a fibrous amphibole
asbestos fibers and mouse grit puffed up around him as the wire tore loose.
emitting light without appreciable heat
The LED glowpaint smeared on Nailer’s forehead gave a dim green
phosphorescent view of the service ducts that made up his world.
notched like a saw with teeth pointing toward the apex
He slashed the wire free with the
serrated back of his work knife.
lacking vitality or spirit; lifeless
He crawled over
desiccated rat bodies and their nests.
a prescribed number
Even his own long friendship with her didn’t shelter him when they were behind
a wide and open space or area as of surface or land or sky
From the height of the tanker’s deck, Bright Sands Beach stretched into the distance, a tarred
expanse of sand and puddled seawater, littered with the savaged bodies of other oil tankers and freighters.
the front part of a vessel
Hulls lay like chunks of cleavered fish: a conning tower here, a crew quarters there, the
prow of an oil tanker pointing straight up to the sky.
Compare this word with the vocabulary words "fore" (Chapters 13-18) and "stern" (Chapters 19-25).
imposing in size or bulk or solidity
Replacements for the
massive coal- and oil-burning wrecks that he and his crew worked to destroy all day long: gull-white sails, carbon-fiber hulls, and faster than anything except a maglev train.
the quantity that was caught
Everyone started unreeling sections of Nailer’s new
haul, parting the lengths out amongst themselves.
an abstracted state of absorption
Nailer jerked from his
being in the earliest stages of development
With another series of grunts they heaved it over the ship’s warped decking and rolled it to where a
rudimentary crane had been set up.
material reducing transmission of sound, heat or electricity
He crimped the wire with his pliers and ripped off a sleeve of
insulation, revealing the shining copper core.
having many complexly arranged elements; elaborate
Their hands turned slick with work, and their crew tattoos shone like
intricate knots on their flushed faces.
wild and menacing
feral, and they all nodded back.
a twisted mass that is highly interwoven
He ripped down more
a position well suited to the person who occupies it
In another year, he’d be too big for this work and Sloth would take his
niche for sure.
the limit beyond which something happens or changes
The whole thing was on the
verge of collapse.
having a relatively high resistance to flow
He hit liquid, warm and
hold on tightly or tenaciously
He forced himself to breathe shallowly as he
clung to the wire.
a contract binding one party into the service of another
Sneaking it out bucket by bucket until he had enough to buy out his
indenture and burn off his work tattoos.
grant freedom to; free from confinement
It was a curiously
a large sea wave
surge and swell of an oily sea.
Grammatically, the example sentence uses "surge" and "swell" ("a long ocean wave that moves continuously without breaking") as nouns, but the sounds of the words and their meanings as verbs emphasize how the waves are moving up and down nonstop.
a violently fast stream of water or other liquid
Torrents of water rushed down over them, filling the wood-cutting trails of the forest with their own muddy rivers.
a trinket thought to be a magical protection against evil
Considered the possibilities of turning it into a
talisman, a decoration to hang around his neck.
with extreme care or delicacy
gingerly, testing the stitching and cleaning work she’d done.
And say what you like about your father, you’ve got that Lopez
Bapi had put his knife through her light crew tattoos himself,
disowning her completely.
exchange or give in exchange for
The crew gathered around the bonfire,
move with or as if with a rushing sound
Nailer tried to imagine what it would be like to stand on deck,
hurtling across the waves, blasting through spray.
strong and sharp, as a taste or smell
Nailer smiled bitterly in the
a secret store of valuables or money
Half the crews out here find some
cache of oil or copper or whatever and none of them figure out what to do with it.
marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
“Not me,” Pearly said vehemently.
a sum total of many heterogeneous things taken together
Richard Lopez was a rib-thin
conglomeration of ropy muscle and burning energy.
a current that flows away from the shore after waves break
Underneath the man’s tattooed features a storm was brewing, full of
undertows and crashing surf and water spouts, the deadly weather that buffeted Nailer every day as he tried to navigate the coastline of his father’s moods.
"Undertow" also means "inclination contrary to the strongest or prevailing feeling" and is similar to "undercurrent" which means "a subdued emotional quality underlying an utterance"--both are words that physically describe the movements of the sea (which is a large part of Nailer and his father's lives), but as used here, can also describe the movements of a person's moods.
cut small bits or pare shavings from
The man had become more unpredictable as he worked less on the crews and worked more in the shadow world of the beaches, as his drugs
whittled him down to a burning core of violence and hungers.
incapable of being appeased or pacified
The storm rolled onto the coast with all the
implacable power of an old-world tank.
"Placate" means "to appease the anger of; pacify"--in comparing the power of the storm to an old-world tank, the example sentence is making it seem less like a force of nature and more like a man-made instrument of war that deliberately wants to destroy.
unable to move or resist motion
Nailer dragged all their possessions over to his father’s
difficult to handle or use because of size or weight
He hefted the sheet, groaning at the
no longer sufficient
The chemicals in his brain were so
depleted he wasn’t going to come awake even for the storm.
a powerful circular current of water
maelstrom of sand and copper screws and plastic shards swirled around him, the debris of the ship-breaking business ripping at his skin as he ran barefoot down the beach to Pima’s shack.