibrate the implants. But if I could
control nanoagents remotely? A Boston administrator manages
a Berlin patient’s prescription? If I can control the dosage from a
datapillar, I can make the system efficient.”
“You mean, you can control the cure.”
“Don’t get high-and-mighty with me. The system now means
that physicians have to do a technician’s job. Not fair to the doctor,
not fair to the patient. But NMech has the medical skill and the
technological know-how to manage the dosage remotely.”
“Eva,” Jim said gently, “she wants to practice medicine, not be
a drug manufacturer. You know that.”
“Let me finish. I have a proposal that she will like, if remote
control is feasible.”
Jim said nothing for a few moments, then subvocalized. His lips
moved but he pronounced his words silently. A skin-toned commpatch
seated on his cheek registered the minute vibrations in his
jaw and throat from the silent speech and converted the resonance
into electronic pulses, and then sent a series of commands to his
datasleeve. The sleeve activated a heads-up holographic display. Jim
peered into the projection for a few minutes.
“According to Marta, the theory is simple enough.”
“You can access her notes?” Eva asked. She held up a hand like
an old-time traffic cop. The gesture indicated that Eva wanted to
receive a datafile, the information that Jim had examined.
“No. These are her files. You want them? You ask her. If she
wants to share, then she’ll share.” Jim spoke in a f lat voice, a
momentary withdrawal of camaraderie.
“Fine,” said Eva. “Tell me how you get excorporeal control of a
nanoagent. And, yeah, I will take a cup of your magic coffee.” Jim
touched a pot. In a moment the pot glowed gently and Jim poured
hot water into a French press and set a cup in front of her.
“It’s already been done, just not well,” Jim said, peering back
into the display. “About twenty years ago, researchers at Chambers
Hospital implanted a tiny reservoir under the patient’s skin to
dispense medication subcutaneously. They added magnetic ferrite
nanoparticles”—bits of material measured in billionths of a meter,
near-atomic size—“to the reservoir. When the researchers turned
on a magnetic field, the reservoir’s membranes heated, and then
turned porous. That released the medication.”
“I know about the Chambers trials,” Eva waved dismissively.
Her coffee sat untouched. “But the membranes overheated and
dumped the entire reservoir into the bloodstream. That’s not going
to work.”
“True, but the idea is still good. At Chambers, they used a steady
magnetic pulse which caused the overheating. What you need is a
reliable regulator, and Marta thinks it’s possible with something
called chameleon magnets. Take a nonmagnetic material and hit
it with an electronic pulse to organize the spin of the electrons.
That turns the material magnetic. The reservoir’s membrane heats
and turns porous and delivers the medication. Turn the field off,
the dosage stops. That would make an effective regulator. But the
research on chameleon magnets was in the field of computer science,
not in medicine, and nobody ever put the two ideas together.”
“Huh,” said Eva. She thought a moment. “Could the control
signal come from a central datapillar? And be relayed to a home
“I don’t see why not. But that’s not my area. You want to talk
nanomeds? Ask Marta.”
“You mean it? Plant Lady can do this?”
“She could, but I don’t see her abandoning her work.” The two
sat in an amiable stalemate. “And by the way, it shows respect when
you use her name. Marta. Not Plant Lady.”
Eva fidgeted but did not speak. They’d discussed respect and
social graces often, especially since the fiasco at Harvard. Eva’s
impulsiveness had cost Marta’s trust and friendship. Jim counseled
Eva that to temper sudden actions, to use proper names, to
be courteous, even to observe ordinary table manners, were better
ways to recruit help from others.
Finally, Jim broke the silence. “You need her, don’t you.”
Eva said, “Is that supposed to be a question?”
“You’ll have to come up with something in public health,” he
“Easy. I have a plan.”
“Your last big idea was to build fat-loving nanomolecules for
tummy tucks and replicator cells for breast augmentation.”
“Boob jobs pay.”
“Yeah, but you’re not going to get Marta interested unless you
go deeper into the thoracic cavity. She wants public health, not
private wealth. You want her help? Meet her halfway.”
“But you know what my problem is,” said Eva.
“Sure. Chronic disease is expensive. And the countries that
need help the most don’t have the treasury to pay for it. So, you’re
back to where you started.”
“Not this time.” Eva’s coffee was untouched and cold. She
looked down and said, “If Plant Lady gives me the meds and the
controls, I’ll give her public health.”
Jim stared without speaking.
“Sorry. If Marta can come up with the controls, then I’ll give
the good Dr. Cruz her public health.”
“Do you mean it?”
“Yes,” Eva said. “But you need to convince her. I can’t just drop
back into her life. And I need your help, too. You have a practical
side that’ll be valuable to NMech.”
“Thanks, but I’m pretty happy with my stinky residents.”
“Just hear me out,” said Eva. “You and Marta will like what I
have. Then you decide if my proposal is as important as your mangy
dogs. Besides, you owe me.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” Jim said. His eyes dropped to the floor
She had asked for something from him once before, something
very personal, reminding him of his debt to her. “It’s not mine to
share,” was all he said.
Then Mama and the others at the Table howled at Eva.

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