It’s a space launch! Wahoo! Past the Event Horizon is finally published! Kennedy declared that man should land on the moon and ten years later, we made it. While it hasn’t been ten years launching Past the Event Horizon, or maybe it has, a book about traveling through space has all kinds of challenges and is really fun to write.
One challenge is gravity. Low gravity is hard on the human body. Take your characters away from Earth’s gravity and you encounter all sorts of problems. Bones decalcify, blood flow changes, digestion stymies. Currently, the answer is to provide centripetal force, or gravity induced by spinning parts of the ship. When this stops and zero gravity occurs, the human body and all things around it float and provide amusing experiences.
In one episode, on his way to a crisis, Captain Braden encounters a floating sock. Sex in zero gravity is different also. Body parts float, and there is always the action, reaction law. Push at someone and you’re likely to be rebounding off of walls or furniture. So, the crew snickers about tethering each other on certain occasions.
Providing edible food in space is a challenge. On my ship the Seeker, we have the farm, which uses wide spectrum light to grow plant food and duckweed and water hyacinths to filter water. The diet is soy based supplemented by animal proteins and grown vegetables. Miniature goats and chickens are present. In an extended voyage, keeping the menu interesting would be difficult. However, as Captain Braden says in the story, “People will eat anything if they’re hungry enough.” And it is the wide variety of foods that humans can eat that has helped us survive. We’re flexible eaters, but keeping the crew healthy and fed is a real challenge.
Enclosing twelve people in a small space with no egress strains the human psyche. Currently around the world, a number of experiments have been run to assess what people will do in such an environment. Check out David LeVine’s blog at Mars journal: http://www.bentopress.com/mars/My editor, and not a few in my writing group, protested the antics of several of the crew on board my ship.
Then, I attended a panel at Orycon on enclosed space habitats and learned of some of the extreme behaviors human beings resort to when enclosed with each other for prolonged periods of time. One of the panelists quoted an experiment in an enclosed habitat that had to be discontinued due to violence and serious death threats. On board the Seeker, a lot of the crew make bets to keep themselves amused. Never did I mention what the payoff for these bets was. I thought I would just let the readers imagine that part. Emotions often get high, people jockey for power, and there is an attempted rape by a frustrated male. Yes, I had a mixed crew. As I wrote, “The crew was mixed military and civilian, mixed male and female, mixed nationalities and temperaments. In total, a handful of headaches thanks to the thoughtful selections of Mission Control. And lately, everyone was getting cranky with everyone else.”
I had to think about how to power the ship both inside and out. I decided to walk on the wild side of science and, once the ship is in deep space, it uses a dark matter propulsion matrix that powers the ship along. Sucking up dark matter and spitting out bits provides propulsion in frictionless space. Because once you get going, there’s little to slow you down. I have a magnetic field surround the ship to protect it from random space debris and radiation, much like the magnetic field around Earth protects it. While I was in the neighborhood of wild science, I put in a stargate. The wild ride through the stargate provided some fun reading.
“Some kind of beam has locked onto us and is pulling us toward that energy mass’s center,” Bashar shouted.
Braden activated his emergency comm to Adam and commanded, “Reverse engines. Increase reverse thrusters, NOW!”
From the engine pod, Adam’s voice could be heard yelling, “I can’t! I can’t! I’m trying. We’re picking up speed. Nothing’s responding. It’s got some kind of grip on us.”
Braden stared at various digital readouts that began to flicker wildly, recording huge leaps of increasing speed. Red lights started to flash all over Navcom. He saw Bashar’s hands fluttering over helm’s board, as chunks of rock grew larger and closer in the overhead monitor. Soon, the overhead screen showed bright flashes as bits and pieces of rocks hit the magnetic field and disintegrated into bursts of light. A fanfare of fireworks circled all around the outside of the ship. A violent jolt to the left smashed Braden against something hard. He blinked and put a hand to the side of his head. Pulling it away, he saw blood coating his palm.
Sweat poured down Bashar’s face as he jabbed at the control board. Blinking red lights flashed collision alert warnings. Another sharp jerk, this time to the right, caused Bashar’s fingers to slide over his board. He shook one hand to his side to bring back feeling, while the other gripped a control lever even more tightly.
TAKE HOLD…ALL PERSONNEL SECURE FOR TURBULANCE…TAKE HOLD. The ship’s computer blared out warning.
“We are experiencing severe turbulence. Everyone get in and stay secured,” announced Braden through the comm. Bashar’s hands started to shake uncontrollably from the strain of holding the ship’s course. Bashar bit his lip and bright blood swelled at the corner of his mouth.
Icabar glanced over worriedly.
A path began clearing again. The ship gave a quick jerk to the right to avoid a large asteroid that tumbled by outside.
The computer started flickering and printing error messages.
Frag, no! They couldn’t lose the computers at a time like this!
Braden stared across the gaping void and a visible hole began to iris open at its center.
They were going to be swallowed alive!”
And so they enter the stargate into a new universe where they discover ALIENS!
Yes, the whole purpose of the mission is to find the aliens that created the probe that crash-landed on Alysia. And find them, they do. And that is just the beginning of what they discover.
What the aliens look like, what they do and how they change the entire crew and what amazing things Braden and his crew find out in deep space, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
Thanks to all who helped birth this one. I appreciate you all. Now go forth and spread the word. Or grab one and enjoy the read.
Available as both paperback and online through Amazon.