The Gordian Fetish – A humorous Sci-fi novel that pokes fun at our society.

The Gordian Fetish

 

How important is consciousness?

How rare is it in the universe?

It is incredibly rare but not many people here on Earth seem to care about that …

But the Gordian’s do – they value it – they seek it out and look to protect it. They have an institute funded by their government that is geared to the conservation of endangered alien sentient beings.

Unfortunately a new Gordian leader has come along who believes in austerity. He is threatening to close the institute.

Humans are sentient and have a modicum of intelligence. They can hardly be termed endangered though. There are 4000 billion of them. But they are incredibly interesting. They have sex. They also have politics and religion. They pretend to be clever and civilised but they are nowhere near as clever and civilised as they think they are.

Most Gordian’s are intrigued by humans. They find sex astounding and humans cute. Being cute and having sex might just be their saving graces.

Extract

Chapter 1 – The beginning

For the love of Heaven! Zag shouted, throwing his four manipulators in the air in exasperation. We can put in about the rest of the stuff later on. Of course research and study are important and eventually the rest of the bloody universe. Of course having lots of interesting specimens is important. But right now we have a sodding inspection and the Inspection Committee won’t give a bugger about all of that. They just want to shut us down. Can’t you see that? Only paperwork can save us now!

I suggest we have a tea break, Lat proposed testily. The other two committee members vigorously nodded their cranial carapaces and clapped their manipulators in agreement.

No! Zag said sternly in his most authoritative voice, asserting himself and putting them firmly in their place. The clapping came to an abrupt halt. Not until we have finally agreed on this damn mission statement.

Zag took a big sigh, forced himself to calm down, changed tack and looked round at his three fellow colleagues pleadingly – to no avail. It was evident from their petulant scowls that they could not see anything as simple as that. They were tainted with idealistic fervor. They’d rather sink with their principles intact that swim with them compromised.

He searched around one more time for some simple way of explaining things to make them see the importance of the task in hand. They simply weren’t getting it. But this is our one fundamental purpose – our mission statement. One bloody thing. That is all. One bloody statement – one crucial essence of purpose. Can’t you understand that?

Their blank expressions said it all.

Zag turned blue with pent-up rage, supernumery protuberances began to burst out over his head and body with their characteristic – and embarrassing – popping sound. Zag hoped it wasn’t that noticeable.

His colleagues, in characteristic Gordian politeness, were pretending not to notice, but they all continued to look at Zag with an air of resignation and sour resentment that certainly did not help matters, or do anything for his disposition.

The committee had been in session for three weeks now – a whole, unprecedented three weeks, twenty one flaming days, without so much as a break, not even a lousy toilet break. It was true that a Gordian’s metabolism could put up with such insults but it was far from desirable and did little to ameliorate the disposition of the reluctant participants. But Zag saw it as a necessary evil. There was work to be done. In just under three months’ time they had been promised a full inspection and everyone knew what that meant. President Bog had introduced the new austerity measures and was looking to cut to the bone. He considered arts, science and most other things, including aliens, especially aliens, frivolous and unnecessary. The cards were on the table for the Gordian Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation, or GIERC, as it was generally known. Bog was not renowned for his love of anything other than business and the bottom line, and aliens were definitely not profitable enough. Besides, they were ugly and revolting. In his book they were worse than Gordian ballet – and Gordian ballet was renowned for inducing catatonia and suicide. The future for the institute looked dire.

But Zag, the assistant Director, was determined not to go down without a fight. Despite his present fury – directed at Director Zor who, as usual, was nowhere to be seen, because he was off gallivanting around the galaxy as per bloody usual, he remained passionate about the place. Zag cherished the institute with all his heart and truly believed that the work they performed was inspirational and exceedingly important in the confines of such an increasingly uncaring universe. Without the institute’s efforts thousands of alien species would now be extinct. To his great satisfaction they had, against all the odds, successfully reintroduced a great array of alien life back into the wild. Then there were the educational benefits to consider. Generations of young Gordians had their empathic glands fully charged through a single visit to the institute. They learned to value the range of alien life out there and see them as fellow sentient beings, not mere objects to be exploited, or lesser creatures destined to disappear for ever. Aliens were important. They had feelings too. Thanks to the Institute many youngsters took that message on board. There was hope. While the institute existed there was hope.

In Zag’s opinion Bog was a philistine, a monster of the first order. He represented all that was retrograde and soulless. The world he wanted to create was as grey and boring as Briscow’s synthsoup – and Briscow’s synthsoup made distilled water taste positively tangy.

It was true that the planet had a few financial problems but it did not have to be one long decline into economic madness and uncaring exploitation – did it? There were better ways. The Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation clearly demonstrated that and was, in Zag’s eyes, the last bastion of civilisation. If it was the last thing he did Zag intended to ensure that their crucial work continued and that the cretinous Bog did not get his way and close it down. Despite his anger at the irresponsibility of Zor, he was resolute to do all in his power to keep the place open. To that end he had brought the committee together to review and update their policy books. Everyone knew that paperwork was the key to success. When the inspection team arrived he meant to present them with a set of documents that were not only first class but would demonstrate quite clearly the essential nature of their work and its value to Gordian society. No self-respecting inspection team could argue with that, could they?

The major obstacle to achieving this laudable aim seemed to be the committee itself. Individually they were all as passionate and committed as Zag. The problem was that none of them agreed on how to go about achieving their aims. Indeed, deciding on the actual aims was nigh on impossible. Every one of them held a different vision that they sought to promote. No two of them shared a view and none of them were prepared to compromise. In that respect it was a fairly typical committee.

Dut and Lat were utterly impossible. Zag could not fault their spirit or intent but they were so irrational that it drove him crazy. They both wanted to take the work of the institute out of the confines of the galaxy to the universe beyond. Their ideas were so far-reaching and grandiose that they did not have an ice-ball in hell’s chance of success. Every time they opened their mouths it was some other ridiculous plan to take their work to some distant far-flung backwater tucked away in the middle of some megallanic cloud that could never, in a billion bloody Sundays, gain funding or achieve anything worthwhile, just because there was a rumour of some weird bunch of aliens who were on the point of dying out. As far as Zag was concerned Dut and Lat were out with the fairies. He was already drawing up plans in his mind to have them elsewhere when the inspection team arrived. If the chief inspector got one whiff of those two then he reasoned that the game was up.

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Reawakening – A Sci/fi novel of extraordinary scope.

Reawakening

 

This is the sequel to God’s Bolt.

Helen Southcote, the sole survivor of a stricken Earth, is alone on the Space Station.

This is the tale of her journey through space and time towards Tau Sagittarii, 122 light years away  …

This is also the story of the aliens who live in the system around Tau Sagittarii and their reaction to the destruction of Earth.

After dealing with the rigours of isolation, mental illness and hopelessness there is the hope of awakening.

Then there are the questions about the purpose of life, altruism and the nature of consciousness all in the course of an epic adventure.

Extract

Author’s Note

While this is a sequel it is intended to stand on its own as a story.

The novel is concerned with an alien civilisation based in the region of Tau Sagittarii. It takes 122 years for radio signals to reach Tau Sagittarii from earth even though they travel at the speed of light.

In order not to create confusion all dates used are earth time.

Chapter 1 – Awakening

Year 0 Day 1 – 2325

I opened my eyes to discover I was in my own room. It gave me such a shock that I quickly closed them again. That could not possibly be right, could it? I mean, I had to be dreaming.

I lay there with my heart thumping trying to gather the courage to open my eyes again.

That room no longer existed. It was my room from 2159 when I was fourteen. I’d recognised it straight away. It even smelt right. It felt right. The bed felt right. All those things that I’d totally forgotten, that were lost in the depths of time but which were flooding back to me down the distant corridors of history through some ninety two years. It had given me such a shock.

This time I opened my eyes slowly and deliberately, braced for what I was about to see.

It was still there. It was definitely my room down to the smallest detail. There were even the scratches on the paintwork by the door where Woody, my beautiful collie dog, used to scratch to be let out.

I couldn’t have been more shocked if I’d bumped into a tyrannosaurus. I’d seen one of those in the reconstruction zoo, subtly called Jurassic Park after some film that had been made centuries before I was born.

I allowed my eyes to roam around taking it all in and rediscovering all those tiny details that I had long forgotten. They were all resurfacing as I looked – those strange lights that I’d taken a liking too, the garish colours of the walls. What had I been thinking? Orange and green. How could I ever have thought that was cool? The patterned carpet that made your eyes go funny. There was definitely something weird that happens to adolescent minds. They go very strange. But how did my parents allow me to do it? They really did indulge me, didn’t they? – Much more than I’d appreciated at the time.

I looked over to the large mural of Carl Sagan that dominated the wall opposite. My hero Carl held pride of place. Around him were my favourite Zook and Zygobeat bands of the day. I remember I had quite a crush on Zed from Isobar. He had the coolest hair and sweetest face. I adored him. Well looking at him now he just looked like a simpering little kid, barely out of nappies. My Dad used to be very disdainful of Isobar. ‘Computer slush for slushy minds’ he used to say, much to my fury. I used to retaliate calling his music ‘archaic noise for the demented’. He used to laugh – which only made it worse.

I edged myself up in bed. I felt so weak.

I looked around for Woody, my dog, but he wasn’t there. He usually lay curled up asleep at the side of my bed. I half expected my Mum to call up from downstairs to tell me to get up; it was time to catch the scud to school, or my Dad to start chiding. What was going on? I expected to hear my brother Rich mumbling and grumbling from his stinking pit across the landing that resembled a rubbish tip, only smellier. He hated getting up while it was still daylight. I thought about my older brother Joe who was away at Uni.

Everything was so right and that’s what made it so wrong. This could not possibly be happening. This room did not exist. Not only was it a throwback to my room from some ninety odd years ago, that had seen so many transformations as I’d grown up and then left home – this being just one incarnation among the many – an incarnation that was buried under layers of decorative archaeology by the time I last visited home. It was also a room that had been completely destroyed when God’s Bolt, that damn fucking asteroid, had wiped out the Earth all those years ago.

So how was I here?

I eased myself up in bed and sat propped up against the wall. My heart had slowed down but my mind was still racing.

I noticed my hands. You get used to seeing your own hands. They are not very attractive as you get old. All those brown splodges of liver spots, and your knuckles all swollen and lumpy, your skin all crinkled and leathery, like some dry, wrinkly tissue paper that you could never get smooth and soft again no matter how much lotion you use. But these were not like that. They were a young woman’s hands. Not the hands of the slip of a girl I was when I had this room, the hands of a mature young woman. I recognised them too, even though I had not seen them for some eighty years or more.

I got out of bed, walked across the room, or should I say tottered, I felt so weak I thought I was going to collapse at any moment, having to rest a hand on the bed in order to keep my balance, and opened my wardrobe to look in the mirror. My hair was a straggly mess but the body and face that peered back at me was that of the twenty year old Helen Southcote that used to be.

‘Eunice,’ I called, ogling this body I had not laid eyes on for over eighty years, ‘what have you done?’

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God’s Bolt – A Sci-fi novel – A sci-fi novel with a difference – no bug-eyed monsters or space opera – real-life possibility and science fact. A tale of horror and human resourcefulness.

God’s Bolt

 

Helen Southcote is looking for a purpose to life through her Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence work on the United Nations Space Station when she watches the Earth destroyed by an asteroid. What can she do next? …

Extract

Chapter 1 – The End and the Beginning

Year 2178 – Impact day

 I have never felt so utterly alone. A raging storm of nausea was gnawing at my belly as I began my routine morning broadcast – except that there was nothing normal about this one.

‘Good morning everybody,’ I said cheerily, putting on my best smile. ‘This is Helen Southcote beaming down to you from the United Nations International Space Station.’

I was totally unsure of the wisdom of continuing these tridee broadcasts, particularly on such an auspicious day as this. Who on earth was tuned in? Surely they’d all be in a panic, desperately seeking safety for themselves and their loved ones. Nobody would be at all interested in any platitudes from me. But the powers that be, in the form of mission controller Brad Noone, had assured me that it was necessary. The psychologists thought that it might help to continue with normality and reduce panic. Who was I to argue? They’d provided me with a script. I suppressed my anger and upset. Put aside my personal feelings about what had happened to my friends. The show had to go on. I was doing it for the kids, I kept reminding myself – it was for the kids.

‘The earth sure looks beautiful spread out there below me.’ I showed them images of the planet below me with its green seas and swirling white clouds.

With a lot of trepidation, which I hoped did not show too much, I turned my attention to the subject that was foremost in everybody’s minds. ‘Preparations are well underway to deal with the remaining threat from Chang’s comet,’ I assured them. ‘Missiles are poised to destroy the largest incoming rocks but President Khun Mae Srisuk has urged everyone to either seek sanctuary in the prescribed shelters or to evacuate to designated regions of safety. There are bound to be some meteorites that will cause some collateral damage. Better to be safe than sorry.’

I offered them one of my best smiles. The cheery tones sounded so phoney to me.

‘This promises to be one of the most spectacular shows you’ll ever see,’ I promised them. Be reassuring I’d been instructed – be upbeat. Lie. Even the most optimistic reports were predicting widespread damage across the United States, Canada and into Russia. The earth was going to be bombarded with the biggest deluge of rocks in recent history. Chang’s comet was a monster and even broken up as it was, presented a real danger to the survival of the planet. They just had to hope that this time the scientists had got it right and every single major threat would be neutralised. It was a big ask. They had not managed such a brilliant job up to now. This last ditch effort was to target all the remaining large rocks and pulverise them in the upper atmosphere so that the remains would burn up on entry. If all went to plan it was certain to be the most amazing display. The worry was that if a single one of those chunks of rock was missed……………….……….. well that didn’t bear thinking about. ‘Make sure you watch from safety!’ I chastised them. There were always some thrill seekers who sought to put themselves in danger. ‘As for me, well I’ve got the best seat in the house, a real grandstand view. UNISS will be in exactly the right place to record the whole sequence of events and you can bet that I’ll be relaying it to you live as it happens!’

I then proceeded to give them a dull and boring update on the various experiments taking place, the weather, solar activity and conditions in space. Normality. That’s what I’d been instructed to do.

‘This is Helen Southcote signing off until tomorrow. Be safe! See you soon’

‘Good job!’ Brad Noone intoned in his dulcet tones after I’d shut down. That was high praise coming from him.

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Star – A Sci-fi novel – A parody of the sixties set in the future. Galactic Rock Music is the focus.

Star

 Opher May 26, 2020

It’s the sixties – the three thousand one hundred and sixties.

The Federation is in conflict with the Confederation.

The Troman war rages …

There is a civil rights issue with the Androvians.

Young people all across the galaxy are in revolt. Rock Music, on an intergalactic scale, is the medium of the rebellion.

Zargos Ecstasy and the Terminal Brain Grope are providing the impetus for the rebellion.

Zargos, a larger than life character based on Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Jagger, Jim Morrison and Bowie, struts the stage, putting his poems to music and rousing the spacefreaks to seek social justice.

If you lived through the sixties you’ll recognise it all.

Extract

The beginning

Hilan Hilzar sat back into the posture form sensopadding of his couch seat. He was so full of tension that the living contouring did little to reduce the tightness of his muscles. He could not relax. The huge effort of holding back the excitement was making is body rigid. His mind was clamping down on his torso like a crushing weight so that the pressure welled up inside him. His heart felt swollen, writhing around in his chest. His flesh was actually jumping and twitching as if some high voltage current was flowing through his veins. He was worried that it would trigger the seat’s resuscitation unit. It might consider him at risk and ping him with a sedative.

For weeks now his whole existence seemed to have been building up to this climax. At first it had all seemed unreal – an eternity away. It had crawled towards him at a krank-snail’s pace; like it would never arrive. It had devoured his concentration leaving him unable to think of anything else. Then it had simply rushed and the impossible day had arrived.

The journey here was a haze of unreality. He had spent the entire time peering around himself in disbelief. It could not really be happening. Reality was divorced from the evidence of his senses.

He sat back into the seat and took a deep breath as the sensopadding rippled calmingly around him. His mind refused to operate properly. Only fragments of the journey were registering. He’d been in a dream. It was a wonder that he had got here at all. He had vague recollections of boarding the ship and then the jump. Somehow the surge had only barely registered at all. Who could believe that? He had burned through the colour shifts with all the interest of a veteran traveller or some spoilt rich kid to whom hyperspace was a regular event. Instead of being astounded by the brilliance he had just wanted it to end; to arrive. His mind had not been there at all. Even the re-entry was just a dream that washed over him. It was almost forgotten. It meant nothing. His mind was already ahead of him, dancing at his destination. In his head he was already there. This entire journey, no matter how amazing, had been no more than a necessary nuisance to be endured. The terminal had been awash with a multitude of beings as aliens mingled with humans and he allowed himself to be wafted along with the flood of the crowd. They were borne along on a babbling sea of excitement that engulfed them all.

It was as if he only really awoke when he entered the arena. He stood for a minute open-mouthed as the crowd washed past him, boggling at the immensity of it. He was here. He really was. Only then did he dare to let himself believe. He allowed himself to look around as he was checked by an automated usher, conveyed and deposited into his allocated seat. All the while he had been in a trance.

As he came to, excitement welled up inside him as he accepted that he was actually here. He had made it. He bounced to his feet and found himself jumping up and down madly waving to the various groups of friends in his immediate vicinity, the same friends he had not even registered on his journey here.

After a while he had calmed down sufficiently to settle back down into his seat. He could barely contain himself. There were still hours to wait.

A sun was up casting hard sharp shadows. The sky glowed with a deep violet blue bathing the audience with its soft gleam. It would be nightfall before anything happened. He forced himself to calm down. His body would surely give out if it continued at this pitch. He did not want to burn out before it even started.

The sun set below the curved horizon leaving a crystal clear void sprinkled with a billion stars like fine salt on black obsidian. They hung like a pall of smoke over the crowd. There were no gaps between the specks just differences of intensity. It was so clear that one could imagine there was no air or Plexiglas between them. It made him aware that this was a moon; no planet could possibly have created such clarity.

Hilan decided it was time to drop his tablet of Amaz.

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Neanderthal – A Sci-fi novel. Are the Neanderthals alive and well? Do they have an advanced civilisation in the Amazon jungle?

Neanderthal

 Opher April 22, 2020

What happened to the Neanderthals 40,000 years ago?

They had larger brains and were more intelligent than us.

Why did they disappear? …

When the President of Brazil begins a project to build a highway through the middle of the Amazon he knew that he was going to provoke a response – little did he envisage what earth-shattering results it would end up becoming. This story delves into the very psyche of humanity and how people might respond when confronted with an alien invasion from a superior race. A Science Fiction story like no other.

Extract

Chapter 1

It was a sunny day in London. The brightness lit up the fancy brickwork façade on the old main block of the Queen Mary Imperial College, one of the many jewels of London University. On campus students were sprawled on the grass talking. Some were reluctantly strolling along the paths towards the many modern buildings that housed their lectures. It was one of those hot summer days in which nobody had any desire to be inside, indeed, nobody had any desire to do anything, except to loll about in the sun and talk.

But inside the Blizard Hall the Perrin lecture theatre was packed. It seated four hundred, but there was standing room only. They had come to hear Roger Comstock give one of his renowned talks on human evolution. He was the main man and could always be relied on to provide an interesting, lively exposition, with a few quirky controversial ideas thrown in for good measure. It made him extremely popular and well worth forsaking the pleasures of the languid summer heat.

Roger was coming to the end of his lecture.

‘And then there is the mystery of the Neanderthal man,’ Roger shrugged. ‘I feel very close to the Neanderthal,’ he explained with a broad smile. ‘Probably because, as a European, I always carry a bit of Neanderthal around with me. Up to 4% of our genome is made up of Neanderthal genes. They live on in us.’

There was a murmur of asides with some titters of laughter.

‘At one time we coexisted with the Neanderthal. We even bred with them. But then that isn’t so very unusual,’ he cocked his head and chuckled, ‘I’m sure we are all aware of some people who would try to bred with any species they could get their hands on.’

A louder chortle went round the lecture theatre.

‘Now I know some of you purists out there will be a bit sceptical here. Were Neanderthals really a separate species of humans? Surely if they were, by definition, they could not successfully interbreed. Well that is certainly open to debate. Perhaps we should technically regard them as a subspecies? It is a moot point. The truth of the matter is that these people were a distinct second group of humans with genetically different genomes and we did somehow manage to successfully interbreed with them.’

‘Just imagine what it would be like if we shared this planet with other species of man – human beings of a different kind with many characteristics that were not the same. Intelligent people like us but yet dissimilar. How would that affect our psychology?’

He allowed his audience to dwell on that for a moment or two.

‘Perhaps their thought patterns would be very divergent to ours. They might have novel ideas and views on life.’

‘Just think what an impact that might have on the way we behave if we weren’t the only intelligent beings on this planet.’

‘We’d probably wipe them out!’ One bold student called out.

‘hmmf – We probably did,’ Roger replied, peering into the dim vicinity from where the voice had come. He chuckled again. ‘We probably did.’

Turning back to address the auditorium. ‘At one point in our evolution, back in Africa, we did share the planet with other species of humans. There were at least four species of early man who coexisted on that continent. Would it affect our religious outlook? Our view of ourselves? Our social aims? Or our politics? I ask you, would we be different people if we shared this planet with other species of intelligent human beings? Would we see ourselves another way if we did not regard ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution?’

Roger paused and looked down at the floor as if in contemplation before looking back up at his audience.

‘When they dug up those early fossils in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf, there was a lot of controversy. To start with there was this huge brain capacity. Neanderthals had considerably bigger brains than us. Their capacity was up to 1,600 cm3 as compared to our modest 1,200 to 1,450 cm3. We certainly couldn’t be having that now could we? It might well indicate that they were a good deal brighter than we were.’

There was another murmur.

‘Of course, brain size doesn’t necessarily equate with intelligence, does it? The sperm whale has a brain that is greatly bigger than humans, as does the elephant. Does that mean they are more intelligent?’

‘Neither of them have to work for a living,’ the same wag called out.

‘No, that is certainly true,’ Roger said smiling broadly, looking round towards the direction of the voice. ‘They don’t have to work. But they do get hunted and killed and none of them have yet developed any technology.’

‘Is developing hydrogen bombs a sign of intelligence?’ the discorporate voice called out.

Roger searched the indistinct shadowy faces for the source of this dialogue. He quite liked getting a response from his audience but liked to put a face to it.

‘Probably not,’ he agreed. ‘But what is certainly true is that human beings do not like their supremacy challenged. There has been much energy expended in attempting to prove that while Neanderthal brains might well be bigger they certainly weren’t smarter. The cynics have churned out paper after paper discussing the relative size of the optical regions and motor regions. According to these research papers, our friends the Neanderthal were brilliant at seeing and controlling their bodies but lacked the cerebral folds to challenge us when it comes to maths or science. They’d be good at body popping though.’

He pursed his lips and shook his head. ‘I’ll leave it to you to check out what you think on that subject and come to your own conclusions.’

‘But I digress,’ Roger said, looking round at them. ‘Getting back to that mystery. Neanderthals prospered in Europe. They had migrated out of Africa at a much earlier stage to us and colonised a wide area. They had developed a rich culture and technology. Their use of fire, tools and cave painting was at least as advanced as ours. But around 40,000 years ago they suddenly all died out. Why was that?

He held his hands out, leaned forward and raised his eyebrows as if wanting to illicit an answer from them.

‘Some say it was due to the climate warming. They were shorter and stockier, with shorter limbs, well-adapted for cool conditions. But personally I don’t hold with that theory. They migrated out of Africa and were highly intelligent. I don’t think they would have evolved that much to find a bit of climate warming a major obstacle. I reckon that if it became too hot for them I think they could easily have migrated further north or followed the herds, just like we did. It does not make sense to me.’

He strode to the side of the stage with his head down, rubbing his chin with his thumb thoughtfully, then stopped and looked back up.

‘Some say it was competition with Homo sapiens that wiped them out. Perhaps it was? We are a pretty competitive and vicious lot.’ He grinned round at them and began pacing to the other side.

‘Another theory is that they were bred out of existence.’ He paused again. ‘There, we’re back to those people who would breed with anything that moved – or indeed, a number of things that didn’t.’

Another chuckle went round the assembly.

‘Personally I don’t hold with any of these views,’ Roger said seriously, coming to a halt and peering round at the gathered students who were all straining to hear what he had to say. ‘All the evidence is that the Neanderthals were highly intelligent, had technology and yet suddenly disappeared off the scene.’

He raised his eyebrows and gestured.

‘So what was it?’ He spread his hands and looked around at his audience. ‘A cataclysmic event – such as volcanic eruptions? But surely that would have affected us too? Or was it a virus that did for them?’

He began pacing again.

‘I guess we’ll never know.’ He shook his head in sadness and then came to a halt centre stage, looking straight ahead. ‘So I guess we’ll never know what it feels like to share the planet with another species of human beings.’

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Quantum Fever – a Sci-fi novel – a futuristic vision of a capitalist system.

Thanks for all the great reviews and buying the books!!

Quantum Fever

 Opher August 27, 2019

The System is made up of thousands of planets housing trillions of people in tiny doms arranged in tiers.

The Consortium are a group of wealthy capitalists who live above the metropolis in floating mansions. The name of the game is expansion and profit.

The Quships cross quantum space in search of planets to either colonise or plunder for resources in order to maintain the system.

Quantum Fever is a disease that affects people who jump the weird reaches of quantum space.

Was Tahsin Roeg suffering from Quantum Fever or were the Consortium seeking to control her?

What of the alien planet she discovers?

Were the Primitives going to achieve their dream?

Extract

Chapter 1

I hate every minute of being in such an elite club. I play the game and I know I do it well but it really is not me. Inside I am still Tahsin Roeg, the ordinary girl from the deeper beltways of Haven.

Having this rare ability has been my ticket out of the lower tiers. At first, I revelled in it. Who would not feel good about being able to do something that so few other people could do? For someone like me, now in my middle age, short, rather dumpy and plain looking and possessing a phobia about Nano surgical recontouring, it surely proved a lifeline for my ego.

Who would not feel great about being made to feel so special, or having the potential to be elevated into such a high position in society? That skill provided me with a status that was otherwise unattainable.

My rare ability transformed the future for my entire family and gave me a pass to a life, that as an otherwise rather average girl, I could only have imagined – attaining that place in the sky we all dream of.

The skill made me wealthy and famous, but it had not made me happy and now I was finding that it was not at all fulfilling either.

Disillusionment leaves a rancid taste.

I began to see it for what it was – emptiness – sheer emptiness – all sham, all front.

We thought we were part of their club but we really were not. All we Quship Skippers were being used. We were expendable. They, ‘The Consortium’, exploited our talent, paid us handsomely but would discard us as soon as we were of no further use to them. We moved in their world but we were not part of it.

Worse than that – they thought they possessed the right to control us.

There was an epiphany when I woke up to what the Consortium was really doing. For some reason I had shut my mind to it. Now my eyes were opened. I could clearly see what game they were playing. It was so obvious.

No matter how much I tried to kid myself that I was doing a good job and bringing back the resources that everyone needed, I knew I was really working for a bunch of crooks who I did not think were very nice. They certainly were not doing it for the people – that was for sure. The whole business made me feel used and grubby. Somehow, despite all my best intentions, I had lost contact with the friends I used to have in the lower tiers. Looking back now I can see that the moment I left to start the intensive training was when I subconsciously broke away from my roots. I severed that umbilicus. It was something I was now regretting. I was starting to wonder what had become of my friends. We had shared so much. They must have felt abandoned, betrayed.

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Conexion – A Sci-fi novel – a drug that enables you to journey through your DNA back into the distant past – strange discoveries.

Conexion

 

In the future it is still all about power.

General Secretary Rheen holds the reins but does he hold the power?

What about the members of the shadowy Consortium who supply the money to get him elected? …

The separatists who are prepared to use violence?

The Unification Movement who would bring the opposition together?

Or the people who democratically vote?

What of the stranded Starship?

And what of the new drug Conexion that opens genetic memories to unlock an unexpected past?

The new Gaia religion?

Or the three massive spherical objects heading for earth?

How will it all come to a conclusion?

Extract

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!

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God’s Bolt – A Sci-fi novel. What does the last human being do?

God’s Bolt

 

Helen Southcote is looking for a purpose to life through her Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence work on the United Nations Space Station when she watches the Earth destroyed by an asteroid. What can she do next? …

Extract

Chapter 1 – The End and the Beginning

Year 2178 – Impact day

 I have never felt so utterly alone. A raging storm of nausea was gnawing at my belly as I began my routine morning broadcast – except that there was nothing normal about this one.

‘Good morning everybody,’ I said cheerily, putting on my best smile. ‘This is Helen Southcote beaming down to you from the United Nations International Space Station.’

I was totally unsure of the wisdom of continuing these tridee broadcasts, particularly on such an auspicious day as this. Who on earth was tuned in? Surely they’d all be in a panic, desperately seeking safety for themselves and their loved ones. Nobody would be at all interested in any platitudes from me. But the powers that be, in the form of mission controller Brad Noone, had assured me that it was necessary. The psychologists thought that it might help to continue with normality and reduce panic. Who was I to argue? They’d provided me with a script. I suppressed my anger and upset. Put aside my personal feelings about what had happened to my friends. The show had to go on. I was doing it for the kids, I kept reminding myself – it was for the kids.

‘The earth sure looks beautiful spread out there below me.’ I showed them images of the planet below me with its green seas and swirling white clouds.

With a lot of trepidation, which I hoped did not show too much, I turned my attention to the subject that was foremost in everybody’s minds. ‘Preparations are well underway to deal with the remaining threat from Chang’s comet,’ I assured them. ‘Missiles are poised to destroy the largest incoming rocks but President Khun Mae Srisuk has urged everyone to either seek sanctuary in the prescribed shelters or to evacuate to designated regions of safety. There are bound to be some meteorites that will cause some collateral damage. Better to be safe than sorry.’

I offered them one of my best smiles. The cheery tones sounded so phoney to me.

‘This promises to be one of the most spectacular shows you’ll ever see,’ I promised them. Be reassuring I’d been instructed – be upbeat. Lie. Even the most optimistic reports were predicting widespread damage across the United States, Canada and into Russia. The earth was going to be bombarded with the biggest deluge of rocks in recent history. Chang’s comet was a monster and even broken up as it was, presented a real danger to the survival of the planet. They just had to hope that this time the scientists had got it right and every single major threat would be neutralised. It was a big ask. They had not managed such a brilliant job up to now. This last ditch effort was to target all the remaining large rocks and pulverise them in the upper atmosphere so that the remains would burn up on entry. If all went to plan it was certain to be the most amazing display. The worry was that if a single one of those chunks of rock was missed……………….……….. well that didn’t bear thinking about. ‘Make sure you watch from safety!’ I chastised them. There were always some thrill seekers who sought to put themselves in danger. ‘As for me, well I’ve got the best seat in the house, a real grandstand view. UNISS will be in exactly the right place to record the whole sequence of events and you can bet that I’ll be relaying it to you live as it happens!’

I then proceeded to give them a dull and boring update on the various experiments taking place, the weather, solar activity and conditions in space. Normality. That’s what I’d been instructed to do.

‘This is Helen Southcote signing off until tomorrow. Be safe! See you soon’

‘Good job!’ Brad Noone intoned in his dulcet tones after I’d shut down. That was high praise coming from him.

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Green – A Sci-fi novel. Is there a universe inside our heads??

Green

 Opher May 26, 2020

This is a Sci-fi novel set in the future. Elspin is born without a nervous system; a brain with no connection to the world. She is locked within her dreams in an infinite universe of inner space. She should have withered into nothing but against all the odds she prospered …

Politians and Business-people are at each others throats. The world is in crisis. The Greens are split into factions. Passions are explosive.

A way is found of contacting Elspin. What happens when universes clash?

Will the world survive?

Chapter – 1

A flash of orange light exploded in the room with dazzling intensity.

            ‘WHOOOOOOOOMP!!’

            The shockwave, following right behind, resounded with an echoey thud that hit the two people in the apartment with a solid thump.

            Unperturbed, in fact looking bored, President Jane Muller of the Planetary Council sauntered across the room and surveyed the huge burgeoning mushroom cloud now filling the  whole of the far side of the lounge area where her husband was sitting, with a look of critical annoyance. The explosion formed a livid ball of blazing incandescent heat swirling through inky black smoke, rolling and boiling its way up towards the ceiling. An angry red glow played across the skin of her face. The acrid smell of the smoke filled her mouth and nose with a scorching, choking intensity.

            Still she was unmoved.

            With no more than a frown she turned her attention away from the scene and directed it towards the reclining figure of her husband who was still carelessly sprawled in his usual place in his favourite chair.

            “I do wish they would give some warning that they are going to do that,” she remarked, adjusting the intensity controls of the monitor in passing. It irritated her the way he always had the tridee turned up so high.

Her eyes caught her reflection in the large mirrored surface beside the door causing her to tighten her lips in a grimace of disapproval. The grey unipiece business suit and cropped hair presented the conservative, almost military bearing and hard-nosed image that she sought to foster but it could hardly be considered flattering. She turned slightly, pulling in her stomach tight and assessing the effect, tilting her chin quizzically. It wasn’t getting any better. Her frown intensified and her attention wandered back to the fire that was still raging at the end of the room.

            Reaching the chair occupied by her husband Deryk, who was still studying the unfolding scene of devastation, she joined him in his assessment.

            “……Appears the LPL have claimed yet more victims early this morning,” the commentator droned as the camera panned away from the ravaged chemical works to the panic and chaos surrounding the plant. “Following a message received in the early hours of the morning a huge thermite device was exploded in the works. Frantic efforts to find the device and shut down the plant failed and the IntSol Company say that insufficient warning was given.”

            Deryk glanced up at her with a smile of greeting.

            “Twenty people have been reported dead and there are many more missing. IntSol sources say that the final death toll will almost certainly reach into three figures.” The grim face of the commentator loomed out at them superimposed on the billowing clouds of the explosion, seemingly hanging there adrift in the air like a huge decapitated balloon.

            “LPL still at it then,” Deryk observed dryly.

            Jane Muller sighed but did not bother to reply. They both continued to stare morosely at the violent pictures unfolding before them.

            “The only saving grace to this tragedy is that the explosion was timed to go off in the slack period between shifts in the early hours of the morning. This is a time when the plant is only manned by a skeleton crew sufficient to run the computations and deal with emergencies. At any other time the death toll would certainly have reached into the thousands.”

            “The device appears to have been planted close to a pipe-line containing the new and highly inflammable DL17 rocket propellant. The initial explosions setting off a series of gigantic secondary explosions that ripped their way into the heart of the complex.”

            “Survivors report huge shock-waves destroying all building in the vicinity followed by a rushing wall of flame whose searing heat engulfed streets and buildings.”

            “A spokesperson for……………..”

            Deryk shook his head and pushed himself out of the chair, patted her hand and wandered out of the room.

            Jane continued to frown whimsically at the image still billowing in front of her, her thoughts momentarily caught up in the report. The scene behind the commentator changed to a sweeping panoramic view of the plant taken prior to the explosion. It showed an orderly complex of gantries and pipe-lines intermeshing with buildings and storage tanks. The image was clear and sharp and had obviously been taken after the rains when the plant was not shrouded in its usual mantle of smog.

            With an even bigger sigh she deepened her scowl and pulled herself upright from the chair, stretching, suddenly overcome with fatigue and weariness. Her attention wandered to the Massalax. She was desperately in need of a period of calm and peace to drain some of that tension away. Things were not getting any easier. She was tired and hungry. The question was which to deal with first? A quick meal and a comforting drink or an ultra-sound massage to calm the mind and ease the muscles? They were both equally enticing.

            With a practised jerk she tugged at the release straps on her suit and felt the seams relax to safety grip. Absently dialling in the code on the tunic belt she released the security grips and shrugged off the loosened fabric of her uniform to fling it in the nearest disposal chute. Tugging on the connector tabs she disengaged her underwear and they followed the suit down the chute.

            She stood there for a moment as the soft light of the tridee played across her naked body assessing her profile in the mirror. It was a nice full figure, amply proportioned with little sign of the flabbiness of ageing. But then it ought to be with the amount of drugs and beauty treatment she had lavished upon it over the course of the years. She eyed herself coldly, running her critical eyes over her weaker points for signs that might point to the need for further treatments. Were her buttocks beginning to sag a little? Her breasts a shade too full? And her cheeks were definitely showing signs of droop. But then that could just be the tiredness. Even so, perhaps it was time to book another appointment with Stefan. It wouldn’t do any harm would it?

            Resignedly she stepped into the Massalax. Age was a tiresome inconvenience that she could do without. Her presence triggered the mechanism and she felt the invisible forces closing around her as the luxurious waves passed back and forth across her skin soothing and massaging the tired tissues. She let herself go, sensually closing her eyes and relaxing into the flow of the energising programme.

            “………..Buildings were torn apart and thrown into twisted heaps of metal.” The commentary continued on the periphery of her hearing, the shattered buildings littering the room went unnoticed, even the irritating burning smells fading away to be replaced by the gentle aromatherapy of the Massalax sequence. ” IntSol say there is very little chance of survival for any of their employees working in those areas. Both the intensity of the blasts and the tremendous heat would have made it……..”

            The weariness drained out of her as the accumulated waste products were leached out of her cells with the blood circulation stimulated by the pulsating waves of the Massalax. Its deeper radiations eating into her very core leaving waves of contentment and pleasure in their wake. Her mind floated in the lazy internal seas it created as the world outside slipped away to some far away unreality. Everything receded. Time melted.

            “……….What compounded the damage was the spontaneous combustion of the nearby river Gurde.”

            The scene switched to a panoramic view of a sluggish brown river snaking its way through a sterile plateau of mud.

            The thought of a burning river drew her back out of her reverie. Jane’s half opened eyes allowed the images to seep in. She was interested in a detached dreamy way. She knew that tomorrow she would have to deal with the aftermath. But then tomorrow was a long way off and interesting though the image of a burning river might be, it was not interesting enough and she was damned if she was going to allow it to detract from her enjoyment of the massage. She nudged the control to level 4 with her foot. After all ….. she deserved it. The pulsing of the massage became deeper and even more sensuous so that her body seemed to dissolve into the tingling world it was creating inside her. Even so, she still found that she kept a tiny fragment of her mind, despite all her intentions, tracking along with that report.

            “………..The river has long been a source of concern to Environmentalists who have repeatedly claimed that IntSol’s dumping programme has made the river a danger to public health. No life has been recorded in it for more than half a century and twice before the river has spontaneously ignited.”

            The picture switched to views of the river with pools of burning chemical and charred mud. Part of her watched in horrified fascination.

            “Despite claims by IntSol that the previous conflagrations were caused by the build-up of methane gas coupled with hydrocarbons from natural sources, neither of which had anything to do with their dumping programme, subsequent investigations led to the company being fined on both occasions. Whoever is responsible this time, and IntSol are the likely culprits, it now seems certain that the present conflagration was a result of gasses released from an interaction of chemicals within those murky waters. The perpetrator remains to be officially identified. Whatever comes out of this investigation the facts of the matter speak for themselves. Gasses from the river were ignited by the explosion at the chemical works spreading flames down the length of the waterway. These flames engulfed everything in their path and have started up numerous secondary blazes down the length of the river.”

            Despite the languid state of mind created by the Massalax her nose puckered in disgust as she caught a whiff of the pungent river smell that was now emanating into the room completely over-riding the aroma limitation controls.

            The report moved into a sequence of shots of helicraft dumping clouds of white powder, a chemical fire retardant, onto a number of blazes.

            “If it had not been for the fact that few people live in the proximity of the Gurde due to the corrosive chemical smog that extends for distances on either side of its banks the death toll and damage would………………….”

            At this moment her tenuous attention was distracted by Deryk ambling back into the room. The door slid silently shut behind him and she became aware that he was holding two extravagantly filled glasses of amber fluid. The look of smug satisfaction mingled with anticipation left her in no doubt that this was not the usual synth concoction. It was a generous helping of his precious vintage brandy. She returned his smile as he placed the two glasses on the coffee table before turning and walking back through the door.

            Her eyes followed him admiring the sinuous youthful fluidity that his movements still retained. He may be approaching the end of what might be described as middle-age but it certainly did not show. His perennial youthfulness was emphasised by his slight willowy frame and the casual cut and brightness of his unipiece, admirably set off by the furry ‘slippers’ he insisted on wearing which added a dash of eccentricity.

            She nudged the dial to off and allowed the last tremors to settle through her as she luxuriated for a moment more. In some ways this was the time she enjoyed most. More than the deepest relaxation induced by the machine. This was the time she felt warm and snug just like that moment in bed before you push the covers aside and step out from its protective embrace.

            “……….Fire-fighting crews are still trying to control the many fires that are still springing up in the wake of this disaster and it now appears that it may be many hours before the situation is fully under control.”

            Deryk arrived back in the room clutching two dishes of brightly coloured vegetable and rice. The smell of seafood paella deliciously scented the air.

            “Thought this might just do the number for you,” he murmured allowing his easy smile to pleasantly lift the corners of his mouth transforming him into a happy sprite as he stood there basking in the now contented expression on his wife’s face.

            “Umm,” she murmured. “That smells good. You know, I thought you’d forgotten how to dial dishes as good as that Deryk.”

            She boldly stepped out of the machine, noting his appraising glance, and dialled a loose-fitting robe out of the dispenser. Beaming her cheesiest grin she accepted the plate of food and sat with it in her lap.

            He grinned back at her and slid down into his chair, spooning a mouthful of food in as he turned his attention back to the images still beaming into the room.

            “……….This is the tenth such terrorist act carried out by the LPL this month and the eighth that has been directed specifically against IntSol.”

            “The LPL admitted responsibility for the attack in a statement released to all tridee stations this morning.” The serious expression on the announcers face reflected the gravity of the situation. “The statement contained the familiar demands for industry to clean up its environmentally damaging practices and warned of further action if nothing was done. It would appear that IntSol has been singled out for special attention due to its poor environmental history……..”

            Easing herself back into the cushioning of her chair she turned her full attention to the plate resting on her lap and took a small bite of the gourmet food Deryk had presented her with.

            Nudging the smell factor on the tridee down to zero, so that the programme did not interfere with the meal, she, as the food began to melt deliciously in her mouth, began to focus on the man she shared her limited private life with. In contrast to the other men she came in contact with in the course of her work there was nothing arrogant, ostentation or affected about him. And she was glad. Here she could relax.

            “I’m glad we had that gourmet model installed, despite the enormous cost,” she reflected.

            “You can afford it,” he grinned. “Not even much of a luxury to someone in your position. If the President of the planet can’t afford it, who can?” He added.

            “Well luxury or not. I’m glad we had it installed.” The food was delicious and Deryk’s choice was inspired.

            He lifted his glass and toasted her. Touching the glass to his nose, he sniffed the amber fluid as he rolled it around the large glass. After watching the liquid swirl, and the oily drops run back down the sides of the glass into the main body of the classic brandy he at last allowed himself a minute sip, settling into the chair to savour the extravagance. He smiled to himself as the electricity of the flavour visibly radiated out through his body, relaxing him as surely as any Massalax machine. Despite all their claims to have matched every molecular nuance, no synth product could come near to matching this.

            She reached for her own glass, repeating a similar process in pleasing mimicry.

            The seconds drifted past as they slowly worked their way through the meal in silence, savouring the interacting flavours while the broadcast drifted over them, only partially registering on their senses.

            She finished the last sip and emerged from her reverie feeling light and contented and deeply sated, gazing across with affection at the man she had been with for so many years. He was probably the only human being she could ever truly relax with, someone with whom their empathy produced an almost telepathic quality, someone with whom she was truly comfortable.

            Within that richly contented moment she was overcome with a deep clarity. She saw him as he was – a supportive and generous man, contented and easy-going, quite happy to take the back seat through the course of her rapid rise to prominence. He did not relish public life and hated the glare and attention. Yet it had been his strength and stability that she had come to rely on; the foundations on which she could build the edifice of her political career. He had been there to pick up the pieces when things had gone wrong; to put them together again and get things in perspective, sometimes with support and comfort and sometimes with harsh advice —- the platform from which she had set off for the stars and achieved her ambition. She silently thanked him again.

            For this brief moment she could truly relax. The day had been tough, fraught with the worry of big decisions, and tomorrow looked as if it was shaping up to be even worse. She pushed it aside. The taste of the meal was in her mouth. The brandy was in her head and she felt great. She smiled across at Deryk. Tonight she ceased to be the President of the Supreme Council and for the first time in a long while was just content to be Deryk’s wife.

            “………..Magnus Rikson, the Chairperson of the Combined Business Confederation, was quick to condemn the act as an outrage committed by the lunatic fringe. He claimed the LPL were a crazed group of terrorist murderers who were out to hi-jack International Industry for their own ends. He castigated them for dealing in death and destruction and accused them of leaving a trail of maimed bodies and mayhem in their wake. In an angry address he ended by stating that they deserved to be hunted down like animals and shot like the diseased dogs they were.”

            The round moon-like face of the fair-haired industrialist filled the room self-righteously glaring out at them with his piercing blue eyes.

            “We will not bow down to these crass blackmail demands,” he growled menacingly. “Where are the police? Where is the protection for the working people these monsters are killing?” There are no foundations to these foolish allegations these terrorists are making. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the way our industry is operating. It is not possible to go back. We have to go forward. People deserve a better standard of living.”

            “He would say that wouldn’t he?” Deryk remarked mischievously. But Jane refused to rise to the bait and contented herself with a feigned glower of disapproval accompanied with a quick pout. He wasn’t going to spoil her mood by stimulating an argument concerning the attributes of one such as Magnus Rikson.

            Deryk grinned back, toying with her. His tanned and deeply lined face alive with fun. He leaned back into his chair sipping his drink and studying her, his grey hair giving him the appearance of great wisdom that contrasted with the twinkling of his eyes.

            “……….Rikson was joined in his condemnation by many political and religious leaders throughout the world. Earlier today President Muller described the explosion as ‘An outrage against humanity’. She was………”

            Deryk’s face broke into a huge open grin. “And very well said too,” he stated. “That should pull in a few more votes in the next election.” He struggled to assemble his face into a serious look of mock agreement. “It’s good to hear my woman using such decisive language at a time of crisis.”

            She sighed in outraged exasperation. Deryk was the only person on the entire planet that she would tolerate treating her in such a cavalier fashion. Anyone else and she would have exploded in extreme wrath…. and he knew it. That’s why he did it. Teasing her. He was the joker who brought her back to earth with a well timed remark; deflated her ego and stopped her from becoming too full of her own self-importance. He helped her to see the way others might see her words and actions. Stopping her from coming across as arrogant. Not only that but in doing it he lightened the darkness of each and every deadly crisis that threatened to plunge her into despair. Like in the midst of this environmental catastrophe they seemed to be sinking into. Extremists like Rikson and the LPL with her and her government caught piggy in the middle. She needed him……….. particularly at times like this.

            These were the moments when she envied Deryk’s height and natural bearing. The image of herself in the mirror haunted her. Perhaps Stefan could not do anything about her height, not now, she was past the age, well past, but maybe some cosmetic work to make her feel better, so that she could take on the world with new confidence. Perhaps a pill to make her lose a few pounds and another to tighten that collagen in her skin, just so she would lose that puffy look. For men it was so much easier. Perhaps it was those generations of being in control that gave them that air. Or perhaps it was just the physical size. It did not seem to matter if they were plump or wrinkled. It didn’t detract from their self-image or status. The more hideous they were the more they seemed to bask in it.

            How she could have used some of that regal stature now. The advantages it would bring when dealing with the kind of awkward characters she dealt with each and every day. It would have made life so much easier.

            When you boiled it all down politics was simply about one individual imposing their will on others, promoting their views, pushing their ideas, forcing their decisions. It wasn’t a question of right or wrong, and intelligence certainly did not come into the equation. It was simply who had the advantage. Who held the power.

            Sadly, Jane knew, the major part of that was image and confidence.

            She knew she had it inside and projected it well. But oh, how much simpler that would have been from within Deryk’s body. He had all the inbuilt advantages. The strength and height ——- the sagacity.

            She saw herself as short and dumpy. Stefan had worked wonders but the bottom line was still just barely passable. It left her short of many of the weapons a taller more sexy woman might utilise. Yet she had used her sex astutely, as an aspiring contender and was not above using it regularly in her daily contests. And now her arsenal might be lacking the tools of youth and the strength of masculinity but she had restocked them with an armoury born of maturity and understanding. She could be ruthless and often had to be. It was not something she had grown to enjoy.

            The irony was that Deryk had no desire to use his stature and intellect in such a way. He never had, and now at the age of 67 was quite content to lead the quiet life of a semi-retired writer with little aspiration. To blend into the background with no need to impress or impose his views on anyone. As far as he was concerned the world could just go on in its crazy contortions, wending its way down the road to oblivion, just as long as he had a stock of his favourite brandy and his family were cocooned away from the harsher realities. It was going to happen anyway. There were just too many people and too little will to do anything about it.

            In some ways, she had to admit, Deryk was a defeatist.

            “………..Ishmael Rheem, the head of internal security, has stated that the cause of the explosion is under full investigation. He added that the security forces will not rest until they have brought the terrorists responsible to justice.”

            Jane studied the surly image of her Chief of Security. The man in charge of the secret police. Heavy jowled and stony eyed. He did not look incompetent and yet there did not seem to be much success coming from his investigations into these acts of terrorism. It was beginning to wear a little thin. Perhaps it was time to have a change round. The murmurings intimated that the moment could be ripe. Then again there were always murmurings. The question was really, when it boiled to the essence, not if he was competent but whether removing him would assist her position or not. Nothing else mattered. This terrorism was becoming a problem. If getting rid of Rheem helped to solve a problem ….. then he was out. The only trouble was that he was a powerful man with many connections and a security network whose intelligence gathering was second to none. It would test her power to its limits to oppose him. Still if it needed to be done then that was precisely what she would have to do. He stared out at her with bitter intensity just as he had done for so much of today during their lengthy and sometimes acrimonious cabinet meeting.

            She relaxed back into her seat thoughtfully. So why wasn’t he having any success? With his organisation? With its feelers into every nook and cranny? Surely they must have unearthed something? The whole business was beginning to undermine her and the whole integrity of the Government. It was a fact that was forcefully brought home to her with the continuation of the report.

            “………….Rheem, along with President Muller, have come under increasing criticism in recent months over their lack of success in tracing and arresting any members of the terrorist environmentalist groups who have claimed responsibility for the acts of sabotage causing so much havoc with industrial plants across the world.”

            “Security measures have been…………….”

            Jane seethed and allowed herself the luxury of a withering glower towards the commentator that was really intended for Ishmael Rheem.

            Deryk, noting the reaction, took another sip of the brandy. Closing his eyes he allowed the liquid to burn its way across his palate and slide to the back of his throat. He swallowed and savoured its hot descent, followed by the resonating after-taste.

            She watched his actions from afar and observed the way he surfaced from the experience. It was a mystery to her. Brandy was strong and pleasant. It had a rich flavour and was relaxing but more than that she could not say. There was obviously some range of nuance that she utterly failed to detect. Something that Deryk experienced that completely passed her by. She could see the immense pleasure he got from the drink. The reverential manner with which he approached it. The intensity and depth of the experience. She just could not understand what it was. The fact that it was his greatest pleasure in life was strange but it was something she had come to accept. People were just different.

            At least it had distracted her mind and brought her back to her state of relaxation. She settled back into her chair and mused over her feelings. She smiled to herself at the thought that she was jealous of a simple spirit. What if he did have a great love of cognac. It did not warrant full divorce proceedings. It was just that it made her feel as if she had been born lacking some vital sense, as if there was something faulty in her sensory apparatus, and there was a whole world of experience that was denied to her. A world that Deryk visited often. A world he found stimulating and fulfilling. It somehow made her insanely jealous. The smile spread into a big grin. God, it was only cognac.

            “What are you grinning at woman?”

            “Just you, my man. Just you.”  Her attention wandered back to the documentary.

Deryk nodded musingly.

            Through the smoke covered view it was just possible to make out the ravaged buildings of the part of the IntSol complex that had been the centre of the initial explosion. Through the swirling clouds and still exceedingly unstable structures, tiny figures could be seen picking their way through the wreckage. They were all encased in brightly coloured protective suits.

            The commentator’s face rose above the scenes of devastation like a huge rising sun.

            “Experts were today beginning their investigations of the stricken plant. Their first priority is to assess the dangers and attempt to make the installations safe. It is thought that many of the underground tanks have not been ruptured and enough chemicals are still contained within them to produce a blast on a similar scale to what has already taken place. Engineers are struggling to stabilise the site.”

            “When the plant is secure the salvage teams will move in to try to ascertain the full extent of the damage and what if anything can be rescued. Initial reactions seem to indicate that the damage is so extensive that it is exceedingly unlikely that anything other than complete site clearance will be possible although there is an outside chance that the underground installations might be salvageable and the plant could possibly be reconstructed.”

            “The cost of the explosion has been tentatively put in the billions but the peripheral costs will resound through the whole industry in the form of increased insurance premiums and increased security arrangements on other prime targets. It is hard to judge just…………”

            The tridee broadcast wound up and moved on to another programme. Jane toyed with seeking something worth watching but let it rest as a background drone. She was content within her thoughts. Tonight was the lull before the storm. She could sense it. She might not have the opportunity to be this relaxed again for a long time.

            Tonight she could feel at ease with herself and her achievements. She had had her share of lucky breaks but could feel secure in the knowledge that she had got to where she was largely through her own abilities and efforts. She possessed that strength of personality and charisma that made it possible.

            She found Deryk’s eyes resting on her and smiled.

            He raised his glass and took another lingering sip.

            For now the Massalax and brandy had conspired to take the edge off her tension. Tonight there were no games to play, no fronts to maintain. They had no secrets from each other. This was the only arena left in which she could completely relax and lay aside her guard. She indulged herself. No need to talk. Just basking in each others company was sufficient. Business could wait.

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Quantum Fever – a Sci-fi novel – Overpopulation and Capitalism out of control. The world of the future.

Quantum Fever

 

The System is made up of thousands of planets housing trillions of people in tiny doms arranged in tiers.

The Consortium are a group of wealthy capitalists who live above the metropolis in floating mansions. The name of the game is expansion and profit.

The Quships cross quantum space in search of planets to either colonise or plunder for resources in order to maintain the system.

Quantum Fever is a disease that affects people who jump the weird reaches of quantum space.

Was Tahsin Roeg suffering from Quantum Fever or were the Consortium seeking to control her?

What of the alien planet she discovers?

Were the Primitives going to achieve their dream?

Extract

Chapter 1

I hate every minute of being in such an elite club. I play the game and I know I do it well but it really is not me. Inside I am still Tahsin Roeg, the ordinary girl from the deeper beltways of Haven.

Having this rare ability has been my ticket out of the lower tiers. At first, I revelled in it. Who would not feel good about being able to do something that so few other people could do? For someone like me, now in my middle age, short, rather dumpy and plain looking and possessing a phobia about Nano surgical recontouring, it surely proved a lifeline for my ego.

Who would not feel great about being made to feel so special, or having the potential to be elevated into such a high position in society? That skill provided me with a status that was otherwise unattainable.

My rare ability transformed the future for my entire family and gave me a pass to a life, that as an otherwise rather average girl, I could only have imagined – attaining that place in the sky we all dream of.

The skill made me wealthy and famous, but it had not made me happy and now I was finding that it was not at all fulfilling either.

Disillusionment leaves a rancid taste.

I began to see it for what it was – emptiness – sheer emptiness – all sham, all front.

We thought we were part of their club but we really were not. All we Quship Skippers were being used. We were expendable. They, ‘The Consortium’, exploited our talent, paid us handsomely but would discard us as soon as we were of no further use to them. We moved in their world but we were not part of it.

Worse than that – they thought they possessed the right to control us.

There was an epiphany when I woke up to what the Consortium was really doing. For some reason I had shut my mind to it. Now my eyes were opened. I could clearly see what game they were playing. It was so obvious.

No matter how much I tried to kid myself that I was doing a good job and bringing back the resources that everyone needed, I knew I was really working for a bunch of crooks who I did not think were very nice. They certainly were not doing it for the people – that was for sure. The whole business made me feel used and grubby. Somehow, despite all my best intentions, I had lost contact with the friends I used to have in the lower tiers. Looking back now I can see that the moment I left to start the intensive training was when I subconsciously broke away from my roots. I severed that umbilicus. It was something I was now regretting. I was starting to wonder what had become of my friends. We had shared so much. They must have felt abandoned, betrayed.

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