You hold in your hand a discovery that will change the course of civilization. What do you do?
Evan McElroy is faced with just such a decision.
The time is the year 2304. Human civilization has spread to thirty star systems. Ships travel across the light years along trans-dimensional glomes.
The settled worlds are crowded, thirsty, or both, and new discoveries are too slow to arrive. New glomes are dangerous to explore, only rarely yielding a usable route to another star system and back again.
On the outer rim of civilization, exoarchaeologist Evan McElroy sifts for his future in the scattered remains of an ancient alien race. The Versari left traces of their settlements across all of known space − close to a million standard years ago. Evan has unearthed a Versari artifact that contains a stunning secret.
Evan’s sponsor, the Affirmatix family of companies, will stop at nothing to keep the knowledge from spreading beyond their control. Step one of their plan is to kill the entire research team . . . starting with Evan.
Chased by warships, the terrified scientist makes a desperate escape in a runabout, plunging into one of the newly charted glomes. He arrives in the Kelter system, where he is rescued by his former pilot—the beautiful and fiercely independent Mira Adastra. With Mira’s help, Evan hides in the Untrusted Zone on the surface of Kelter IV, just as the Affirmatix fleet arrives and blockades the entire star system, threatening to obliterate the planet.
On Kelter, the scientist and pilot seek help from Evan’s ex-lover Kate DelMonaco, an artist whose insights have led to discoveries about the Versari many times before.
They are as different as three people could be. Evan, who prides himself on being a hard-core scientist, is only now becoming aware that there may be things that matter more than objectively provable facts. Kate, an artist and a novelist, has had it easy due to an inheritance from her parents, until that was taken from her. Mira lives every moment like it will be her last, calling everything exactly as she sees it and never accepting less from anyone else. Years ago, they parted ways. Now they must work together in order to survive.
While the story is set three hundred years in the future, it casts a sharp eye on issues of the 21st century. What is the boundary between a genuine infoterrorist – who releases a secret in order to cause harm – with someone who simply reveals an inconvenient fact about a government or a company? What are the acceptable lines defining the relationships between corporations, government, and individuals? When someone appears to agree to a loss of freedom, is that consent in fact given freely?
For inquiries please email JRWells@TheGreatSymmetry.com
Top image on this page copyright Bruce White. Cave image is Copyright Peter and Ann Bosted. Space image is NASA/JPL, public domain.