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Catherine Asaro

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Collection: 1955 Births, 20Th-Century American Novelists, 20Th-Century Women Writers, 21St-Century American Novelists, 21St-Century Women Writers, American Rock Singers, American Science Fiction Writers, American Women Novelists, American Women Short Story Writers, English-Language Writers, Harvard University Alumni, Living People, Nebula Award Winners, Saga of the Skolian Empire, University of California, Los Angeles Alumni, Women Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, Women Short Story Writers, Writers from California
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Catherine Asaro

Catherine Asaro
Born (1955-11-06) November 6, 1955
Oakland, California, United States
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Education Chemistry, physics, chemical physics
Alma mater UCLA, Harvard University
Genre Science fiction, fantasy
Notable works Saga of the Skolian Empire
Notable awards Nebula Award
2001, 2008

Catherine Ann Asaro is an American science fiction and fantasy author. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire.


  • Biography 1
  • Saga of the Skolian Empire series 2
  • Mathematical fiction and hard science fiction 3
  • The Diamond Star Project 4
  • Published works 5
    • Saga of the Skolian Empire 5.1
      • Reading order by date of publication 5.1.1
      • Reading order by internal chronology 5.1.2
    • Lost Continent 5.2
    • Other works 5.3
    • Editor 5.4
    • Inclusion in collections with works by other authors 5.5
    • Music 5.6
    • 5.7 Scientific articles
  • Awards 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Catherine Asaro was born on November 6, 1955[1] in Oakland, California and grew up in El Cerrito, California. She has a PhD in chemical physics and an M.A. in physics, both from Harvard University, and a B.S. with highest honors in chemistry from UCLA.[2] She attended Kennedy High School in Richmond, California as part of the Richmond Voluntary Integration Plan.

When not writing and making appearances at conventions and signings, Asaro teaches math, physics, and chemistry. She is the director of the Chesapeake Math Program and has coached various nationally ranked teams with home, private, and public school students, in particular the Howard Area Homeschoolers and the Chesapeake team for national tournaments such as the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML). She also teaches a gifted program in math and science at the Yang Academy in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Her students have placed at the top levels in numerous national competitions, including the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and the United States of America Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS).[3][4][5]

Asaro is a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security.[6] She is also known for her advocacy of bringing girls and women into NASA, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudi Arabia, the New Zealand National ConText Writer's program, the University of Maryland, the US Naval Academy, and many other institutions.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

A former ballet and jazz dancer, Catherine Asaro has performed with dance companies and in musicals on both coasts and in Ohio. She founded and served as artistic director and a principal dancer for two dance groups at Harvard: The Mainly Jazz Dance Company and the Harvard University Ballet. After she graduated, her undergraduate students took over Mainly Jazz and made it into a club at the college.

She has completed two terms as president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) (2003–2005) and during her tenure established the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.[6][17]

Her husband is John Kendall Cannizzo, an astrophysicist at NASA.[18] They have one daughter, a ballet dancer who studied maths at the University of Cambridge and UC Berkeley.[19][20]

Catherine Asaro is the daughter of Frank Asaro, the nuclear chemist who discovered the iridium anomaly that led the team of Luis Alvarez, Walter Alvarez, Frank Asaro, and Helen Michel to postulate that an asteroid collided with the Earth 66 million years ago and caused mass extinctions, including the demise of the dinosaurs.

Saga of the Skolian Empire series

The Saga of the Skolian Empire, informally called the Skolian Saga, is a series of science fiction novels, bio-enhancements, and virtual computer networks.

Mathematical fiction and hard science fiction

Asaro is known as a hard science fiction writer for the scientific depth of her work. The amount of science varies from book to book, with novels such as Primary Inversion, The Radiant Seas, and Spherical Harmonic on the most scientifically dense end of the spectrum, including elements such as equations and diagrams of quantum mechanical wave functions and Klein bottles. Stanley Schmidt, the long time editor of Analog magazine, wrote that Primary Inversion is "an impressive first novel; not just a good story, but the kind of speculation we too seldom see – really new science that just might be possible." Asaro is noted as one of the few female science fiction writers who also has a doctorate in hard science, in Asaro's case a PhD from Harvard in theoretical Chemical Physics.[21]

Asaro is also noted for including sophisticated mathematical concepts in her fiction. The method of space travel used in the Skolian Empire books comes from a paper Asaro wrote on complex variables and special relativity that appeared in the American Journal of Physics.[22][23] The novel Spherical Harmonic involves an imagined universe based on the Hilbert space described by the spherical harmonic eigenfunctions that solve the Laplace Equation, and some prose in the book is written in the shape of the sinusoidal waves found in the spherical harmonics.[24] Her novel The Quantum Rose is an allegory to quantum scattering theory and is dedicated to her doctoral advisors and mentors in the subject, Alex Dalgarno, Kate Kirby, and Eric J. Heller.[25] The novella "Aurora in Four Voices" includes topics ranging from Fourier series to integration problems in calculus. In essays in the back of some of her novels, Asaro explains the mathematical and physics basis of the ideas used in the books, in particular Spherical Harmonic, The Quantum Rose, and The Moon's Shadow. In the anthology Aurora in Four Voices (which includes the novella of the same name), Asaro describes the mathematical basis of several stories in the anthology, including the use of Fourier transforms, Riemann sheets, and complex numbers in "The SpaceTime Pool."[26]

The Diamond Star Project

The Diamond Star Project is a collaboration between Catherine Asaro and the rock musicians Point Valid. The project resulted in a CD, Diamond Star (Starflight Music, April 2009), which is a "soundtrack" for the book, Diamond Star (Baen Books). The novel tells the story of Del-Kurj, a Ruby Dynasty prince who would rather be a rock singer than sit on the throne. The lyrics to the songs appear in the novel Diamond Star and were the inspiration for the CD.[27][28][29]

Point Valid with Catherine Asaro (2008)

Point Valid is an alternative band originating in Baltimore, Maryland, with Hayim Ani on vocals and guitar, Adam Leve on drums and Max Vidaver on guitar. Ani wrote most of the music for the CD, and Asaro wrote most of the lyrics, as well as music for three songs. Ani also contributed three original compositions, both music and lyrics. Most of the vocals are by Ani, with a few by Asaro. The CD has twelve songs, eleven originals and a cover of "Sound of Silence." Asaro, who didn't know how to sing, took voice lessons in preparation for the recordings, and continues to train and perform. Asaro has described how the collaboration inspired her work, as exemplified by the song "Emeralds," which she wasn't able to finish until she and Ani were in the studio recording his vocals.[30]

During 2009, the Diamond Star Project expanded to include Donald Wolcott, a jazz pianist who accompanied Asaro in concerts.[30][31] In 2010, Starflight Music released the EP Goodbye Note by Asaro and Wolcott, which includes the song "No Answers with in Paradisum" from the Diamond Star soundtrack, rewritten and sung by Asaro.[32] In 2010, Marty Pell joined the Diamond Star Project as an additional pianist,[33] and in 2011, Greg Adams replaced Wolcott as Asaro's primary accompanist.[34] In 2013, Asaro and Adams recorded Paul Levinson's "Looking for Sunsets (in the Early Morning)"[35]

Published works

Saga of the Skolian Empire

Reading order by date of publication

Note that the stories were published in non-chronological sequence, from the perspective of the characters.

  1. Primary Inversion (1995), rewritten version available online in Baen Free Library (2008–2012)
  2. Catch the Lightning (1996)
  3. The Last Hawk (1997)
  4. The Radiant Seas (1999)
  5. Ascendant Sun (2000)
    • "A Roll of the Dice" (novella appearing in Analog, ed. Stanley Schmidt) (2000)
  6. The Quantum Rose (2000) (also serialized in Analog, ed. Stanley Schmidt) (1999)
    • "Ave de Paso" (short story appearing in the following anthologies; Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction, ed. Al Sarrantonio, (2001); Fantasy: the Best of 2001, ed. Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber, (2002); Aurora in Four Voices, ed. Steven Silver (2011))
  7. Spherical Harmonic (2001)
  8. The Moon's Shadow (2003)
  9. Skyfall (2004)
    • "Stained Glass Heart" (novella appearing in anthology Irresistible Forces, ed. Catherine Asaro) (2004)
    • "Walk in Silence" (novella appearing in Analog, ed. Stanley Schmidt) (2003)
  10. Schism (2004)
    • "The Edges of Never-Haven" (short story appearing in anthology Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, ed. Al Sarrantonio) (2004)
    • "The City of Cries" (novella appearing in Down These Dark Spaceways, ed. Mike Resnick) (2005)
    • "The Shadowed Heart" (novelette appearing in anthology The Journey Home, ed. Mary Kirk (2005), and Best New Paranormal Romance, ed. Paula Guran, (2006))
  11. The Final Key (2005)
    • "Echoes of Pride" (short story appearing in anthology Space Cadets, ed. Mike Resnick) (2006) Also in 2013; see below
    • "The Ruby Dice" (novella appearing in Jim Baen's Universe, ed. Eric Flint) (2006)
  12. The Ruby Dice (2008)
  13. Diamond Star (2009)
  14. Carnelians (2011)
  15. Aurora in Four Voices (anthology, ed. Steven Silver) (2011). Includes Aurora in Four Voices, Ave de Paso, The Spacetime Pool, Light and Shadow, The City of Cries, A Poetry of Angles and Dreams (essay on how Asaro uses math in her fiction), Introduction by Kate Dolan, and Afterward by Aly Parsons.
  16. The City of Cries, eBook, (2012)
  17. "The Spacetime Pool," eBook (2012). Includes "The Spacetime Pool," "Light and Shadow," and the math essay "A Poetry of Angles and Dreams"
  18. "The Pyre of New Day" (novelette appearing in anthology The Mammoth Book of SF Wars, ed. Ian Watson and Ian Whates) (2012)
  19. "Echoes of Pride" (appearing in Galaxy's Edge magazine) (2013)
  20. Lightning Strike, Book I, 2014, an expanded version of the first half of Catch the Lightning
  21. Undercity, 2014

Reading order by internal chronology

A Reader's Guide

Note: the name(s) between the parentheses denotes the main character.

  1. Skyfall (Roca Skolia, Eldrinson Althor Valdoria, Kurj Skolia)
  2. "The City of Cries" (Major Bhaaj, P.I.)
  3. "Stained Glass Heart" (Havyrl Torcellei Valdoria)
  4. Schism (Sauscony (Soz) Lahaylia Valdoria)
  5. "Echoes of Pride" (Sauscony (Soz) Lahaylia Valdoria)
  6. The Final Key (Sauscony Lahaylia Valdoria/rest of her family)
  7. "The Edges of Never-Haven" (Denric Winward Valdoria)
  8. "Light and Shadow" (Kelricson Garlin Valdoria)
  9. "Aurora in Four Voices" (Sauscony Lahaylia Valdoria)
  10. "Walk in Silence" (Jess Fernandez)
  11. "The Pyre of New Day" (Sauscony (Soz) Lahaylia Valdoria)
  12. The Last Hawk (Kelricson Garlin Valdoria)
  13. Primary Inversion (Sauscony (Soz) Lahaylia Valdoria) This was the first published book
  14. The Radiant Seas (Sauscony (Soz) Lahaylia Valdoria/rest of her family)
  15. "The Shadowed Heart" (Jason Harrick)
    • Aftermath of Radiant War – the following stories have a great deal of overlap but follow different characters
  16. Ascendant Sun (Kelricson Garlin Valdoria)
  17. The Quantum Rose (Kamoj Argali, Havyrl Torcellei Valdoria)
  18. Spherical Harmonic (Dyhianna Selei)
  19. The Moon's Shadow (Jaibriol Qox Skolia)
  20. Diamond Star (Del-Kurj Arden Valdoria)
  21. "A Roll of the Dice" (Jeremiah Coltman)
  22. "The Ruby Dice" (novella, Kelricson Garlin Valdoria)
  23. The Ruby Dice (full length novel, Jaibriol Qox Skolia and Kelricson Garlin Valdoria)
  24. Carnelians (Kelricson Garlin Valdoria, Jaibriol Qox Skolia, Del-Kurj Arden Valdoria)
  25. "Ave de Paso" (Akushtina Santis Pulivok)
  26. Catch the Lightning (Akushtina Santis Pulivok, Althor Vyan Selei)
  27. Lightning Strike, Book I, (Akushtina Santis Pulivok, Althor Vyan Selei)
  28. [36]

    Lost Continent

    Lost Continent (aka Aronsdale) series (Romantic fantasy)[37]

    1. The Charmed Sphere (2004)
      • "Moonglow" novella (Charmed Destinies, ed. Mary Theresa Hussey (2003))
    2. The Misted Cliffs (2005)
    3. The Dawn Star (2006)
    4. The Fire Opal (2007)
    5. The Night Bird (2008)
    6. "The Topaz Desert" (Lace and Blade, ed. Deborah Ross, 2008)

    Other works

    • The Veiled Web (1999)
    • The Phoenix Code (2000)
    • Sunrise Alley (2004)
    • Alpha (2006) (Sequel to Sunrise Alley)
    • "Dance in Blue" novelette (Christmas Forever, ed. David Hartwell, (1993) and Wondrous Beginnings, ed. Steven H Silver (2003))
    • "Boot Hill" short story written with Mike Resnick (Civil War Fantastic, ed. Martin H. Greenberg, (2000) and With a Little Help from My Friends: Stories by Hugo and Nebula Winner Mike Resnick in Collaboration with . . . ed. Mike Resnick (2002))
    • The Phoenix Code (2013) rewritten eBook version


    • Mindsparks the Magazine of Science and Science Fiction, Editor and founder, Catherine Asaro, 1993–1996
    • Irresistible Forces, ed. Catherine Asaro (2004)
    • Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, ed. Catherine Asaro

    Inclusion in collections with works by other authors

    • Civil War Fantastic, ed. Martin H. Greenberg (2000)
    • Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction, ed. Al Sarrantonio (2001)
    • Fantasy: the Best of 2001, ed. Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber (2002)
    • Charmed Destinies, ed. Mary Theresa Hussey (2003)
    • Nebula Awards Showcase 2003, ed. Nancy Kress (2003)
    • Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, ed. Al Sarrantonio (2004)
    • Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, ed. Lou Anders (2004) Nonfiction
    • The Journey Home, ed. Mary Kirk (2005)
    • Down These Dark Spaceways, ed. Mike Resnick (2005)
    • Year Million, ed. Damien Broderick Nonfiction (2008) Nonfiction
    • Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: The Sub-genres of Science Fiction [sic], ed. Keith Brooke (2012) Nonfiction; chapter written with Kate Dolan
    • The Mammoth Book of SF Wars, ed. Ian Whates and Ian Watson, (2012)


    • Diamond Star, Point Valid with Catherine Asaro (2009) CD
    • Goodbye Note, Asaro and Wolcott (2010) EP
    • "Deep Snows," Catherine Asaro (2012) Single
    • "Looking For Sunsets," Catherine Asaro (2013) Demo

    Scientific articles

    • "Photoexcitation and Ionization in Molecular Oxygen: Theoretical Studies of Electronic Transitions in the Discrete and Continuous Spectral Intervals," A. Gerwer, C. Asaro, B.V. McKoy, and P.W. Langhoff, Journal of Chemical Physics 72 713 (1980)
    • "Photoionization of Molecular Oxygen," P.W. Langoff, A. Gerwer, C. Asaro, and B.V. McKoy, International Journal of Quantum Chemistry, Quantum Chmistry Symposium 13, 645 (1979). (Conference proceedings for 1980 JCP article)
    • "Stieltjes-Imaging Calculations of Photodissociation," C. Asaro and A. Dalgarno, Journal of Chemical Physics 78 200 (1983)
    • "Bound Vibrational Levels of the Two Lowest Singlet Sigma States of LiF," Catherine Asaro and A. Dalgarno, Chemical Physics Letters 118 64 (1985)
    • "Polarization Control of Branching Ratios in Photodissociation," Catherine Asaro, Paul Brumer, and Moshe Shapiro, Physical Review Letters 60(16) 1634 (1988)
    • "Complex speeds and special relativity," Catherine Asaro, American Journal of Physics April 1996
    • "Special relativity and complex speeds," Catherine Asaro, NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Workshop, August 1997


    • Catch the Lightning, winner, Sapphire Award, best novel, 1997
    • Catch the Lightning, winner, UTC Readers Choice Award, best novel, 1997
    • The Radiant Seas, winner, RT Book Club Reviewer's Choice Award, Best Science Fiction Novel 1999
    • "Aurora in Four Voices", winner, AnLab (Analog Reader's Poll), 1999 (also Hugo and Nebula nominee)
    • "Aurora in Four Voices", winner, HOMer Award, best novella
    • "Aurora in Four Voices", winner Sapphire Award, best novella
    • The Veiled Web, winner, HOMer Award, best novel, 2000
    • The Veiled Web, winner, Prism Award, best novel, 2000
    • The Veiled Web, winner, National Reader's Choice Award, 2000
    • The Quantum Rose, winner, Nebula Award for Best Novel 2001[38]
    • The Quantum Rose, winner, Affaire de Coeur Award, Best Science Fiction (2001)
    • "A Roll of the Dice", winner, AnLab (Analog Reader's Poll), 2001 (also Hugo and Nebula nominee)
    • "A Roll of the Dice", winner, HOMer, 2001
    • Spherical Harmonic, winner, Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll for Best Futuristic (2002)
    • Ascendant Sun, winner, RT Book Club Reviewer's Choice Award, Best Science Fiction Novel 2003
    • Skyfall, winner, RT Book Club Reviewer's Choice Award, Best Science Fiction Novel 2003 (also RITA nominee)
    • "Walk in Silence", winner, AnLab (Analog Reader's Poll), 2004 (also Hugo and Nebula nominee)
    • "Walk in Silence", winner, Prism Award, best novella, 2004
    • Outstanding Achievement Award, WRW, Washington D.C., 2005
    • "The City of Cries", winner, Prism Award, Best Novella, 2006
    • "The City of Cries", winner, Prism Award, The Best of the Best, 2006
    • "The City of Cries", winner, Book Buyers Best, novella, 2006
    • "The Space-Time Pool," winner, Nebula Award for Best Novella 2008[38]
    • "The Space-Time Pool," second place, AnLab (Analog Reader's Poll), 2008
    • "Deep Snows," Nominee, Best R&B Music Video, World Music and Independent Film Festival, 2012
    • "The Pyre of New Day," Nebula nominee, best novelette, 2012


    1. ^ "Catherine Asaro - Summary Bibliography". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
    2. ^ "Catherine Asaro - Author Information, Books, and News". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    3. ^ Chesapeake Math Program
    4. ^ "Community". Art of Problem Solving. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    5. ^ "ARML 2008 Division B". Retrieved 2015-07-24. 
    6. ^ a b [6] Archived December 12, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
    7. ^ "Women in SF&F Month: Catherine Asaro | Fantasy Cafe | Reviews of Fantasy and Science Fiction Books". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    8. ^ Robin Reid. "Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Robin Reid — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    9. ^ "DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER)". 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    10. ^ "Vericon". Geek Mountain State. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    11. ^ Coombs, Brittany (2011-02-24). "The Dogs That Can Do Algebra | gnovis". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    12. ^ [7] Archived February 21, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
    13. ^ "Where's My Flying Car? Science, Science Fiction, and a Changing Vision of the Future | AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society". AAAS. 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    14. ^ "Press Releases". SIGMA Forum. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    15. ^ [8]
    16. ^ "WRITER’S WORKSHOP with Catherine Asaro!". SpecFicNZ. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    17. ^ "Andre Norton Award Archives". SFWA. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    18. ^ "Home Page - Astrophysics Science Division - 660". 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    19. ^ "X-Ray Variability : Quasi-periodic Oscillations" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-24. 
    20. ^ "YAGP 2005 – GREENVILLE, SC SEMI-FINAL | Youth America Grand Prix". 2005-04-01. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    21. ^ "Projecting the Shadow: The Cyborg Hero in American Film, Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz. 1995. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 256 pages. $45.00 hc; $14.95 pb". 1997-08-01. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    22. ^ Am. J. Phys, 64 (4), April 1996, 421
    23. ^ "Catherine Asaro". 2014-04-11. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    24. ^ "Spherical Harmonic: A Novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire - Catherine Asaro". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    25. ^ [9]
    26. ^ "Math Essay Updated March 2012.pdf - Google Drive". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    27. ^ "Blog – Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    28. ^ [10]
    29. ^ "Acclaimed author Catherine Asaro celebrates the launch of Diamond Star – The novel and the Music Soundtrack". Catherine Asaro. February 12, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2009. 
    30. ^ a b Alasdair Wilkins (May 1, 2009). "Catherine Asaro Rocks Out For Her Latest Science Fiction Epic". Retrieved May 4, 2009. 
    31. ^ Charles Tan (April 22, 2009). "Catherine Asaro 2009 Interview". Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2009. 
    32. ^ "Asaro and Wolcott | Goodbye Note | CD Baby Music Store". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    33. ^ "Catherine Asaro - Various appearances 2011". Facebook. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    34. ^ Carl Sagan. ""We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technolnogy"" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-07-24. 
    35. ^ Asaro and Adams, "Looking for Sunsets" on YouTube
    36. ^ A chronology and family tree appears at the back of most Skolian Empire books.
    37. ^ "000283 - Romantic Fantasy". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
    38. ^ a b "Nebula Awards". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 

    External links

    • Official website
    • Locus bio/interview with Asaro
    • The Future And YouAll of Catherine Asaro's audio interviews on the podcast (in which she describes her expectations of the future)
    • Asaro interview at Blogging the Muse
    • Asaro interview from Second Life
    • Reviews of the works of Catherine Asaro
    • Catherine Asaro at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
    • Bibliography on SciFan
    • Catherine Asaro's online fiction at Free Speculative Fiction Online
    • Article – "Catherine Asaro: Space Opera = Physics + Romance"
    • Reviews at
    • Sigma website at
    • Washington Post article about SIGMA
    • Catherine Asaro at Library of Congress Authorities, with 31 catalog records
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