by Max Barry

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Main Characters

Michiko Fujimori Mayweather

Michiko Mayweather is the current Prime Minister of Antarctica. Long a rising star in Antarctic politics, she became a household name around the continent in 3015, when she spent most of her time in neighborhoods throughout the continent that had been gutted by Prime Minister Tomio Batra's economic reign of chaos. In between speaking personally with people who had seen their lives ruined by the economy's downward spiral, she spoke candidly before massive crowds of the heartbreak she felt at the sight of her nation's suffering, and of her relentless desire to right all those who had been wronged. She backed up her words with painstakingly researched and crafted policy proposals, and expertly crafted segues linking her policies to what she hoped would be a revival of Antarctica's once-hopeful future. Mayweather is a unique politician in that she has always rejected any form of political classification; she examined and re-examined every proposal she put forth on its own merits, and repeatedly declined any attempt to place herself or her proposals on the political continuum. After Tomio Batra was finally expelled from the Prime Minister's office, Mayweather was swept into his position almost unanimously, and eight months later made good on her promises, having spent every day of it drafting, analyzing, and re-drafting her Economic Proposal of 3016 - a wholesale repeal of everything Tomio Batra had done combined with a modest assortment of changes from the earlier status quo that she had researched herself. The Proposal passed overwhelmingly, and as life in Antarctica returned to normal, Mayweather's political career soared to new heights. In 3017, the Antarctic economic recovery and Mayweather's legendary political skills won her a second term in a historic landslide. One year later, she brought forth the Educational Proposal of 3018, which built on Prime Minister Pradeep Gilard's reforms two decades ago. The Proposal restructured the education system top to bottom towards a more participatory and hands-on environment, focusing less on standardized test results and more on helping individual struggling students. In the wake of her reforms, graduation rates improved profoundly to 95 percent, and test results also improved considerably. Mayweather's achievement for the next generation of Antarcticans is considered to be the greatest and most enduring achievement of her legacy. She is almost universally adored by the Antarctic people - her approval ratings continue to soar at around 87 percent - and she is more determined than ever to help lead the way to the hopeful future that her people see in her.

Mayweather's character is most notable for two traits that have made her a legendary politician and one of the most beloved Antarctic leaders in recent memory. Much of the time, her emotions seem to perfectly mirror those of the people around her - always quiet and disarming, yet almost solid enough to touch across an entire room. It is borne out of what she describes as both a willingness and a duty to always put herself in the shoes of those around her. It is this quality that makes her a wordsmith for the ages, almost always knowing exactly the right words to say. Her speeches combine beautiful, soaring rhetoric with honest and down-to-earth facts and solutions, as well as one-liners that can evaporate all the tension in a room. Her other defining trait is her nerves of steel. Mayweather's emotions are genuinely felt, yet her composure is strong and flexible enough to never lose its grip, even in moments of crisis seemingly severe enough to derail her political career or even palpably damage the country. She credits her steel nerves to her mother, whom Mayweather says she has never seen lose her head in 35 years. Mayweather's greatest flaw, meanwhile, is her tendency to relentlessly overwork herself, even to the point of risking serious physical stress. She has worked herself into less than optimal health on a number of occasions, and often must be forced to give it a rest by one of her friends. Mayweather is also well-known for her appearance, which is considered by her friends and by the public alike to be one of legendary attractiveness and beauty. It is enhanced by her statuesque frame; she stands at 6 feet, 2 inches tall. Michiko's mother is Nadine Mayweather, an architect and carpenter, from whom Michiko inherited her nerves of steel and her sense of pragmatism. Her father is Sanjay Fujimori, a kalanta artist and animator, from whom Michiko inherited her idealistic worldview, and her tendency to overwork herself. Her closest friends are Krishna Han, Azuma and Amelie Sawant, and Parvati Page; their friendship is so strong that she often describes them as a family of sorts. They spend much of their time outside work hanging out at each other's apartments and going on adventures through Nanji together. Mayweather's parents, and the parents and siblings of the other four, are very fond of the group as well, and enjoy recieving them for visits every few months. Her favorite color is black, and her favorite food is extra-dark chocolate, which she can sometimes be seen eating in stressful situations. Her favorite activities are - in her own words - "work, work, and work." Her birthday is September 24th, and she is 35 years old.

Almost as soon as she could speak, it was clear Mayweather cared more deeply about the welfare of others than anything else. As a child in Concordia, she consistently tried to mediate disagreements and solve problems she saw around her, and never stopped until she felt she had made things better. She was already, if only on a most basic level, following elections and voting by the age of six, when she met Krishna Han, who was inspired so deeply by her selflessness that he followed her into a political career. Mayweather ran in many class elections when she and Han were in high school, and won only modest victories in the beginning. Even as a teenager, her speeches and rhetoric were beyond comparison, but she struggled to understand what mattered most to her audiences. As she grew older and attended university, she grew more emotionally perceptive, and spoke to her audiences well enough to win a seat on the Grand Council in 3011 at the age of twenty-seven. When Tomio Batra's economic disaster struck in 3015, Mayweather chose to spend her time in the gutted neighborhoods, and watched the lives of her people collapse all around her. To this day, she describes it as a time that shattered her heart every day, and it was a moment that changed her forever. She became filled with an almost luminescent sense of resolve in her desire to make things right for everyone who had suffered needlessly, and suddenly, she began to feel that something had been "sparked" inside her. She began to speak to the Antarctic people in a way that she had never done before, feeling their fears and their desires for relief as if she and her audience were of one soul. Mayweather describes this as the moment that she became the politician she is today. Her suddenly limitless ability to speak for her people soon became the talk of legend throughout Antarctica, as she set foot along the path to the highest levels of public service in Antarctica, and began to emerge as the Prime Minister that Antarcticans know and love today.

Krishna Dion Han


Krishna Han is the Cultural Minister of Antarctica. He was first elected as a Councillor in 3011, immediately joining the Cultural Section, and was elected as Cultural Minister in 3014. He has been highly active in his position, working hard and speaking up to maintain funding for the Cultural Section. His most notable tendency as Cultural Minister has been spearheading the ministry's efforts to direct the government towards actions and policies that nurture both Antarctic high culture and popular culture, reflecting his belief that the best stories and characters of each era, no matter where they come from, will always become the material of classics passed down through the ages. This has created an explosion of kalanta and popular culture, which Han has also used for public service by commissioning kalanta on government-related topics.

All of Han's friends are fairly bright, but he is by far the most brilliant of them all. He is very reflective and in touch with his emotions. He spends much of his time contemplating himself, his friends, and the world around him, and the insights he can draw from his surroundings are often truly remarkable in their depth and sensibility. He excels in making singularly intelligent and well-informed decisions, but he can often be indecisive, and he must sometimes force himself to make hasty decisions due to a lack of time. The true love of Krishna's life, as far as anyone around him can remember, are stories. For him, even the most unremarkable words on a page can have a universality that makes its way into his life, and the feelings and experiences that those words evoke in him can be every way as real and vivid to him as his own. He is a singularly prolific reader and consumer of anything that features characters and stories, be it books, poems, short stories, films, televised series, or video games. His vast vocabulary gives him an old-fashioned and literary manner of speaking, and he is typically very quiet, shy, and withdrawn, spending much of his time alone in thought. However, as he grows older, he has also come to value the experience of spending time with his friends. His laughably horrible baseball skills bring a singular and joyful charm to the games he plays with his friends. His favorite color is green, and his favorite drink is peppermint tea, which he has mastered the art of sipping with a thoughtful elegance. He stands 5 feet, 11 inches tall. His birthday is March 18th, and he is 35 years old.

Han and Mayweather are very old and close friends. They were both born in Concordia, and they met each other when they were just six years old. They soon became inseparable, and they attempted romance several times in their teenage years before both deciding that they were better off simply as close friends. As a child, Krishna didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, and as Michiko's idealism grew stronger and more heartfelt, he became inspired to follow her into a life of public service. As he grew older, his love of stories and characters became his motivation in life, and he decided his purpose was to help nurture young writers and creators, wherever they may be. Krishna's mother is Hanako Han, an extremely intelligent and relatively famous astrophysicist, from whom Krishna inherited his intellect and sense of wonder, and his father is Jiuquan Dion, a prolific writer and critic of fictional media, from whom Krishna inherited his contemplative personality and love of stories. Krishna has one younger brother, Eugene Han. Eugene is a skilled chef and food critic who owns his own restaurant in Concordia. He inherited his mother's enthusiasm and zest for life, and his critical and analytical eye from his father. Krishna's parents live with Eugene in Concordia, and he and his friends visit Eugene's restaurant several times a year.

Azuma Gilpin Sawant & Amelie Gilpin Sawant

Amelie and Azuma Sawant are a pair of Councillors on the Antarctic Grand Council. They were first elected to the Council in 3014, one year before Michiko Mayweather became Prime Minister. They immediately joined the International Section, and within a year they had carved out a reputation for highly prolific legislative activity and solid knowledge of foreign policy. In their seven years on the Council, they have introduced over a hundred proposals to the Grand Council, most of which have passed. Many of these bills have pledged humanitarian aid to parts of the world struck by crises such as wars, genocides, and natural disasters, and others have helped establish a policy of granting special recognition, cooperation and trade to foreign territories that have acted in a peaceful, free, and humanitarian manner. They are well-known to politically engaged Antarcticans, and work closely with the Foreign Minister of Antarctica to help determine the nation's foreign policy.

The two Sawant siblings have very similar appearances and personalities, a fact that can be attributed to their being born as identical twins. However, the two do have a number of differences. The most notable of these is their gender: Amelie was born a girl, whereas Azuma always identified as a boy, and due to Antarctica's highly advanced medical technology, his body was entirely indistinguishable from that of any other male by the time he was 22. One of the twins' most profound characteristics is a burning compulsion to help out anyone they see who needs it. Even among other Antarcticans, the twins often stand out for the depth and passion in their sense of altruism, and they rarely go a day without giving someone help in some way. Another trait the twins share is a singularly energetic and joyful love of life; their friends have seen them stressed or disheartened at times, but never truly angry. Amelie is somewhat less bubbly and outgoing than Azuma, but they both greatly enjoy talking to people, and they also share an emphatic weakness for anything they find cute. Their hobbies include exploring the outdoors, going to parties and social gatherings, watching and re-watching kalanta, and anything else that pops into their minds at the moment, as they are the ones who set most of the group's activities in motion. The twins' favorite food is bananas. Amelie's favorite color is blue, and Azuma's is yellow. Azuma is 5'8'' and Amelie is 5'7''; they are 27 years old.

Their mother is Nozomi Gilpin, a high-ranking financier in one of Antarctica's largest corporations, from whom the twins inherited their energy and their love of social gatherings. Their father is Suresh Sawant, one of Antarctica's most skilled and successful stockbrokers, from whom the twins inherited their happy and friendly disposition. Both of the Sawant twins' parents are vertiginously wealthy, and the twins, who had no other siblings, lived a very cozy and sheltered childhood in a small but luxurious apartment in the mountainside city of Tivin. As they grew older and learned about the world, always their driving interest in life, their altruism and joyfulness served them well. Despite all the heartbreaking things they learned about the wider world as they grew older, their natures gave them the strength to continue. The Sawant twins met Mayweather in a Nanji government hall in 3014, not long after she ascended to her post as Prime Minister, and were instantly drawn in as they witnessed the friendship between Mayweather, Han, and Parvati. They walked up and introduced themselves, and offered to take them on a hike up a nearby mountain. The three accepted, and soon found themselves on another outing with the twins, and then another. For them, a world without the Sawants and their unsinkable zest for life soon became impossible to imagine.

Parvati Matsumoto Page


Parvati Page is Prime Minister Mayweather's hardworking aide and close friend. The two of them first met in 3015, when Mayweather was campaigning across the country in her bid to become Prime Minister. Parvati was visiting a friend in Concordia when one spring day, walking down the street, she saw Mayweather speaking before a small crowd. The speech she gave struck her more powerfully than any political language Parvati had ever heard, and suddenly she wanted nothing more than to help make this unknown woman's vision come true. After the speech, Parvati ran backstage, walked up to Mayweather herself, and asked her if she could stay and help make her speech a reality. Mayweather was struck by the unknown girl's sincerity, and decided she deserved that chance. As the two grew older, they came to sincerely admire and value each other's personalities, and their relationship gradually grew from one of coworkers to that of close friends.

Parvati is a headstrong, courageous, and hardworking young woman whose diminutive size, at 5 feet 1 inch, is more than made up for by her personality. Unlike her friends, she is naturally given to anger, and as a child and teenager she was prone to raging outbursts. Today, as an adult, she has more experience dealing with her feelings, and she is normally able to keep her anger under control. One way she deals with her feelings is by coming up with dry and ironic, yet good-natured, wisecracks on a regular basis. Her sense of humor is considered a staple of the establishment by everyone who sees her on regular basis, and many other people can recognize her by her jokes. The most passionate part of Parvati's nature, though - even more than her anger - is the protective instinct that she harbors for her friends and her siblings. She will do almost anything to keep them safe and happy, and much of the anger that she has to control concerns the people who do her friends and siblings wrong. Her hobbies include running, biking, baseball, playing video games, and anything involving her friends. Her favorite color is red, and her favorite drink is milk. Unlike her friends, she has some fat in her physique, but she has a healthy weight for someone of her size.

Parvati's mother is Terry Matsumoto, a biologist, from whom Parvati inherited her short stature and hardworking qualities. Her father is Dharam Page, a bartender, and an ardent romantic and a dreamer, from whom Parvati inherited her headstrong personality and her strong sense of courage. Parvati grew up in Raasa, and is the youngest of three children. The oldest is Lijuan Page, a woman with her father's headstrong personality but her mother's down-to-earth worldview. Lijuan is a professional baseball player in the minor leagues. She is not particularly famous, but a few dedicated fans of baseball do know who she is. The middle child is Marion Page, a kinra, who inherited their mother's quiet and intelligent personality, and their father's heartfelt worldview. They work as a kalanta writer, regularly producing scripts for a variety of televised series and video games. Marion's dialogue is almost always well written, and at its best, it can be breathtaking in the feelings that it inspires - enough so that their tendency toward plot holes can usually be forgiven.

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