I am delighted to have this book out in print at last. It has taken me a while getting it written, rewritten and edited and I am very pleased with the end result.
Here’s the opening section to tickle your palate:
Chapter 1 – As it was
James Hendrix, better known as Jimi to everyone who knew him, noted the first indication at precisely 2.37 and 37 seconds on May 30th 2249.
It was a date that was to go down in history as one of the most auspicious events ever recorded, even though at the time Jimi thought little of it and paid it scant attention.
That was not surprising. Warnings went off routinely as every lump of rock or piece of space junk that was heading anywhere near an inhabited planet was flagged up. Most were of little consequence and would simply burn up in the atmosphere but a few were big enough to cause concern and had to be dealt with. That’s why the agency had been set up.
Jimi assigned the latest intruder a signature code – JHUMA91074 – then he left it to its automatic tracking system and went back to playing Solum with the station’s computer.
JH were his initials, UMA stood for Ursa Major, the segment of space from which the object was first recorded coming in. It was quite an unusual one as could be seen from the low number of recorded warnings, 91074 indicated the number of objects that had originated from that sector.
Once assigned, the computer continued to plot the trajectory and that was normally where the whole matter ended. Most of the debris was considered of no risk and was merely monitored, never to be heard of again. People like Jimi performed the mundane task of acknowledging the warning just as a fail-safe. The Public did not like the idea of there not being a human touch somewhere along the line. They felt that humans should make the decisions even though it had been well proven that computers were far better at it.
There wasn’t a great deal of excitement to be had in Jimi’s work. Being an astrophysicist had sounded great when he’d opted for the training but wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Jimi worked for the AEWC – the Asteroid Early Warning Centre – in its favour, it paid well and at least got one up into vacuum even if that’s as far as it went. For the most part his work consisted of spending long tedious hours on his own every night, pointlessly acknowledging things of no significance that the computer had already done, and vainly hoping for an event of significance to finally take place so that there was at least something to get excited over. The sad fact was that even if a major event did occur then all Jimi had to do was ensure that the computer had passed the information on to his superiors, which it routinely did anyway – so even that wasn’t exactly thrilling.
It was not a pleasant thing to realise that one was in effect redundant and surplus to requirements, so Jimi tried not to think about it too much, which was why he spent most of his time playing games with the computer. Even that enterprise was futile – about as pointless as checking space junk. He knew the computer could beat him hands down every time if it had not been programmed to limit its capabilities in order to give him a fighting chance. Still, it whiled the hours away.
Jimi had not paid too much attention to this particular intrusion other than to note that the object was far too far away at this point in time to be of any importance, so he did not have to register it into his consciousness or grant it a moment’s speculation as to what it might be. A minor niggle did reach the surface of his thoughts; if it was far away and yet had registered it had to be big. But hey, space was full of lumps of rock and the majority of them were of absolutely no significance. Space was big. As long as they did not cross routes or threaten planets they could be disregarded.
It goes to show, doesn’t it? There’s no limit to how wrong a person might be!
In the UK:
In the USA: