While tensions simmer between Earth and its colonies on Mars, Venus, and some of Saturn’s moons (collectively known as the Federation), Earth intelligence agent Bertram Sadler travels to the moon observatory in search of a spy leaking information to the Federation.
Working undercover as a cost accountant performing a financial audit of the observatory, Sadler gains access to all departments and staff members—who at first greet him with suspicion. Over time, Sadler builds a list of top suspects while both the Earth and the Federation create weapons of mass destruction in a prelude to war.
The first half of Earthlight is slow and plodding as Sadler meets various members of the observatory’s staff and is schooled on various as aspects of their operations and of astronomy. The only two interesting plot points are the unannounced landing of government ships in an area of the moon normally off-limits, and the two astronomers who decide to venture out in a vehicle to investigate.
The tension in the story begins to build in the second half when the observatory receives a communication warning the staff to dismantle critical equipment and take shelter underground. A war is coming, one that will decide who has control of the moon’s abundant supply of heavy metals deep within its core.
In 1976, historian Dirk Alexson is sent to England by the University of Chicago to document for posterity the first manned mission to the moon sponsored by a private company called Interplanetary. While in the UK, he interviews and befriends some of the scientists and administrators involved in the project and receives a number of lessons in astrophysics and engineering.
However, Alexson is given very little face time with the crew of the Prometheus until they fly to the deserts of Australia for the actual launch. In fact, of the five possible crew members, only three will be chosen for the mission and that choice is not even made until the entire team reaches Australia.
Prelude to Space reads more like a documentary than a novel. The only character development occurs when our skeptical historian slowly becomes convinced during his assignment that landing a man on the moon is, in fact, feasible and exciting.
There is almost no tension in the story save for one of the astronauts worrying about his pregnant wife. Any risk to the astronauts’ lives is treated lightly. Instead, the narrative merely follows Alexson as he chronicles the events around him.
Much of the book is comprised of info dumps ranging from the backgrounds of some of the characters (as if Clarke just wanted to get that out of the way in order to focus on the technology) to engineering specifications about the Prometheus and space flight in general. Arthur C. Clarke’s scientific prowess is evident in this book, to the point where it eclipses what little story exists. For example, as if an afterthought or an attempt to manufacture tension near the end of the story, a religious zealot fatally fails in an attempt to sabotage the Prometheus a few days before its launch. The character was introduced and killed off within a few pages, all of which seemed pointless.
If you’re looking for an exhilarating fictional tale of man’s first foray to the moon, Prelude to Space will likely be a verbose and tedious disappointment.
Now it can be told! I am beyond ecstatic to report that my short story, “Bottom of the Hour” has been accepted by Smart Rhino Publications for their 2018 paranormal anthology A PLAGUE OF SHADOWS edited by Weldon Burge and JM Reinbold.
About “Bottom of the Hour”— After surviving a car accident that killed his parents twenty years ago, Victor Orologio has the ability to hear death approaching… yet he has never been able to save any of its victims. When he buys a used Camaro that turns out to be haunted by a vengeful ghost, Victor eventually begins to fear that the next death knell he hears might be his own.
For more information on A PLAGUE OF SHADOWS, check out the Written Remains website by clicking HERE or on the cover image below.
Wait… whatever happened to the first draft of that science fiction novel that was in progress between 2016 and 2017? Heh, well ya know…
Thinking back, when I wrote my first two novels between 2007 and 2013, those were the only writing projects I was focused on at the time. No short stories, no editing anthologies. Just the novels. Testing the Prisoner then By Your Side.
One. At. A. Time.
Among the excitement of having my new Miranda Lorensen novella accepted by my publisher back in June—and a finishing the outline to her next full length novel earlier today—I don’t want to lose sight of the science fiction novel that I outlined in 2015, started writing in 2016, lost traction after four chapters, picked up again at the beginning of 2017, then lost traction again after four more chapters. To say that was frustrating as HELL would be putting it mildly.
That has never happened to me before. I typically stay with a project until it’s finished. So what the frack happened?
Well, in 2012, I pitched an idea for a speculative fiction anthology to my publisher (Firebringer Press). I became the editor and project manager on the book, as well as a contributor, and Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity was released two years later. That led to last year’s Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity and now, Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity is in progress.
On top of that, I finished three home renovations over the past year and a half, a violent storm collapsed part of the roof at my workplace this past July which meant weeks of recovering our IT systems (working around the clock early on), and I completed several short stories for various contests and anthologies, which was a blast.
While I’m proud of every anthology and short story as much as every finished home project, now it’s time to prioritize and get the science fiction novel back on track. I believe everything happens for a reason and perhaps time away from the novel will provide a fresh perspective when I sit down this week and read the first eight chapters and review the outline.
However, focusing on these next two novels will also mean declining any new short story work in 2018 (with one exception to which I’ve already committed). Fortunately, I wrote several short stories in 2016 and 2017 that are ready for submission to a few anthologies in the coming year. I also stepped down as editor of the Middle of Eternity series after volume three is released.
It’s time to get back to novels.
One. At. A. Time.
Four tales comprise this collection, the first of which is the story for which H. G. Wells is most known, The Time Machine. The adventures of a time traveller who builds a machine that propels him 800,000 years into a future that appears utopian only—and quite literally—on the surface has been reprinted thousands of times and adapted into at least a half dozen films that I know of.
However, the other three stories in the collection were new to me: “The Empire of the Ants”, “The Country of the Blind”, and “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.”
Of these, the first is forgettable, the second compelling, and the third entertaining. In “The Country of the Blind,” we join professional mountain climber, Núñez, as he survives a fall from Parascotopetl in Ecuador only to discovers a hidden land occupied by a population of blind natives. Núñez learns that these people have been without sight for generations and somewhere along the way, lost all knowledge and belief in the world beyond their own village. Núñez recalls the old adage, “In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” He quickly learns just how wrong he is…
In “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” a nebbish clerk with the unlikely name of George McWhirter Fotheringay does not believe in miracles and is all too happily debating their impossibility in the Long Dragon pub when, to his utter astonishment, he performs a miracle by ordering an oil lamp to turn upside down and continue burning. This leads Fotheringay on a journey of escalating marvels that eventually leads to global consequences…