My Favorites by Ben Bova

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Cop yrig ht © � � �� b y B en B ova
E -b ook p ub lis h e d in � � �� b y B la ck sto ne P ub lis h in g
C ove r b y K ath ry n G allo w ay E ng lis h
B ook d esig n b y A m y C ra ig

A ll r ig hts r e se rv e d . T his b ook o r a n y p ortio n t h e re o f m ay n o t b e r e p ro d uce d
or u se d in a n y m an ne r w hats o eve r w it h o ut t h e e xp re ss w rit te n p erm is sio n o f t h e
p ub lis h e r e xc e p t f o r t h e u se o f b rie f q uo ta tio ns in a b ook r e vie w .

T he c h ara cte rs a n d e ve nts in t h is b ook a re � ctit io us.
A ny s im ila rit y t o r e al p ers o ns, liv in g o r d ead , is c o in cid enta l
an d n o t in te nd ed b y t h e a u th o r.

T ra d e e -b ook IS B N � �� -� -� �-� � ����-�
L ib ra ry e -b ook IS B N � �� -� -� �-� � ����-�
F ic tio n / S cie nce F ic tio n / G ene ra l

C IP d ata f o r t h is b ook is a va ila b le f r o m t h e L ib ra ry o f C ong re ss

B la ck sto ne P ub lis h in g
� � M is tle to e R d.
A sh la n d , O R � �� ��

w ww.B la ck sto ne P ub lis h in g .c o m

To R ash id a, t h e lig ht o f m y lif e

And f o r t h e lit tle , lit tle s p an
T he d ead a re b orn e in m ind,
S eek n o t t o q ue stio n o th e r t h an
T he b ooks I le ave b ehin d.
— Rud ya rd K ip lin g

FO REW ORD
A dulla rd once ask e d D izzy G ille sp ie his op in io n of
C harlie P ark e r. W ith a d m irable e co no m y, Diz sa id, “N o
him : no me.” Fu ll dis clo su re : th at de sc ribe s my
pro fe ssio nal re la tio nsh ip to Ben Bova . As edit or of
A na lo g , in � � �� h e b oug ht m y v e ry � rs t s u b m issio n t o a n y
m ark e t— a m iracle !— but fa r m ore im porta n t, h e re je cte d
th e n ext th ir te en sto rie s I se nt h im , e ve ry tim e w ith a
sta n d ard f o rm r e je ctio n t o w hic h h e ’d adde d a s in gle br ief
se nte nce b y h an d . T ho se th ir te en se nte nce s fo rm ed a
co m ple te c o urs e in h o w to w rit e c o m merc ia l �ctio n, a n d
h ave m ad e it p ossib le fo r m e to e arn a liv ing s c ribblin g
fo r n e arly h alf a c e ntu ry .
B ut th at d oesn ’t e xp la in w hy I’m h e re re co m mend in g
th is b ook. It ’s b eca u se m y g ra tit u d e m ade m e t a ke a v e ry
c lo se lo ok a t B en’s o w n � ctio n— with t h e r e su lt t h at t o t h is

day, h e is o ne o f m y fa vo rit e liv ing w rit e rs in o ur g enre .
E ve ry B en B ova s to ry I’v e e ve r r e ad has be en a t r if e cta : it
t a u g ht m e so m eth in g in te re stin g abo ut sc ie nce , an d
so m eth in g im porta n t ab out us, th e peo p le sc ie nce
h ap pens to , a n d a ls o, s o m eth in g illu minatin g a bo ut th e
natu re a n d p ra ctic e o f h e ro is m . A nd m ade it lo ok e asy.
T his b ook is a p erfe ct e xa m ple : a m ajo rit y o f th e se
sto rie s are old fa vo rit e s of mine to o, ya rn s th at
p ene tr a te d th e fo g o f m y o w n th o ug hts de ep ly e no ug h,
d eca d es a g o, th at to d ay I re co g niz ed th e m w ith in a fe w
p ara g ra p hs, an d re re ad th e m w ith gre at ple asu re . In
a n o th e r f o rty -o dd y e ars , I’m c o n�de nt y o u w ill to o.
— Spid er R ob in so n

IN TR O DU CTIO N
I c a n h e ar y o u m utte rin g, “ A no th e r a n th o lo gy? W hy?”
A ft e r a ll, I’v e w rit te n m ore th an a h undr ed work s o f
sh o rt �ctio n, an d ne arly �� � no ve ls , an th o lo gie s, an d
b ooks o f n o n�ctio n. W hy a n o th e r a n th o lo gy?
B eca u se th e s to rie s I w rit e a re lik e m y c h ildr en. I w an t
th e m t o s e e t h e lig ht o f d ay, t o s p ark le in t h e s u nsh in e, t o
p le ase t h e m en a n d w om en w ho r e ad th e m .
Is t h at t o o m uch t o a sk ? I h o p e n o t.
S o h e re a re fo urte en s to rie s. F ro m a m ong a ll th e s h o rt
� ctio n I’v e w rit te n, t h e se a re m y f a vo rit e s.
I w ish t h at t h e y p le ase y o u.
B en B ova
N ap le s, F lo rid a

�� ��

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“M ONSTE R S LA Y ER ”
The y s a y t h at t h e re a re o nly t h re e (o r m aybe s e ve n) ba sic
th e m es t o a ll �ctio n. T a ke y o ur p ic k.
W hic h o ne is t h e t h e m e o f “ M onste r S la ye r” ? Da rn e d if
I k n o w . H arry T w elv eto es’s s to ry didn ’t c o m e to m e in a
� a sh , c o m ple te , a ll ne atly c a te g oriz ed an d s e t to be p ut
in to w ord s. M ost o f th e c re ativ e p ro ce ss fo r h is s to ry w as
b urie d d eep in m y s u b co nsc io us a n d o nly c a m e to th e
su rfa ce a s I w ork e d o n th e ta le , da y by da y, s c e ne by
s c e ne , s e nte nce b y s e nte nce .
I d on’t th in k th is s to ry c a n b e n e atly � tt e d into o ne o f
th o se a ca d em icia ns’s c a te g orie s. I th in k o f it a s H arry ’s
s to ry , u niq ue ly th e ta le o f a n in div idu al m an tr y in g to � n d
h is p la ce in t h e w orld .

And s u cce ed in g— alth o ug h h e n e ve r r e aliz es h e h as.

MONSTE R S LA Y ER
This is t h e w ay t h e le gend b eg an .
H e w as c a lle d H arry T w elv eto es be ca u se , lik e a ll th e
m en in h is fa m ily , h e w as b orn w ith s ix to es o n e ach fo ot.
T he w hite docto r w ho w ork e d at th e clin ic on th e
re se rv a tio n s a id th e e xtr a to es s h o uld be re m ove d rig ht
aw ay, s o h is p are nts a llo wed th e w hite s to c u t th e to es
o �, e ve n th o ug h h is g re at-u ncle C lo ud E ag le p oin te d out
th at H arry ’s fa th e r, a n d h is fa th e r’s fa th e rs a s fa r b ack a s
an yo ne c o uld re m em ber, h ad g one th ro ug h lif e p erfe ctly
w ell w ith t w elv e t o es o n t h e ir f e et.
H is s e cre t tr ib al nam e, o f c o urs e , w as s o m eth in g th at
n o w hite w as eve r to ld . Eve n in his w ild est dru nke n
sp re es Harry ne ve r sp oke it. The tr u th is, he w as
e m barra sse d b y it . F o r t h e f a m ily h ad nam ed him M onste r
S la ye r, a h e avy b urd en to la y a cro ss th e s h o uld ers o f a

little b oy, o r e ve n th e s tr o ng y o ung m an h e g re w u p to
b e.
O n t h e d ay t h at t h e w hite la ws s a id he w as o ld eno ug h
to ta ke a jo b, h is g re at-u ncle C lo ud E ag le to ld him to
le ave th e re se rv a tio n an d se ek his p ath in th e w orld
b eyo nd .
“W hy s h o uld I le ave ?” H arry a sk e d his g re at-u ncle .
Clo ud E ag le c lo se d h is s a d e ye s fo r a m om ent, th e n
sa id t o H arry , “ L o ok a ro und y o u, n e p he w .”
H arry lo oke d a n d s a w t h e t r iba l la nd s a s h e h ad alw ays
se en th e m , bro w n dese rt dotte d with m esq uite an d
ca ctu s, s te ep b lu �s w orn a n d fu rro w ed as g re at-u ncle ’s
f a ce , tu rq uo is e-b lue s k y a n d b la zin g F ath e r S un b akin g
th e la nd . Y e t th e re w as n o d enyin g th at th e la nd w as
ch an g in g. O � in t h e d is ta n ce s to od th e g re en � e lds o f t h e
ne w fa rm s a n d t h e t in y d ark s h ap es o f t h e s q uare h o use s
th e w hite s w ere b uild ing. A nd th e re w ere g ra y r a in c lo ud s
ris in g o ve r t h e m ounta in s.
R efu g ees w ere pourin g in to th e hig h de se rt. The
g re enh o use w arm ing th at g utte d th e fa rm s o f th e w hite s
w ith d ro ug ht a ls o b ro ug ht ra in s th at w ere � llin g th e dr y
arro yo s o f t h e t r ib al la nd s a n d makin g � o w ers b lo om . T he
d ese rt w ould be gone one da y, th e w hite sc ie ntis ts
p re d ic te d , t u rn e d g re en a n d b ountif u l. S o t h e w hite s w ere
m ovin g in to t h e r e se rv a tio n.
“T his la nd h as b een o urs s in ce th e tim e o f Fir st M an
a n d F ir st W om an ,” g re at-u ncle s a id. “ B ut n o w th e w hite s
are s w arm ing in . T he re is n o s to p pin g th e m . S oon th e re
w ill be n o p la ce o f o ur o w n le ft t o u s. G o. F in d y o ur w ay in

th e w orld b eyo nd . It is y o ur d estin y.”
R elu cta n tly , H arry le ft t h e r e se rv a tio n a n d h is f a m ily .
In th e n o is y, h urrie d w orld o f th e w hite s, jo bs w ere
e asy to � n d , b ut g ood jo b s w ere n o t. W ith s o m an y c it ie s
�o od ed b y t h e g re enh o use w arm ing, t h e y w ere f r a n tic ally
b uild ing n e w h o usin g, w ho le n e w villa ges an d to w ns.
H arry go t a jo b w ith a co nstr u ctio n �rm in C olo ra do ,
whe re th e g ove rn m ent w as p utt in g u p h ug e tr a cts o f
d eve lo pm ents fo r th e ho rd es of re fu g ees fr o m th e
d ro w ne d c o asta l cit ie s. H e s ta rte d as a lo wly la bo re r, b ut
so on e no ug h w ork e d h im se lf u p t o a p re tty h an d y w ork e r,
a ja ck o f a ll tr a d es.
H e d ra n k m ost o f h is p ay, a lth o ug h h e a lw ays se nt
so m e o f it b ack t o h is p are nts .
O ne c o ld , b lu ste ry m orn in g, w he n H arry ’s h e ad was
th und erin g s o b ad ly fr o m a h an g ove r th at e ve n th e ic y
w in d fe lt g ood to h im , h is s u p erv is or c a lle d him o ve r to
h e r h e ate d h ut.
“ Y o u’r e g onna k ill yo urs e lf w ith th is dr inkin g, H arry ,”
s a id t h e s u p erv is or, n o t u nkin dly .
Harry sa id no th in g. He sim ply looke d past th e
su p erv is or’s s h o rt-b ob bed b lo nd is h h air to th e c a le nd ar
ta cke d to th e co rk b oard . The pic tu re sh o w ed San
F ra n cis co th e w ay it lo oke d b efo re th e � o o ds a n d th e
rio tin g.
“Y o u lis te nin g to m e?” th e su p erv is or ask e d, m ore
s h arp ly . “T his m orn in g y o u n e arly ra n th e ba ck h o e in to
t h e e xc a va tio n p it, f o r c h ris sa ke .”

“I s to p ped in p le nty t im e,” H arry m um ble d.
The s u p erv is or ju st s h o ok h e r h e ad an d to ld Harry to
g et b ack to w ork . H arry k n e w fr o m th e h ard exp re ssio n
on th e w om an ’s fa ce th at h is da ys w ith th is c re w w ere
n um bere d .
S ure e no ug h, a t t h e s h ap e-u p a f e w m orn in gs la te r, t h e
su p er t o ok H arry a sid e a n d s a id , “ H arry , y o u In d ia ns h ave
a r e p uta tio n f o r b ein g g ood a t h ig h s te el w ork .”
H arry ’s h e ad w as th und erin g a g ain . H e dr an k a s m uch
a s a n y tw o m en, b ut h e h ad e no ug h p ride to s h o w u p o n
th e jo b n o m atte r h o w b ad h e fe lt. C an ’t s la y m onste rs
la yin g in b ed , h e w ould te ll him se lf, fo rc in g h im se lf to h is
fe et a n d o ut to w ork . B esid es, n o w ork , n o m one y. A nd
no m one y, n o b eer. N o w his ke y. N o g irls w ho da nce d on
yo ur la p o r str ip ped o � th e ir clo th e s to th e rh yth m o f
sy n th e siz er m usic .
Harry k n e w th at it w as th e M ohaw ks ba ck E ast w ho
w ere o nce fa m ous fo r t h e ir s te e lw ork o n s k ysc ra p ers , bu t
he s a id n o th in g to th e s u p erv is or e xc e p t, “T hat’s w hat I
h e ard t o o.”
“ M ust b e in y o ur b lo od , h uh?” s a id th e s u p er, s q uin tin g
at H arry f r o m u nd er h e r h ard h at.
H arry n o d ded , e ve n th o ug h it m ade h is h e ad fe el as if
s o m e o ld m ed ic in e m an w as in side th e re th um pin g o n a
d ru m .
“I g ot a co usin w ho n e ed s h ig h ste el w ork e rs ,” th e
su p er to ld h im . “O ve r in G re ate r De nve r. H e’s w illin g to
tr a in n e w bie s. In te re ste d ?”

Harry s h u� ed h is fe et a lit tle . It w as re ally c o ld, th is
e arly in t h e m orn in g.
“W ell? ” t h e s u p er d em an d ed . “ Y o u in te re ste d or n o t? ”
“I g ue ss I’m in te re ste d ,” H arry s a id. It w as be tte r th an
g ettin g � re d o utr ig ht.
A s h e le ft th e co nstr u ctio n sit e , w ith th e n am e a n d
num ber o f th e s u p er’s c o usin in h is c o ld-n um be d �st, h e
co uld h e ar a f e w o f t h e o th e r w ork e rs s n ic ke rin g.
“T he re g oes o ld T w elv eto es.”
“ H e’ll ne ed a ll tw elv e to h o ld o nto th o se g irde rs u p in
th e w in d.”
T he y s ta rte d m akin g b ets o n h o w s o on H arry w ould k ill
h im se lf.
B ut H arry beca m e a ve ry goo d hig h ste el work e r,
s c ra m blin g alo ng th e ste el girde rs th at fo rm ed th e
sk e le to ns o f th e n e w h ig h-r is e to w ers . H e c u t do wn o n
th e d rin kin g: a lc oho l an d a ltitu d e didn ’t m ix. H e tr a ve le d
fr o m G re ate r D enve r to L a s V eg as a n d a ll th e w ay do wn
to Te xa s, w he re th e G ulf o f M exic o h ad sw allo wed up
G alv esto n a n d h alf o f H ousto n.
W he n h e ’d b een a lit tle b oy, h is g re at-u ncle h ad oft e n
to ld H arry th at h e w as d estin ed to do g re at th in gs. “ W hat
g re at th in gs? ” H arry w ould a sk . “Y o u’ll se e,” h is g re at-
u ncle w ould s a y. “ Y o u’ll kn o w w he n y o u � n d it .”
“ B ut w hat is it ?” H arry w ould in sis t. “ W hat g re at th in gs
w ill I d o?”
C lo ud E ag le re p lie d, “E ve ry m an h as h is o w n rig ht

path , H arry . W he n yo u �n d yo urs , yo ur lif e w ill be in
h arm ony, a n d y o u’ll ach ie ve g re atn e ss.”
B efo re h e le ft h is c h ild ho od h o m e t o � n d h is w ay in t h e
w hite w orld , h is g re at-u ncle g ave H arry a to te m , a tin y
bla ck c a rv in g o f a s p id er.
“ T he s pid er h as w isdom ,” h e to ld Harry . “ L is te n to th e
w isdom o f t h e s p id er w he ne ve r y o u h ave a p ro ble m.”
H arry s h ru g ged a n d s tu � ed th e lit tle p ie ce o f o bs idia n
into t h e p ocke t o f h is je an s. T he n h e t o ok t h e bu s t h at le d
out o f t h e r e se rv a tio n.
A s a g ro w n, h ard -� ste d m an , H arry h ardly e ve r t h o ug ht
o f th o se s illy id eas. H e d id n’t h ave tim e to th in k a bo ut
th e m w he n h e w as w ork in g � ft y , six ty , se ve nty sto rie s
hig h w ith n o th in g b etw een h im a n d th e g ro und exc e p t
th in a ir th at b le w in g usts s tr o ng e no ug h to k n o ck a m an
o � h is f e et if h e w asn ’t c a re fu l.
H e d id n’t th in k a b out h is g re at-u ncle ’s p ro p he cy w he n
he w ent ro arin g th ro ug h th e b ars a n d g irlie jo ints o ve r
w eeke nd s. H e d id n’t t h in k a b out a n yth in g w he n h e g ot s o
d ru nk t h at h e f e ll dow n a n d s le p t lik e a de ad man .
B ut he ke p t th e sp id er to te m . M ore th an o nce his
p ocke ts h ad b een e m ptie d w hile h e s le pt in a d ru nke n
stu p or, b ut n o o ne e ve r t o ok t h e s p ide r f r o m h im .
And s o m etim es th e s p id er d id s p eak to h im . It u su ally
h ap pene d w he n he w as good an d dru nk. In a th in ,
sc ra tc h y v o ic e, th e s p id er w ould sa y, “ N o m ore dr inkin g
to nig ht, H arry . Yo u’v e had eno ug h. Sle ep all th ro ug h
to m orro w , b e r e ad y f o r w ork o n M ond ay.”

Most o f th e tim e h e lis te ne d to th e to te m ’s w his pers .
S om etim es he did n’t , an d th o se tim es alm ost alw ays
w ork e d o ut b ad ly . L ik e th e tim e in N ew H ousto n w he n
th re e J a p an e se e ng in eers b eat th e h e ll out o f h im in th e
alle y b ehin d th e c a th o use . T he y didn ’t ro b him , th o ug h.
A nd w he n H arr y c a m e t o , in a m ess o f h is o w n blo od an d
vo m it a n d g arb ag e, t h e s p id er w as w ise e no ug h t o r e fr a in
fr o m s a yin g, “ I t o ld y o u n o t t o g et t h e m a n g ry .”
H e b ounce d f r o m jo b t o jo b, a lw ays le arn in g n e w t r ic ks
o f t h e t r a d es, n e ve r � n d in g t h e t r u e p ath t h at w ould br ing
him peace an d harm ony. The da ys blu rre d into an
u ne nd in g s a m ene ss: c ra w l o ut o f be d, c la m be r a lo ng th e
g ird ers o f a n e w h ig h-r is e, w ait fo r th e e nd o f th e w eek.
T he nig hts w ere a b lu r, to o: b eer, b ooze , w om en he
h ard ly e ve r s a w m ore t h an o nce .
N ow a n d th e n H arry w ond ere d whe re h e w as g oin g.
“T he re ’s m ore to lif e th an th is ,” th e s p ide r w his pere d to
h im in h is s le ep . “ Y e ah , s u re ,” H arry w his pere d back . “ B ut
w hat? H ow d o I � n d it ?”
O ne n igh t w hile H arry w as w ork in g o n th e big A tla nta
R ene w al P ro je ct, th e h ig h s te e l cre w th re w a g oin g-a way
p arty f o r J e sse A li, t h e b est w elde r in t h e g an g .
“S o, w he re ’s J e sse g oin g?” H arry a sk e d a bu ddy , be er
in h an d .
The b ud dy to ok a s w ig o f h is o w n be er, th e n la ug he d.
“H e’s go t a g ood jo b, H arry . G re at jo b. It ’s o ut o f th is
w orld .” T he n h e la ug he d a s if h e ’d made a jo ke .
“B ut w he re is it ? A re t h e y h ir in g?”

“G o a sk h im ,” t h e b ud dy s a id .
Harry w orm ed h is w ay th ro ug h th e g an g c lu ste re d at
th e b ar a n d � n ally m ad e it t o J e sse ’s s ide .
“G onna m iss yo u, Je ss,” h e sa id. S ho ute d, actu ally ,
ove r t h e n o is e o f t h e r a u co us c ro w d.
Ali sm ile d b rig htly . “C hris t, H arry , th at’s th e lo ng est
se nte nce y o u e ve r s a id t o m e, m an .”
H arry lo oke d dow n at th e ste el-t ipped to es of his
b ro g an s. H e h ad n e ve r b een m uch fo r c o nve rs a tio n, y e t
his c u rio sit y a b out J e sse ’s n e w jo b was b utt in g it s h e ad
a g ain st h is n atu ra l re tic ence . B ut th e s p ide r in h is p ocke t
w his pere d , “ A sk h im . D on’t b e a fr a id. A sk h im .”
H arry su m mone d up his co ura g e. “S o, w he re yo u
g oin ’? ”
A li’ s g rin g ot w id er. H e p oin te d a lo ng , s k in ny � n g er
str a ig ht u p in t h e a ir.
H arry sa id no th in g, but th e puzz le m ent m ust have
sh o w n c le arly o n h is f a ce .
“In sp ace , m an ,” A li exp la in ed. “T he y’r e build ing a
gre at b ig h ab ita t in o rb it. M ile s lo ng . It ’ll ta ke y e ars to
� n is h. I’ll be a b le t o r e tir e b y t h e t im e t h e jo b’s do ne .”
H arry d ig este d t h at in fo rm atio n. “ It ’ll ta ke t h at lo ng?”
T he bla ck m an la ug he d . “N ah . But th e pay’s th at
g ood .”
“ T he y lo okin ’ f o r p eo p le ?”
W ith a n o d , A li sa id , “Y e ah . Y o u h aft a g o th ro ug h a
c o up le m onth s’ t r a in ing � rs t. H alf p ay.”

“O ka y.”
“ N o b eer u p th e re , H arry . N o g ra vit y, e ith e r. I do n’t
t h in k y o u’d lik e it .”
“ M ayb e,” s a id H arry .
“N o b ars . N o s tr ip jo ints .”
“ T he y g ot w om en, t h o ug h, d on’t t h e y?”
“L ik e Y a b lo nsk i,” s a id A li, n am ing o ne o f th e c re w w ho
w as t o ug he r t h an a n y t w o o f t h e g uys.
H arry n o d ded . “ I s e en w ors e .”
A li th re w h is h e ad b ack a n d r o are d with la ug hte r. H arry
d rif te d a w ay, h ad a fe w m ore b eers , th e n w alk ed slo wly
th ro ug h th e m ag no lia -sce nte d eve nin g ba ck to th e
b arra ck s w he re m ost of th e co nstr u ctio n cre w w as
h o use d .
B efo re h e d rif te d to s le ep , th e s p ide r u rg ed him , “ G o
ap ply f o r t h e jo b. W hat d o y o u h ave t o lo se ?”
It w as t o ug h, e ve ry s te p o f t h e w ay. T he w om an be hin d
th e d esk w he re H arry ap plie d fo r a p osit io n w ith th e
sp ace co nstr u ctio n out� t cle arly didn ’t lik e him . She
fr o w ne d a t h im a n d s h e s c o w le d at h e r c o m pute r s c re en
w he n h is d ossie r c a m e u p . B ut s h e p asse d him o n to a
m an w ho s a t in a p riv ate c u b ic le a n d h ad pic tu re s o f h is
w ife a n d k id s p in ne d t o t h e p artit io ns.
“W e a re a n e q ual o p portu nity e m plo ye r,” h e s a id, w ith
a b rit tle s m ile o n h is f a ce .
T he n h e w aite d fo r H arry to s a y s o m eth in g. B ut H arry
d id n’t k n o w w hat h e s h o uld s a y, s o h e r e m ain ed sile nt.

The m an ’s s m ile fa d ed . “ Y o u’ll be liv ing fo r m onth s a t a
t im e in z e ro g ra vit y, y o u k n o w ,” h e s a id. “It e � ects y o ur
b one s, yo ur h e art. Y o u m ight n o t b e � t to w ork a g ain
w he n y o u r e tu rn t o E arth .”
H arry ju st s h ru g ged , th in kin g th at th e se w hite s w ere
tr y in g t o s c a re h im .
The y put him th ro ug h a who le da y of physic al
e xa m inatio ns. T he n tw o d ays o f te sts . N ot lik e te sts in
sc h o ol; th e y w ere in te re ste d in h is p hysic al sta m ina a n d
h is k n o w le dge o f w eld ing a n d c o nstr u ctio n t e ch niq ue s.
T he y h ir e d H arry , a ft e r w arn in g h im th at h e h ad to
e nd ure tw o m onth s o f tr a in in g a t h alf th e p ay h e w ould
sta rt m akin g if h e � n is he d th e tr a in ing o ka y. H alf p ay w as
still a lit tle m ore th an H arry w as m akin g o n th e A tla nta
R ene w al P ro je ct. H e s ig ne d o n t h e do tte d lin e.
S o H arry � e w t o H unstv ille , A la ba ma, in a c o m pan y t ilt -
ro to r p la ne . T he y g ave h im a p riv ate ro om , a ll to h im se lf,
in a se ed y-lo okin g six -s to ry a p artm ent bu ilding o n th e
e d ge o f w hat h ad o nce b een a b ig b ase fo r th e s p ace
a g ency, befo re th e gove rn m ent so ld it o� to priv ate
in te re sts .
H is tr a in ing w as in te nse . Lik e be ing in th e arm y,
a lm ost, a lth o ug h a ll Harry k n e w a bo ut be ing in th e a rm y
was w hat h e ’d h e ard fr o m o th e r co nstr u ctio n w ork e rs .
T he d eal w as, th e y to ld y o u s o m eth in g o nce . Y o u e ith e r
g ot it o r y o u � u nke d o ut. N o s e co nd c h an ce s.
“U p th e re in orb it,” th e in str u cto rs w ould ham mer
ho m e, tim e a n d a g ain , “ th e re w on’t be a s e co nd c h an ce .
Yo u s c re w u p , y o u’r e d ead . A nd p ro ba bly a lo t o f o th e r

peo p le g et k ille d t o o.”
H arry b eg an to u nd ers ta n d w hy th e re w as n o b eer u p
th e re . N or w as t h e re a n y a t t h e t r a in ing c e nte r. H e m isse d
it, m isse d t h e c o m fo rt o f a n ig ht o ut w ith t h e g an g , m isse d
th e la ug hs a n d t h e e ve ntu al o bliv ion w he re n o bo dy c o uld
b oth e r him , an d eve ry th in g w as da rk an d quie t an d
p eace fu l a n d e ve n t h e s p id er k e p t s ile nt.
T he � rs t tim e th e y p ut h im in th e w ate r ta n k, H arry
n e arly fr e ake d . It w as d eep , lik e m ayb e a s d eep a s h is
ap artm ent b uild ing w as h ig h. H e w as z ip ped into a w hite
sp ace su it, lik e a m um my w ith a b ub ble h e lm et o n to p,
an d th e re w ere th re e o r fo ur g uys s w im ming a ro und him
in tr u nks a n d s c u b a g ear. B ut to a m an w ho g re w u p in
th e d ese rt, t h is m uch w ate r w as s c a ry .
“W e use th e buo ya n cy ta n k to sim ula te th e
m icro g ra vit y y o u’ll exp erie nce in o rbit ,” th e in str u cto r to ld
th e c la ss. “ Y o u w ill pra ctic e c o nstr u ctio n t e ch niq ue s in t h e
ta n k.”
S o h e sa n k in to th e w ate r fo r th e � rs t tim e, a lm ost
p etr i� ed w ith fe ar. The sp id er to ld Harry , “T his is an
o rd eal y o u m ust p ass. B e b ra ve . S ho w n o f e ar.”
F o r d ays o n e nd , H arry s u ite d up a n d s a n k in to th e
d eep , c le ar w ate r to w ork o n m ake -be lieve p ie ce s o f th e
str u ctu re h e ’d b e b uild ing u p in s p ace . E ach d ay s ta rte d
w ith f e ar, b ut h e b attle d a g ain st it a n d t r ie d to do t h e w ork
th e y w an te d h im to d o. T he fe ar n e ve r w ent a w ay, b ut
H arry c o m ple te d e ve ry t a sk t h e y g ave h im .
Whe n h is tw o m onth s o f tr a in ing e nd ed, th e m an in
c h arg e o f th e o p era tio n c a lle d Harry in to h is o � ce . H e

was a n A sia n o f s o m e s o rt; C hin ese , Ja pan e se , m aybe
K o re an .
“T o te ll yo u th e tr u th , H arry ,” h e sa id, “I d idn ’t th in k
yo u’d m ake it . Y o u h ave a r e p uta tio n f o r b ein g a c a ro use r,
y o u k n o w .”
H arry sa id n o th in g. T he p ic tu re s o n th e m an ’s w all,
b ehin d h is d esk , w ere a ll of r o cke ts t a kin g o � o n p illa rs o f
�a m e a n d s m oke .
T he m an b ro ke in to a r e lu cta n t s m ile . “ B ut y o u p asse d
eve ry te st w e th re w at yo u.” H e g ot to his fe et an d
str e tc h e d h is h an d o ut o ve r h is d esk . “C ong ra tu la tio ns,
H arry . Y o u’r e o ne o f u s n o w .”
H arry t o o k h is p ro �ere d h an d . H e le ft t h e o � ce f e elin g
pre tty g ood a b out h im se lf. H e t h o ug ht a bo ut g oin g o � t h e
b ase a n d � n d in g a n ic e fr ie nd ly ba r s o m ep la ce . B ut a s h e
d ug h is h an d in to h is p an ts p ocke t a n d fe lt th e o bs idia n
sp id er th e re , h e d ecid ed a g ain st it . T hat n ig ht, a s h e w as
d ro w sin g o � to s le ep , th e s p ide r to ld him , “ N ow y o u fa ce
th e b ig gest t e st o f a ll. ”
La u nch in g o � th e e arth w as lik e n o th in g H arry h ad
e ve r e ve n d re am ed o f. T he C lip pers h ip ro cke t w as a
sq uat c o ne ; it s sh ap e re m inde d Harry o f a b ig te ep ee
m ad e o f g le am ing m eta l. In sid e, th e c ir cu la r p asse ng er
co m partm ent w as d ecke d o ut lik e a n a ir lin er’s , w ith s ix
sh o rt ro w s o f p ad ded re clin able ch air s, e ach o f th e m
o ccu p ie d b y a w ork e r r id ing u p t o o rbit . T he re w as e ve n a
p air o f � ig ht a tte nd an ts , o ne m an a n d o ne w om an .
A s h e c lic ke d th e sa fe ty h arn e ss o ve r h is sh o uld ers
a n d la p, H arry e xp ecte d th e y w ould be bla ste d o� th e

gro und lik e a b ulle t � re d fr o m a t h ir ty -a ug ht. It w asn ’t t h at
b ad , t h o ug h in s o m e w ays it w as w ors e . T he r o cke ts lit o �
w ith a ro ar th at ra ttle d H arry de ep in sid e h is bo ne s. H e
fe lt p re ss e d d ow n in to h is s e at w hile t h e la nd o uts ide t h e
lit tle ro und w in dow th re e se ats aw ay tilt ed an d th e n
se em ed t o � y a w ay.
T he r o arin g a n d r a ttlin g w ouldn ’t s to p. F o r th e � a sh o f
a m om ent, H arry w ond ere d if t h is w as t h e de mon h e w as
su p pose d to sla y, a d ra g on m ade o f m eta l an d p la stic
w ith t h e � e ry b re ath o f it s r o cke ts p ush in g it o � t h e e arth .
A nd t h e n it a ll end ed . T he n o is e a n d s h akin g s u d de nly
cu t o �, a n d H arry fe lt h is sto m ach dr op a w ay. Fo r a n
in sta n t Harry fe lt him se lf fa llin g, dro p pin g o� into
n o th in gne ss. T he n h e to ok a br eath a n d sa w th at h is
arm s h ad � o ate d u p f r o m t h e s e at’s a rm re sts . Z ero G . T he
in str u cto rs a lw ays c a lle d it m icro g ra vit y, bu t to H arry it
w as z e ro G . A nd it f e lt g ood .
A t th e s c h o ol th e y h ad tr ie d to s c a re h im a bo ut z e ro G
w ith s to rie s o f h o w y o u g et s ic k a n d h e ave a n d g et s o
d iz zy y o u c a n ’t m ove y o ur h e ad with o ut fe elin g lik e it ’s
g oin g t o b urs t. H arry d id n’t f e el a n y o f t h at. H e f e lt a s if h e
w ere � o atin g in th e w ate r ta n k a g ain , bu t th is w as be tte r,
m uch b ette r. T he re w asn ’t a n y w ate r. H e c o uld n’t h e lp
g rin nin g. T his is g re at, h e s a id t o h im se lf.
B ut n o t e ve ry b od y fe lt s o g ood. L o o kin g a ro und, H arry
s a w p le nty o f g ra y fa ce s, e ve n s o m e g re en. S om ebo dy
behin d h im w as g ag gin g. T he n so m ebo dy u p ch ucke d.
T he sm ell mad e Harry que asy. Ano th e r passe ng er
re tc h e d , u p fr o nt. T he n a n o th e r. It w as lik e a c o nta g io us

bug ; th e s o und a n d s te nch w ere g ettin g to e ve ry o ne in
th e p asse ng er co m partm ent. H arry to ok th e re tc h b ag
fr o m th e s e at p ocke t in fr o nt o f h im a n d h e ld it o ve r h is
m outh a n d n o se . It s c o ld , s te rile s m ell w as be tte r t h an t h e
re ek o f v o m it t h at w as � llin g t h e c o m partm ent. T he re w as
n o th in g H arry co uld d o a b out th e n o is e e xc e p t to te ll
him se lf th at th e se w ere w hite s w ho w ere s o w eak. H e
w asn ’t g oin g t o s in k t o t h e ir le ve l.
“Y o u’ll get u se d to it ,” th e m ale � ig ht a tte nd an t s a id,
g rin nin g a t t h e m fr o m u p a t t h e fr o nt o f t h e c o m partm ent.
“ It m ight ta ke a d ay o r s o , b ut y o u’ll get a ccu sto m ed to
z e ro G .”
H arry w as a lr e ad y a ccu sto m ed to it . T he s m ell, t h o ug h,
w as s o m eth in g e ls e. T he � ig ht a tte nd an ts tu rn e d up th e
air b lo wers a n d h an d ed o ut fr e sh re tc h ba gs, �o atin g
th ro ug h th e a is le s a s if th e y w ere s w im ming in a ir. H arry
n o tic ed th e y h ad � lt e rs in th e ir n o str ils ; t h a t’s h o w th e y
ha nd le t h e s tin k , h e t h o ug ht.
H e co uld n’t se e m uch of an yth in g as th e sh ip
ap pro ach e d th e co nstr u ctio n sit e , a lth o ug h h e fe lt th e
slig ht t h um p w he n t h e y d ocke d. T he � ig ht a tte nd an ts h ad
to ld e ve ry b od y to s ta y in th e ir s e ats a n d k e e p bu ck le d in
until th e y g ave th e w ord th at it w as o ka y to g et u p . H arry
w aite d q uie tly a n d w atc h e d h is a rm s � o atin g a g ood �ve
c e ntim ete rs o� th e arm re sts of his ch air. It to ok a
co nsc io us e � o rt t o f o rc e t h e m do wn o nto t h e r e sts .
W he n th e y �n ally to ld eve ry bo dy to get up , H arry
c lic ke d t h e r e le ase o n h is h arn e ss a n d p ush e d to h is f e et.
A nd s a ile d rig ht u p in to th e o ve rh e ad, b an g in g h is h e ad

with a th um p. E ve ry b od y la ug he d. H arry did to o, to h ide
h is e m barra ssm ent.
H e d id n’t re ally se e th e co nstr u ctio n sit e fo r th re e
w ho le days. The y sh u� ed th e ne w co m ers th ro ug h a
w in dow le ss acce ss tu nne l, th e n do wn a lo ng slo pin g
co rrid or a n d in to w hat lo oke d like a p ro ce ssin g c e nte r,
w he re c le rk s c h e cke d in e ach n e w a rriv al an d a ssig ne d
th e m to liv ing q uarte rs . H arry sa w th at th e re w ere n o
ch air s a n yw he re in s ig ht. T a ble s a n d de sk s w ere c h e st
h ig h, an d e ve ry b od y sto od u p , w ith th e ir fe et in lit tle
lo op s th at w ere fa ste ne d to th e � o or. T ha t’s h o w th e y
ke ep fr o m bang in g th e ir he a ds on th e ce ilin g , H arry
� g ure d .
The ir liv ing q uarte rs w ere a b out th e siz e o f a n e m ic
te le pho ne b ooth s, lit tle m ore th an a c lo se t w ith a m esh
sle ep in g b ag t a cke d t o o ne w all.
“W e s le ep s ta n d in g u p?” H arr y a sk e d th e g uy w ho w as
sh o w in g t h e m t h e f a cilit ies.
T he g uy s m irke d a t h im . “S ta n d in g u p , o n y o ur h e ad,
sid ew ays, o r in sid e o ut. M ake s n o di� ere nce in z e ro G .”
H arry n o d ded . I s h o uld h a ve k n o w n th a t , h e s a id to
h im se lf. T he y t o ld u s a bout it b ack a t t h e t r ain ing b ase .
T hre e d ays o f o rie nta tio n, le arn in g h o w to m ove a n d
w alk a n d e at a n d e ve n c ra p in z e ro G . H arry th o ug ht th at
m ayb e th e b osse s w ere a ls o u sin g th e th re e da ys to s e e
w ho got accu sto m ed to ze ro G w ell eno ug h to be
allo wed t o w ork , a n d w ho t h e y’d have t o s e nd h o m e.
H arry lo ve d z e ro G . H e g ot a k ic k o ut o f p ro p ellin g

him se lf d ow n a c o rrid or lik e a h um an t o rp edo , ju st � ic kin g
his � n g ertip s a g ain st th e w alls e ve ry fe w m ete rs a s h e
sa ile d a lo ng . H e n e ve r g ot d iz zy, n e ve r g ot dis orie nte d.
T he f o od t a ste d p re tty b la nd , b ut h e h adn ’t c o m e u p h e re
fo r th e fo od . H e la ug he d th e � rs t tim e h e s a t o n th e to ile t
an d re aliz ed h e h ad to b uck le u p th e s e at be lt o r h e ’d
t a ke o � lik e a s lo w, lu m berin g r o cke t.
H e s le pt o ka y, e xc e p t h e k e p t w akin g u p e ve ry h o ur o r
so . T he s e co nd d ay, d urin g t h e r o utin e m edic al e xa m , t h e
d oc a sk e d h im if h e fo und it u nco m fo rta ble to s le ep w ith
a he ad ban d . B efo re H arry co uld an sw er, th o ug h, th e
d octo r sa id , “O h, th at’s rig ht. Yo u’r e p ro ba bly u se d to
w earin g a h e ad ban d , a re n’t y o u?”
H arry gr unte d . W he n h e g ot b ack to h is c u b ic le , h e
ch e cke d o ut th e o rie nta tio n v ide o o n th e c o m pute r bu ilt
into th e c o m partm ent’s w all. T he h e adba nd w as to k e e p
yo ur h e ad fr o m n o d din g b ack a n d fo rth in y o ur s le ep . In
m icro g ra vit y, t h e v id eo e xp la in ed, blo od pum pin g t h ro ug h
th e a rte rie s in y o ur n e ck m ade y o ur h e ad bo b up a n d
d ow n w hile y o u s le pt, u nle ss y o u a tta ch e d th e h e adba nd
to t h e w all. H arry s le pt t h ro ug h t h e n ig ht f r o m t h e n o n.
T he ir c re w s u p erv is or w as a p ug nacio us lit tle Ir is hm an
w ith th in nin g r e d h air a n d � re in h is e ye . A ft e r th e ir th re e
d ays’ o rie nta tio n, h e c a lle d th e do ze n n e w co m ers to a
b ig , m eta l-w alle d e nclo su re w ith a h ig h ce ilin g ribbe d
with ste el gird ers . The pla ce lo oke d like an em pty
a ir p la ne h an g ar t o H arry .
“Y o u k n o w m an y p eo p le h ave k ille d th e m se lv es o n t h is
p ro je ct s o f a r? ” h e s n arle d a t t h e a sse m ble d ne w bie s.

“E ig hte en,” h e a n sw ere d h is o w n q ue stio n. “ E ig hte en
assh o le s w ho d id n’t fo llo w p ro ce du re s. De ad. O ne o f
th e m t o ok f o ur o th e r g uys w ith h im .”
N ob od y s a id a w ord . T he y ju st s to od in fr o nt o f th e
su p er w ith th e ir fe et se cu re d by �o or lo op s, w eavin g
slig htly lik e lo ng g ra sse s in a g entle br eeze .
“Y o u kn o w ho w man y of m y c re w have kille d
th e m se lv es? ” h e d em an d ed . “N one . Z ip . Z ero . A nd y o u
kn o w w hy? I’ll te ll yo u. B eca u se I’ll rip t h e lu ng s o ut o f a n y
je rk o � a ssh o le w ho g oes o ne m illio nth o f a m illim ete r o �
th e a u th o riz ed p ro ce d ure s.”
H arry th o ug ht th e g uy w as p re tty s m all fo r s u ch to ug h
ta lk , b ut th o ug ht, w ha t th e h e ll, h e ’s ju st tr y in g to s c a re
u s .
“T he re ’s a r ig ht w ay a n d a w ro ng w ay to do a n yth in g,”
t h e su p er w ent o n, h is fa ce g ettin g sp lo tc h y re d. “T he
rig ht w ay is w hat I te ll yo u. A nyth in g els e is w ro ng .
A nyth in g! G ot t h at? ”
A c o up le o f p eo p le r e p lie d w ith “ Y e s, s ir ,” a n d “ G ot it .”
M ost ju st m um ble d. H arry s a id no th in g.
“Y o u,” th e su p er sn ap ped, poin tin g at Harry .
“T w elv eto es. Y o u g ot t h at? ”
“I g ot it ,” H arry m utte re d .
“I d id n’t h e ar y o u.”
H arry ta p ped his te m ple lig htly . “It ’s all rig ht he re ,
ch ie f.”
T he s u p erv is or g la re d a t h im . H arry s to od his g ro und,

quie t an d im passiv e. B ut in wardly he w as ask in g th e
sp id er, “ Is t h is t h e m onste r I’m g onna s la y?”
T he s p id er d id n o t a n sw er.
“ A ll rig ht,” th e s u p er s a id a t la st. “ T im e fo r y o u r o okie s
to s e e w hat y o u’r e in f o r.”
H e le d t h e t w elv e o f t h e m , b obbin g lik e c o rk s in w ate r,
o ut of th e han g ar an d dow n a lo ng , narro w , tu b ula r
co rrid or. T o H arry it s e em ed more lik e a tu nne l, e xc e p t
th at th e �o or an d cu rv in g w alls w ere m ade of w hat
lo oke d lik e s m ooth , p olis he d alu m inum . M aybe n o t. H e
put o ut a h an d a n d b ru sh e d h is � n g ertip s a g ain st th e
su rfa ce . F e els m ore lik e p la stic t h a n m etal , H arry t h o ug ht.
“ O ka y, s to p h e re ,” s a id t h e s u p er.
S to p pin g w as e asie r s a id th an d one in z e ro G . P eo p le
b um ped in to o ne a n o th e r a n d jo stle d aro und a b it w hile
th e s u p er h o ve re d a t th e h e ad of th e g ro up , h an d s o n
hip s, a n d g lo were d a t th e m . H arry , ba ck n e ar th e e nd o f
th e q ue ue , m an ag ed to b ru sh a g ain st o ne o f th e b ette r-
lo okin g w om en, a H ispan ic w it h big , da rk e ye s a n d a w ell-
ro und ed � g ure .
“S orry ,” h e m utte re d t o h e r.
“D a n a da ,” s h e re p lie d, w ith a s m ile th at m ight h ave
b een s h y. H arry re ad th e n am eta g p in ne d abo ve h e r le ft
b re ast p ocke t: M arta S an to s.
“A ll rig ht n o w ,” th e su p er c a lle d to th e m , tu g gin g a
p alm co m p fr o m th e h ip p ocke t o f h is c o ve ra lls . “T a ke a
lo ok.”
H e p ecke d a t th e h an d he ld , a n d s u d de nly th e o p aq ue

tu b e b eca m e a s t r a n sp are nt a s g la ss. E ve ry bo dy g asp ed.
T he y were han g in g in th e m iddle of a gig an tic
s p id erw ork o f c u rv in g m eta l girde rs , lik e be ing in sid e a
d irig ib le’s fr a m e, e xc e p t th at th e g irde rs w ent o n a n d o n
fo r m ile s. A nd b eyo nd it , H arry s a w th e im mense , c u rv in g
bulk o f E arth , d eep b lu e g le am ing o ce an , br ighte r th an
th e p ure st tu rq uo is e. S tr e am s o f c lo ud s s o w hite it h urt
h is e ye s to lo ok a t th e m . H e blin ke d, th e n lo oke d ag ain .
He sa w lo ng ro w s o f w ave s � o w in g a cro ss th e o ce an ,
an d th e c lo ud -e tc h e d e d ge o f la nd , w ith g ra y w rin kle s o f
m ounta in s o � in th e d is ta n ce . B eyo nd th e � a n k o f th e
cu rv in g w orld a n d it s th in g lo win g sk in o f a ir w as th e
utte rly b la ck e m ptin ess o f s p ace .
W e’r e in s p a ce ! H arry r e aliz ed . H e h ad k n o w n it , in h is
h e ad , b ut n o w h e fe lt it in h is g uts , w he re r e alit y liv ed. I’m
in s p a ce , h e s a id t o h im se lf, lo st in t h e w ond er o f it . I ’m n o
lo ng er o n E a rth .
A bru p tly , th e tu nne l walls w ent op aq ue ag ain . The
vie w s h ut o �. A n a u d ib le s ig h o f dis ap poin tm ent g uste d
th ro ug h t h e c re w .
“T hat’s e no ug h fo r n o w ,” th e s u p er s a id, w ith a g rin
th at was so m ew he re betw een sm ug an d nasty .
“T o m orro w yo u clo wns g o o ut th e re a n d sta rt e arn in g
yo ur p ay.”
H arry lic ke d h is lip s in a n tic ip atio n.
T he su its w ere a p ain . T he o ne th in g th e y co uld n’t
p re p are yo u fo r on Earth was work in g insid e th e
g od dam ne d s p ace su its. N ot e ve n th e w ate r ta n k c o uld
sim ula te th e z e ro p re ssu re o f v a cu um . T he s u it’s to rs o ,

arm s, a n d le ggin gs w ere h ard-s he ll ce rm et, bu t th e jo ints
a n d t h e g lo ve s h ad t o b e � e xible , w hic h m ean t t h e y w ere
m ad e o f fa b ric , w hic h m ean t th e y b allo one d an d g ot s ti� ,
to ug h to �e x an d m ove w he n yo u w ent o uts ide . T he
g lo ve s w ere esp ecia lly stu b born . The y had tin y lit tle
s e rv o m oto rs o n th e b ack th at w ere s u p pose d to a m plif y
yo ur natu ra l musc le pow er an d he lp yo u m ove th e
�n g ers . S om etim es th at he lp ed, bu t w he n it ca m e to
h an d lin g t o ols , it w as m ostly a w aste o f t im e.
H arry go t u se d to th e c lu nky g lo ve s, a n d th e n e w -c ar
sm ell of h is s u it. H e n e ve r q uite g ot u se d to h an g in g in
th e m id dle of no th in g, su rro unde d by th e gro w in g
fr a m ew ork o f th e m ile s-lo ng h abit at w ith th e h ug e a n d
g lo win g E arth s p re ad o ut b efo re h is e ye s. S om etim es h e
th o ug ht it w as b elo w h im , s o m etim es it s e em ed as if it
w as h an g in g o ve rh e ad . E ith e r w ay, H arry c o uld g aw k a t it
lik e a h ung ry k id lo okin g th ro ug h a re sta u ra n t w in dow ,
w atc h in g it , fa sc in ate d , a s it s lid past, e ve r-c han g in g, a
w ho le w orld passin g in pan o ra m ic re vie w befo re his
sta rin g e ye s.
“S to p y o ur g oo�n ’, T w elv eto es, a n d g et ba ck to w ork !”
T he s u p er’s v o ic e g ra te d in H arry ’s h e lm et e arp ho ne s.
H arry grin ne d sh e ep is hly an d no dde d insid e his
h e lm et. It w as a w fu lly e asy t o g et lo st in w ond er, w atc h in g
th e w orld t u rn .
T he y w ork e d a s ix -d ay w eek. T he re w as n o a lc oho l in
th e h ab ita t, n o t e ve n o n S unda ys. T he re w as a c a fe te ria ,
an d th e c re w s so cia liz ed th e re . E ve ry bo dy c o m pla in ed
ab out th e s o g gy s a n d w iche s a n d bla nd fr u it ju ices th at

th e fo od a n d d rin k m ach in es dis pense d. Y o u didn ’t h ave
to p ut m one y in to th e m ; th e ir in te rn al co m pute rs do cke d
yo ur p ay a u to m atic ally .
Harry w as sc a n nin g th e m enu of ava ila ble dis he s,
w ishin g th e y’d b rin g u p so m ebo dy w ho kn e w h o w to
c o ok w ith sp ic es, w he n a w om an su g geste d, “T ry th e
ch ic ke n s o up . It ’s n o t b ad .”
S he intr o d uce d he rs e lf: Liz a Goldm an , fr o m th e
e ng in eerin g o � ce . S he w as s lig htly ta lle r th an H arry , o n
th e s k in ny s id e, h e th o ug ht. B ut s h e lo oke d pre tty w he n
sh e s m ile d. L ig ht b ro w n h air p ile d up o n to p o f h e r h e ad.
S he a n d H arry c a rrie d th e ir tr a ys to o ne o f th e c h e st-h igh
ta b le s. H arry to ok a s w ig fr o m th e s q ue e ze bu lb o f s o up .
It w as lu ke w arm .
Gold m an c h atte re d a w ay a s if t h e y w ere o ld fr ie nd s. A t
�rs t H arr y w ond ere d w hy s h e h ad pic ke d him to s h are a
m eal w ith , b ut p re tty s o on h e w as e njo yin g h e r c o m pan y
e no ug h to tr y to m ake c o nve rs a tio n. It w asn ’t e asy. S m all
ta lk w as n o t o ne o f h is s k ills .
“Y o u’d t h in k t h e y’d b e a b le t o k e e p t h e h o t fo ods h o t,”
G old m an w as s a yin g, “a n d th e c o ld fo ods c o ld. In ste ad,
o nce th e y’r e in th e d is pense rs th e y a ll go b la h. E ntr o p y, I
g ue ss.”
H arry w rin kle d h is b ro w a n d he ard him se lf a sk , “Y o u
kn o w w hat I w ond er a b out? ”
“N o. W hat? ”
“H ow co m e th e y got au to m ate d sy ste m s fo r lif e
su p port a n d c o m pute rs a ll ove r th e p la ce , bu t th e y s till

ne ed u s c o nstr u ctio n jo ck s.”
G old m an ’s bro w s ro se . “T o bu ild th e habit at. W hat
e ls e?”
“I m ean , w hy d on’t th e y h ave a u to m ate d mach in es to
d o th e c o nstr u ctio n w ork ? W hy d o w e h aft a g o o uts ide
a n d d o it ? T he y c o uld h ave m ach in es d oin ’ it , c o uld n’t
t h e y?”
S he s m ile d a t h im . “ I s u p pose .”
“ L ik e, th e y h ave ro ve rs e xp lo rin g M ars , do n’t th e y? A ll
au to m ate d . T he s c ie ntis ts ru n th e m fr o m th e ir s ta tio n in
o rb it a ro und M ars , d on’t t h e y?”
“T e le op era te d , y e s.”
“ T he n w hy d o t h e y n e ed g uys lik e m e u p h e re ?”
G old m an g ave h im a lo ng , th o ug htfu l lo ok. “ B eca u se ,
H arry , y o u’r e c h e ap er t h an t e le op era te d eq uip m ent.”
H arry w as s u rp ris ed . “ C he ap er? ”
“S ure . Y o u c o nstr u ctio n p eo p le a re a lo t c h e ap er th an
d eve lo pin g t e le op era te d m ach in ery . A nd m ore � e xible .”
“ N ot in t h o se d am ne d s u its,” H arry g ru m ble d.
With a n u nd ers ta n d in g la ug h, G oldm an s a id, “ H arry , if
th e y sp ent th e mone y to de ve lo p te le op era te d
eq uip m ent, th e y’d s till have to b rin g p eo p le u p h e re to
r u n th e m ach in es. A nd m ore p eo p le to � x th e m w he n
th e y b re ak d ow n. Y o u g uys a re c h e ap er.”
H arry n e ed ed t o t h in k a b out t h at.
G old m an in vit e d h im t o h e r q uarte rs . S he h ad an a ctu al

ro om to h e rs e lf; n o t a b ig r o o m , bu t th e re w as a s ta n d -u p
desk a n d a c lo se t w ith a fo ld in g do or a n d a s m art s c re en
alo ng o ne w all an d e ve n a s in k o f h e r o w n. H arry s a w t h at
h e r s le ep in g m esh w as p in ne d to th e c e ilin g. T he m esh
w ould s tr e tc h e no ug h t o a cco m moda te t w o, h e � g ure d.
“W hat d o y o u m iss m ost, u p h e re ?” G oldm an a sk e d
him .
With o ut t h in kin g, H arry s a id , “ B ee r.”
H er e ye s w ent w id e w ith s u rp ris e fo r a m om ent, th e n
sh e th re w h e r h e ad b ack an d laug he d he artily . H arry
r e aliz ed t h at h e h ad g iv en h e r t h e w ro ng a n sw er.
S he u n p in ne d h e r h air, a n d it sp re ad out lik e a fa n ,
�o atin g w eig htle ssly .
“I d on’t h ave b eer, H arry , b ut I’v e g ot s o m eth in g ju st a s
g ood . M ayb e b ette r.”
“ Y e ah?”
G old m an slid b ack th e clo se t do or a n d u nzip ped a
fa u x le ath e r b ag h an g in g in sid e. S he g lide d back t o H arry
a n d h e ld o ut o ne h an d . H e s a w th e re w ere tw o g ela tin
c a p su le s in h e r p alm .
“T he g uys in th e c h e m la b c o ok th is u p ,” s h e s a id. “ It ’s
b ette r t h an b eer.”
H arry h e sit a te d . H e w as o n-s hift in t h e m orn in g.
“N o s id e e � ects ,” G old m an c o axe d. “ N o h an g ove r. It ’s
ju st a r e cre atio nal c o m pound . T he re ’s n o la w a g ain st it .”
H e lo oke d in to h e r ta w ny e ye s. S he w as o �erin g a lo t
m ore t h an a h ig h.

Her sm ile tu rn e d slig htly m alic ious. “I th o ug ht yo u
N ativ e A m eric an s w ere in to p eyo te a n d ju nk lik e t h at.”
T hin kin g he ’d ra th e r have a be er, H arry to ok th e
ca p su le a n d sw allo wed it . A s it tu rn e d out, th e y didn ’t
n e ed th e s le ep in g b ag . T he y � o ate d in th e m iddle o f th e
ro om , b um pin g in to a w all no w a n d t h e n, bu t w ho t h e h e ll
ca re d ?
The n ext m orn in g H arry fe lt � n e , b ette r th an h e h ad in
month s. H e w as g rin nin g a n d hum ming to h im se lf a s h e
su ite d u p f o r w ork .
T he n he no tic ed th e su p er w as su itin g up , to o, a
co up le o f s p ace s d ow n t h e b ench .
C atc h in g H arry ’s p uzzle d lo ok, th e su p er g ru m ble d,
“M itsu o c a lle d in s ic k. I’m g oin ’ o ut w ith y o u.”
I t w as a lo ng , d i� cu lt s h ift, e sp ecia lly w ith th e s u p er
d og gin g h im e ve ry h alf s e co nd:
“B e ca re fu l with th o se b eam s, ho ts h o t! Ju st ’c a u se
th e y don’t w eig h an yth in g doesn ’t m ean th e y ca n ’t
s q uash y o u lik e a b ug .”
H arry n o d ded in sid e h is h e lm et a n d w re stle d th e big ,
weig htle ss g ird er in to p la ce s o t h e w elde rs c o uld s ta rt o n
it w hile th e s u p erv is or w ent in to a lo ng h ara n g ue a bo ut
th e f a ct t h at z e ro G d id n’t e ra se a g irde r’s m ass.
“Y o u le t it b an g in to y o u, a n d yo u’ll get c ru sh e d just
lik e y o u w ould d ow n o n E arth .”
H e w ent o n lik e th at fo r th e w ho le s h ift. H arry tr ie d to
tu ne h im o ut, w ishin g h e h ad th e p ow ers o f m edit atio n
th at h is g re at-u ncle h ad ta lk ed abo ut, ba ck h o m e. B ut it

was im possib le to e sc a p e th e su p er’s sc re ech y vo ic e
ya m merin g in his he lm et earp ho ne s. Lit tle by lit tle ,
th o ug h, H arry b eg an to re aliz e th at th e s u p er w as tr y in g
to e d uca te h im , t r y in g t o t e ach h im h o w t o s u rv iv e in z e ro
G , giv in g him tip s th at th e tr a in ing m an uals ne ve r
m entio ne d .
In ste ad of ig no rin g th e lit tle m an ’s in sis te nt vo ic e,
H arry s ta rte d to lis te n. H ard . T he g uy k n e w a lo t m ore
a b out th is w ork th an H arry did, a n d H arry d ecid ed he
m ight a s w ell le arn , if t h e s u p er w as w illin g t o t e ach .
B y th e tim e th e y w ent b ack in sid e a n d be gan to w orm
th e m se lv es out of th e sp ace su its, H arry w as g rin nin g
bro ad ly .
The s u p er s c o w le d a t h im . “ W hat’s s o f u nny?”
P eelin g o � h is sw eat-s oake d th e rm al unde rg arm ent,
H arry s h o ok h is h e ad . “ N ot f u nny. Ju st h ap py.”
“ H ap py? Y o u s u re d on’t s m ell hap py!”
H arry la ug he d . “ N eith e r d o y o u, c h ie f.”
T he s u p er g ru m ble d s o m eth in g to o lo w fo r H arry to
c a tc h .
“T han ks, c h ie f,” H arry s a id .
“F o r w hat? ”
“F o r all th at stu � yo u w ere te llin g m e out th e re .
T han ks.”
F o r o nce , t h e s u p erv is or w as s p eech le ss.
D ays a n d w eeks b lu rre d in to m onth s o f e nd le ss dr ud gery .
H arry w ork e d six days each w eek, th e m ono to ny of

han d lin g th e b ig g ird ers b ro ke n o nly by th e n e ve r-e nd in g
th rill of w atc h in g th e a lw ays-c han g in g E arth s lid ing a lo ng
b elo w. N ow a n d th e n th e s u p er w ould g iv e h im a n o th e r
im pro m ptu le ctu re , b ut o nce th e y w ere in sid e a g ain , th e
su p er n e ve r so cia liz ed w ith H arry , n o r w ith a n y o f h is
cre w .
“I d on’t m ake fr ie nd s w ith th e lu nks w ho w ork fo r m e,”
h e e xp la in ed g ru � y. “I d on’t w an t to be y o ur fr ie nd . I’m
y o ur b oss.”
H arry th o ug ht it o ve r a n d d ecid ed th e lit tle g uy w as
rig ht. M ost o f th e o th e rs o n th e c re w w ere c o untin g th e
d ays u ntil th e ir c o ntr a cts w ere fu l� lle d an d th e y c o uld g o
b ack to E arth a n d n e ve r s e e th e s u p er a g ain . H arry w as
to yin g w ith th e id ea o f s ig nin g u p fo r a n o th e r to ur w he n
th is o ne w as � n is he d . T he re w as s till ple nty o f w ork t o do
o n th e h ab ita t, a n d th e re w as ta lk o f o th e r h abit ats b ein g
sta rte d .
H e s p ent s o m e o f h is e ve nin gs w ith G oldm an , m ore o f
th e m w ith th e c h e m ists w ho c o oke d up th e re cre atio nal
d ru g s. G old m an h ad s p oke n s tr a ig ht: th e c a p su le s w ere
b ette r th an b eer, a g re at h ig h w ith n o h an g ove rs , n o
sic kn e ss.
H e d id n’t n o tic e th at h e w as a ctu ally c ra vin g th e s tu �,
a t � rs t. S eve ra l m onth s w ent b y b efo re H arry r e aliz ed his
in sid es g ot ju m py if h e w ent a fe w da ys w ith o ut p op pin g
a p ill. A nd t h e h ig hs s e em ed � a tte r. H e s ta rte d ta kin g t w o
at a t im e a n d f e lt b ette r.
T he n t h e m orn in g c a m e w he n h is g uts w ere s o � u tt e ry ,
h e w ond ere d if h e c o uld c ra w l out o f h is s le ep in g b ag .

His h an d s s h o ok n o tic eab ly . H e c a lle d in s ic k.
“Y e ah , t h e s a m e t h in g h ap pene d to m e,” G oldm an s a id
th at e ve nin g, a s t h e y h ad d in ne r in h e r r o om . “ I h ad to g o
to t h e in �rm ary a n d g et m y s y ste m c le an e d out.”
“ T he y d o t h at? ” H arry a sk e d , s u rp ris ed.
S he tilt ed h e r h e ad s lig htly . “ T he y’r e n o t s u p pose d to .
T he r e g ula tio ns s a y th e y s h o uld re p ort dr ug u se , a n d th e
use r h as t o b e s e nt b ack E arth sid e f o r t r e atm ent.”
H e lo oke d a t h e r. “ B ut t h e y d idn ’t s e nd y o u ba ck .”
“ N o,” s a id G old m an . “T he g uy I w ent to k e p t it q uie t
an d t r e ate d m e o � t h e r e co rd .”
H arry co uld te ll fr o m th e lo ok o n h e r fa ce th at th e
tr e atm ent w asn ’t f o r f r e e.
“I d on’t h ave a n yth in g t o p ay h im w ith ,” h e s a id.
G old m an s a id , “T hat’s o ka y, H arry . I’ll pay h im . I g ot
yo u in to t h is s h it, I’ll he lp y o u g et o � it .”
H arry s h o ok h is h e ad . “ I c a n ’t d o t h at.”
“ I d on’t m ind,” s h e s a id . “ H e’s n o t a ba d lay.”
“ I c a n ’t d o it .”
S he gra sp ed both his ears an d lo oke d at him so
c lo se ly th at th e ir n o se s to uch e d. “ H arry , s o one r o r la te r,
y o u’ll have to d o s o m eth in g. It do esn ’t g et be tte r a ll by
itse lf. A ddic tio n a lw ays g ets w ors e .”
H e s h o ok h is h e ad a g ain . “ I’ll be at it o n m y o w n.”
H e s ta ye d a w ay f r o m t h e p ills f o r n e arly a w ho le w eek.
B y th e � ft h d ay, th o ug h, h is s u p erv is or o rde re d him to g o

to t h e in �rm ary .
“I’m n o t g oin g to le t y o u k ill y o urs e lf o ut th e re ,” th e
su p er s n arle d a t h im . “ O r a n yb ody e ls e, e ith e r.”
“ B ut th e y’ll se nd m e back Earth side ,” H arry sa id.
P le ad ed , r e ally .
“T he y o ug ht to sh o ot y o u o ut o f a m oth e r-h um pin g
ca n no n,” t h e s u p er g ro w le d.
“I’ll beat it . G iv e m e a c h an ce .”
“ T he w ay y o ur h an d s a re s h akin g? T he w ay y o ur e ye s
lo ok? Y o u t h in k I’m c ra zy ?”
“P le ase ,” H arry b eg ged . It w as th e h arde st w ord he
h ad e ve r s p oke n in h is w ho le lif e.
T he su p er sta re d a t h im , h is fa ce sp lo tc h y re d with
a n g er, h is e ye s sm old erin g. A t la st h e sa id, “Y o u w ork
a lo ne . Y o u k ill yo urs e lf, th at’s y o ur p ro ble m, bu t I’m n o t
g oin g t o le t y o u k ill an yb od y e ls e.”
“ O ka y,” H arry a g re ed .
“A nd if yo u don’t sta rt sh ap in g up da mne d so on,
yo u’r e � n is he d . U nd ers ta n d ?”
“Y e ah , b ut— ”
“N o b uts . Y o u s h ap e u p , o r I’ll �re y o ur a ss ba ck to
E arth s o f a st, t h e y’ll he ar t h e s o nic bo om o n M ars .”
S o H arry g ot a ll th e s o lo jo bs: s e ttin g u p p ack a g es o f
to ols a t th e s it e s w he re th e c re w w ould be w ork in g n ext;
h au lin g em erg ency ta n ks of oxy g en; plu ggin g in
ele ctr o nic s board s in a ne w se ctio n aft e r th e cre w
�n is he d p uttin g it to g eth e r; s p ra yin g h e at-r e�e ctin g p ain t

on s la bs o f th e h ab ita t’s o ute r s k in . H e w ork e d slo wly,
m eth o d ic ally , b eca u se h is h an d s w ere sh akin g m ost o f
th e tim e, a n d h is v is io n w ent blu rry n o w a n d th e n. H e
fo ug ht fo r c o ntr o l o f h is o w n bo dy in sid e th e c o n�n e s o f
his s p ace su it, w hic h d id n’t s m ell lik e a n e w c a r a n ym ore ;
it s m elle d o f s w eat a n d p is s a n d te eth -g rit tin g a g ony.
H e sp ent his nig hts alo ne to o, in his clo se t-s ized
q uarte rs , � g htin g t h e n e ed t o do wn a f e w p ills . J u st a f e w .
A c o uple , e ve n; t h a t’s a ll I n e e d . M ayb e ju st o ne w ould
d o it . J u st o ne , fo r to nig ht. J u st to g et m e th ro ug h th e
nig ht. I’ll be b ang in g m y h e ad again st th e w all if I d on’t
g et s o m eth in g t o h e lp m e.
B ut t h e s p id er w ould t e ll him , “ Fig ht t h e m onste r, H arry .
N ob od y s a id it w ould b e e asy. Fig ht it .”
T he re st of th e cre w gave him odd looks in th e
m orn in gs w he n h e s h o w ed u p fo r w ork . H arry th o ug ht it
w as b eca u se h e lo oke d s o lo usy, bu t � n ally , o ne o f th e
w om en a sk e d h im w hy t h e s u p er w as p ic kin g o n h im .
“P ic kin ’ o n m e?” H arry e ch o ed, t r u ly n o np lu sse d.
“H e’s g iv in g y o u a ll th e s h it jo bs, T w elv eto es.”
H arry c o uld n’t e xp la in it to h e r. “ I d on’t m ind,” h e s a id,
tr y in g t o m ake it s o und c h e erfu l.
S he s h o ok h e r h e ad . “ Y o u’r e th e o nly N ativ e A m eric an
o n t h e c re w a n d y o u’r e b ein g k e p t s e p ara te fr o m t h e r e st
o f u s, e ve ry s h ift. Y o u s h o uld c o m pla in to th e c o m mitte e
— ”
“I g ot n o c o m pla in ts ,” H arry s a id �rm ly.
“T he n I’ll brin g it u p ,” s h e � a re d.

“D on’t d o m e a n y f a vo rs .”
A ft e r th at he w as tr u ly is ola te d. N one o f th e cre w
w ould ta lk to h im . T he y th in k I’m a c o w ard , H arry s a id to
h im se lf. T he y t h in k I’m le ttin g t h e s u p er s h it o n m e.
H e a cce p te d th e ir d is dain . I ’v e e a rn e d it , I g ue ss , h e
to ld t h e s p id er. T he s p id er a g re ed.
W he n t h e a ccid ent h ap pene d , H arry w as lit era lly a m ile
aw ay. T he cre w w as w ork in g o n th e h abit at’s e nd ca p
asse m bly , w he re th e c u rv in g g irde rs c a m e to g eth e r a n d
h ad to b e w eld ed p re cis ely in p la ce . T he s u p erv is or h ad
H arry in sta llin g t h e b ig , t h in , � e xible s h e ets o f h o ne yc o m b
m eta l th at se rv e d as a pro te ctiv e sh ie ld ag ain st
m icro m ete o ro id hits. Thin as th e y w ere , th e bu mpers
w ould s till ab so rb t h e im pact o f a p ebble -sized mete o ro id
an d k e ep it f r o m p unctu rin g t h e h abit at’s s k in .
Harry h e ard y e llin g in h is h e lm et e arp ho ne s, th e n a
h ig h-p itch e d sc re am . He sp un him se lf aro und an d
p ush e d o� as fa r as his te th e r w ould allo w. N oth in g
se em ed a m iss a s fa r a s h e c o uld se e a lo ng th e im mense
c u rv in g � a n k o f th e h ab ita t. B ut v o ic es w ere h o lle rin g o n
th e in te rc o m f r e q ue ncy, s e ve ra l a t t h e s a m e t im e.
S ud denly th e e arp ho ne s w ent de ad sile nt. T he n th e
co ntr o lle r’s v o ic e , p itch e d h ig h w ith t e nsio n: “ � � �� � �� ��.
�� �� �� � � � � �� � �� ��. � �� � ��� �� � � �� �� ���� � � � ����
�� � � ���� �� ��� �� �� �� . � �� �� �. � � �� � �� �� � � � � � ���. ”
T he e nd ca p , H arry k n e w , w as w he re th e re st o f th e
cre w w as w ork in g.
W ith o ut he sit a tio n, w ith o ut eve n th in kin g abo ut it,

Harry p ulle d h im se lf a lo ng h is te th e r u ntil he w as a t th e
cle at w he re it w as fa ste ne d . H e u nclip ped it a n d s ta rte d
d ash in g alo ng th e hab ita t’s sk in , �ic kin g his glo ve d
�n g ers fr o m o ne h an d ho ld to th e n ext, h is le gs s tr e tc h e d
o ut b ehin d h im , b attin g a lo ng th e cu rv in g � a n k o f th e
m assiv e s tr u ctu re lik e a s ilv er ba rra cu da .
Voic es e ru p te d in h is e arp ho ne s a g ain , bu t a ft e r a fe w
se co nd s, s o m eb od y in sid e c u t o � t h e in te rc o m f r e q ue ncy.
P ro b ably th e c o ntr o lle r , H arry th o ug ht. A s h e � e w a lo ng ,
he s ta b bed a t th e k e yb oard on th e w ris t o f h is s u it to
s w itch to th e cre w ’s exc lu siv e fr e q ue ncy. The su p er
w arn e d th e m n e ve r to u se th at fr e q ue ncy u nle ss h e to ld
th e m t o , b ut t h is w as a n e m erg ency.
S ure e no ug h, h e h e ard th e s u p er’s v o ic e ra sp in g, “ I’m
s u itin g up ; I’ll be o ut th e re in a fe w m inute s. B y th e
num bers , r e p ort in .”
A s h e lis te ne d to th e o th e rs c o untin g o �, th e s h ake s
su d denly tu rn e d H arry ’s in side s to bu rn in g acid . H e
fo ug ht b ack th e u rg e to re tc h , s q ue e ze d his e ye s tig ht
sh ut, c la m ped h is te eth to g eth e r s o h ard his ja ws h urt.
H is b ow els ru m ble d. D on’t le t m e cra p in th e su it! h e
p ra ye d . H e m isse d a h an d ho ld an d n e arly s o are d out o f
re ach o f th e n ext o ne , b ut h e rig hte d him se lf a n d k e p t
ra cin g to w ard th e s c e ne o f th e a ccide nt, w hate ve r it w as,
b lin d w ith p ain a n d fe ar. W he n h is tu rn o n th e ro ll ca ll
ca m e, he gasp ed out, “T w elv eto es, on m y way to
e nd ca p .”
“ H arry ! Y o u s ta y o ut o f t h is !” t h e s u p er r o are d. “ W e g ot
eno ug h t r o ub le h e re a lr e ad y!”

Harry s h ud dere d in sid e h is s u it a n d o be die ntly s lo wed
his p ace a lo ng th e h an d ho ld s. H e h ad to blin k s e ve ra l
tim es to c le ar u p h is v is io n, a n d th e n h e s a w , o � in th e
d is ta n ce , w hat h ad h ap pene d .
The � it te r th at w as c a rry in g th e e nd ca p g irde rs m ust
h ave m is�re d it s ro cke t th ru ste r. G irde rs w ere s tr e w n a ll
o ve r t h e p la ce , s o m e o f t h e m ja m med into t h e s k e le to n o f
th e e nd ca p ’s u n�n is he d s tr u ctu re , o th e rs s p in nin g in s lo w
m otio n o ut a n d a w ay fr o m th e h abit at. H arry c o uld n’t s e e
th e � it te r it se lf; p ro b ab ly it w as ja m med inside th e m ess
o f g ird ers s tic kin g o ut w he re th e e nd ca p w as s u p pose d
to b e.
E d gin g c lo se r, h an d o ve r h an d, H arry be gan to c o unt
th e s p ace su ite d � g ure s o f h is c re w , s o m e � o atin g in ertly
a t th e e nd s o f th e ir te th e rs , e ith e r u nco nsc io us o r h urt o r
m ayb e dead . Fo ur, �ve . O th e rs w ere clin gin g to th e
sm ash e d -u p p ile o f g ird ers . S eve n, e ig ht. T he n h e s a w
o ne sp in nin g aw ay fr o m th e habit at, its te th e r gone ,
tu m blin g h e ad o ve r h e els in to e m pty s p ace .
H arry c la m bere d a lo ng th e h an d ho lds to a s p ot w he re
h e h ad d eliv ere d e m erg ency o xy g en ta n ks a fe w da ys
e arlie r. Fig htin g dow n th e bile bu rn in g in his gut, he
ya n ke d o ne o f th e ta n ks lo ose a n d s tr a ddle d it w ith h is
le gs. The tu m blin g, �a ilin g �g ure w as dw indlin g fa st,
o utlin ed a g ain st a sp iral sw eep o f g ra y clo ud s sp re ad
a cro ss th e o ce an b elo w. A tr o p ic al sto rm , H arry re aliz ed.
H e c o uld e ve n s e e it s e ye , a lm ost in th e m iddle o f th e
sw irl.
M onste r sto rm , he th o ug ht as he op ene d th e oxy

ta n k’s v a lv e a n d w ent je ttin g a ft e r th e d rif tin g � g ure . B ut
in ste ad of �yin g str a ig ht an d tr u e , th e ta n k sta rte d
sp in nin g w ild ly, w hir lin g a ro un d lik e a n in sa n e p in whe el.
H arry hung on lik e a co w boy clin gin g to a buck in g
bro nco .
T he e arp ho ne s w ere a b so lu te ly s ile nt, n o th in g b ut a
b ackg ro und his s. H arry gue sse d th at th e su p er had
b la nke d a ll th e ir o utg oin g c a lls , k e e p in g th e fr e q ue ncy
a va ila ble fo r h im se lf to g iv e o rde rs . H e tr ie d to ta lk to th e
su p er, b ut h e w as s p eakin g in to a de ad micro p ho ne .
H e’s cu t m e o �. H e d oesn ’t w ant m e in th is , H arry
re aliz ed .
The n th e e arp ho ne s e ru p te d . “W ho th e h e ll is th at?
H arry , y o u s h ith e ad , is t h at y o u? G et y o ur a ss ba ck h e re !”
H arry re ally w an te d to , but he co uld n’t . He w as
clin gin g a s h ard a s h e c o uld to th e w hir lin g o xy ta n k, h is
e ye s s q ue eze d tig ht s h ut a g ain . T he b ile w as b urn in g u p
h is th ro at. W he n h e o p ene d h is e ye s, h e s a w th at h e w as
rid ing t h e s p in nin g t a n k in to t h e e ye o f t h e m onste r s to rm
d ow n o n E arth .
H e g ag ged . T he n re tc h e d . D ry h e ave s, h o t a cid bile
s p atte rin g ag ain st th e in side of his bub ble he lm et.
D ea th ’ll be e a sy a ft e r t h is , H arry t h o ug ht.
T he s p ace su ite d � g ure o f th e o th e r w ork e r w as c lo se r,
t h o ug h. C lo se e no ug h t o g ra b , a lm ost. De sp era te ly , H arry
� re d a fe w q uic k s q uir ts o f th e o xy g en, tr y in g to s to p h is
o w n s p in nin g o r a t le ast s lo w it do wn s o m e.
It d id n’t h e lp m uch , b ut th e n h e r a m med into th e o th e r

work e r a n d g ra b bed w ith b oth h an d s. T he o xy g en ta n k
alm ost slip ped out fr o m betw een his le gs, bu t H arry
c la m ped h ard o nto it . H is lif e d ep end ed on it . H is, a n d t h e
o th e r g uy’s .
“H arry ? Is t h at y o u?”
It w as M arta San to s, H arry sa w , lo okin g in to he r
he lm et. W ith t h e ir h e lm ets t o uch in g, H arry c o uld h e ar h e r
tr e m blin g v o ic e, s h o cke d a n d sc a re d.
“W e’r e g oin g t o d ie , a re n’t w e?”
H e h ad to sw allo w d ow n a cid befo re h e c o uld sa y,
“H old o n.”
S he clu ng to him as if th e y w ere ra cin g a H arle y
th ro ug h h e avy tr a � c. H arry fu m ble d with th e o xy ta n k’s
n o zzle , tr y in g to get th e m m ovin g ba ck to w ard th e
h ab ita t. A t h is b ack th e m am m oth tr o p ic al sto rm s w irle d
an d p uls a te d lik e a th in g a liv e, b ecko nin g to H arry , tr y in g
to p ull him d ow n in to it s s p in nin g h e art.
“ F o r ch ris sa ke ,” th e su p er’s vo ic e sc re ech e d, “h o w
lo ng d oes it ta ke to g et a re sc u e � it te r g oin g? I g ot fo ur
in jure d p eo p le h e re a n d t w o m ore s tr e akin ’ o ut t o fr ig gin ’
Costa R ic a!”
H arry co uld n’t be ce rta in , but it se em ed th at th e
h ab ita t w as g ettin g la rg er. M ayb e w e’r e g ettin g c lo se r to
it , he th o ug ht. A t le ast w e’r e he a din g in th e rig ht
d ire ctio n. I t h in k.
H e c o uld n’t re ally c o ntr o l th e o xy g en ta n k. E ve ry tim e
he op ene d th e va lv e fo r an o th e r sq uir t of gas, th e
d am ne d ta n k s ta rte d s p in nin g w ildly . H arry h e ard Marta

so b bin g a s sh e c lu ng to h im . T he h abit at w as w hir lin g
aro und , fr o m H arry ’s p oin t o f vie w, b ut it w as g ettin g
clo se r.
“ W hatta ya m ean it ’ll ta ke a n o th e r te n m inute s? ” th e
su p er’s v o ic e s n arle d. “Y o u’r e s u p pose d to be a re sc u e
ve hic le . G et o ut t h e re a n d r e sc u e t h e m !”
W ho eve r w as ta lk in g to th e s u p er, H arry c o uld n’t h e ar
it. T he s u p erv is or h ad b lo cke d out e ve ry th in g e xc e p t h is
o w n o utg oin g c a lls .
“B y th e tim e y o u s h ith e ad s g et in to y o ur fr ig gin ’ s u its,
m y g uys’ll be d ead !” th e s u p er s h rie ke d. H arry w ishe d he
co uld tu rn o � th e ra d io a lto g eth e r bu t to do th at h e ’d
h ave t o le t g o o f t h e t a n k a n d if h e did t h a t , he ’d p ro b ab ly
go �yin g o � th e ta n k co m ple te ly . S o h e h e ld on an d
lis te ne d t o t h e s u p er s c re am ing a t t h e r e sc u e t e am .
The h ab ita t w as d e�n ite ly g ettin g c lo se r. H arry c o uld
se e s p ace su ite d � g ure s � o atin g n e ar th e e nd ca p a n d th e
b ig m ess o f g ird ers ja m med in to th e sk e le ta l str u ctu re
th e re . Som e of th e gird ers w ere still �o atin g lo ose ,
tu m blin g slo wly e nd o ve r e nd like e no rm ous th ro w in g
stic ks.
“H arry !”
M arta ’s s h rie k o f w arn in g c a m e to o la te . H arry tu rn e d
his h e ad in sid e t h e � sh b ow l h e lm et a n d s a w o ne o f t h o se
b ig , m assiv e g ird ers lo om ing o � t o h is le ft , s lig htly b ehin d
him , s w in gin g d ow n o n h im lik e a g ia nt t r e e f a llin g.
A uto m atic ally , H arry o p ene d th e o xy ta n k v a lv e a g ain .
It w as th e only th in g he co uld th in k to do as th e

pond ero us s te el gird er s w ung do wn o n h im lik e th e a rm
o f a n a ve ng in g g od . H e f e lt t h e t a n k s p urt b rie �y, t h e n t h e
sh ad ow o f th e g ird er b lo tte d o ut e ve ry th in g, a n d M arta
w as s c re am ing b ehin d h im , a n d t h e n h e c o uld f e el h is le g
cru sh lik e a b erry b urs tin g be tw een h is te eth , a n d th e
p ain h it s o h ard th at h e fe lt lik e h e w as b ein g ro aste d
aliv e, a n d h e h ad o ne la st g lim pse o f t h e m am moth s to rm
d ow n o n E arth b efo re e ve ry th in g w ent bla ck .
W he n H arry w oke , h e w as p re tt y s u re h e w as de ad. B ut if
t h is w as th e n ext w orld , h e s lo wly re aliz ed, it s m elle d an
aw fu l lo t lik e a h o sp ita l. T he n h e h e ard th e fa in t, re g ula r
beep s o f m onito rs a n d s a w t h at h e w as in a h o sp ita l, o r a t
le ast, th e h ab ita t’s in �rm ary . M ust b e th e in �rm ary , H arry
d ecid ed , o nce h e r e co g niz ed t h at h e w as � o atin g w ith o ut
su p port, te th e re d o nly b y a lig ht co rd tie d aro und his
w ais t.
A nd h is le ft le g w as g one .
H is leg end ed halfw ay dow n th e th ig h. Ju st a
ban d ag ed stu m p th e re . His rig ht leg was he avily
b an d ag ed t o o, b ut it w as a ll th e re , do wn t o h is t o es.
H arry S ix to es n o w , h e s a id t o h im se lf. F o r t h e � rs t t im e
sin ce h is m oth e r h ad d ie d, h e fe lt lik e cry in g. B ut h e
d id n’t . H e fe lt lik e s c re am ing o r p oundin g th e w alls . B ut
h e d id n’t d o th at e ith e r. H e ju st la y th e re , � o atin g in th e
m iddle o f th e a n tis ep tic w hite c u b ic le , a n d lis te ne d to th e
b eep in g o f th e m onito rs th at w ere k e e p in g w atc h o ve r
him .
He drif te d in to sle ep , an d whe n he aw oke th e
su p erv is or w as s ta n d in g b eside h im , fe et e nca se d in th e

�o or lo op s, h is w iry b od y b ob bin g s lig htly , t h e e xp re ssio n
on h is f a ce g rim .
Harry b lin ke d s e ve ra l tim es. “ H i, c h ie f.”
“ T hat w as a d am ne d f o ol th in g y o u d id, ” t h e s u p er s a id
q uie tly .
“Y e ah . G ue ss s o .”
“ Y o u s a ve d M arta ’s lif e. T he fr ic kin ’ re sc u e te am to ok
half a n h o ur t o g et o uts id e. S he ’d a’ be en g one by t h e n.”
“ M y le g .  .  .”
T he s u p er s h o ok h is h e ad . “ M ash e d to a p ulp . N o w ay
to s a ve it .”
H arry le t o ut a lo ng , w eary b re ath .
“T he y g ot th e ra p ie s b ack E arth side ,” th e s u p er s a id.
“S te m c e lls a n d s tu �. M ayb e th e y c a n g ro w th e le g b ack
a g ain .”
“ W ork m an ’s in su ra n ce c o ve r t h at? ”
T he su p er d id n’t a n sw er fo r a m om ent. T he n, “W e’ll
t a ke u p a c o lle ctio n fo r y o u, H arry . I’ll ra is e w hate ve r it
ta ke s.”
“ N o,” H arry s a id . “ N o c h arit y.”
“ It ’s n o t c h arit y, it ’s — ”
“B esid es, a g uy d oesn ’t n e ed his le gs u p h e re . I c a n
g et a ro und ju st a s w ell w ith o ut it .”
“ Y o u c a n ’t s ta y h e re !”
“ W hy n o t? ” H arry s a id . “ I c a n s till work . I d on’t n e ed th e
le g.”

“C om pan y r u le s,” t h e s u p er m um ble d.
Harry w as a b out to sa y, “F u ck th e co m pan y ru le s.”
I n ste ad , h e h e ard h im se lf s a y, “ C han g e ’e m .”
T he s u p er s ta re d a t h im .
Hours a ft e r th e su p erv is or le ft , a yo ung do cto r in a
w hite ja cke t c a m e in to H arry ’s c u bic le.
“W e d id a ro utin e to x s c re en o n y o ur b lo od sa m ple ,”
h e s a id .
Harry s a id n o th in g. H e k n e w w hat w as c o m ing.
“Y o u had so m e p re tty fa n cy stu � in yo u,” sa id th e
d octo r, s m ilin g.
“G ue ss s o .”
T he d octo r p urs e d h is lip s, a s if h e w ere t r y in g t o c o m e
to a d ecis io n. A t la st h e s a id , “ Y o ur b lo od work re p ort is
g oin g to g et lo st, H arry . W e’ll de to x y o u h e re b efo re w e
re le ase y o u. A ll o� t h e r e co rd .”
T hat’s w he n it h it H arry .
“Y o u’r e L iz a’s f r ie nd .”
“ I’m n o t d oin g t h is f o r L iz a. I’m d oin g it f o r y o u. Y o u’r e a
h e ro , H arry . Y o u s a ve d a lif e.”
“ T he n I c a n s ta y?” H arry a sk e d h o p efu lly .
“N ob od y’s g oin g to th ro w y o u o ut be ca u se o f dr ug s,”
s a id th e d octo r. “ A nd if y o u c a n p ro ve y o u c a n s till work ,
e ve n w it h o nly o ne le g, I’ll re co m mend y o u b e a llo wed to
s ta y.”
A nd th e le gend b eg an . O ne -le gged Harry T w elv eto es.

He ne ve r re tu rn e d to Earth . W he n th e habit at w as
�n is he d , h e jo ined a n e w c re w th at w ork e d on th e n ext
h ab ita t. A nd h e s ta rte d w ork in g o n a dr eam , a s w ell. A s
th e y e ars tu rn e d in to d eca d es, a n d th e le gend o f H arry
T w elv eto es sp re ad all acro ss th e orbit al co nstr u ctio n
sit e s, e ve n o ut to th e c it ie s th at w ere b ein g b uilt o n th e
m oon, H arry w ork e d o n h is d re am u ntil it s ta rte d to c o m e
tr u e .
H e liv ed lo ng e no ug h to s e e th e s ta rt o f c o nstr u ctio n
fo r a h ab ita t f o r h is o w n p eo p le , a m an -m ade w orld whe re
h is tr ib e c o uld liv e in th e ir o w n w ay, in th e ir o w n de se rt
e nvir o nm ent, s a fe f r o m e ncro ach m ent, f r e e t o liv e a s t h e y
ch o se t o liv e.
H e b urie d h is g re at-u ncle th e re , a n d th e tr iba l elde rs
n am ed t h e h ab ita t a ft e r h im : C lo ud E ag le .
Harry n e ve r q uite � g ure d o ut w hat th e m onste r w as
th at he w as su p pose d to sla y. B ut he kn e w he had
so m eho w fo un d his p ath , an d he liv ed a lo ng lif e in
harm ony w ith th e gre at w orld aro und him . W he n his
g re at-g ra n d ch ild re n la id h im to re st be side C lo ud E ag le ,
he w as a t p eace .
A nd h is le gend liv ed lo ng a ft e r h im .

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“M UZH ES TV O ”
Ja m ie W ate rm an is th e c e ntr a l ch ara cte r (h e ro ?) o f m y
th re e n o ve ls a b out M ars : M ars (p ub lis he d � � ��) , R etu rn t o
M ars (� � ��) , a n d M ars L ife (� � ��).
J a m ie is half N ava jo , half Ya n ke e. As th e no ve ls
evo lv ed w hile I w ro te th e m , th e tw o w orlds o f E arth a n d
M ars ca m e to re p re se nt th e tw o side s of Ja mie’s
c h ara cte r: th e b lu e w orld , E arth , a n d th e re d world of
M ars .
T he A ng lo a n d t h e N ava jo .
“M uzh e stv o ” ta ke s pla ce early in Ja m ie’s ca re er,
b efo re h e ’s e ve n s e le cte d to m ake th e � rs t m issio n to
M ars . It ’s a ta le a b out c o ura g e a n d c o m ra de sh ip , a bo ut
th e s tr a n g e in ne r w ork in gs o f th e p eo p le w ho w an t to

exte nd h um an kin d’s h o riz ons— an d t h e ir o w n.

MUZH ES TV O
As th e y d ro ve a lo ng th e riv er, Y u ri Zavg oro dn y g estu re d
w ith h is f r e e h an d .
“L ik e y o ur N ew M exic o, n o?” h e a sk e d in h is h e sit a n t
E ng lis h.
Ja m ie W ate rm an u nco nsc io usly ru b be d his s ide . T he y
had ta ke n th e stit ch e s out only ye ste rda y, an d th e
in cis io n s till fe lt s o re .
“N ew M exic o,” Z avg oro d ny r e p eate d. “ L ik e t h is ? Y e s? ”
J a m ie alm ost an sw ere d , “N o.” But th e missio n
ad m inistr a to rs h ad w arn e d t h e m a ll to be a s dip lom atic a s
p ossib le w ith t h e R ussia ns— an d e ve ry o ne e ls e.
“S ort o f,” J a m ie m urm ure d .
“Y e s? ” a sk e d Z avg oro d ny o ve r th e ru sh o f th e s e arin g

win d b lo win g t h ro ug h t h e c a r w in do ws.
“Y e s,” s a id J a m ie.
The � a t, b ro w n c o untr y sid e s tr e tc h in g o ut be yo nd th e
riv er lo oke d n o th in g lik e N ew M exic o. T he sk y w as a
w ash e d -o ut p ale b lu e, th e d ese rt ble ak an d e m pty in
e ve ry d ire ctio n. T his is a n o ld , tir e d la nd , J a m ie s a id to
h im se lf a s h e s q uin te d a g ain st t h e ba kin g h o t w in d. Us ed
up . D rie d o ut. N oth in g lik e th e v iv id mounta in s a n d bo ld
sk ie s o f h is h o m e. N ew M exic o w as a n e w la nd , r a w a n d
m ag ic a n d m ystic al. T his d ull, d usty d ese rt o ut h e re is
a n cie nt; it ’s b een w orn � a t b y to o m an y a rm ies m arc h in g
acro ss it .
“L ik e M ars ,” s a id o ne o f th e o th e r R ussia ns. H is v o ic e
w as a d eep ru m ble , w he re Z avg oro dn y’s w as re edy , lik e
a sn ake -c harm er’s �u te . Ja m ie had been quic kly
in tr o d uce d to a ll fo ur o f th e m bu t th e o nly n am e th at
stu ck w as Z avg oro d ny’s .
C hris t, I h o pe M ars is n’t t h is d ull , J a m ie s a id t o h im se lf.
Y e ste rd ay J a m ie h ad b een a t B eth e sda N ava l H osp ita l,
h avin g th e s tit ch e s fr o m h is a p pend ecto m y re m ove d. A ll
th e M ars m issio n t r a in ees h ad t h e ir a p pend ix es t a ke n o ut.
M issio n re g ula tio ns. No se nse ris kin g an atta ck of
ap pend ic itis tw enty millio n mile s fr o m th e ne are st
h o sp ita l. E ve n th o ug h th e de cis io ns abo ut w ho w ould
actu ally g o t o M ars h ad n o t b een m ade y e t, e ve ry o ne lo st
th e ir a p pend ix .
“W he re a re w e g oin g?” J a m ie a sk e d. “ W he re a re y o u
ta kin g m e?”

It w as S und ay, s u p pose d ly a da y o f re st e ve n fo r th e
m en an d w om en w ho w ere tr a in ing to �y to M ars .
E sp ecia lly fo r a ne w arriv al, je t-la gged an d be arin g a
fr e sh s c a r o n h is b elly . B ut a t s u nris e t h e f o ur c o sm onau ts
h ad ro use d J a m ie fr o m h is be d at th e h o te l an d in sis te d
th at h e c o m e w ith t h e m .
“A irp ort,” s a id th e d eep -v oic ed co sm onau t o n Ja mie’s
le ft . H e w as ja m med in to th e ba ck se at, sa n d w iche d
b etw een tw o o f th e R ussia ns, s w eaty bo dy o do r p ung ent
d esp ite th e s h arp s c e nt o f s tr o ng s o ap . T w o m ore ro de
up f r o nt, Z avg oro d ny a t t h e w he el.
Lik e a g a ng o f M a�a h it m en tak ing m e fo r a ride ,
J a m ie th o ug ht. T he R ussia ns s m ile d at o ne a n o th e r a lo t,
g rin nin g as th e y ta lk ed am ong th e m se lv es an d h ik in g
th e ir e ye b ro w s s ig ni� ca n tly . S om eth in g w as u p . A nd th e y
w ere n o t g oin g to te ll th e A m eric an g eo lo gis t a bo ut it
u ntil th e y w ere d am ne d g ood a n d r e ady .
The y w ere s o lid ly b uilt m en, a ll fo ur o f t h e m . S ho rt a n d
th ic kse t. L ik e J a m ie h im se lf, a lth o ug h th e R ussia ns w ere
m uch lig hte r in c o m ple xio n t h an Ja mie’s h alf-N ava jo s k in .
“Is th is o � cia l busin ess? ” h e h ad ask e d th e m w he n
th e y p ound ed o n h is h o te l d oor a t t h e c ra ck o f da wn.
“N o b usin ess,” Z avg oro d ny h ad r e p lie d while t h e o th e r
th re e g rin ne d b ro ad ly . “ P le asu re . Fu n.”
F u n f o r t h e m , m ayb e, J a m ie g ru m ble d to h im se lf a s t h e
ca r h um med a lo ng th e c o ncre te o f th e e m pty h ig hw ay.
T he riv er c u rv e d o � to th e ir le ft . T he w in d c a rrie d th e
sm ell of s u n-b ake d d ust. T he o ld to w n o f T yu ra ta m a n d
Le nin sk , th e n e w c it y b uilt fo r th e s p ace e ng in ee rs a n d

co sm onau ts , w as m ile s b ehin d t h e m n o w .
“W hy a re w e g oin g t o a n a ir p ort? ” Ja mie a sk e d.
T he o ne o n h is r ig ht s id e la ug he d alo ud . “ Fo r fu n. Y o u
w ill se e.”
“ Y e s,” s a id t h e o ne o n h is le ft . “ Fo r m uch f u n.”
J a m ie h ad b een a M ars tr a in ee fo r lit tle m ore th an s ix
m onth s. T his w as h is � rs t tr ip to R ussia — to K aza kh sta n ,
re ally —alth o ug h h is s c h e d ule h ad alr e ady w his ke d him t o
A ustr a lia , A la sk a , F re nch G uia na, a n d S pain . T he re h ad
b een e nd le ss p hysic al exa m inatio ns, te sts o f h is r e �e xe s,
h is s tr e ng th , h is e ye sig ht, h is ju dgm ent. T he y h ad pro be d
his te eth a n d p ro no unce d th e m in e xc e lle nt s h ap e, th e n
slic ed h is a p pend ix o ut o f h im .
And no w a q uarte t o f co sm onau ts he ’d ne ve r m et
b efo re w as ta kin g h im in th e e arly m orn in g h o urs o f a
q uie t S und ay f o r a d riv e t o O ute r N ow he re , K aza kh sta n .
Fo r m uch f u n.
T he re h ad b een p re cio us lit tle fu n in th e tr a in ing fo r
M ars . A lo t o f co m petit io n a m ong th e sc ie ntis ts , sin ce
o nly s ix te en w ould e ve ntu ally m ake th e � ig ht: s ix te en o ut
o f m ore th an tw o h und re d tr a in ee s. Ja mie re aliz ed th at
th e co m petit io n m ust be eq ually �e rc e am ong th e
co sm onau ts a n d a str o nau ts .
“H ave yo u all had yo ur ap p end ix es re m ove d? ” he
ask e d .
The g rin s f a d ed . T he c o sm onau t be side h im a n sw ere d,
“N o. Is n o t n e ce ssa ry . W e d o n o t g o t o M ars .”

“Y o u’r e n o t g oin g?”
“W e are instr u cto rs ,” Zavg oro dn y sa id ove r his
sh o uld er. “W e h ave a lr e ad y be en tu rn e d do wn fo r th e
�ig ht m issio n.”
J a m ie w an te d to a sk w hy, b ut h e th o ug ht b ette r o f it .
T his w as n o t a p le asa n t t o p ic o f c o nve rs a tio n.
“Y o ur a p pend ix ?” a sk e d th e m an o n h is le ft . H e ra n a
� n g er a cro ss h is t h ro at.
J a m ie n o d ded . “ T he y to ok th e s tit ch e s o ut y e ste rda y.”
H e re aliz ed it h ad a ctu ally b ee n F rida y in B eth e sda a n d
no w it w as S und ay, b ut it f e lt lik e y e ste rda y.
“Y o u a re a n A m eric an In d ia n?”
“H alf N ava jo .”
“ T he o th e r h alf ?”
“A ng lo ,” sa id Ja m ie. H e sa w th at th e w ord mean t
no th in g t o t h e R ussia ns. “ W hite . E ng lis h.”
T he m an s it tin g u p fr o nt b eside Z avg oro dn y tu rn e d to
fa ce h im . “ W he n th e y to ok o ut y o ur a p pend ix — yo u h ad a
med ic in e m an w ith p ain te d fa ce to ra ttle g ourds o ve r
yo u?”
A ll fo ur o f th e R ussia ns b urs t in to u p ro ario us la ug hte r.
T he ca r sw erv e d on th e em pty hig hw ay, Zavg oro dn y
laug he d s o h ard .
Ja m ie m ad e him se lf g rin b ack at th e m . “N o, I had
a n e sth e sia , ju st a s y o u w ould .”
T he R ussia ns c h atte re d a m ong th e m se lv es. Ja mie g ot
a v is io n o f jo ke s a b out In d ia ns, m aybe a bo ut a re d man

wan tin g to g o to th e re d p la ne t. T he re w as n o n astin ess
in it , h e fe lt, ju st fo ur b eer-d rin kin g � ie rs h avin g s o m e fu n
w ith a n e w a cq uain ta n ce .
W ish I u nd ers to od R ussia n, h e s a id to h im se lf. W ish I
k n e w w hat t h e se f o ur c lo wns a re u p t o . M uch f u n.
T he n h e re m em bere d th at n o ne o f th e se m en c o uld
e ve n ho p e to get to M ars an ym ore . The y had been
re le gate d t o t h e r o le o f in str u cto rs . H e t h o ug ht t o h im se lf,
I’v e s till got a c h a nce to m ake th e m issio n. Do th e y h o ld
th a t a ga in st m e? J u st w ha t in th e h e ll ar e th e y p lan nin g
to d o?
Z avg oro d ny s w ung th e c a r o � th e m ain h ig hw ay a n d
d ow n a t w o-la ne d irt r o ad t h at p ara lle led a t a ll w ire f e nce .
Ja m ie c o uld s e e, fa r in th e d is ta n ce , h an g ars a n d p la ne s
p ark e d h ap haza rd ly . S o w e r e a lly a re g oin g to a n a irp ort ,
h e r e aliz ed .
The y d ro ve th ro ug h a n u ng uarde d gate a n d o ut to a
fa r c o rn e r o f th e s p ra w lin g, s ile nt a ir p ort w he re a s in gle
sm all han g ar sto od all by itse lf, lik e an o utc a st o r an
aft e rth o ug ht. A h ig h-w ing, t w in -e ng in e p la ne s a t o n s q uat
tr ic yc le la nd in g g ear o n t h e c o ncre te a p ro n in fr o nt o f t h e
h an g ar. T o J a m ie it lo oke d lik e a R ussia n v e rs io n o f a T w in
O tte r, a p la ne h e h ad � o w n in du rin g h is w eek’s s tin t in
A la sk a ’s f r ig id B ro oks R an g e.
“Y o u lik e t o � y?” Z avg oro d ny a sk e d as t h e y p ile d out o f
th e c a r.
J a m ie str e tc h e d h is arm s an d b ack , g la d to b e n o
lo ng er s q ue eze d in to t h e c a r’s ba ck s e at. It w as n o t e ve n
nin e o ’c lo ck y e t, b ut th e s u nsh in e fe lt h o t a n d g ood as it

bake d in to h is s h o uld ers .
“I e njo y � yin g,” h e s a id . “ I d on’t h ave a p ilo t’s lic ense ,
th o ug h. I’m n o t q uali� ed — ”
Zavg oro d ny la ug he d . “ G ood th in g! W e a re fo ur p ilo ts .
T hat is t h re e t o o m an y.”
T he fo ur c o sm onau ts w ere a lr e ady w earin g o ne -p iece
� ig ht s u its o f fa d ed , w ell-w orn ta n . Ja mie h ad pulle d on a
w hite s h o rt-s le eve d k n it s h ir t a n d a p air o f de nim s w he n
th e y h ad r o use d h im fr o m h is h o te l b ed. H e fo llo wed th e
o th e rs in to th e s u d den, c o ol d ark n e ss o f th e h an g ar. It
s m elle d of mach in e oil an d gaso lin e. Tw o of th e
co sm onau ts w ent c la tte rin g u p a � ig ht o f m eta l sta ir s to
a n o � ce p erc h e d o n t h e c a tw alk a bo ve .
Z avg oro d ny b ecko ne d J a m ie to a lo ng ta ble w he re a
ro w o f p ara ch ute p ack s s a t b ig a n d lu m py, w ith s tr a p s
sp re ad o ut lik e t h e lim p a rm s o f o cto p i.
“W e m ust all wear para ch ute s,” Zavg oro dn y sa id.
“R eg ula tio ns.”
“ T o �y in th at? ” Ja m ie ja bbe d a th um b to w ard th e
p la ne .
“Y e s. M ilit ary p la ne . R eg ula tio ns. M ust w ear c h ute s.”
Z avg oro d ny p ic ke d u p o ne o f th e c u m be rs o m e c h ute
p ack s a n d h an d ed it to J a m ie lik e a la bo re r p assin g a
s a ck o f c e m ent.
“ W he re a re w e � yin g t o ?” J a m ie a sk e d.
“A s u rp ris e,” t h e R ussia n s a id . “ Y o u w ill se e.”
“ M uch fu n,” sa id th e oth e r co sm onau t, alr e ady

buck lin g t h e g ro in s tr a p s o f h is c h ute .
M uch f u n f o r w ho? J a m ie a sk e d s ile ntly . B ut h e w ork e d
his a rm s th ro ug h th e s h o uld er s tr a p s o f th e c h ute a n d
le an e d o ve r to c lic k th e g ro in s tr a p s to g eth e r a n d p ull
th e m t ig ht.
T he oth e r tw o ca m e dow n th e m eta l ste p s, bo ots
e ch o in g in th e n e arly e m pty h an g ar. Ja mie fo llo wed th e
q uarte t of co sm onau ts out in to th e bakin g su nsh in e
to w ard th e p la ne . A w id e m eta l hatc h h ad been c u t in to
it s s id e. T he re w ere n o s ta ir s. W he n h e h ik ed his fo ot u p
to t h e r im o f t h e h atc h , J a m ie’s s ide t w in ged with p ain . H e
gra b bed th e s id es o f th e h atc h a n d p ulle d him se lf in side
th e p la ne . W ith o ut h e lp . W ith o ut w in cin g.
It w as lik e a n o ve n in sid e. T w o ro w s o f b ucke t s e ats ,
b are , u np ad ded . T he tw o m en w ho h ad been s it tin g in
th e b ack o f t h e c a r w ith J a m ie p ush e d past h im a n d w ent
in to t h e c o ck p it. T he p ilo t’s a n d c o p ilo t’s c h air s w ere t h ic k
w ith p ad din g; t h e y lo oke d c o m fo rta ble .
Zavg oro d ny g estu re d J a m ie t o t h e s e at d ire ctly b ehin d
th e p ilo t. H e s a t h im se lf in th e o p posit e s e at a n d p ulle d
th e s a fe ty h arn e ss a cro ss h is s h o uld ers a n d t h ig hs. Ja mie
did th e s a m e, m akin g c e rta in th e s tr a p s w ere tig ht. T he
p ara ch ute p ack se rv e d a s a so rt o f c u sh io n, b ut it fe lt
aw kw ard to Ja m ie: lik e unde rw ear th at had gotte n
tw iste d .
O ne b y o ne , th e e ng in es co ug he d, sp utt e re d, th e n
b la ste d in to lif e. T he p la ne s h o ok lik e a p als ie d old man .
A s th e p ro p elle rs w hir re d to in vis ib le blu rs , Ja mie h e ard
a ll so rts o f r a ttlin g n o is es, a s if t h e p la ne w as g oin g t o fa ll

ap art at an y m om ent. Som eth in g cre ake d, so m eth in g
m oan e d h o rrib ly. T he p la ne r o lle d fo rw ard.
T he tw o p ilo ts h ad cla m ped he adp ho ne s o ve r th e ir
he ad s, b ut if th e y w ere in c o nta ct w ith th e c o ntr o l to w er,
J a m ie c o uld n o t h e ar a w ord th e y s p oke o ve r th e r o ar o f
th e e ng in es a n d th e w in d b lo win g � n e , s a n d pap ery du st
th ro ug h th e ca b in . The fo urth co sm onau t w as sit tin g
behin d Ja m ie. N o one had sh ut th e hatc h . Tw istin g
aro und in h is s e at, J a m ie s a w th at th e re w as n o d oor fo r
th e h atc h : t h e y w ere g oin g t o � y w ith it w ide o p en.
T he g rit ty w in d ro are d th ro ug h a s th e p la ne g ath e re d
sp eed d ow n th e ru nw ay, s k id din g s lig htly � rs t o ne w ay
a n d t h e n t h e o th e r.
A w fu lly lo ng ru n fo r a p la ne th is s iz e , J a m ie th o ug ht.
H e g la nce d a cro ss a t Z avg oro dn y. T he R ussia n g rin ne d at
h im .
And th e n th e y w ere o � th e g ro und. T he s a n d bla stin g
end ed ; th e w in d w as c le an n o w . Ja mie s a w th e a ir p ort
d w in dlin g a w ay o ut h is w in do w, th e p ark e d pla ne s a n d
b uild ings s h rin kin g in to to ys. T he la nd s p re ad out, br ow n
an d d ead -d ry b ene ath th e c lo ud le ss p ale -blu e s k y. T he
e ng in es s e ttle d in to a r u m blin g g ro w l; t h e w in d h o w le d so
lo ud ly th at J a m ie h ad to le an a cro ss th e a is le a n d s h o ut
in to Z avg oro d ny’s e ar:
“ S o w he re a re w e g oin g?”
Z avg oro d ny s h o ute d b ack , “ T o � n d M uzh e stv o .”
“ M oo .  .  . w hat? ”
“M uzh e stv o !” t h e c o sm onau t y e lle d loud er.

“W he re is it ? H ow f a r a w ay?”
T he R ussia n la ug he d . “ Y o u w ill se e.”
T he y c lim bed s te ad ily fo r w hat s e em ed like a n h o ur.
C an’t b e m ore th a n te n th o usan d fe et , Ja m ie sa id to
h im se lf. It w as d i� cu lt to ju dg e ve rtic al dis ta n ce s, bu t
th e y w ould have to g o o n oxy g en if th e y �e w m uch
b eyo nd t e n t h o usa n d f e et, h e t h o ug ht. It w as g ettin g c o ld.
Ja m ie w ishe d he had bro ug ht his w in dbr eake r. T he y
sh o uld h a ve t o ld m e , h e c o m pla in ed s ile ntly . T he y s h o uld
h a ve w arn e d m e .
The co p ilo t lo oke d back ove r his sh o uld er, sta rin g
dire ctly a t J a m ie. H e g rin ne d , th e n p ut a h an d o ve r h is
m outh a n d h o lle re d , “H oo-h oo-h oo!” H is ve rs io n o f a n
In d ia n w ar w ho op. J a m ie k e p t h is f a ce e xp re ssio nle ss.
S ud denly , th e pla ne dip ped an d sk idde d left w ard.
J a m ie w as sla m med ag ain st th e cu rv in g sk in of th e
fu se la ge an d alm ost ban g ed his he ad ag ain st th e
w in dow . H e s ta re d o ut a t th e br ow n la nd sc a p e be ne ath
h im , w rin kle d w ith h ills a n d a sin gle sp ark lin g la ke fa r
b elo w, a s th e p la ne s e em ed to h an g o n it s le ft w in gtip
a n d s lo wly, s lo wly r e vo lv e.
T he n it dove an d pulle d up w ard, sq ue e zin g Ja mie
dow n in to his se at. The pla ne clim bed aw kw ardly ,
wad dlin g in th e a ir, th e n � ip ped ove r o nto it s b ack . J a m ie
fe lt a ll weig ht le ave h im ; h e w as h an g in g b y h is se at
h arn e ss b ut w eig he d p ra ctic ally n o th in g. It div ed ag ain ,
an d w eig ht re tu rn e d , he avy, cru sh in g, as th e pla ne
h urtle d to w ard th o se bro w n ba re hills , eng in es
sc re am ing, w in d w his tlin g th ro ug h th e sh akin g, ra ttlin g

ca b in .
And th e n it le ve le d o �, e ng in es p urrin g, e ve ry th in g a s
n o rm al a s a c o m mute r � ig ht.
Z avg oro d ny w as s ta rin g a t J a m ie. T he c o p ilo t g la nce d
b ack ove r his sh o uld er. A nd Ja m ie und ers to od. The y
w ere r a g gin g h im . H e w as th e n e w k id on th e blo ck , a n d
th e y w ere s e ein g if th e y c o uld sc a re h im . T he ir o w n lit tle
v e rs io n o f th e V om it C om et , J a m ie s a id to h im se lf. S ee if
th e y c a n m ake m e tu rn g re en o r g et m e to p uke . M uc h
fu n.
E ve ry tr ib e h as it s in itia tio n rit e s, h e re aliz ed. H e h ad
n e ve r b een p ro p erly in itia te d a s a N ava jo ; h is p are nts h ad
b een to o A ng lic ized to a llo w it . B ut it s e em ed th e se g uys
w ere g oin g t o m ake u p f o r t h at.
J a m ie m ad e h im se lf g rin at Z avg oro dn y. “T hat w as
fu n,” h e y e lle d, h o p in g th at th e o th e r th re e c o uld h e ar
h im o ve r th e e ng in es a n d th e w in d. “I didn ’t k n o w y o u
co uld lo op a n o ld c ra te lik e t h is .”
Z avg oro d ny bob bed his he ad up an d dow n. “N ot
re co m mend ed . M ayb e t h e w in gs c o m e o �.”
J a m ie s h ru g ged in sid e h is s e at h arn e ss. “ W hat’s n ext? ”
“M uzh e stv o .”
T he y � e w p eace fu lly f o r a n o th e r q uarte r-h our o r s o , n o
ae ro b atic s, no co nve rs a tio n. Ja mie re aliz ed th e y had
m ad e o ne w id e, c ir clin g tu rn a n d w ere s ta rtin g a n o th e r.
H e lo oke d o ut th e w in dow . T he g ro und be low w as � a t
a n d em pty , as deso la te as M ars exc e p t fo r a sin gle
narro w ro ad ru nnin g str a ig ht a cro ss th e br ow n, ba rre n

waste la nd .
Z avg oro d ny u nb uck le d h is s a fe ty h arn e ss a n d s to od
up . H e h ad to c ro uch s lig htly be ca u se th e o f th e c a bin ’s
lo w o ve rh e ad a s h e s te p ped o ut in to th e a is le a n d ba ck
to w ard t h e b ig , w id e, s till-o pen h atc h .
Ja m ie tu rn e d in his se at an d sa w th at th e oth e r
co sm onau t w as o n his fe et, to o, an d sta n d in g at th e
h atc h .
C hris t, o ne lu rc h o f th is c ra te an d h e ’ll go as s o ve r
te a ke ttle o ut t h e d oor!
Z avg oro d ny s to od b esid e th e o th e r R ussia n w ith o ne
h an d � rm ly g rip pin g a s lim m eta l ro d th at ra n th e le ng th
o f th e c a b in ’s c e ilin g. T he y s e e m ed to b e c h attin g, h e ads
clo se to g eth e r, n o d din g a s if th e y w ere a t th e ir fa vo rit e
b ar h o ld ing a c a su al co nve rs a tio n. W ith t e n t h o usa n d f e et
o f e m pty a ir ju st o ne s te p a w ay.
Z ag oro d ny becko ne d to Ja m ie w ith his fr e e han d ,
gestu rin g h im t o c o m e u p a n d jo in t h e m . Ja mie f e lt a c o ld
kn o t in h is s to m ach . I d on’t w ant to g o o ve r th e re . I do n’t
w a nt t o .
B ut h e fo und h im se lf u nb uck lin g th e s e at h arn e ss a n d
w alk in g u nste ad ily to w ard th e tw o m en n e ar th e o p en
hatc h . T he p la ne b ucke d s lig htly , a n d Ja mie g ra bbe d th at
o ve rh e ad r o d w ith b oth � sts .
“P ara ch ute ra n g e.” Z avg oro d ny p oin te d out th e h atc h .
“W e m ake p ra ctic e ju m ps h e re .”
“ T o d ay? N ow ?”
“Y e s.”

The o th e r c o sm onau t p ulle d a p la stic h e lm et o nto h is
h e ad . H e s lid th e tin te d v is or do wn o ve r h is e ye s, y e lle d
so m eth in g in R ussia n, a n d ju m ped out o f t h e p la ne .
Ja m ie g rip ped t h e o ve rh e ad r o d eve n t ig hte r.
“ L o ok!” Z avg oro d ny y e lle d a t h im , p oin tin g. “ W atc h !”
C au tio usly , Ja m ie p eere d th ro ug h th e g ap in g h atc h .
T he c o sm onau t w as fa llin g lik e a s to ne , a rm s a n d le gs
outs tr e tc h e d , d w in dlin g in to a tin y ta n do t a g ain st th e
d eep er b ro w n o f t h e la nd s o f a r be low.
“Is m uch f u n,” Z avg oro d ny h o lle re d into Ja mie’s e ar.
J a m ie s h iv ere d , n o t m ere ly fr o m th e ic y w in d s lic ing
th ro ug h h is lig htw eig ht s h ir t.
Z avg oro d ny p ush e d a h e lm et in to h is h an d s. Ja mie
sta re d a t it . T he p la stic w as s c ra tc h e d an d p itte d, it s re d
an d w hite c o lo rs a lm ost c o m ple te ly w orn o �.
“I’v e n e ve r ju m ped ,” h e s a id .
“W e k n o w .”
“ B ut I  .  .  .” H e w an te d to s a y th at h e h ad just h ad th e
stit ch e s re m ove d fr o m h is s id e, th at h e k n e w y o u c o uld
b re ak b oth y o ur le gs p ara ch ute ju m pin g, th at th e re w as
a b so lu te ly n o w ay th e y w ere g oin g to g et h im to s te p o ut
o f t h is a ir p la ne .
Ye t h e p ut th e h e lm et o n a n d s tr a p ped it tig ht u nde r
his c h in .
“Is easy,” Zavg oro d ny sa id. “Y o u have do ne
g ym nastic s. It is o n y o ur � le . Ju st la nd w ith k n e e s be nt
an d r o ll ove r. E asy.”

Ja m ie w as s h akin g. T he h e lm et f e lt a s if w eig he d th re e
hund re d p ound s. H is le ft h an d w as w ra p ped aro und th at
o ve rh e ad ro d in a d eath g rip . H is rig ht w as fu m blin g
alo ng th e p ara ch ute h arn e ss s tr a p s, s e arc h in g blin dly fo r
th e D -rin g t h at w ould r e le ase t h e c h ute .
Z avg oro d ny lo oke d q uite s e rio us n o w . T he p la ne w as
b an kin g slig htly , tilt in g th e m to w ard th e o p en, y a w nin g
ho le in th e p la ne ’s s id e. J a m ie p la nte d his fe et a s s o lidly
as h e c o uld , g la d t h at h e h ad w orn a s tu rdy p air o f bo ots .
T he R ussia n to ok Ja m ie’s se arc h in g rig ht h an d a n d
p la ce d it o n t h e D -rin g. T he m eta l fe lt c o ld as de ath .
“N ot to w orry ,” Z avg oro d ny s h o ute d, h is v o ic e m u� ed
b y Ja m ie’s h e lm et. “I a tta ch sta tic lin e to o ve rh e ad. It
o p ens c h ute a u to m atic ally . N o p ro ble m.”
“ Y e ah .” Ja m ie’s vo ic e w as sh aky. H is in sid es w ere
b oilin g. H e c o uld fe el sw eat tr ic klin g d ow n h is ribs e ve n
th o ug h h e f e lt s h iv erin g c o ld .
“Y o u ste p o ut. Yo u co unt to tw enty . Un ders ta n d ? If
c h ute h as n o t o p ene d b y t h e n y o u p ull rin g. Un ders ta n d ?”
J a m ie n o d ded .
“I w ill fo llo w b ehin d y o u. If y o u die , I w ill bu ry y o u.” H is
grin r e tu rn e d . J a m ie f e lt lik e p ukin g.
Z avg oro d ny g ave h im a p ro bin g lo ok. “ Y o u w an t to g o
b ack a n d s it d ow n?”
E ve ry ato m in Ja m ie’s bein g w an te d to an sw er a
fe rv e nt, “H ell ye s!” B ut h e sh o ok h is h e ad an d to ok a
h e sit a n t, f r ig hte ne d s te p t o w ard th e o p en h atc h .

The R ussia n r e ach e d u p a n d s lid th e v is or o ve r Ja mie’s
e ye s. “ C ount to tw enty s lo wly. I w ill se e y o u o n g ro und in
tw o m inute s. M ayb e t h re e.”
J a m ie sw allo wed hard an d le t Z avg oro dn y p osit io n
him s q uare ly a t th e lip o f th e h atc h . T he g ro und looke d
iro n-h ard a n d v e ry , v e ry fa r b elo w. T he y w ere in s h ado w,
th e o ve rh e ad w in g w as s h adin g th e m , th e p ro p elle r to o
fa r fo rw ard to b e a n y d an g er. Ja mie to ok th at a ll in w ith a
s in gle w ild g la nce .
A ta p o n h is sh o uld er. Ja m ie h e sit a te d a h e artbe at,
th e n p ush e d o � w ith b oth f e e t.
N oth in g. N o m otio n. N o so und exc e p t th e th ru m o f
w in d ru sh in g p ast. J a m ie s u d de nly fe lt th at h e w as in a
d re am , ju st han g in g in em ptin ess, �o atin g, w aitin g to
w ake u p sa fe a n d so m eho w dis ap poin te d in be d. T he
p la ne h ad d is ap peare d so m ew he re be hin d a n d a bo ve
h im . T he g ro und w as m ile s b elo w, re vo lv in g s lo wly, n o t
g ettin g n o tic eab ly c lo se r.
H e w as s p in nin g, tu rn in g la zily a s h e � o ate d in m ida ir.
It w as alm ost ple asa n t. Fu n, ne arly . Ju st han g in g in
no th in gne ss, se p ara te d fr o m th e entir e w orld, alo ne ,
to ta lly a lo ne a n d f r e e.
It w as a s if h e h ad n o b od y, n o p hysic al e xis te nce a t a ll.
N oth in g b ut p ure s p irit, c le an a n d lig ht a s t h e a ir it se lf. H e
re m em bere d th e o ld le gend s h is g ra n d fa th e r h ad to ld
him a b out N ava jo h e ro es w ho h ad tr a ve le d acro ss th e
b rid ge o f th e r a in bow . M ust b e lik e th is , h e th o ug ht, h ig h
ab ove th e w orld , � o atin g, � o atin g. L ik e C oyo te w he n h e
hitch e d a r id e o n a co m et .

He re aliz ed w ith a h e art-s to p pin g lu rc h th at h e h ad
fo rg otte n t o c o unt. A nd h is h an d h ad co m e o � t h e D-r ing.
H e fu m ble d a w kw ard ly , s e ein g n o w th at th e h ard-ba ke d
g ro und w as ru sh in g u p to s m ash h im , p ulv eriz e h im , k ill
h im d ead , d ead , d ead .
A g ig an tic h an d g ra b bed h im a n d n e arly s n ap ped his
h e ad o �. H e tw iste d in m idair a s n e w s o unds e ru p te d all
a ro und h im . L ik e th e s n ap pin g o f a s a il, th e p ara ch ute
u nfo ld ed a n d s p re ad a b ove h im , le avin g J a m ie h an g in g
in th e str a p s �o atin g gently do wn to w ard th e ba rre n
g ro und .
H is he art w as ham merin g in his ears , ye t he fe lt
d is ap poin te d . Lik e a kid w ho had gone th ro ug h th e
te rro rs o f h is � rs t r o lle r c o aste r r ide a n d n o w w as s a d th at
it h ad e nd ed . F ar d ow n b elo w h e c o uld s e e t h e t in y � g ure
o f a m an g ath e rin g u p a d irty -w hite p ara ch ute .
I d id it ! J a m ie th o ug ht. I m ade th e ju m p . H e w an te d to
g iv e o ut a r e al In d ia n v ic to ry w ho op.
B ut th e s o b er s id e o f h is m ind warn e d, yo u’v e s till got
to la nd w ith o ut b re a kin g y o ur an kle s. O r p oppin g th at
d am ne d in c isio n.
T he g ro und w as re ally ru sh in g u p n o w . R ela x. B end
yo ur k n e es. L e t y o ur le gs a bso rb th e sh o ck .
H e h it h ard , ro lle d o ve r tw ice, a n d th e n fe lt th e h o t
w in d tu g gin g at his billo win g ch ute . Sud de nly
Z avg oro d ny w as a t h is s id e p ullin g o n th e c o rds , a n d th e
o th e r co sm onau t w as w ra p pin g his arm s aro und th e
ch ute it se lf lik e a m an tr y in g to s tu � a to n o f w ra p pin g
pap er b ack in sid e a g ift b ox.

Ja m ie g ot to h is fe et s h akily . T he y h e lp ed him w rig gle
out of th e ch ute harn e ss. The pla ne cir cle d lazily
o ve rh e ad .
“Y o u did ho ka y,” Zavg oro d ny sa id, sm ilin g bro adly
n o w .
“H ow ’d y o u g et d ow n s o f a st? ” Ja mie a sk e d.
“I d id fr e e-f all, w ent p ast y o u. Y o u d idn ’t s e e m e? I w as
lik e a r o cke t!”
“ Y u ri is fr e e-f all ch am pio n,” s a id th e o th e r c o sm onau t,
h is a rm s � lle d w ith J a m ie’s p ara ch ute .
T he p la ne w as c o m ing in to la n d , � a p s do wn, e ng in es
co ug hin g. It s w he els hit th e gro und an d kic ke d up
e no rm ous p lu m es o f d ust.
“ S o no w we go to Muzh e stv o ?” Ja m ie ask e d
Z avg oro d ny.
T he Russia n sh o ok his he ad. “W e have fo und it
alr e ad y. M uzh e stv o m ean s in E ng lis h la ng uag e co ura ge .
Yo u h ave c o ura g e, J a m es W ate rm an . I a m g la d. ”
Ja m ie t o ok a d eep b re ath . “ M e t o o.”
“ W e fo ur,” Z avg oro d ny s a id , “w e w ill no t g o to M ars .
B ut s o m e o f o ur fr ie nd s w ill. W e w ill no t a llo w a n yo ne
w ho d oes n o t s h o w c o ura g e t o g o t o M ars .”
“ H ow c a n y o u .  .  .  ? ”
“O th e rs te st y o u fo r k n o w le dge, fo r h e alth , fo r w ork in g
with n e ce ssa ry e q uip m ent. W e te st fo r c o ura g e. N o o ne
w ith o ut c o ura g e g oes t o M ars . It w ould m ake a da ng er f o r
our f e llo w c o sm onau ts .”

“M uzh e stv o ,” J a m ie s a id .
Zavg oro d ny la ug he d a n d s la pp ed him o n t h e ba ck a n d
th e y sta rte d w alk in g acro ss th e bare , dusty gro und
to w ard t h e w aitin g p la ne .
M uzh e stv o , J a m ie r e p eate d t o h im se lf. T he ir v e rs io n o f
a sa cre d rit u al. L ik e a N ava jo p urif yin g rit e . I ’m o ne o f
th e m n o w . I’v e p ro ve d it t o t h e m . I’v e p ro ve d it t o m y se lf.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“ W E’L L A LW AY S
H AV E P A RIS ”
If all work s o f �ctio n ca n b e ca te g oriz ed as a sim ple
co n�ic t of motiv atio n, su ch as “lo ve vs. du ty ” or
“re sp onsib ilit y v s. fr e ed om ,” h o w w ould y o u s u m mariz e
th e c la ssic � lm Casa bl anca ?
To m e, th e u nd erly in g p ow er o f th at � lm is th e c o n�ic t
in th e so ul of R ic hard B la in e, th e A m eric an o w ne r o f
R ic k’s C afé A m eric ain , in C asa bla nca in �� ��. R ic k is
deep ly in lo ve w ith Ils a, a b eau tif u l S w edis h r e fu g ee fr o m
th e N azis w ho h ave c o nq ue re d Euro p e fr o m P ola nd to
th e E ng lis h C han ne l.
B ut th e re a re o th e r th in gs h ap penin g in E uro p e, a w ar
a n d h um an c o n�ic ts th at d w arf th e lo ve o f a n in div idu al

man f o r a w ond erfu l w om an .
W ell, y o u u nd oub te d ly k n o w th e m ovie . It ’s a t th e to p
of e ve ry lis t o f H olly wood c la ssic s. A nd yo u k n o w th e
h e art-w re nch in g �n al sc e ne at th e air p ort, w he re R ic k
se nd s Ils a a w ay, to re tu rn to h e r h usb an d w hile h e — an d
C ap t. R eyn au d — he ad f o r t h e w ar. L o ve v s. du ty , p ortr a ye d
as d ra m atic ally a s y o u’ll eve r s e e it .
B ut w hat h ap pene d to R ic k a n d Ils a a n d R eyn au d a ft e r
th e w ar? D id t h e y e ve r m eet a g ain ? Did love t r iu m ph a ft e r
all?
R ead o n.

WE’L L A LW AY S
H AV E P A RIS
H e h ad c h an g ed fr o m th e o ld da ys, bu t o f c o urs e , g oin g
th ro ug h t h e w ar h ad c h an g ed us a ll.
W e F re nch h ad ju st lib era te d P aris fr o m t h e N azis , w ith
a b it o f h e lp (I m ust a d m it) fr o m G ene ra l Patto n’s tr o op s.
T he tu m ultu o us o utp ourin g o f re lie f a n d g ra tit u d e th at
n ig ht w as th e w ild est ce le bra tio n an y o f u s h ad eve r
w itn e sse d .
I h ad n’t s e en R ic k d urin g th at fr a n tic ally jo yfu l nig ht,
b ut I k n e w e xa ctly w he re t o � n d h im . L a B elle A uro re h ad
h ard ly ch an g ed . I re co g niz ed it fr o m h is viv id, p ain ed
d esc rip tio n: th e lo w c e ilin g, th e c h e cke re d ta ble clo th s—
fr a ye d n o w a ft e r fo ur y e ars o f G erm an o ccu p atio n. T he
m od el of th e E i� el To w er o n th e b ar h ad been ta ke n
aw ay, b ut th e s p in et p ia no s till sto od in th e m iddle o f th e

�o or.
A nd th e re h e w as, s it tin g o n th e c u sh io ne d bench b y
th e w in dow , d rin kin g c h am pag ne a g ain . S om ew he re h e
h ad fo und a blu e pin str ip e do ub le -br easte d su it. H e
lo oke d g ood in it ; tr im a n d d ebo nair. I w as s till in u nifo rm
a n d f e lt d is tin ctly s h ab by.
In th e o ld d ays, R ic k h ad a lw ays s e e m ed olde r, m ore
k n o w in g th an h e re ally w as. N ow th e y e ars o f w ar h ad
m ad e a n h o ne st fa ce fo r h im : w orld-w eary , to ta lly a w are
o f h um an fo lly , w ise w ith th e e xp erie nce th at c o m es fr o m
so rro w .
“W ell, w ell, ” h e s a id , g rin nin g a t m e. “ L o o k w hat t h e c a t
d ra g ged in .”
“ I k n e w I’d � n d y o u h e re ,” I s a id as I s tr o de a cro ss th e
b are w oo d en � o or t o w ard h im . L im ped, a ctu ally ; I s till had
a b it o f s h ra p ne l in m y le ft le g.
A s I p ulle d u p a c h air a n d s a t in it , R ic k c a lle d to th e
p ro p rie to r, b ehin d t h e b ar, f o r a n o th e r bo ttle .
“Y o u lo ok lik e h e ll, ” h e s a id .
“It w as a n e ve ntfu l n ig ht. L ib era tio n. G ra te fu l P aris ia ns.
A dorin g w om en.”
W ith a n o d , R ic k m utte re d , “A ny g uy in u nifo rm w ho
d id n’t g et la id la st n ig ht m ust b e a r e al lo se r.”
I la ug he d , b ut t h e n p oin te d o ut, “ Y o u’r e n o t in u nifo rm .”
“ V ery p erc e p tiv e.”
“ It ’s m y o ld p olic e t r a in ing.”
“ I’m e xp ectin g s o m eo ne ,” h e s a id.

“A la dy?”
“U h-h uh .”
“ Y o u c a n ’t im ag in e t h at s h e ’ll be h e re t o — ”
“S he ’ll be h e re ,” R ic k s n ap ped .
H enri put a n o th e r b ottle o f c h am pag ne o n th e ta ble ,
an d a fr e sh g la ss fo r m e. R ic k o p ene d it w ith a lo ud p op
of t h e c o rk a n d p oure d f o r u s bo th .
“I w ould h ave th o ug ht th e G erm an s h ad loote d all th e
g ood w in e,” I s a id b etw een s ip s.
“T he y le ft in a h urry ,” R ic k s a id, w ith o ut t a kin g h is e ye s
fr o m t h e d oorw ay.
H e is exp ectin g a gho st , I th o ug ht. She ’d been
hau ntin g h im a ll th e se y e ars , a n d n o w h e e xp ecte d he r t o
c o m e t h ro ug h t h at d oorw ay a n d s m ile a t h im a n d t a ke u p
lif e w ith h im ju st w he re th e y’d le ft it th e d ay th e G erm an s
m arc h e d in to P aris .
Fo ur y e ars . W e h ad b oth in te nd ed to jo in De G au lle ’s
f o rc e s whe n we’d left Casa bla nca , but once th e
A m eric an s g ot in to th e w ar, R ic k dis ap peare d like a p u�
o f s m oke . I r a n in to h im a g ain by s h e er c h an ce in L o nd on,
sh o rtly b efo re D -D ay. H e w as in th e u nifo rm o f th e U S
Arm y, a m ajo r in t h e ir in te llig ence s e rv ic e, n o le ss.
“I’ll buy y o u a d rin k in L a B elle A uro re ,” h e to ld me
whe n w e’d parte d , aft e r a lo ng nig ht of br an d y an d
re m inisce nce s a t th e S avo y b ar. T w o w ee ks la te r I w as
b ack o n th e s o il of F ra n ce a t la st, w ith th e F re e F re nch
a rm y. N ow , in A ug ust, w e w ere bo th in P aris o nce a g ain .

Thro ug h th e o p en w in dow s be hin d h im , I c o uld h e ar
m usic fr o m th e s tr e et; n o t m artia l br ass ba nd s, bu t th e
w hin ing, w he e zin g m elo die s o f a c o nce rtin a. P aris w as
b eco m ing P aris a g ain .
Abru p tly , R ic k g ot t o h is f e et, a n e xp re ssio n o n h is f a ce
th at I’d n e ve r se en b efo re . H e lo oke d  .  .  . su rp ris ed,
alm ost.
I t u rn e d in m y c h air a n d s w iftly r o se t o g re et h e r a s s h e
w alk ed slo wly to w ard u s, sm ilin g w arm ly, w earin g th e
sa m e b lu e d re ss t h at R ic k h ad de sc ribe d to m e s o o ft e n.
“Y o u’r e h e re ,” s h e s a id , lo okin g p ast m e, h e r s m ile , h e r
eye s, o nly f o r h im .
He sh ru g ged a lm ost lik e a Fr ench m an . “W he re e ls e
w ould I b e?”
H e c a m e a ro und th e ta b le , p ast m e. S he k is se d him
sw iftly , lig htly o n th e lip s. It w as a� ectio nate , bu t no t
p assio nate .
R ic k h e lp ed h e r s lip o nto th e be nch be hin d th e ta ble
a n d th e n s lid in b esid e h e r. I w ould h ave e xp ecte d him to
s m ile a t h e r, b ut h is e xp re ssio n w as u tt e rly s e rio us. S he
sa id h e llo t o m e a t la st, a s H enri b ro ug ht a n o th e r g la ss t o
t h e t a b le .
“W ell, ” I s a id a s I s a t d ow n, “ th is is lik e o ld tim es, e h?”
R ic k n o d ded . Ils a m urm ure d , “ O ld tim es.”
I s a w th at th e re w as a p la in g old band o n h e r � n g er. I
w as c e rta in t h at R ic k n o tic ed it t o o.
“P erh ap s I s h o uld b e o n m y w ay,” I s a id. “ Y o u t w o m ust

have a lo t t o t a lk a b out.”
“ O h, no , don’t le ave ,” sh e sa id, actu ally re ach in g
acro ss t h e t a b le t o w ard m e. “ I  .  .  .” S he g la nce d at R ic k. “ I
c a n ’t s ta y v e ry lo ng , m yse lf.”
I lo oke d a t R ic k.
“It ’s a ll rig ht, L o uie ,” h e s a id .
He � lle d h e r g la ss, a n d w e a ll r a is ed th e m a n d c lin ke d.
“H ere ’s  .  .  . t o P aris ,” R ic k t o aste d.
“T o P aris ,” Ils a r e p eate d . I m um ble d it t o o.
N ow t h at I h ad t h e c h an ce t o s tu d y h e r fa ce , I s a w t h at
th e w ar ye ars h ad c h an g ed h e r, a s w ell. S he w as still
b eau tif u l, w ith th e k in d o f n atu ra l lo ve lin ess th at o th e r
w om en w ould k ill to p osse ss . Y e t w he re s h e h ad been
fr e sh an d in no ce nt in th e old days, no w sh e lo oke d
w earie r, w arie r, m ore d ete rm ined.
“I s a w S am la st y e ar,” s h e s a id .
“O h?”
“In N ew Y o rk . H e w as p la yin g in a n ig htc lu b.”
R ic k n o d ded . “ G ood f o r S am . H e g ot h o m e.”
T he n s ile nce s tr e tc h e d b etw een th e m u ntil it b eca m e
em barra ssin g. T he se tw o h ad so m uch to sa y to e ach
o th e r, y e t n e ith e r o f th e m w as s p eakin g. I k n e w I s h o uld
g o, b ut t h e y b oth s e em ed t o w an t m e t o r e m ain .
Unab le to th in k o f a n yth in g e ls e to s a y, I a sk e d, “ H ow
on e arth d id y o u e ve r g et in to P aris ?”
Ils a sm ile d a little . “I’v e been work in g with th e

In te rn atio nal R ed C ro ss .  .  . in L o nd on.”
“ A nd V ic to r? ” R ic k a sk e d . T he re . It w as o ut in t h e o p en
no w .
“H e’s b een in P aris f o r t h e p ast m onth .”
“ S till work in g w ith t h e R esis ta n ce .” It w asn ’t a q ue stio n.
“Y e s.” S he to ok a n o th e r s ip o f c h am pag ne , th e n s a id,
“W e h ave a c h ild , y o u k n o w .”
R ic k’s fa ce tw itch e d into an exp re ssio n halfw ay
b etw een a s m ile a n d a g rim ace .
“S he ’ll be t h re e in D ece m ber.”
“ A C hris tm as b ab y,” R ic k s a id . “ L u ck y k id. ”
Ils a p ic ke d u p h e r g la ss b ut p ut it d ow n a g ain w ith o ut
d rin kin g fr o m it . “ V ic to r a n d I  .  .  . w e th o ug ht, w ell, a ft e r
th e w ar is o ve r, w e’d g o b ack t o P ra g ue .”
“ S ure ,” s a id R ic k.
“T he re ’ll be so m uch to do,” Ils a w ent on, alm ost
w his perin g, a lm ost p le ad in g. “ H is w ork w on’t b e � n is he d
w he n t h e w ar e nd s. In a w ay, it w ill just be be gin nin g.”
“ Y e s,” I s a id , “ th at’s u nd ers ta n d able .”
R ic k s ta re d in to h is g la ss a n d s a id no th in g.
“W hat w ill yo u d o w he n th e w ar’s o ve r? ” s h e a sk e d
him .
Ric k lo oke d u p a t h e r. “I n e ve r m ake p la ns th at fa r
a h e ad .”
I ls a n o d ded . “ O h, y e s. I s e e.”

“W ell, ” I sa id , “I’m th in kin g a bo ut g oin g in to p olit ics,
m yse lf.”
W ith a w ry g rin , R ic k s a id , “ Y o u’d be g ood at it , L o uie .
Perfe ct.”
I ls a t o ok a n o th e r b rie f s ip o f c h am pag ne , t h e n s a id, “ I’ll
h ave t o g o n o w .”
H e a n sw ere d , “ Y e ah , I � g ure d .”
“ H e’s m y h usb an d , R ic k.”
“ R ig ht. A nd a g re at m an . W e a ll kn o w t h at.”
I ls a c lo se d h e r e ye s fo r a m om ent. “I w an te d to s e e
yo u, Ric h ard ,” sh e sa id , he r to ne su dde nly di� ere nt,
u rg ent, th e w ord s c o m ing o ut a ll in a ru sh . “ I w an te d to
s e e th at y o u w ere a ll rig ht. T hat y o u’d made it th ro ug h
th e w ar a ll rig ht.”
“ I’m � n e ,” h e s a id , h is v o ic e � a t a n d c o ld an d � n al. H e
got u p fr o m th e b ench a n d h e lp ed he r c o m e o ut fr o m
b ehin d t h e t a b le .
She h e sit a te d ju st a f r a ctio n o f a s e co nd , c lin gin g t o h is
arm f o r a h e artb eat. T he n s h e s a id, “ G oo dby e, R ic k.”
“ G ood bye , Ils a.”
I th o ug ht th e re w ould b e te ars in h e r e ye s, bu t th e y
w ere d ry a n d u nw ave rin g. “I’ll ne ve r s e e y o u a g ain , w ill
I? ”
“It d oesn ’t lo ok t h at w ay.”
“ It ’s  .  .  . s a d .”
H e sh o ok h is h e ad . “W e’ll alw ays h ave P aris . M ost

poor c h um ps d on’t e ve n g et t h at m uch .”
S he b are ly n o d ded a t m e, th e n w alk ed sw iftly to th e
d oor a n d w as g one .
R ic k b le w o ut a g ust o f a ir a n d s a t do wn a g ain .
“W ell, th at’s o ve r.” H e d ra in ed his g la ss a n d � lle d it
ag ain .
I’m n o t a s e ntim enta lis t, b ut m y h e art w ent o ut to h im .
The re w as n o th in g I c o uld s a y, n o th in g I c o uld do .
He s m ile d a t m e. “ H ey, L o uie , w hy t h e lo ng f a ce ?”
I sig he d . “I’v e se en y o u tw o le ave e ach o th e r tw ice
no w . T he � rs t tim e, y o u le ft h e r. T his tim e, th o ug h, s h e
d e�n ite ly le ft y o u. A nd f o r g ood .”
“ T hat’s r ig ht.” H e w as s till sm ilin g.
“I s h o uld t h in k— ”
“It ’s o ve r, L o uie . It w as � n is he d a lo ng t im e a g o.”
“ R eally ?”
“T hat n ig ht a t th e a ir p ort, I k n e w it . S he w as to o m uch
o f a k id t o u nd ers ta n d it h e rs e lf.”
“ I k n o w s o m eth in g a b out w om en, m y fr ie nd . S he w as
in lo ve w ith y o u.”
“ W as,” Ric k em phasiz ed . “B ut w hat sh e w an te d, I
co uld n’t g iv e h e r.”
“ A nd w hat w as t h at? ”
R ic k’s s m ile tu rn e d ju st s lig htly bit te r. “ W hat s h e ’s g ot
w ith V ic to r. The w ho le nin e ya rds . M arria ge. Kid s. A
re sp ecta b le h o m e a ft e r th e w ar. I c o uld s e e it th e n, th at

nig ht a t th e a ir p ort. T hat’s w hy I g ave h e r th e k is s-o �.
S he ’s a lif e s e nte nce . T hat’s n o t f o r m e.”
I h ad th o ug ht th at I w as in vu ln era ble w he n it c a m e to
r o m an ce . B ut R ic k’s a d m issio n s tu nne d me.
“T he n y o u r e ally d id w an t t o g et h e r o ut o f y o ur lif e?”
H e n o d ded s lo wly. “ T hat n ig ht a t th e a ir p ort. I � g ure d
sh e h ad V ic to r, a n d th e y’d m ake a lif e fo r th e m se lv es
aft e r t h is c ra zy w ar w as o ve r. A nd t h at’s w hat t h e y’ll do .”
“ B ut  .  .  . w hy d id y o u c o m e h e re ? S he exp ecte d t o � n d
yo u h e re . Y o u b oth k n e w  .  .  .”
“ I t o ld y o u. I c a m e h e re t o m eet a la dy .”
“ N ot Ils a?”
“N ot Ils a.”
“ T he n w ho?”
H e g la nce d a t h is w atc h . “ F ig urin g th at s h e ’s a lw ays a t
le ast te n m inute s la te , s h e o ug ht to be c o m ing in rig ht
ab out n o w .”
I tu rn e d in m y s e at a n d lo oke d to w ard th e do or. S he
ca m e s tr id ing th ro ug h, ta ll, g la m oro us, s ty lis hly dr esse d. I
im med ia te ly re co g niz ed h e r, a lth o ug h sh e ’d be en lit tle
m ore th an a lo ve sic k ch ild w he n I’d kn o w n he r in
Casa b la nca .
R ic k g ot to h is fe et a g ain a n d w ent to h e r. S he th re w
he r arm s aro und h is n e ck an d kis se d him th e w ay a
F re nch w om an s h o uld .
Le ad in g he r to th e ta b le , Ric k poure d a gla ss of
ch am pag ne fo r h e r. A s th e y to uch e d gla sse s, h e s m ile d

an d s a id , “ H ere ’s lo okin g a t y o u, k id. ”
Yvo nne p osit iv ely g lo wed .

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“T H E G REAT M OON H O A X,
O R, A P R IN CES S O F
M ARS”
Whe n I w as a k id , th e s o la r s y ste m s e em ed much m ore
in te re stin g t h an it lo oks t o d ay.
I m ean , w e h ad c a n als o n M ars . M aybe a n in te llig ent
civ iliz atio n th e re , d esp era te ly tr y in g to s a ve th e m se lv es
fr o m th e e ncro ach in g d ro ug ht th at w as dr yin g o ut th e ir
p la ne t.
A nd V enus: b ene ath it s p ole -to-p ole c o ve r o f c lo ud s,
th e p la ne t w as p ro b ab ly a M eso zo ic ju ng le , te em ing w ith
th e lo ca l v a rie ty o f d in osa u rs a n d s u ch .
A la s, our sp ace pro b es sh atte re d th o se exc it in g
possib ilit ies. T he re a re n o c a n als o n M ars , n o din osa u rs

on V enus.
To o b ad . It w as m uch m ore e xc it in g be fo re N ASA’s
s p ace cra ft s h o w ed u s t h e t r u th .
B ut is it t h e t r u th ?

TH E G REAT M OON H O A X,
O R, A P R IN CES S O F
M ARS
I le an e d b ack in m y d esk c h air a n d ju st p la in s ta re d at t h e
tr ia ng ula r s c re en.
“W hat d o y o u c a ll th is t h in g?” I a sk e d th e M artia n.
“It is a n in te ro cit e r,” h e s a id . H e w as h alf in t h e t a n k, a s
u su al.
“L o oks lik e a t e le vis io n s e t,” I s a id.
“It s p rin cip les a re a kin to y o ur te le vis io n, bu t y o u w ill
no te th at it s p ic tu re is in fu ll co lo r, a n d yo u ca n sc a n
e ve nts t h at w ere r e co rd ed in t h e p ast.”
“ W e s h o uld b e w atc h in g th e p re side nt’s s p eech ,” s a id
P ro fe sso r S ch m idt.

“W hy? W e k n o w w hat h e ’s g oin g to s a y. H e’s g oin g to
t e ll Cong re ss th at h e w an ts to s e nd a m an to th e m oon
b efo re � � �� .”
T he M artia n s h ud dere d . H is n am e w as a c o lle ctio n o f
his se s a n d sp utte rs th at c a m e o ut to so m eth in g p re tty
c lo se to J a zzb ow . A nyh o w , th at’s w hat I c a lle d him . H e
did n’t s e em t o m ind. L ik e m e, h e w as a ba se ba ll fa n .
W e w ere s it tin g in m y C ulv er C ity o � ce , w atc h in g T e d
W illia ms’s la st b all gam e fr o m la st y e ar. N ow th e re w as a
b ase b all pla ye r. B est d am ne d hitte r s in ce R uth . A nd a s
in dep end ent a s H arry T ru m an . T o ld th e re st o f th e w orld
to g o to h e ll whe ne ve r h e fe lt lik e it . I a dm ire d him fo r
th at.
I h ad m isse d a lm ost th e w ho le s e aso n la st y e ar; th e
M artia ns h ad ta ke n m e to V enus o n sa fa ri with th e m .
The y w ere a lw ays d oin g lit tle fa vo rs lik e th at fo r m e; th is
in te ro cit e r d evic e w as ju st t h e la te st o ne .
“I still th in k we sh o uld be watc h in g Pre side nt
K enne d y,” S ch m idt in sis te d .
“W e c a n v ie w it a ft e rw ard , if y o u lik e,” s a id Jazzbo w
dip lom atic ally . A s I sa id , he had tu rn e d into quite a
base b all fa n , a n d w e b oth w an te d to s e e th e S ple nd id
S plin te r’s � n al h o m e r u n.
Ja zzb ow w as a ty p ic al M artia n. S om e o f th e s c ie ntis ts
s till ca n ’t te ll one fr o m a n o th e r, th e y lo ok s o m uch a lik e,
b ut I g ue ss th at’s b eca u se th e y’r e a ll clo ne d ra th e r th an
co nce iv ed s e xu ally . M ars is p re tty da mne d du ll th at w ay,
y o u k n o w . O f c o urs e , m ost o f th e s c ie ntis ts a re n’t a ll th at
sm art o uts id e o f th e ir o w n � e lds o f s p ecia liz atio n. T a ke

Ein ste in , fo r e xa m ple . T e rri� c t h in ke r. H e be lieve s if w e a ll
sc ra p ped our ato m ic bom bs, th e w orld would be at
p eace . Y a h . S ure .
A nyw ay, Ja zzb ow is a b out fo ur fe et n in e w ith da rk ,
le ath e ry s k in , k in d o f lik e a fo o tba ll th at’s be en le ft o ut in
th e s u n to o lo ng . T he w ate r fr o m th e ta n k m ade h im lo ok
eve n dark e r, of co urs e . Pow erfu l ba rre l ch e st, bu t
oth e rw ise a re al sp id ery b uild, a rm s a n d le gs lik e p ip e
ste m s. W eb bed fe et, e vo lv ed fo r w alk in g o n lo ose s a n d .
The ir h an d s h ave � ve � n g ers w ith o p posa ble t h um bs , ju st
lik e o urs , b ut th e � n g ers h ave so m an y lit tle b one s in
th e m t h at t h e y’r e a s � e xib le a s a n o cto p us’s t e nta cle s.
M artia ns w ould lo ok re ally s c a ry , I g ue ss, if it w ere n’t
f o r th e ir g oofy fa ce s. T he y’v e g ot big , s o rro w fu l, lim pid
eye s w ith lo ng fe m inine e ye la sh e s lik e a ca m el; th e ir
no se s are sp la ye d fr o m o ne ch e ek to th e o th e r; an d
th e y’v e g ot th e se w id e, lip less m outh s s tr e tc h e d into a
p erp etu al silly -lookin g g rin , lik e a d olp hin . N o te eth a t a ll.
T he y e at n o th in g b ut liq uid s. G ot lo ng t o ng ue s, lik e s o m e
inse cts , w hic h m ight b e g re at fo r s e x if th e y h ad an y, bu t
th e y d on’t , a n d , a n yw ay th e y u su ally k e e p th e ir to ng ue s
ro lle d u p in sid e a s p ecia l pouch in th e ir c h e eks s o th e y
d on’t s ta rtle a n y o f u s e arth lin gs. H ow th e y ta lk w ith th e ir
to ng ue s r o lle d u p is b eyo nd m e.
A nyw ay, J a zzb ow w as h alf in th e ta n k, a s I s a id. H e
ne ed ed th e wate r’s buo ya n cy to make him se lf
co m fo rta b le in e arth ly g ra vit y. O th e rw ise, h e ’d have to
w ear h is e xo sk e le to n s u it, a n d I c o uld n’t s e e p utt in g h im
th ro ug h th at ju st s o w e c o uld have a fa ce -t o-f ace w ith
P ro fe sso r S ch m idt.

The p ro fe sso r w as � d getin g u nh ap pily in h is c h air. H e
did n’t g iv e a r a t’s a ss a b out b ase ba ll, bu t a t le ast h e c o uld
te ll Ja zzb ow fr o m t h e o th e r M artia ns. I g ue ss it ’s be ca u se
h e w as o ne o f th e s p ecia l fe w w ho ’d kn o w n th e M artia ns
e ve r sin ce th e y h ad �rs t cra sh -la nd ed in N ew M exic o
back in ’� � .
W ell, W illia ms s o cke d h is h o m e ru n, a n d th e Fe nw ay
P ark fa n s s to od u p a n d c h e ere d fo r w hat s e e m ed lik e a n
h o ur a n d a h alf, b ut h e n e ve r did co m e o ut o f th e du gout
to tip h is c a p fo r th e m . G ood fo r h im ! I th o ug ht. H is o w n
m an to th e v e ry e nd . T hat w as h is la st tim e o n a b all �e ld
as a p la ye r. I f o und I h ad t e ars in m y e ye s.
“N ow ca n w e se e th e pre side nt? ” Sch m idt ask e d,
exa sp era te d . N orm ally , he lo oke d like a yo ung San ta
C la us, ro und a n d re d -c he eke d, w ith a p ale , blo nd be ard.
H e usu ally w as a pre tty jo lly guy, bu t ju st no w his
re sp onsib ilit ies w ere s ta rtin g t o g et t h e be tte r o f h im .
Ja zzb ow s n ake d o ne lo ng , lim ber a rm o ut o f th e w ate r
an d � d dle d w ith th e c o ntr o l kn o bs be ne ath th e in ve rte d
tr ia ng le of th e in te ro cit e r’s sc re en. JFK ca m e on th e
sc re en in f u ll co lo r, in t h e m iddle o f h is s p eech t o t h e jo int
se ssio n o f C ong re ss:
“I belie ve th at th is natio n sh o uld co m mit itse lf to
a ch ie vin g t h e g oal, b efo re t h is de ca de is o ut, o f la nd in g a
m an o n th e m oon a n d r e tu rn in g h im s a fe ly to th e e arth . I
b elie ve w e s h o uld g o t o t h e m oon.”
J a zzb ow s a n k d ow n in h is w ate r ta n k u ntil only h is big
e ye s s h o w ed , a n d h e s ta rte d n o is ily blo win g bu bble s, h is
w ay o f s h o w in g t h at h e w as u p se t.

Sch m idt tu rn e d to m e. “Y o u’r e g oin g to h ave to ta lk
h im o ut o f it ,” h e s a id � a tly .
I h ad n o t v o te d fo r J o hn K enne dy . I h ad instr u cte d all
o f m y e m plo ye es to v o te a g ain st h im , a lth o ug h I im ag in e
so m e o f th e m d is ob eye d m e o ut o f s o m e tw iste d se nse
o f in dep end ence . N ow th at h e w as p re side nt, th o ug h, I
fe lt so rr y fo r th e kid . E is enh o w er had let th in gs slide
p re tty b ad ly . T he C om mies w ere in �lt ra tin g th e M iddle
East a n d , o f co urs e , th e y h ad p ut u p th e � rs t a rti� cia l
sa te llit e a n d ju st a c o up le w eeks a g o h ad put th e � rs t
m an in to s p ace .
Yu ri so m eth in g-o r-o th e r. Mean w hile , yo ung Jack
K enne d y h ad le t th at w ack y p la n fo r th e re co nq ue st o f
C ub a g o t h ro ug h. I h ad t o ld t h e C IA g uys t h at t h e y’d ne e d
str o ng a ir c o ve r, b ut th e y w ent rig ht a h e ad an d h it th e
B ay o f P ig s w ith o ut e ve n a P ip er C ub ove r t h e m . Fia sc o .
S o th e n e w p re sid ent w as tr y in g to g et e ve ry bo dy’s
m ind o � a ll th is c ra p b y s h o otin g fo r th e m oon. W hic h
w ould ab so lu te ly destr o y eve ry th in g w e’d work e d so
h ard to a ch ie ve s in ce th at � rs t de sp era te M artia n � ig ht
h e re s o m e � ft e en y e ars e arlie r.
I k n e w th at s o m eb od y h ad to ta lk th e p re side nt o ut o f
th is m oon b usin ess. A nd o f a ll th e h an d fu l o f p eo p le w ho
w ere in o n th e M artia n s e cre t, I g ue ss th at th e o nly o ne
w ho c o uld r e ally d eal w ith t h e W hite H ouse o n a n e ye -t o-
eye le ve l w as m e.
“O ka y,” I s a id to S ch m idt. “B ut h e ’s g oin g to h ave to
c o m e o ut h e re . I’m n o t g oin g t o W ash in gto n.”
I t w asn ’t th at e asy. T he p re side nt o f th e U nite d Sta te s

doesn ’t co m e tr a ip sin g acro ss th e co untr y to se e an
in dustr ia l m ag nate , no m atte r ho w m an y se rv ic es th e
m ag nate h as p erfo rm ed fo r h is c o untr y . A nd m y big gest
se rv ic e, o f c o urs e , h e d id n’t k n o w a n yth in g a bo ut.
T o m ake m atte rs w ors e , w hile m y p eo p le w ere ta lk in g
to h is p eo p le , I fo und o ut th at th e g irl I w as g ro om ing fo r
sta rd om tu rn e d o ut to b e a s n o o p fr o m th e g odda mne d
In te rn al Reve nu e S erv ic e. I h ad had my s h are o f ru n-in s
with th e fe d s, b ut u sin g a b eau tif u l sta rle t lik e Je an w as a
lo w b lo w, e ve n f o r t h e m . A r e al c ro tc h s h o t.
It w as J a zzb ow w ho f o und h e r o ut, o f c o urs e . J e an a n d
I h ad b een g ett in g a lo ng v e ry n ic ely in de ed. S he w as ta ll
a n d d ark -h air e d a n d r e ally lo ve ly , w ith a s w eet dis posit io n
an d th e kin d o f w id e-e ye d in no ce nce th at m ake s lif e
w orth w hile fo r a n asty o ld S O B lik e m e. A nd s h e lo ve d it,
co uld n’t g et e no ug h o f w hate ve r I w an te d to g iv e h e r.
O ne o f m y h o b bie s w as m akin g m ovie s; it w as a g re at
w ay to m eet g irls . B elie ve it o r n o t, I’m r e ally v e ry s h y. I’m
m ore a t h o m e a lo ne in a p la ne a t tw enty th o usa n d fe et
th an a t s o m e H olly wood c o ck ta il party . B ut if y o u o w n a
s tu d io , t h e g irls c o m e � o ck in g.
O ka y, s o J e an a n d I a re g ettin g a lo ng s w ell. E xc e p t
th at d urin g th e p erio d w he n m y s ta � w as d ic ke rin g w ith
th e W hit e H ouse s ta �, o ne m orn in g I w ake u p a n d s h e ’s
s it tin g a t th e w rit in g d esk in m y b edr oom , g oin g th ro ug h
m y d ra w ers . T he d esk d ra w ers , t h at is .
I cra cke d o ne e ye o p en. T he re sh e is , n ake d as a
G re ek g od dess an d e ve n m ore g org eo us, ru m mag in g
th ro ug h th e p ap ers in m y d ra w ers . T he re ’s n o th in g in

th e re , o f c o urs e . I k e ep a ll m y bu sin ess p ap ers in a g erm
tig ht, � re p ro of s a fe b ack a t t h e o � ce .
B ut s h e h ad fo und s o m eth in g th at fa sc in ate d he r. S he
w as h o ld ing it in fr o nt o f h e r, w he re I c o uld n’t s e e w hat
w as in h e r h an d , h e r h e ad b ent o ve r it fo r w hat s e em ed
lik e te n m inute s, h e r d ark h air ca sc a din g to h e r ba re
s h o uld ers lik e a r iv er o f p olis he d onyx.
T he n sh e g la nce d u p a t th e m irro r a n d sp otte d me
watc h in g h e r.
“ D o yo u alw ays se arc h yo ur boyfr ie nd s’ desk s? ” I
ask e d . I w as p re tty p is se d o �, y o u k n o w .
“W hat is th is ?” S he tu rn e d , a n d I s a w s h e w as h o ldin g
one of m y sa fa ri pho to s betw een he r fo re �n g er an d
th um b, lik e s h e d id n’t w an t t o g et � n g erp rin ts o n it .
D am n! I th o ug ht. I s h o uld ’v e s ta sh e d th o se a w ay w ith
m y s ta g m ovie s.
J e an g ot u p a n d w alk ed o ve r to th e b ed. N ic e a s p ie ,
sh e s a t o n th e e d ge a n d s tu ck th e p ho to in fr o nt o f m y
ble ary e ye s.
“W hat is t h is ?” s h e a sk e d a g ain .
It w as a pho to of a M artia n nam ed Cru nch y, th e
p hysic ist G eo rg e G am ow , th e k id acto r Ja mes De an , a n d
m e in t h e d rip pin g d ark ju ng le in fr o nt o f a b ro nto sa u ru s I
h ad s h o t. T he V enusia n v e rs io n o f a b ro nto sa u ru s, t h at is .
It lo oke d lik e a s m all mounta in o f m ottle d leath e r. I w as
h o ld ing t h e s tu n r i� e C ru nch y h ad lent m e f o r t h e s a fa ri.
I th o ug ht fa st. “ O h, th is . It ’s a s till fr o m a s c i-� � lm w e
sta rte d a fe w y e ars a g o. N eve r � n is he d it, th o ug h. T he

sp ecia l e � ects c o st t o o m uch .”
“ T hat’s J a m es D ean , is n’t it ?”
I p eere d a t th e p ho to a s if I w as tr y in g to re m em be r
so m eth in g t h at w asn ’t t e rrib ly im porta n t. “ Y e ah , I t h in k s o .
T he k id w an te d m ore m one y th an I w an te d to s p end o n
th e p ro je ct. T hat’s w hat k ille d it .”
“ H e’s b een d ead f o r � ve o r s ix y e ars .”
“ H as it b een th at lo ng?” J a m es D ean w as a liv e a n d
h avin g th e tim e of lif e w ork in g w ith th e M artia ns on
V enus. H e h ad le ft h is a ctin g c a re er a n d h is lif e o n E arth
fa r b ehin d h im to d o b ette r w ork th an th e p re side nt’s
P eace C orp s c o uld e ve n d re am a bo ut.
“ I d id n’t k n o w h e d id a p ic tu re fo r y o u,” s h e s a id, h e r
vo ic e d re am y, e th e re al. L ik e e ve ry o th e r w om an h e r a g e,
sh e h ad a c ru sh o n J a m es D ean . T hat’s w hat d ro ve th e
p oor k id t o V enus.
“H e d id n’t ,” I s n ap ped . “W e c o uld n’t a g re e o n te rm s.
C om e o n b ack t o b ed .”
S he d id , b ut in th e m iddle o f it , m y d am ne d priv ate
p ho ne r a n g . O nly � ve p eo p le o n e arth k n e w t h at n um be r,
a n d o ne o f t h e m w asn ’t h um an .
I g ro p ed fo r th e p ho ne . “T his be tte r be im porta n t,” I
s a id .
“T he fe m ale yo u are w ith ,” sa id Jazzbo w’s his sin g
vo ic e, “ is a g ove rn m ent a g ent.”
O h, y e ah , t h e M artia ns a re lo ng -dis ta n ce t e le path s t o o.
S o I to ok Je an fo r a d riv e o ut to th e de se rt in m y

Bentle y co nve rtib le. S he lo ve d th e sc e ne ry , th o ug ht it
w as ro m an tic . O r so sh e sa id. M e, I lo oke d at th at
m isera b le , d ry M ohave s c ru b la nd a n d th o ug ht o f w hat it
c o uld beco m e: blo sso m ing fa rm s, sp acio us tr a cts of
ho usin g w he re p eo p le c o op ed up in t h e c it ie s c o uld r a is e
th e ir k id s, g la m oro us s h o p pin g m alls . B ut a bo ut a ll it w as
g ood fo r n o w w as a n A ir F o rc e ba se w he re g uys lik e
Chuck Y e ag er a n d S co tt C ro ss� e ld �e w th e X -p lane s a n d
th e M artia ns la nd ed th e ir s a u ce rs e ve ry n o w a n d th e n.
A ft e r d ark , o f c o urs e .
“J u st lo ok a t th at s u nse t,” J e an s a id, a lm ost br eath le ss
w ith e xc it e m ent, m ayb e r e al, m aybe p re te nd . S he w as a n
a ctr e ss, a ft e r a ll.
I h ad to a d m it th e s u nse t w as p re tty . R ed an d p urp le
g lo win g b rig hte r t h an T e ch nic olo r.
“ W he re a re w e g oin g?” sh e ke p t o n a sk in g, a lit tle
m ore n e rv o us e ach t im e.
“It ’s a s u rp ris e.” I h ad to k e e p o n g oin g u ntil it w as
g ood a n d d ark . W e h ad e no ug h UFO s ig htin gs a s it w as,
n o s e nse ta kin g a c h an ce o n s o m ebo dy g ettin g a re ally
g ood lo ok. O r e ve n w ors e , a p ho to g ra p h.
T he s ta rs c a m e o ut, b ig a n d b rig ht a n d lo okin g c lo se
e no ug h to to uch . I k e p t lo okin g fo r o ne in p artic ula r to
d eta ch it se lf f r o m t h e s k y a n d la nd o n t h e r o ad be side u s.
A ll th at s tu � a b out s a u ce rs s h in ing g re en r a ys o n c a rs o r
p la ne s a n d s u ck in g th e m u p in sid e th e m se lv es is s h e er
ho oey. T he M artia ns d on’t h ave a n yth in g lik e th at. W ish
th e y d id .
Pre tty s o on I s a w it .

“L o ok!” s a id J e an . “ A f a llin g s ta r!”
I d id n’t s a y a n yth in g, b ut a c o up le o f m inute s la te r, th e
h e ad lig hts p ic ke d u p th e s a u ce r s it tin g th e re by th e s ide
o f t h e r o ad , s til l g lo win g a lit tle f r o m t h e h e at o f it s r e entr y
fr o m o rb it.
“D on’t t e ll m e y o u’v e d riv en m e a ll th e w ay o ut h e re t o
s e e an o th e r movie se t,” Jean sa id, so undin g
dis ap poin te d . “ T his is n’t y o ur big s u rp ris e, is it ?”
“N ot quite ,” I sa id , pullin g up be side th e sa u ce r’s
s p in dly lit tle la dder.
S he w as pre tty pis se d o�. Eve n w he n tw o of th e
M artia ns ca m e slit he rin g do wn th e ladde r, sh e still
th o ug ht it w as s o m e k in d o f a m ovie s tu nt. T he y h ad to
m ove p re tty s lo wly a n d a w kw ardly be ca u se o f t h e g ra vit y;
m ad e m e th in k o f th e m onste r m ovie s w e m ade . Je an
w as d e�n ite ly n o t im pre sse d .
“H one stly , H ow ard , I d on’t s e e w hy— ” T he n o ne o f th e
M artia ns p ut it s sn ake -� ng ere d han d s o n h e r, a n d sh e
g ave a y e lp a n d d id w hat a n y w ell-t ra in ed movie s ta rle t
would d o. S he f a in te d .
Ja zzb ow w asn ’t in th e s h ip , o f c o urs e . T he M artia ns
w ould n’t ris k a la nd in g in C ulv e r C ity to p ic k h im u p , n o t
eve n a t n ig ht. N ob od y b ut P ro fe sso r S ch m idt a n d I k n e w
he w as in m y o � ce s u ite t h e re . A nd t h e o th e r M artia ns, o f
co urs e .
S o I g ot Ja zzb ow o n th e sh ip ’s in te ro cit e r w hile h is
fe llo w M artia ns d ra p ed th e u nco nsc io us Je an o n o ne o f
th e ir c o uch e s. H er s k ir t r u cke d up n ic ely , s h o w in g o � h e r

legs t o g ood a d va n ta g e.
“T he y’r e n o t g oin g to h urt h e r a n y, a re th e y?” I a sk e d
Ja zzb ow .
“O f c o urs e n o t,” h is im ag e a n sw ere d fr o m t h e in ve rte d
tr ia ng ula r sc re en. “I th o ug ht yo u kn e w u s be tte r th an
th at.”
“ Y e ah , I k n o w . Y o u c o uld n’t h urt a � y. B ut s till, s h e ’s ju st
a k id  .  .  . ”
“ T he y’r e m ere ly p ro b in g h e r m ind to s e e h o w m uch
sh e a ctu ally k n o w s. It w ill only t a ke a f e w m inute s.”
I w on’t go in to all th e deta ils . The M artia ns are
e xtr e m ely s e nsit iv e a b out th e ir de alin gs w ith o th e r liv ing
cre atu re s. N ot h urt a � y? H ell, t h e y’d make t h e Da lai L a m a
look lik e a b lo od th ir sty m an ia c.
V ery g ently , lik e a m oth e r c a re ssin g h e r s le ep in g ba by,
th re e o f th e m to uch e d h e r fa ce a n d fo re he ad with th o se
te nta cle -lik e � n g ers . P ro b in g h e r m ind. S om e w rit e r g ot
w in d o f t h e t e ch niq ue s e co nd or t h ir dh an d a n d u se d it o n
te le vis io n a f e w y e ars la te r. C alle d it a V elc ro m ind-m elt o r
so m eth in g lik e t h at.
“ W e h ave fo r y o u,” th e s h ip ’s s c ie nce o � ce r to ld me,
“g ood n e w s a n d b ad n e w s.”
H is nam e so und ed kin d of lik e Snitch . Pro p erly
s p eakin g, e ve ry M artia n is a n it , n o t a h im o r a h e r. B ut I
a lw ays t h o ug ht o f t h e m a s m ale s.
“T he good ne w s,” Snitch sa id to m e, “is th at th is
fe m ale k n e w n o th in g o f o ur e xis te nce . S he h adn ’t th e
fa in te st su sp ic io n th at M artia ns exis t or th at yo u are

dealin g w ith t h e m .”
“ W ell, s h e d oes n o w ,” I g ru m ble d.
“T he b ad n e w s,” h e w ent o n, w ith t h at s illy g rin s p re ad
a cro ss h is p uss, “is th at s h e is a ctin g a s a n u nde rc o ve r
ag ent fo r yo ur In te rn al Reve nue Serv ic e— while sh e ’s
b etw een a ctin g jo bs.”
A w , h e ll.
I t a lk ed it o ve r w ith J a zzb ow . T he n h e t a lk ed in M artia n
with S nitch . T he n a ll th re e o f u s ta lk ed to g eth e r. W e h ad
e vo lv ed a S ta n d ard O pera tin g P ro ce du re fo r sit u atio ns
lik e th is , w he n so m eb od y stu m ble d onto o ur se cre t. I
d id n’t m uch lik e th e id ea o f u sin g it o n Je an , b ut th e re
w asn ’t m uch e ls e w e c o uld d o.
S o, r e lu cta n tly , I a g re ed . “ J u st be da mne d ca re fu l w ith
h e r,” I in sis te d . “S he ’s n o t so m e h ic k co p w ho ’s be en
sta rtle d o ut o f h is s n o oze by o ne o f y o ur c o ck a m am ie
m alfu nctio nin g s a u ce rs .”
T he ir s a u ce rs w ere a ctu ally p re tty re lia ble , bu t e ve ry
o nce in a w hile , th e atm osp he ric tu rbu lence at lo w
altitu d e w ould g et t h e m in to t r o ub le . M ost o f t h e s ig htin gs
hap pene d w he n t h e d am ne d t h in gs w obble d to o c lo se t o
th e g ro und .
Ja zzb ow a n d S nitch p ro m ised th e y’d be e xtr a s p ecia l
ca re fu l.
V ery gently , th e M artia ns se le ctiv ely era se d Je an ’s
m em ory s o th at a ll sh e re m em be re d th e n ext m orn in g,
w he n sh e w oke u p a h alf a m ile fr o m a M ohave g as
sta tio n, w as th at s h e h ad b ee n a bdu cte d by a lie ns fr o m

an o th e r w orld a n d t a ke n a b oard a � yin g s a u ce r.
T he a u th o rit ie s w an te d to p ut h e r in a n uth o use , o f
co urs e . B ut I s e nt a s q uad o f la wye rs to s p rin g h e r, s in ce
sh e w as u nd er c o ntr a ct to m y m ovie s tu d io . T he s tu d io
assu m ed re sp onsib ilit y fo r h e r, a n d m y la wye rs a ssu re d
th e au th o rit ie s th at sh e w as abo ut to sta r in a m ajo r
m otio n pic tu re . The yo ke ls �g ure d it had all be en a
pub lic ity s tu nt a n d tu rn e d h e r lo ose . I a ctu ally did put h e r
in to a c o up le o f s ta rrin g ro le s, w hic h e nd ed he r c a re er
w ith th e IR S, a lth o ug h I � g ure d th at n o t e ve n th e fe ds
w ould have had an yth in g to do w ith Je an aft e r th e
ta b lo id s h e ad lin ed h e r sto ry a bo ut be ing a bdu cte d by
�yin g-s au ce r a lie ns. I to ok g ood ca re o f h e r, th o ug h. I
e ve n m arrie d h e r, e ve ntu ally . T hat’s w hat co m es fr o m
han g in g a ro und w ith M artia ns.
S ee, th e M artia ns h ave a v e ry h ig h e th ic al sta n d ard of
co nd uct. T he y c a n no t w illin gly h urt a n yb ody o r a n yth in g.
W ould n’t ste p o n a n a n t. It ’s le d to so m e p re tty n asty
s c ra p es fo r u s, th o ug h. E ve ry n o w a n d th e n, s o m ebo dy
stu m ble s o nto th e m , a n d th e w ho le s e cre t’s in je op ardy .
The y c o uld w ip e th e p ers o n’s br ain c le an , b ut th at w ould
tu rn th e p oor s u cke r in to a z o m bie . S o th e y s e le ctiv ely
era se only th e sm alle st possible part of th e su cke r’s
m em ory .
A nd t h e y a lw ays le ave t h e m em ory o f be ing t a ke n in to
a � yin g s a u ce r. T he y te ll me th e y h ave to . T hat’s p art o f
th e ir m ora l co d e to o. T he y’r e c o nsta n tly te stin g u s— th e
w ho le hum an ra ce , th at is — to se e if w e’r e re ady to
r e ce iv e a lie n v is ito rs fr o m a n o th e r w orld. A nd t o d ate , t h e
h um an ra ce a s a w ho le h as c o nsis te ntly � u nke d eve ry

te st.
S ure , a h an d fu l of ve ry sp ecia l peo p le kn o w a bo ut
th e m . I’m p re tty d am ne d p ro ud to b e a m ong t h at h an d fu l,
le t m e t e ll yo u. B ut t h e r e st o f t h e h um an r a ce , t h e m an in
t h e s tr e et, th e n e w s re p orte rs a n d p re ach e rs a n d e ve n
th e a ve ra g e u niv ers it y p ro fe sso r— th e y e ith e r ridic ule th e
ve ry id ea th at th e re c o uld b e a n y k in d o f lif e a t a ll on
an o th e r w orld or th e y get sc a re d to de ath of th e
p ossib ilit y. T a ke a lo ok a t t h e m ovie s w e m ake !
“Y o ur p eo p le a re s a d ly x e no p ho bic ,” Ja zzbo w to ld me
m ore th an o nce , h is b ig liq uid eye s lo okin g m ela nch o ly
d esp ite t h at d um bbell clo wn’s g rin s p lit tin g h is f a ce .
I re m em bere d O rs o n W elle s’ br oadc ast o f T he W ar o f
th e W orld s b ack in ’� � . P eo p le g ot h yste ric al w he n th e y
th o ug ht M artia ns h ad la nd ed in N ew Je rs e y, alth o ug h
w hy an yb od y w ould w an t to in va de N ew Je rs e y is
beyo nd m e. H ere I h ad re al M artia ns z ip pin g a ll ove r th e
p la ce , a n d th e y w ere g entle a s bu tt e r� ie s. B ut n o o ne
w ould b elie ve th at; th e a ve ra g e g uy w ould bla st a w ay
w ith h is t w elv e-g au g e � rs t a n d ask w he re t h e y c a m e f r o m
aft e rw ard .
S o I h ad to co nvin ce th e p re side nt th at if h e se nt
astr o nau ts to th e m oon, it w ould have ca ta str o p hic
re su lts.
W ell, m y p eo p le a n d K enne d y’s p eo p le � n ally g ot th e
d eta ils ir o ne d o ut, a n d w e a g re ed to m eet a t E dw ards A ir
Fo rc e B ase , o ut in th e M ohave . To ta lly s e cre t m eetin g.
JF K w as g iv in g a s p eech in L A t h at e ve nin g a t t h e B eve rly
W ils hir e . I s e nt a c o m pan y h e lic op te r t o p ic k h im u p t h e re

an d � y h im o ve r to E d w ards . Ju st h im a n d tw o o f h is
aid es. N ot e ve n h is S ecre t S erv ic e bo dyguards ; h e didn ’t
c a re m uch fo r h avin g th o se g uys lu rk in g aro und him ,
an yw ay. C ut d ow n o n h is lo ve lif e t o o m uch .
W e a g re ed to m eet in H an g ar N in e, th e p la ce w he re
th e �rs t M artia n cre w w as sta sh e d back in ’� � , p re tty
b atte re d f r o m t h e ir c ra sh la nd in g. T hat’s w he n I � rs t f o und
o ut a b out th e m . I w as a sk e d by P ro fe sso r S ch m idt , w ho
lo oke d lik e a v e ry a g ita te d y o ung S an ta C la us ba ck th e n,
to tr u ck in a s m an y re fr ig era tio n u nits a s m y c o m pan y
co uld la y its han d s on. Sch m idt w an te d to ke e p th e
M artia ns c o m fo rta b le , a n d s in ce t h e ir p la ne t is s o c o ld, h e
�g ure d th e y ne ed ed m uch o re fr ig era tio n. That was
b efo re h e fo und o ut th at th e M artia ns s p end a bo ut h alf
th e ir ene rg y bud get at ho m e just tr y in g to sta y
re aso nab ly warm . The y love d South e rn Calif orn ia !
Esp ecia lly t h e s w im ming p ools .
Anyw ay, th e re I a m w aitin g fo r th e p re side nt in g ood
old H an g ar N in e, w hic h h ad b een s o to p s e cre t s in ce ’� �
th at no t eve n th e base co m man d er’s be en allo wed
in sid e. W e’d p artit io ne d it a n d decke d it o ut w ith n ic e
fu rn itu re a n d a ll th e m od ern c o nve nie nce s.
I n o tic ed th at J a zzb ow h ad re ce ntly h ad an in te ro cit e r
in sta lle d. In sid e th e m ain liv ing a re a, w e h ad put u p a big
w ate r t a n k f o r J a zzb ow a n d h is f e llo w M artia ns, o f c o urs e .
T he p la ce k in d o f re se m ble d a m ovie s e t: n ic e m ode rn
fu rn is hin gs, but if yo u lo oke d past th e te n-f oot-h igh
partit io ns th at s e rv e d a s w alls y o u s a w th e b are m eta l
su p port b eam s c ris sc ro ssin g u p in th e sh ado ws o f th e
ce ilin g.

Ja zzb ow c a m e in fr o m C ulv er C ity in th e s a m e lim o
th at b ro ug ht P ro fe sso r S ch m idt . A s s o o n a s h e g ot in to
th e h an g ar, h e u nh o oke d h is e xo sk e le to n a n d div ed into
t h e w ate r ta n k. S ch m idt sta rte d pacin g n e rv o usly b ack
a n d fo rth o n th e P ers ia n c a rp etin g I h ad put in . H e w as
re ally w ound u p tig ht: le ttin g th e p re side nt in o n th is
se cre t w as a n e no rm ous ris k. N ot fo r u s, s o m uch a s fo r
th e M artia ns.
It was just ab out m idnig ht whe n we he ard th e
th ro b bin g-m oto r s o und o f a h e lic op te r in th e dis ta n ce . I
w alk ed o ut in to th e o p en a n d s a w th e s ta rs g lit te rin g lik e
dia m ond s a ll acro ss th e d ese rt s k y. H ow m an y o f th e m
are in hab ite d ? I w ond ere d . H ow m an y c rit te rs o ut th e re
a re lo okin g at our su n an d w ond erin g if th e re ’s an y
in te llig ent lif e t h e re ?
Is th e re a n y in te llig ent lif e in th e W hite H ouse ? T hat
w as t h e b ig q ue stio n a s f a r a s I w as c o nce rn e d.
Ja ck K enne d y lo oke d tir e d . N o, w ors e th an th at, h e
lo oke d tr o ub le d. B eate n d ow n. L ik e a m an w ho h ad th e
w eig ht of th e w orld on his sh o uld ers . W hic h he did.
Ele cte d b y a p ap er-t hin m ajo rit y, h e w as h avin g h e ll’ s o w n
tim e g ettin g C ong re ss t o v o te fo r h is p ro g ra m s. T a x r e lie f,
in cre ase d d efe nse s p end in g, c iv il rig hts — th e y w ere a ll
d ead in th e w ate r, s ty m ied b y a C ong re ss th at w ould n’t
d o s p it fo r h im . A nd n o w I w as g oin g to p ile a n o th e r to n
an d a h alf o n t o p o f a ll th at.
“ M r. P re sid ent,” I s a id a s h e w alk ed th ro ug h th e c h illy
d ese rt n ig ht f r o m t h e h e lic op te r t o w ard th e h an g ar do or. I
s o rt o f s to od a t a tte ntio n: fo r th e o � ce , n o t th e m an , y o u

und ers ta n d . R em em ber, I v o te d fo r N ixon.
H e n o d ded a t m e a n d m ad e a w eary s m ile a n d s tu ck
o ut h is h an d t h e w ay e ve ry p olit icia n d oes. I le t h im s h ake
m y h an d , m akin g a m enta l no te to e xc u se m yse lf a n d g o
to t h e w ash ro om a s s o on a s d ece ntly p ossible .
As w e h ad a g re ed , h e le ft h is tw o a ide s a t th e h an g ar
d oor a n d a cco m pan ie d m e in sid e a ll by h im se lf. H e k in d
of s h ud dere d .
“It ’s c o ld o ut t h e re , is n’t it ?” h e s a id.
H e w as w earin g a s u m mer-w eig ht s u it. I h ad an o ld
w in dbre ake r o ve r m y s h ir t a n d s la ck s.
“W e’v e g ot t h e h e at g oin g in side ,” I s a id, g estu rin g h im
th ro ug h th e d oor in th e � rs t p artit io n. I le d him in to th e
liv ing a re a a n d to th e b ig c a rp ete d ce ntr a l ro om w he re
th e w ate r t a n k w as. S ch m idt f o llo wed be hin d u s s o c lo se I
c o uld a lm ost fe el his b re ath o n m y n e ck . It g ave m e th at
cra w ly fe elin g I g et w he n I re aliz e h o w m an y m illio ns o f
g erm s a re � o atin g t h ro ug h t h e a ir a ll th e t im e.
“O dd p la ce f o r a s w im ming t a n k,” t h e p re side nt s a id as
so on a s w e e nte re d t h e c e ntr a l ro om .
“It ’s n o t a s o d d a s yo u th in k,” I sa id. Ja zzbo w h ad
d ucke d lo w, o ut o f s ig ht f o r t h e t im e be ing.
M y peo p le had arra n g ed tw o big so fa s an d a
sc a tte rin g o f c o m fo rta b le a rm ch air s a ro und a c o �ee t a ble
o n w hic h t h e y h ad s e t u p a fa ir -s ized ba r. B ottle s o f e ve ry
d esc rip tio n, e ve n c h am pag ne in it s o w n ic e bu cke t.
“ W hat’ll yo u h ave ?” I a sk e d . W e h ad de cid ed th at, w ith
ju st th e th re e o f us hum an s p re se nt, I w ould b e th e

barte nd er.
B oth th e p re sid ent a n d S ch m idt a sk e d fo r sc o tc h . I
m ad e th e d rin ks b ig , kn o w in g th e y w ould bo th ne e d
th e m .
“N ow , w hat’s th is a ll ab out? ” K enne dy a sk e d aft e r h is
�rs t s ip o f t h e b ooze . “ W hy a ll th is s e cre cy a n d u rg ency?”
I tu rn e d to S ch m idt, b ut h e s e e m ed to be p etr i� ed. S o
ab so lu te ly f r o ze n t h at h e c o uldn ’t e ve n o p en h is m outh o r
p ic k up his drin k. He ju st sta re d at th e pre side nt,
o ve rw he lm ed b y t h e e no rm ity o f w hat w e h ad to do .
So I s a id , “M r. P re sid ent, y o u h ave to s to p th is m oon
p ro g ra m .”
H e b lin ke d h is b ag gy e ye s. T he n h e g rin ne d. “ Do I? ”
“Y e ssir .”
“ W hy?”
“B eca u se it w ill hurt t h e M artia ns.”
“ T he M artia ns, y o u s a id ?”
“T hat’s r ig ht. T he M artia ns,” I r e p eate d.
K enne d y to ok a n o th e r s ip o f s c o tc h , th e n p ut h is g la ss
d ow n o n th e c o �ee ta b le . “ M r. H ug he s, I h ad he ard th at
yo u’d g one o � th e d eep end , th at yo u’v e be co m e a
re clu se a n d s o m eth in g o f a m enta l c a se — ”
Sch m idt s n ap ped o ut o f h is fu nk. “M r. P re side nt, h e ’s
t e llin g y o u t h e t r u th . T he re a re M artia ns.”
K enne d y g ave h im a “ w ho a re y o u tr y in g to k id” lo ok.
“P ro fe sso r S ch m idt, I kn o w yo u’r e a hig hly re sp ecte d

astr o no m er, b ut if yo u e xp ect m e to be lieve th e re a re
liv ing c re atu re s o n M ars , y o u’r e g oin g to h ave to s h o w
m e s o m e e vid ence .”
O n th at c u e , J a zzb ow c a m e s lit he rin g o ut o f th e w ate r
ta n k. T he p re sid ent’s e ye s g og gle d as o ld Jazzie m ade
h is pain fu l way, drip pin g on th e ru g , to one of th e
arm ch air s a n d h alf c o lla pse d in to it .
“M r. P re sid ent,” I sa id , “m ay I in tr o du ce Ja zzbo w o f
M ars . J a zzb ow , P re sid ent K enne dy .”
T he p re sid ent ju st k e p t o n s ta rin g. J a zzbo w e xte nd ed
his r ig ht h an d , t h at p erp etu al c lo wn’s g rin s m eare d acro ss
h is f a ce . W ith h is ja w h an g in g o p en, K enne dy t o ok it in h is
h an d . A nd � in ch e d .
“I assu re yo u,” Ja zzb ow sa id, n o t le ttin g g o o f th e
p re sid ent’s h an d , “ th at I a m t r u ly f r o m M ars .”
K enne d y n o d ded . H e b elie ve d it. H e h ad to . M artia ns
ca n m ake y o u se e th e tr u th o f th in gs. G oes w ith th e ir
te le path ic a b ilit ies, I g ue ss.
S ch m idt e xp la in e d th e s it u atio n. H ow th e M artia ns h ad
b uilt th e ir c a n als o nce th e y re aliz ed th at th e ir w orld was
d yin g. H ow th e y tr ie d to b rin g w ate r fr o m th e p ola r ic e
ca p s to th e ir c it ie s a n d fa rm land s. It w ork e d, fo r a fe w
ce ntu rie s, b ut e ve ntu ally e ve n t h at w asn ’t e no ug h t o s a ve
th e M artia ns f r o m s lo w b ut c e rta in e xtin ctio n.
T he y were gre at eng in eers , gre at th in ke rs . The ir
te ch no lo gy w as ro ug hly a c e ntu ry o r s o a h e ad of o urs .
T he y h ad in ve nte d th e e le ctr ic lig htbu lb, fo r exa m ple ,
durin g t h e t im e o f o ur F re nch a n d In dia n W ar.

By t h e t im e t h e y r e aliz ed t h at M ars w as g oin g t o dr y u p
an d w ith e r aw ay desp ite all th e ir e� o rts , th e y had
d eve lo ped a ru d im enta ry fo rm o f s p ace �ig ht. D esp era te ,
th e y th o ug ht th at mayb e th e y co uld br ing natu ra l
re so urc e s fr o m o th e r w orld s in th e s o la r s y ste m to r e viv e
th e ir d yin g p la ne t. T he y k n e w t h at V enus w as, b ene ath it s
clo ud s, a te em ing M eso zo ic ju ng le . P le nty o f w ate r th e re ,
if t h e y c o uld c a rt it b ack t o M ars .
T he y c o uld n’t . T he ir � rs t a tte m pts a t s p ace �ig ht e nd ed
in d is aste rs . O f th e � rs t � ve sa u ce rs th e y se nt to w ard
V enus, th re e o f th e m b le w u p o n ta ke o �, o ne v e ere d o�
co urs e a n d w as n e ve r h e ard fr o m a g ain , a n d th e � ft h
c ra sh -la nd ed in N ew M exic o— whic h is a h e llu va lo ng w ay
fr o m V enus.
F o rtu nate ly , th e ir sa u ce r cra sh -la nd ed ne ar a sm all
a str o no m ical sta tio n in th e de se rt. A yo ung gra du ate
s tu d ent— who eve ntu ally beca m e Pro fe sso r Sch m idt —
was th e � rs t to � n d th e m . T he M artia ns in side th e s a u ce r
w ere p re tty b an g ed u p , b ut th re e o f th e m w ere s till aliv e.
E ve n m ore fo rtu nate ly , h um an s h ad so m eth in g th at th e
M artia ns desp era te ly ne ed ed: th e ra w m ate ria ls an d
m an ufa ctu rin g ca p ab ilit ies to mass-p ro du ce �yin g
sa u ce rs f o r t h e m . T hat’s w he re I h ad co m e in , a s a t y c o o n
of t h e a via tio n in dustr y .
P re sid ent K enne d y fo und h is v o ic e. “ Do y o u m ean to
te ll me th at th e e xis te nce o f M artia ns— liv ing, b re ath in g,
in te llig ent M artia ns— has b een k e p t a s e cre t s in ce �� �� ?
M ore t h an � ft e en y e ars ? ”
“It ’s b een to uch -a nd -g o o n se ve ra l occa sio ns,” sa id

Sch m idt. “B ut, y e s, w e’v e m an ag ed to k e e p th e se cre t
p re tty w ell. ”
“P re tty w ell? ” Kenne d y se em ed dis tu rbe d, ag ita te d.
“T he C entr a l In te llig ence A gency do esn ’t k n o w a n yth in g
ab out t h is , fo r C hris t’s s a ke !” T he n h e c a u g ht h im se lf, a n d
ad ded , “ O r, if t h e y d o, t h e y h ave n’t t o ld me a bo ut it .”
“ W e h ave tr ie d v e ry h ard to k e e p th is a s e cre t fr o m a ll
th e p olit icia ns o f e ve ry s tr ip e,” S ch m idt s a id.
“I c a n s e e n o t te llin g E is enh o w er,” s a id th e p re side nt.
“ P ro b ab ly w ould ’v e g iv en o ld Ik e a fa ta l h e art a tta ck .” H e
grin ne d . “I w ond er w hat H arry Tru m an w ould ’v e do ne
w ith t h e in fo rm atio n.”
“ W e w ere t e m pte d t o t e ll Pre side nt T ru m an , bu t— ”
“T hat’s a ll wate r o ve r th e d am ,” I sa id, tr y in g to g et
th e m b ack o nto t h e s u b je ct. “ W e’r e h e re t o g et y o u t o c a ll
o � t h is P ro je ct A pollo b usin ess.”
“ B ut w hy?” a sk e d t h e p re sid ent. “ W e c o uld u se M artia n
sp ace cra ft an d pla nt th e A m eric an �a g on th e m oon
to m orro w m orn in g!”
“ N o,” w his pere d Ja zzb ow . S ch m idt an d I kn e w th at
w he n a M artia n w his pers , it’s a sig n th at h e ’s sc a re d
sh itle ss.
“W hy n o t? ” K enne d y s n ap ped.
“B eca u se yo u’ll destr o y th e M artia ns,” sa id Sch m idt ,
with r e al ir o n in h is v o ic e.
“I d on’t u nd ers ta n d .”
J a zzb ow tu rn e d th o se big lu m inous eye s on th e

pre sid ent. “ M ay I e xp la in it t o y o u .  .  . t h e M artia n w ay?”
I’ll sa y th is fo r J a ck K enne d y. T he bo y h ad guts . It w as
o b vio us th at th e b asic h um an xe no p ho bia w as str o ng
in sid e h im . W he n Ja zzb ow h ad �rs t to uch e d his h an d ,
Kenne d y h ad a lm ost ju m ped o ut o f h is s k in . B ut h e m et
th e M artia n’s g aze a n d , n o t k n o w in g w hat w ould c o m e
next, s o le m nly n o d ded h is a cc e p ta n ce .
Ja zzb ow r e ach e d o ut h is s n aky a rm to w ard Kenne dy ’s
f a ce . I s a w b ead s o f s w eat br eak o ut o n th e p re side nt’s
b ro w , b ut h e s a t s till an d le t th e M artia n’s te nta cle -lik e
�n g ers t o uch h is f o re he ad a n d t e m ple .
It w as lik e ju m pin g a c a r b atte ry . T ho ug hts � o w ed fr o m
Ja zzb ow ’s bra in in to Kenne dy ’s . I kn e w w hat th o se
th o ug hts w ere .
It had to do w ith th e M artia ns’ m ora l se nse . The
ave ra g e M artia n h as a n e th ic al q uo tie nt a bo ut e q ual to S t.
F ra n cis of Assis i. That’s th e a ve ra ge M artia n. W hile
th e y’r e o nly a c e ntu ry o r s o a h e ad of u s te ch no lo gic ally ,
th e y’r e lig ht-y ears a h e ad o f u s m ora lly , s o cia lly , e th ic ally .
The re h asn ’t b een a w ar o n M ars in m ore t h an a t h o usa n d
ye ars . T he re h asn ’t e ve n b een a c a se o f p etty th e ft in
c e ntu rie s. Y o u c a n w alk th e a ve nue s o f th e ir be au tif u l,
g le am ing cit ie s at an y tim e of th e day or nig ht in
co m ple te s a fe ty . A nd s in ce th e ir p la ne t is s o de sp era te ly
ne ar ab so lu te dep le tio n, th e y ju st abo ut w ors h ip th e
sm alle st b la de o f g ra ss.
If o ur b ra w lin g, b attlin g h um an n atio ns dis co ve re d th e
fr a g ile , gentle Martia n cu lt u re , th e re would be a
ca ta str o p he . The M artia ns w ould be sw arm ed und er,

sh atte re d , d is so lv ed b y a tid e o f p olit icia ns, in dustr ia lis ts ,
re al-e sta te d eve lo pers , e va n g elis ts w an tin g to s a ve th e ir
so uls , d rif te rs , g rif te rs , c o nm en, th ie ve s p etty a n d g ra n d .
To s a y n o th in g o f m ilit ary o � ce rs d riv en by x e no p ho bia . It
w ould m ake th e S pan is h C onq ue st o f th e A m eric as lo ok
lik e a B oy S co ut ja m bore e.
I c o uld s e e fr o m th e lo ok in K enne dy ’s e ye s th at h e
w as gettin g th e m essa g e. “ W e would destr o y yo ur
cu ltu re ?” h e a sk e d .
Ja zzb ow h ad le arn e d th e h um an w ay o f n o ddin g. “ Y o u
w ould n o t m ere ly d estr o y o ur c u ltu re , M r. P re side nt. Y o u
w ould k ill us. W e w ould d ie , a ll of u s, v e ry q uic kly .”
“ B ut y o u h ave t h e s u p erio r t e ch no lo gy .  .  .”
“ W e co uld n e ve r u se it a g ain st yo u,” sa id Jazzbo w.
“W e w ould lie d ow n a n d d ie r a th e r th an de libe ra te ly ta ke
th e lif e o f a p ara m eciu m .”
S ch m idt s p oke u p . “ S o y o u s e e, M r. P re side nt, w hy t h is
m oon p ro je ct h as g ot to b e c a lle d o�. W e c a n ’t a llo w th e
h um an r a ce e n m asse t o le arn o f t h e M artia ns’ e xis te nce .”
“ I u nd ers ta n d ,” h e m urm ure d .
S ch m idt b re ath e d o ut a h e avy s ig h o f r e lie f. T o o s o on.
“B ut I c a n ’t s to p t h e A pollo p ro je ct.”
“ C an ’t ? ” S ch m idt g asp ed .
“W hy n o t? ” I a sk e d .
Lo okin g u tte rly m isera b le , K enne dy to ld us, “It w ould
m ean th e end of m y ad m in is tr a tio n. Fo r all pra ctic al
p urp ose s, a t le ast.”

“I d on’t s e e— ”
“I h ave n’t b een a b le to g et a th in g th ro ug h C ong re ss
e xc e p t th e moon pro je ct. The y’r e sti� ng me on
eve ry th in g els e: m y eco no m ics pack a g e, m y de fe nse
b uild up , c iv il rig hts , e ve ry th in g e xc e p t th e m oon p ro g ra m
h as b een s to p ped d ead in C ong re ss. If I g iv e u p o n th e
m oon, I m ight a s w ell re sig n t h e p re side ncy.”
“ Y o u a re n o t h ap py in y o ur w ork ,” s a id Jazzbo w.
“N o, I’m n o t,” K enne d y ad m itte d, in a lo w vo ic e. “I
n e ve r w an te d to g o in to p olit ics. It w as m y fa th e r’s ide a.
E sp ecia lly a ft e r m y o ld er b ro th e r g ot k ille d in t h e w ar.”
A d is m al, g lo om y s ile nce d esc e nd ed on u s.
“It ’s a ll been a sh am ,” th e p re side nt m utt e re d. “M y
marria ge is a m ess, m y p re sid ency is a fa rc e , I’m in lo ve
w ith a w om an w ho ’s m arrie d to a n o th e r m an — I w ish I
c o uld ju st d is ap pear f r o m t h e f a ce o f t h e e arth .”
W hic h, o f c o urs e , is e xa ctly w hat w e a rra n g ed fo r h im .
It w as tr ic ky, b elie ve m e. W e h ad to g et h is blo nd
in am ora ta t o d is ap pear, w hic h w asn ’t e asy, s in ce s h e w as
in th e p ub lic e ye ju st a b out a s m uch a s th e p re side nt.
T he n w e h ad to fa ke h is o w n a ssa ssin atio n, s o w e c o uld
g et h im sa fe ly o ut o f th e w ay. A t �rs t, h e w as p re tty
r e lu cta n t a b out it a ll, b ut t h e n t h e B erlin W all w ent u p , a n d
th e m ed ia bla m ed him fo r it an d he ag re ed th at he
w an te d o ut— perm an e ntly . W e w ere a ll se t to p ull it o �
w he n th e C ub an M issile C ris is h it th e fa n a n d w e h ad to
p ut e ve ry th in g o n h o ld fo r m ore th an a m onth . B y th e
tim e w e h ad c a lm ed th at m ess do wn, h e w as m ore th an

re ad y to le ave th is e arth . S o w e a rra n g ed th e th in g fo r
D alla s.
W e d id n’t d are t e ll Ly n d on J o hnso n a bo ut t h e M artia ns,
o f c o urs e . H e w ould ’v e w an te d to g o to M ars a n d a n nex
th e w ho le d am ne d p la ne t. T o T e xa s, m ost lik ely . A nd w e
did n’t h ave to te ll Nixon; h e w as h ap py to k ill th e A pollo
p ro g ra m — aft e r ta kin g a s m uch c re dit fo r th e � rs t lu nar
la nd in g a s t h e m ed ia w ould g iv e h im .
The to ug he st p art w as h o od w in kin g th e a str o no m ers
a n d pla ne ta ry sc ie ntis ts an d th e eng in ee rs w ho bu ilt
sp ace cra ft p ro b es o f th e p la ne ts . It to ok a ll of S ch m idt ’s
in genuity an d th e M artia ns’ te ch nic al sk ills to g et th e
va rio us M arin er a n d P io ne er p ro be s jig gere d so th at th e y
w ould s h o w a b arre n d ry V enus d eva sta te d by a r u naw ay
g re enh o use e � ect in ste ad o f th e lu sh M eso zo ic ju ng le
th at r e ally e xis ts b ene ath t h o se c lo ud s. I h ad to p ull eve ry
s tr in g I k n e w , b ehin d th e s c e ne s, to g et th e g eniu se s a t
JP L to se nd th e ir tw o V ik in g la nd ers to th e M artia n
eq uiv ale nts o f D eath V alle y a n d th e A ta ca m a De se rt in
C hile . T he y m isse d t h e c it ie s a n d th e c a n als c o m ple te ly .
Sch m idt u se d h is in te rn atio nal co nne ctio ns t o o. I d idn ’t
m uch lik e w ork in g w ith C om mies, bu t I’v e g ot t o a dm it t h e
tw o R ussia n s c ie ntis ts I m et w ere o ka y g uys.
A nd it w ork e d . S ig htin gs o f th e c a n als o n M ars w ent
d ow n to ze ro o nce o ur fa ke d Marin er � p ic tu re s w ere
p ub lis he d . A str o no m y stu d ents lo okin g a t M ars fo r th e
�rs t tim e th ro ug h a te le sc o p e th o ug ht th e y w ere v ic tim s
of e ye str a in ! T he y k n e w th e re w ere n o c a n als th e re , s o
th e y d id n’t d are c la im t h e y s a w a n y.

So th at’s h o w w e g ot to th e m oon a n d th e n s to p ped
g oin g. W e se t u p th e A pollo p ro g ra m so th at a sm all
n um ber of A m eric an s co uld pla nt th e �a g an d th e ir
fo otp rin ts o n th e m oon an d th e n fo rg et abo ut it. T he
M artia ns stu d io usly a vo id ed th e w ho le a re a du rin g th e
fo ur y e ars th at w e w ere s e nd in g m issio ns u p th e re . It a ll
w ork e d o ut v e ry w ell, if I s a y s o m yse lf.
I w ork e d h ard er t h an I e ve r h ad be fo re in m y lif e t o g et
th e m ed ia to d ow np la y th e s p ace p ro g ra m a n d m ake it a
d ull, n o -n ew s a � air. T he m an in th e s tr e et, th e a ve ra g e
xe no p ho b ic Jo e Six -P ack , fo rg ot abo ut th e glo rie s of
sp ace e xp lo ra tio n s o on e no ug h. It t o re a t m y g uts t o d o it ,
b ut t h at’s w hat h ad t o b e d one .
S o n o w w e’r e u sin g th e r e so urc e s o f th e p la ne t V enus
to re p le nis h Mars . Sch m idt has a tin y gro up of
astr o no m ers w ho ’v e b een h id ing th e fa cts o f th e so la r
sy ste m fr o m th e re st o f th e p ro fe ssio n sin ce th e la te
fo rtie s. W ith th e M artia ns’ h e lp , th e y’r e c o ntin uin g to fa ke
th e p ic tu re s a n d d ata s e nt f r o m N ASA’s s p ace p ro be s.
T he re st o f th e w orld th in ks th at M ars is a ba rre n,
lif ele ss d ese rt a n d V enus is a b one -dr y h o th o use be ne ath
it s p erp etu al clo ud c o ve r, a n d s p ace in g ene ra l is p re tty
m uch a b ore . M ean w hile , w ith th e h e lp o f Ja zzbo w a n d a
fe w oth e r M artia ns, we’v e sta rte d an envir o nm enta l
m ove m ent o n E arth . M ayb e if w e c a n g et h um an be ings
to s e e th e ir o w n p la ne t a s a liv ing e ntit y, to th in k o f th e
o th e r a n im als a n d p la nts o n o ur o w n p la ne t a s fe llo w
re sid ents o f t h is S pace sh ip E arth r a th e r t h an r e so urc e s t o
b e k ille d o r e xp lo ite d — mayb e t h e n w e c a n s ta rt t o r e du ce
th e b asic x e no p ho b ia in t h e h um an p sy c h e .

I w on’t liv e lo ng eno ug h to se e th e hum an ra ce
e m bra ce t h e M artia ns a s b ro th e rs . It w ill ta ke g ene ra tio ns,
c e ntu rie s, b efo re w e g ro w to th e ir le ve l of m ora lit y. B ut
m ayb e w e’r e o n t h e r ig ht t r a ck n o w . I h o p e s o .
I k e ep th in kin g o f w hat J a ck K enne dy s a id whe n h e
�n ally a g re ed t o r ig P ro je ct A pollo t h e w ay w e d id, a n d t o
a rra n g e h is o w n a n d h is g irlfrie nd ’s de mises.
“It is a fa r, fa r b ette r th in g I d o, th an I h ave e ve r d one ,”
h e q uo te d .
Thin kin g of him an d Marily n sh acke d up in a
ho ne ym oon s u ite o n M ars , I re aliz ed th at th e re m ain der
o f th e q uo te w ould h ave b ee n to ta lly in ap pro p ria te : “ It is
a f a r, f a r b ette r r e st t h at I g o t o , t h an I h ave e ve r k n o w n.”
B ut w hat th e h e ll, w ho a m I to ta lk ? I’v e fa lle n in lo ve
fo r th e � rs t tim e. Y e ah , I k n o w . I’v e b een m arrie d se ve ra l
tim es, b ut th is tim e it ’s re al, a n d I’m g oin g to s p end th e
re st o f m y lif e o n a tr o p ic al is la n d w ith h e r, ju st th e tw o o f
us a lo ne , f a r f r o m t h e m ad din g c ro w d.
W ell, m ayb e n o t t h e w ho le r e st o f m y lif e. T he M artia ns
kn o w a lo t m ore a b out m ed ic in e t h an w e do . M aybe w e’ll
le ave t h is P aci� c is la nd w he re t h e M artia ns f o und he r a n d
g o o � to M ars a n d liv e a c o up le o f c e ntu rie s o r s o . I th in k
Am elia w ould lik e t h at.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“ IN SP IR AT IO N”
Jo hn W . C am pb ell, th e to w erin g edit oria l �g ure w ho
m old ed s c ie nce � ctio n in to th e e xc it in g, m ind-e xp an d in g
�e ld o f lit era tu re th at it is to d ay, w as fo nd o f c o m parin g
sc ie nce � ctio n t o o th e r f o rm s o f w rit in g in t h is w ay:
H e w ould sp re ad h is lo ng arm s w ide an d de cla im ,
“T his is sc ie nce � ctio n! It ta ke s in th e e ntir e u niv ers e ,
p ast, p re se nt, a n d fu tu re .” T he n h e w ould h o ld his th um b
an d fo re �n g er a sc a n t in ch a p art a n d a dd, “T his is a ll
o th e r fo rm s o f � ctio n, re str ic te d to th e h e re a n d n o w , o r
th e k n o w n p ast.”
“ In sp iratio n” c o uld o nly b e w rit te n a s a s c ie nce � ctio n
sto ry . It b rin gs to g eth e r a te enag ed Albe rt E in ste in , th e
B rit is h w rit e r H . G . W ells , a n d S ir W illia m T ho m so n— Lo rd
K elv in , o ne o f t h e g ia nts a m ong p hysic ists .

And o ne o th e r p ers o n.

IN SP IR AT IO N
He w as a s c lo se t o d esp air a s o nly a la d of s e ve nte en c a n
b e.
“B ut y o u h e ard w hat th e p ro fe sso r s a id, ” h e m oan e d.
“It is a ll �n is he d . T he re is n o th in g le ft t o do .”
T he la d s p oke in G erm an , o f c o urs e . I h ad to tr a n sla te
it f o r M r. W ells .
Wells s h o ok h is h e ad . “ I fa il to s e e w hy s u ch s p le nd id
ne w s s h o uld u p se t t h e b oy s o .”
I sa id to th e y o ung ste r, “O ur B rit is h fr ie nd sa ys y o u
sh o uld n o t lo se h o p e. P erh ap s t h e p ro fe sso r is m ista ke n.”
“ M ista ke n? H ow co uld th at be ? H e is a fa m ous. A
no b le m an ! A b aro n!”
I h ad to s m ile . T he la d’s s tu b born d is da in fo r a u th o rit y

�g ure s w ould b eco m e w orld -fam ous o ne da y. B ut it w as
n o t in e vid ence t h is s u m mer a ft e rn o o n in A D �� � � .
W e w ere s it tin g in a s id ew alk c a fé w ith a m ag ni� ce nt
vie w o f th e D an ub e a n d th e c it y o f L in z. De licious o do rs
o f c o okin g s a u sa g es a n d b ake ry p astr ie s w aft e d fr o m t h e
kit ch e n in sid e. D esp ite th e sp le nd id, w arm su nsh in e,
th o ug h, I fe lt ch ille d an d w eak, d ra in ed of w hat lit tle
s tr e ng th I h ad r e m ain ing.
“W he re is th at bla ste d w aitre ss? ” W ells gru m ble d.
“W e’v e b een h e re h alf a n h o ur, a t t h e le ast.”
“ W hy n o t ju st le an b ack a n d e njo y t h e a ft e rn o o n, s ir ?” I
s u g geste d t ir e d ly . “ T his is t h e be st v ie w in a ll th e a re a.”
H erb ert G eo rg e W ells w as n o t a p atie nt m an . H e h ad
ju st s c o re d a m inor s u cce ss in B rit a in w ith h is � rs t n o ve l
an d h ad d ecid ed to tr e at h im se lf to a v a ca tio n in A ustr ia .
He c a m e to th at d ecis io n u nd er m y in �u e nce , o f c o urs e ,
b ut h e d id n o t y e t r e aliz e t h at. A t a g e t w enty -n ine, h e h ad
a le an , hung ry lo ok to him th at w ould m ello w only
g ra d ually with th e co m ing ye ars of pre stig e an d
p ro sp erit y.
A lb ert w as ro und -f ace d an d plu m pis h; still had his
b ab y fa t o n h im , a lth o ug h h e h ad sta rte d a m ousta ch e a s
m ost te enag ed b oys d id in th o se d ays. It w as a th in ,
sc ra g gly , b la ck w isp, n o w he re n e ar th e fu ll white b ru sh it
w ould b eco m e. If a ll w ent w ell w ith m y m issio n.
It h ad ta ke n m e a n e no rm ous a m ount o f m an e uve rin g
to g et W ells a n d th is te enag er to th e s a m e p la ce a t th e
sa m e tim e. The e� o rt had ne arly exh au ste d all my
ene rg ie s. Yo ung Alb ert had co m e to se e Pro fe sso r

Tho m so n w ith h is o w n e ye s, o f c o urs e . W ells h ad be en
m ore di� cu lt; he had w an te d to se e Salz bu rg , th e
b irth p la ce o f M oza rt. I h ad ta ke n h im in ste ad to L in z, w ith
a th o usa n d assu ra n ce s th at he w ould �n d th e tr ip
w orth w hile .
He c o m pla in ed e nd le ssly a b out L in z, th e c it y’s la ck o f
b eau ty , t h e s o ur s m ell of it s n arro w s tr e ets , t h e dis co m fo rt
o f o ur h o te l, th e d earth o f re sta u ra n ts w he re o ne c o uld
g et d ece nt fo od — by w hic h h e m ean t bu rn t m utt o n. N ot
eve n t h e c it y’s ju stly f a m ous L in ze rto rte p le ase d him .
“N ot a s g ood a s a d ece nt tr i� e,” h e g ro use d. “ N ot a s
g ood b y h alf.”
I , o f c o urs e , k n e w s e ve ra l ve rs io ns o f L in z th at w ere
e ve n le ss p le asin g, in clu din g o ne in w hic h th e c it y w as
n o th in g m ore th an c h arre d , ra dio activ e ru b ble a n d th e
D an ub e s o c o nta m inate d th at it g lo wed at n ig ht a ll th e
w ay d ow n t o t h e B la ck S ea. I s h ud de re d at t h at v is io n a n d
tr ie d t o c o nce ntr a te o n t h e t a sk a t h an d .
It h ad a lm ost re q uir e d p hysic a l fo rc e to g et W ells to
ta ke a w alk acro ss th e D an ub e o n th e an cie nt sto ne
b rid ge a n d u p t h e P ostlin gb erg t o t h is lit tle s ide walk c a fé .
H e h ad h u� ed w ith a n g er w he n w e h ad sta rte d out fr o m
our ho te l at th e cit y’s ce ntr a l sq uare , th e n so on w as
p u� ng w ith e xe rtio n a s w e to ile d up th e s te ep h ill. I w as
b re ath le ss f r o m t h e c lim b a ls o. In la te r y e ars a t r a m w ould
m ake th e a sc e nt, b ut o n th is p artic ula r a ft e rn o o n, w e h ad
b een o b lig ed t o w alk .
He h ad b een m ild ly su rp ris ed to se e th e te enag er
tr u d gin g u p th e p re cip ito us s tr e et ju st a fe w s te p s a h e ad

of u s. R eco g niz in g th at u nru ly c ro p o f da rk h air fr o m th e
au d ie nce a t T ho m so n’s le ctu re th at m orn in g, W ells h ad
g ra cio usly in vit e d A lb ert t o jo in u s f o r a dr ink.
“W e d ese rv e a b eer o r t w o a ft e r t h is bla ste d clim b,” h e
sa id , e yin g m e u nh ap pily .
Pan tin g fr o m th e clim b, I tr a n sla te d to A lbe rt, “M r.
W ells  .  .  . in vit e s y o u .  .  . t o h ave a r e fr e sh m ent w ith u s.”
T he y o ung ste r w as p itifu lly g ra te fu l, a lth o ug h h e w ould
o rd er no th in g str o ng er th an te a. It w as obv ious th at
T ho m so n’s le ctu re h ad s h atte re d him ba dly . S o n o w w e
sa t o n u nco m fo rta b le c a st-ir on c h air s a n d w aite d— th e y
fo r t h e d rin ks t h e y h ad o rd ere d, m e f o r t h e in evit a ble . I le t
th e w arm su nsh in e so ak in to m e a n d h o p ed it w ould
re b uild a t le ast s o m e o f m y s tr e ng th .
T he v ie w w as lit tle s h o rt o f b re ath ta kin g: th e br oodin g
ca stle acro ss th e riv er, th e Dan ube itse lf str e am ing
sm ooth ly a n d a ctu ally b lu e a s it g lit te re d in th e s u nlig ht,
th e la ke s b eyo nd th e c it y a n d th e blu e-w hite s n o w p eaks
o f th e A ustr ia n A lp s h o ve rin g in th e d is ta n ce lik e g ho stly
p eta ls o f s o m e im mense , u nw orldly � o w er.
B ut W ells co m pla in ed , “T hat has to be th e ug lie st
c a stle I h ave e ve r s e en.”
“ W hat d id t h e g entle m an s a y?” A lbe rt a sk e d.
“H e is s tr ic ke n b y th e s ig ht o f th e E m pero r F rie d-r ich’s
c a stle ,” I a n sw ere d s w eetly .
“A h. Y e s, it h as a c e rta in g ra n d eur t o it , do esn ’t it ?”
W ells h ad a ll th e im patie nce o f a fr u str a te d journ alis t.
“ W he re is t h at d am nab le w aitre ss? W he re is o ur be er? ”

“I’ll �n d th e w aitre ss,” I s a id , r is in g u nce rta in ly fr o m m y
iro n-h ard ch air. A s h is o ste nsible to ur g uid e, I h ad to
r e m ain in c h ara cte r f o r a w hile lo ng er, n o m atte r h o w t ir e d
I f e lt. B ut t h e n I s a w w hat I h ad be en w aitin g f o r.
“ L o ok!” I p oin te d d ow n th e s te e p s tr e et. “ H ere c o m es
th e p ro fe sso r h im se lf!”
W illia m Tho m so n, Fir st B aro n Kelv in of La rg s, w as
str id ing u p th e p ave m ent w ith m uch m ore bo unce a n d
e ne rg y th an a n y o f u s h ad s h o w n. H e w as s e ve nty -o ne ,
his s ilv er-g ra y h air t h in ne r t h an h is im pre ssiv e g ra y be ard,
le an a lm ost to th e p oin t o f lo okin g fr a il. Y e t h e c lim bed
th e a sc e nt t h at h ad m ad e m y h e art t h unde r in m y e ars a s
if he were str o llin g am iably acro ss so m e ca m pus
q uad ra n g le .
W ells s h o t to h is fe et a n d le an e d acro ss th e ir o n r a il of
th e c a fé . “ G ood a ft e rn o on, y o ur L o rds hip .” Fo r a m om ent
I t h o ug ht h e w as g oin g t o t u g a t h is f o re lo ck .
K elv in s q uin te d a t h im . “ Y o u w ere in m y a u d ie nce th is
m orn in g, w ere y o u n o t? ”
“Y e s, m ’lu d. P erm it m e to in tr o du ce m yse lf: I a m H .G .
W ells .”
“ A h. Y o u’r e a p hysic ist? ”
“A w rit e r, s ir .”
“ J o urn alis t? ”
“F o rm erly . N ow I a m a n o ve lis t.”
“ R eally ? H ow k e en.”
Y o ung A lb ert a n d I h ad a ls o ris en to o ur fe et. W ells

intr o d uce d u s p ro p erly a n d in vit e d Kelv in t o jo in u s.
“A lth o ug h I m ust s a y,” W ells m urm ure d as K elv in c a m e
’r o und th e ra ilin g a n d to ok th e e m pty c h air a t o ur ta ble ,
“th at t h e s e rv ic e h e re le ave s q uite a bit t o be de sir e d. ”
“O h, y o u h ave to k n o w h o w to de al w ith th e T e uto nic
te m pera m ent,” s a id K elv in jo via lly a s w e a ll sa t do wn. H e
ban g ed th e � a t o f h is h an d o n th e ta ble s o h ard it m ade
u s a ll ju m p. “ S erv ic e!” h e b ello wed. “ S erv ic e h e re !”
M iracu lo usly , th e w aitre ss a p peare d fr o m th e d oorw ay
a n d tr o d stu b born ly to our ta ble . She lo oke d ve ry
u nh ap py; su lle n, in fa ct. Sallo w, poutin g fa ce with
b ro od in g bro w n eye s an d do wntu rn e d mouth . She
p ush e d b ack a lo ck o f h air th at h ad str a ye d acro ss h e r
fo re he ad .
“W e’v e b een w aitin g fo r o ur be er,” W ells s a id to h e r.
“ A nd n o w t h is g entle m an h as jo ined us— ”
“P erm it m e, sir ,” I sa id . It w as m y jo b, aft e r all. In
G erm an I a sk e d h e r to b rin g u s th re e be ers a n d th e te a
th at A lb ert h ad o rd ere d a n d t o do it q uic kly .
She lo oke d t h e f o ur o f u s o ve r a s if w e w ere s m ug gle rs
o r c rim inals o f s o m e s o rt, h e r e ye s lin gerin g b rie �y o n
A lb ert, th e n tu rn e d w ith o ut a w ord or e ve n a n o d an d
w ent b ack in sid e t h e c a fé .
I sto le a g la nce a t A lb ert. H is e ye s w ere riv ete d on
Kelv in , h is lip s p arte d a s if h e w an te d to s p eak bu t c o uld
no t w ork u p th e n e rv e . H e ra n a h an d n e rv o usly th ro ug h
his th ic k m op o f h air. K elv in s e e m ed perfe ctly a t e ase ,
sm ilin g a � ab ly , h is h an d s la ce d acro ss h is s to m ach ju st

belo w his beard ; he was th e man of au th o rit y,
a ck n o w le dged by th e w orld as th e le adin g sc ie nti� c
�g ure o f h is g ene ra tio n.
“C an it b e r e ally tr u e?” A lb ert b lu rte d at la st. “ H ave w e
le arn e d e ve ry th in g o f p hysic s t h at c a n be le arn e d? ”
He s p oke in G erm an , o f c o urs e , th e o nly la ng uag e h e
kn e w . I im med ia te ly tr a n sla te d fo r him , exa ctly as he
ask e d h is q ue stio n.
O nce h e u nd ers to od w hat A lbe rt w as a sk in g, K elv in
no d ded h is g ra y o ld h e ad s a g ely . “Y e s, y e s. T he y o ung
m en in th e la bora to rie s to d ay a re p utt in g th e � n al dots
o ve r th e is, th e � n al cro ss in gs o f th e ts. W e’v e ju st a b out
�n is he d physic s; w e kn o w at la st all th e re is to be
kn o w n.”
A lb ert lo oke d c ru sh e d .
Kelv in d id no t ne ed a tr a n sla to r to unde rs ta n d th e
yo ung ste r’s e m otio n. “If y o u a re th in kin g o f a c a re er in
p hysic s, y o ung m an , th e n I h e artily a dv ise y o u to th in k
ag ain . B y th e tim e y o u c o m ple te y o ur e du ca tio n, th e re
w ill be n o th in g le ft f o r y o u t o do .”
“ N oth in g?” W ells a sk e d a s I t r a n sla te d. “ N oth in g a t a ll? ”
“O h, ad d a fe w decim al pla ce s he re an d th e re , I
su p pose . T id y u p a b it, t h at s o rt o f t h in g.”
A lb ert had fa ile d his ad m issio n te st to th e Fe de ra l
P oly te ch nic in Z uric h. H e h ad ne ve r be en a p artic ula rly
g ood s tu d ent. M y g oal w as to g et h im to a p ply a g ain to
th e P oly te ch nic a n d p ass t h e e xa m s.
V is ib ly sc re w in g u p h is co ura g e, A lbe rt a sk e d, “B ut

what a b out t h e w ork o f R oentg en?”
O nce I had tr a n sla te d , Kelv in kn it his bro w s.
“R oentg en? O h, y o u m ean th at re p ort a bo ut m yste rio us
ra ys t h at g o t h ro ug h s o lid w alls ? X -r ays, is it ?”
A lb ert n o d ded e ag erly .
“S tu � a n d n o nse nse !” s n ap ped th e o ld man . “ A bs olu te
b osh . H e m ay im pre ss a f e w m edic al m en w ho k n o w lit tle
o f sc ie nce , but his X-r ays do no t exis t. Im possible !
Germ an d ayd re am ing.”
A lb ert lo oke d a t m e w ith h is w ho le lif e tr e m blin g in h is
p ite o us e ye s. I in te rp re te d :
“T he pro fe sso r fe ars th at X-r ays m ay be illu so ry ,
a lth o ug h h e d oes n o t a s y e t h ave e no ug h e vide nce to
d ecid e, o ne w ay o r t h e o th e r.”
A lb ert’s fa ce lit u p . “ T he n th e re is h o p e! W e h ave n o t
d is co ve re d e ve ry th in g a s y e t!”
I w as th in kin g a b out h o w to tr a n sla te th at fo r K elv in ,
whe n W ells ra n o ut o f p atie nce . “W he re is th at bla ste d
w aitre ss? ”
I w as g ra te fu l fo r t h e in te rru p tio n. “ I w ill �n d h e r, s ir .”
D ra g gin g m yse lf u p fr o m th e ta ble , I le ft th e th re e o f
th e m , W ells an d Kelv in ch attin g am iably w hile A lbe rt
s w ivele d h is h e ad b ack a n d fo rth , u nde rs ta n d in g n o t a
w ord . E ve ry jo in t in m y b od y a ch e d, a n d I k n e w t h at t h e re
w as n o th in g a n yo ne in th is w orld co uld d o to h e lp m e.
T he c a fé w as d ark in sid e a n d sm elle d of s ta le be er. T he
w aitre ss w as s ta n d in g a t t h e b ar, s p eakin g r a p idly , a n g rily ,
to th e sto ut bark e ep in a lo w, ve no m ous to ne . The

bark e ep w as p olis hin g g la sse s w ith th e e nd o f h is a p ro n;
h e lo oke d g rim a n d , o nce h e n o tic ed me, e m ba rra sse d.
T hre e s e id els o f b eer s to od o n a r o und tr a y n ext t o h e r,
w ith a s in gle g la ss o f te a. T he b eers w ere g ettin g w arm
a n d �a t, th e te a co olin g, while sh e blis te re d th e
b arte nd er’s e ars .
I in te rru p te d h e r v is co us m ono lo gue . “ T he g entle m en
w an t t h e ir d rin ks,” I s a id in G erm an .
S he w hir le d o n m e, h e r e ye s fu rio us. “ T he g entle m en
m ay h ave th e ir b eers w he n th e y g et rid of th at in fe rn al
Je w !”
T a ke n a b ack s o m ew hat, I g la nce d at th e ba rk e e p . H e
tu rn e d a w ay f r o m m e.
“N o u se a sk in g h im to d o it ,” th e w aitre ss h is se d. “ W e
do n o t s e rv e J e w s h e re . I d o n o t s e rv e Je ws, a n d n e ith e r
w ill he !”
T he c a fé w as a lm ost e m pty th is la te in th e a ft e rn o o n.
In th e d im sh ad ow s, I co uld m ake o ut o nly a p air o f
eld erly gentle m en quie tly sm okin g th e ir pip es an d a
fo urs o m e, a p pare ntly tw o m arrie d co up le s, dr inkin g be er.
A six -y ear-o ld boy kn e lt at th e fa r end of th e ba r,
la borio usly s c ru b bin g t h e w oo de n � o or.
“ If it ’s to o m uch tr o ub le fo r y o u,” I s a id, a n d s ta rte d to
r e ach f o r t h e t r a y.
S he c lu tc h e d a t m y o uts tr e tc h e d arm . “N o! N o Je ws
will be s e rv e d h e re ! N eve r!”
I c o uld h ave b ru sh e d h e r o �. If m y s tr e ng th h ad no t
b een d ra in ed a w ay, I c o uld h ave b ro ke n e ve ry b one in

he r b od y a n d th e b ark e ep ’s to o. B ut I w as n e arin g th e
e nd o f m y t e th e r a n d I k n e w it .
“V ery w ell, ” I s a id s o ft ly . “ I w ill t a ke o nly t h e be ers .”
S he g lo were d a t m e fo r a m om ent, th e n le t h e r h an d
d ro p a w ay. I re m ove d th e g la ss o f te a fr o m th e tr a y a n d
le ft it o n th e b ar. T he n I c a rrie d th e be ers o ut in to th e
w arm a ft e rn o on s u nsh in e.
A s I s e t th e tr a y o n o ur ta b le , W ells a sk e d, “ T he y h ave
n o t e a?”
A lb ert k n e w b ette r. “T he y re fu se to s e rv e Je ws,” h e
g ue sse d . His vo ic e was �a t, une m otio nal, ne ith e r
su rp ris ed n o r s a d dene d .
I n o d ded a s I s a id in E ng lis h, “ Y e s, t h e y r e fu se t o s e rv e
Je w s.”
“ Y o u’r e J e w ish?” K elv in a sk e d, r e ach in g f o r h is be er.
T he te e nag er d id n o t n e ed a tr a n sla tio n. H e r e p lie d, “ I
w as b orn in G erm an y. I a m n o w a c it iz en o f S w itze rla nd . I
h ave n o r e lig ion. B ut, y e s, I a m a Je w.”
S ittin g n ext to h im , I o �ere d h im m y b eer. “ N o, n o ,” h e
sa id w ith a s o rro w fu l lit tle s m ile . “It w ould m ere ly u p se t
th e m f u rth e r. I t h in k p erh ap s I s h o uld le ave .”
“ N ot q uite y e t,” I s a id . “ I h ave s o m eth in g th at I w an t to
s h o w y o u.” I re ach e d in to th e in ne r p ocke t o f m y ja cke t
an d pulle d out th e th ic k sh e af of pap er I had been
ca rry in g w ith m e s in ce I h ad s ta rte d out o n th is m issio n. I
n o tic ed t h at m y h an d t r e m ble d s lig htly .
“W hat is it ?” A lb ert a sk e d .

I m ad e a lit tle b ow o f m y h e ad in W ells ’s d ire ctio n.
“T his is m y tr a n sla tio n o f M r. W ells ’s e xc e lle nt s to ry , T he
T im e M ach in e .”
W ells lo oke d s u rp ris ed , A lb ert c u rio us. K elv in s m acke d
his lip s a n d p ut h is h alf-d ra in ed se ide l do wn.
“T im e m ach in e?” a sk e d y o ung A lbe rt.
“ W hat’s h e t a lk in g a b out? ” K elv in a sk e d.
I e xp la in ed , “ I h ave ta ke n th e libe rty o f tr a n sla tin g M r.
W ells ’s sto ry ab out a tim e m ach in e, in th e ho p e of
attr a ctin g a G erm an p ub lis he r.”
W ells s a id , “ Y o u n e ve r t o ld m e— ”
But K elv in a sk e d , “ T im e m ach in e? W hat o n e arth w ould
a t im e m ach in e b e?”
W ells fo rc e d an em barra sse d, se lf-de pre ca tin g lit tle
s m ile . “It is m ere ly th e s u b je ct o f a ta le I h ave w rit te n,
m ’lu d: a m ach in e th at c a n tr a ve l th ro ug h tim e. In to th e
p ast, y o u k n o w . O r t h e , u h , f u tu re .”
K elv in � xe d h im w ith a b eady g aze . “T ra ve l in to th e
p ast o r t h e f u tu re ?”
“It is � ctio n, o f c o urs e ,” W ells s a id ap olo getic ally .
“O f c o urs e .”
A lb ert s e em ed fa sc in ate d . “ B ut h o w c o uld a m ach in e
tr a ve l th ro ug h t im e? H ow d o y o u e xp la in it ?”
L o okin g th o ro ug hly unco m fo rta ble unde r Kelv in ’s
w ilt in g e ye , W ells s a id h e sit a n tly , “W ell, if y o u c o nsid er
tim e a s a d im ensio n— ”

“A d im ensio n?” a sk e d K elv in .
“R ath e r lik e t h e t h re e d im ensio ns o f s p ace .”
“ T im e a s a f o urth d im ensio n?”
“Y e s. R ath e r.”
A lb ert no d ded eag erly as I tr a n sla te d. “T im e as a
dim ensio n, y e s! W he ne ve r w e m ove th ro ug h s p ace , w e
m ove th ro ug h tim e a s w ell, d o w e n o t? S pace a n d tim e!
Fo ur d im ensio ns, a ll bound t o g eth e r!”
K elv in mum ble d so m eth in g indecip he ra ble an d
re ach e d f o r h is h alf-� nis he d be er.
“ A nd o ne c o uld tr a ve l th ro ug h th is d im ensio n?” A lbe rt
a sk e d . “ In to t h e p ast o r t h e f u tu re ?”
“U tte r b ilg e,” K elv in m utte re d, sla m ming h is e m ptie d
se id el o n t h e t a b le . “ Q uite im possible .”
“ It is m ere ly � ctio n,” s a id W ells , a lm ost w hin ing. “ O nly
an id ea I t o ye d w ith in o rd er t o — ”
“F ic tio n. O f co urs e ,” sa id Kelv in , w ith gre at �n alit y.
Q uite a b ru p tly , h e p ush e d h im se lf to h is fe et. “ I’m a fr a id I
must b e g oin g. T han k y o u f o r t h e be er.”
H e le ft u s sit tin g th e re an d sta rte d back do wn th e
str e et, h is fa ce � u sh e d . F ro m th e w ay h is b eard move d, I
c o uld s e e t h at h e w as m utte rin g t o h im se lf.
“I’m a fr a id w e’v e o �end ed h im ,” s a id Wells .
“B ut h o w c o uld h e b eco m e a n g ry o ve r a n ide a?” A lbe rt
w ond ere d . T he t h o ug ht s e em ed to s tu n h im . “ W hy s h o uld
a n e w id ea in fu ria te a m an o f s c ie nce ?”

The w aitre ss b ustle d acro ss th e p atio to o ur ta ble .
“W he n is th is Je w le avin g?” sh e his se d at m e, eye s
b la zin g w ith fu ry . “ I w on’t h ave h im s tin kin g u p o ur c a fé
a n y lo ng er!”
O bvio usly sh ake n, but w ith as m uch dig nity as a
se ve nte en-
ye ar-o ld c o uld m uste r, A lb ert r o se t o h is fe et. “ I w ill leave ,
M ad am e. I h ave im pose d o n y o ur s o -g ra cio us h o sp ita lit y
lo ng e no ug h.”
“ W ait,” I s a id , g ra b bin g a t h is ja cke t s le eve . “ T a ke th is
w ith y o u. R ead it . I t h in k y o u w ill enjo y it .”
H e sm ile d a t m e, b ut I co uld se e th e sa dn ess th at
w ould h au nt h is e ye s fo re ve r. “T han k y o u, s ir . Y o u h ave
b een m ost k in d t o m e.”
H e to ok th e m an usc rip t a n d le ft u s. I s a w h im a lr e ady
re ad in g it a s h e w alk ed s lo wly d ow n t h e s tr e et t o w ard th e
b rid ge b ack to L in z p ro p er. I h o p ed he w ould n o t tr ip a n d
b re ak h is n e ck a s h e a m ble d d ow n th e s te ep s tr e et, h is
no se s tu ck in t h e m an usc rip t.
T he w aitre ss w atc h e d h im to o. “F ilt hy Je w . T he y’r e
e ve ry w he re ! T he y g et t h e m se lv es in to e ve ry th in g.”
“ T hat w ill be q uite e no ug h fr o m y o u,” I s a id as s te rn ly
as I c o uld m an ag e.
S he g la re d a t m e a n d h e ad ed ba ck f o r t h e ba r.
W ells lo oke d m ore p uzzle d th an a n no ye d, e ve n a ft e r I
e xp la in ed w hat h ad h ap pene d.
“It ’s th e ir c o untr y , a ft e r a ll, ” h e s a id, w ith a s h ru g o f h is
narro w s h o uld ers . “ If t h e y d on’t w an t t o m ingle w ith Je ws,

th e re ’s n o t m uch w e c a n d o a bo ut it , is t h e re ?”
I t o ok a s ip o f m y w arm , � a t be er, n o t t r u stin g m yse lf t o
c o m e u p w ith a p ro p erly p olit e r e sp onse . T he re w as o nly
o ne tim elin e in w hic h A lb ert liv ed long e no ug h to m ake
a n e � ect o n th e w orld . T he re w ere d oze ns w he re h e
la ng uis he d in o b sc u rit y o r w as g asse d in o ne o f t h e d eath
c a m ps.
W ells ’s e xp re ssio n tu rn e d c u rio us. “I d idn ’t k n o w y o u
had t r a n sla te d m y s to ry .”
“ T o se e if perh ap s a G erm an pub lis he r w ould be
in te re ste d in it ,” I lie d.
“B ut y o u g ave t h e m an usc rip t t o t h at Je wish f e llo w.”
“ I h ave a n o th e r c o p y o f t h e t r a n sla tio n.”
“ Y o u d o? W hy w ould y o u— ”
My tim e w as a lm ost u p , I k n e w . I h ad a p ow erfu l urg e
to e nd th e ch ara d e. “T hat yo ung Je wish fe llo w m ight
ch an g e t h e w orld , y o u k n o w .”
W ells la ug he d .
“I m ean it ,” I s a id . “ Y o u t h in k t h at y o ur s to ry is m ere ly a
p ie ce o f � ctio n. L e t m e t e ll yo u, it is m uch m ore t h an t h at.”
“ R eally ?”
“T im e t r a ve l w ill beco m e p ossible o ne da y.”
“ D on’t be rid iculo us!” B ut I co uld se e th e su d de n
asto nis hm ent in h is e ye s. A nd th e m em ory . It w as I w ho
had su gg este d th e id ea o f tim e tr a ve l to h im . W e h ad
d is cu sse d it fo r m onth s, b ack w he n h e h ad be en w ork in g
fo r t h e n e w sp ap ers . I h ad k e p t t h e ide a in t h e fo re fr o nt o f

his im ag in atio n u ntil he � n ally s a t do wn a n d da sh e d o�
his n o ve l.
I h un ch e d c lo se r to h im , le an e d my e lbo ws w earily o n
th e ta b le . “S up pose K elv in is w ro ng? S up pose th e re is
m uch m ore t o p hysic s t h an h e s u sp ects ? ”
“H ow c o uld t h at b e?” W ells a sk e d.
“T hat la d is re ad in g y o ur s to ry . It w ill op en h is e ye s to
n e w v is ta s, n e w p ossib ilit ies.”
W ells c a st a s u sp ic io us g la nce a t m e. “Y o u’r e p ullin g
my le g.”
I fo rc e d a s m ile . “ N ot a lto g eth e r. Y o u w ould do w ell to
p ay atte ntio n to w hat th e sc ie ntis ts dis co ve r o ve r th e
co m ing y e ars . Y o u c o uld b uild a c a re er w rit in g a bo ut it .
Yo u c o uld b eco m e k n o w n a s a  p ro p he t if y o u p la y y o ur
ca rd s p ro p erly .”
H is fa ce to ok o n th e s tr a n g est e xp re ssio n I h ad eve r
se en: h e d id n o t w an t to b elie ve m e, a n d y e t h e d id; h e
w as s u sp ic io us, c u rio us, d oubt fu l, a n d y e arn in g— all at t h e
sa m e tim e. A bove eve ry th in g els e he w as am bit ious;
th ir stin g fo r fa m e. L ik e e ve ry w rit e r, h e w an te d to h ave
th e w orld a ck n o w le dge h is g eniu s.
I to ld h im a s m uch a s I d are d. A s th e a ft e rn o o n d rif te d
o n a n d th e s h ad ow s le ng th e ne d, a s th e s u n s a n k b ehin d
th e d is ta n t m ounta in s a n d th e w arm th o f da y s lo wly g ave
w ay to a n u ne asy, d eep enin g c h ill, I g ave h im c a re fu lly
ve ile d h in ts o f th e fu tu re . A fu tu re . T he o ne I w an te d him
to p ro m ote .
W ells c o uld h ave n o c o nce p tio n o f th e r e alit ie s o f tim e

tr a ve l, o f c o urs e . T he re w as n o fr a m e o f r e fe re nce fo r t h e
in �n ite b ra n ch in gs o f th e fu tu re in h is tidy n in ete enth -
ce ntu ry E ng lis h m ind. H e w as in ca p able o f im ag in ing th e
h o rro rs t h at la y in s to re . H ow c o uld h e be ? T im e br an ch e s
end le ssly , a n d o nly a fe w , a p re cio us h an d fu l of th o se
b ra n ch e s, m an ag e t o a vo id u tt e r dis aste r.
C ould I s h o w h im h is b elo ve d Lo nd on o blit era te d by
fu sio n b om bs? O r t h e e ntir e n o rth e rn h e m isphe re o f E arth
d ep op ula te d by m an -m ad e pla gue s? O r a de va sta te d
w orld tu rn e d to a s a va g ery th at m ade h is M orlo ck s s e e m
co m passio nate ?
C ould I e xp la in to h im th e e ne rg ie s in vo lv ed in tim e
tr a ve l or th e d am ag e th e y did to th e h um an b ody ? T he
fa ct th at tim e tr a ve le rs w ere v o lu nte ers s e nt o n s u ic ide
m issio ns, d esp era te ly tr y in g to p re se rv e a tim elin e th at
sa ve d a t le ast a p ortio n o f th e h um an ra ce ? T he b est
fu tu re I c o uld o �er h im w as a tw entie th c e ntu ry to rtu re d
b y w orld w ars a n d g eno cid e. T hat w as th e be st I c o uld
d o.
S o a ll I d id w as h in t, a s g ently a n d s u b tly a s I c o uld ,
tr y in g to guid e him to w ard th at best of all possible
fu tu re s, h o rrib le th o ug h it w ould se em to h im . I co uld
ne ith e r c o ntr o l n o r c o erc e a n yo ne ; a ll I c o uld do w as to
o �er a b it o f g uid an ce . U ntil th e ra dia tio n do se fr o m m y
ow n t r ip t h ro ug h t im e � n ally k ille d me.
W ells w as h ap pily o b liv ious to m y p ain . H e did no t
eve n no tic e th e pers p iratio n th at beade d my bro w
d esp ite t h e c h illin g b re eze t h at h e ra lde d nig htfa ll.
“Y o u a pp ear to b e te llin g m e,” h e s a id at la st, “ th at m y

writ in gs w ill have so m e so rt o f p osit iv e e � ect o n th e
w orld .”
“ T he y a lr e ad y h ave ,” I r e p lie d, w ith a g enuin e s m ile .
His b ro w s r o se .
“T hat te enag ed la d is r e ad in g y o ur s to ry . Y o ur c o nce p t
of t im e a s a d im ensio n h as a lr e ady s ta rte d his f e rtile m ind
work in g.”
“ T hat y o ung s tu d ent? ”
“W ill ch an g e t h e w orld ,” I s a id . “ Fo r t h e be tte r.”
“ R eally ?”
“R eally ,” I s a id , tr y in g to s o un d co n�d ent. I k n e w th e re
w ere s till a th o usa n d p itfa lls in y o ung A lbe rt’s p ath . A nd I
w ould no t liv e lo ng eno ug h to he lp him past th e m .
Perh ap s o th e rs w ould , b ut t h e re w ere n o g uara n te es.
I k n e w t h at if A lb ert d id n o t r e ach h is f u ll pote ntia l, if h e
w ere tu rn e d a w ay b y th e u niv ers it y a g ain o r m urde re d in
th e co m ing ho lo ca u st, th e fu tu re I w as atte m ptin g to
p re se rv e w ould d is ap pear in a g lo ba l ca ta str o p he th at
co uld e nd th e h um an ra ce fo re ve r. M y ta sk w as to s a ve
a s m uch o f h um an ity a s I c o uld.
I h ad a cco m plis h e d a fe eb le � rs t s te p in s a vin g s o m e
of h um an kin d, b ut o nly a � rs t s te p . A lbe rt w as r e adin g t h e
tim e-m ach in e ta le a n d sta rtin g to th in k th at K elv in w as
b lin d to th e re al w orld . B ut th e re w as s o m uch m ore to
d o. S o v e ry m uch m ore .
W e sa t th e re in th e deep enin g sh ado ws of th e
ap pro ach in g tw ilig ht, W ells a n d I, e ach o f u s w ra p ped in

our ow n th o ug hts ab out th e fu tu re . De sp ite his be st
E ng lis h se lf-c ontr o l, W ells w as sm ilin g co nte nte dly . H e
sa w a fu tu re in w hic h h e w ould b e h aile d as a p ro p he t. I
h o p ed it w ould w ork o ut t h at w ay. It w as a n im mense t a sk
th at I h ad u nd erta ke n. I fe lt tir e d, g lo om y, da unte d by th e
im mensit y o f it a ll. W ors t o f a ll, I w ould n e ve r k n o w if I
s u cce ed ed o r n o t.
T he n th e w aitre ss b ustle d o ve r to o ur ta ble . “W ell,
have yo u �n is he d ? O r are yo u g oin g to sta y h e re all
n ig ht? ”
E ve n w ith o ut a tr a n sla tio n W ells u nde rs to od he r to ne .
“L e t’s go,” he sa id , sc ra p in g his ch air acro ss th e
�a g sto ne s.
I p ush e d m yse lf to m y fe et a n d th re w a fe w c o in s o n
th e ta b le . T he w aitre ss sc o op ed th e m u p im media te ly
an d c a lle d in to t h e c a fé , “ C om e h e re a n d s c ru b do wn t h is
ta b le ! A t o nce !”
T he s ix -y ear-o ld b oy c a m e tr u d gin g a cro ss th e p atio ,
luggin g t h e h e avy w ood en p ail of w ate r. H e s tu m ble d an d
alm ost d ro p ped it ; w ate r s lo sh e d onto h is m oth e r’s le gs.
S he g ra b bed h im b y th e e ar a n d lif te d him n e arly o � h is
fe et. A f a in t, t o rtu re d s q ue ak is su e d fr o m t h e b oy’s g rit te d
te eth .
“B e q uie t a n d y o ur d o w ork p ro p erly ,” s h e t o ld he r s o n,
h e r v o ic e m urd ero usly lo w. “ If I le t y o ur fa th e r k n o w h o w
la zy y o u a re  .  .  .”
T he six -y ear-o ld’s e ye s w ent w ide w ith te rro r a s h is
m oth e r le t h e r t h re at d an g le in t h e a ir be tw een t h e m .

“S cru b th at ta b le g ood , A dolf,” h is m oth e r to ld him .
“G et r id o f t h at d am ne d J e w ’s s tin k.”
I lo oke d d ow n a t th e b oy. H is e ye s w ere b urn in g w ith
sh am e a n d r a g e a n d h atr e d . S ave a s m uch o f th e h um an
ra ce a s y o u c a n , I to ld m yse lf. B ut it w as a lr e ady to o la te
to s a ve h im .
“A re y o u c o m ing?” W ells c a lle d to m e.
“Y e s,” I s a id , te ars in m y e ye s. “It ’s g ettin g da rk , is n’t
it ?”

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“S C HEH ER A ZA D E A ND
TH E S TO RY TE LLE R S”
Tw o p oin ts : O ne , s c ie nce � ctio n is n’t c o n�n e d to s to rie s
ab out th e fu tu re . T w o, s c ie nce � ctio n w rit e rs a re (f o r th e
m ost part) fr ie nd s, co m ra d es in th e so m etim es-bit te r
w orld o f p ub lis hin g, b ro th e rs -in -arm s  .  .  . e r, m ake th at
b ro th e rs -in -pens (a n d s is te rs , o f c o urs e ).
A s th e afo re m entio ne d Jo hn W . Cam pbe ll no te d,
sc ie nce � ctio n is n o t re str ic te d to ta le s a bo ut th e fu tu re .
T he p ast is a ls o p art o f o ur t e rrit o ry .
H ere is a ta le o f th e s to rie d p ast, o f a c ru e l su lta n a n d
a b eau tif u l, c le ve r y o ung w om an — an d o f a r a g ged clu tc h
o f sto ry te lle rs w ho are lo ose ly ba se d on m y sc ie nce -
�ctio n-w rit in g f r ie nd s a n d c o lle ag ue s.

SC HEH ER A ZA D E A ND
TH E S TO RY TE LLE R S
“I n e ed a n e w s to ry !” e xc la im ed Sch e he ra za de , h e r lo ve ly
alm ond e ye s b etr a yin g a r is in g t e rro r. “ B y t o nig ht!”
“ D au g hte r of m y he art,” sa id he r fa th e r, th e gra n d
viz ie r, “ I h ave r e la te d to y o u e ve ry ta le th at I k n o w . S om e
of t h e m , b est b elo ve d , w ere e ve n t r u e !”
“ B ut, m ost re sp ecte d fa th e r, I a m su m mone d to th e
su lta n a g ain t o nig ht. If I h ave n o t a n e w t a le w ith w hic h t o
b eg uile h im , h e w ill cu t o � m y h e ad in t h e m orn in g!”
T he g ra n d v iz ie r c h e w ed h is b eard an d r a is ed his e ye s
to A lla h in s u p plic atio n. H e c o uld n o t h e lp bu t n o tic e th at
th e g old le af a d orn in g th e ce ilin g is h is ch am be r w as
p eelin g o nce m ore . I m ust c a ll th e w ork m en a gain , h e
th o ug ht, h is h e art s in kin g.

Fo r a lth o ug h th e g ra n d v iz ie r a n d h is fa m ily r e side d in
a s p le nd id w in g o f th e s u lta n ’s m ag ni� ce nt p ala ce , th e
g ra n d viz ie r w as re sp onsib le fo r th e up ke e p of his
q uarte rs . T he s u lta n w as n o f o ol.
“F ath e r!” S ch e he ra za d e s c re e ch e d. “ H elp m e!”
“ W hat c a n I d o?” a sk e d th e g ra n d v iz ie r. H e e xp ecte d
no a n sw er.
Y e t h is b eau tif u l, slim -wais te d d au g hte r im media te ly
re p lie d, “Y o u m ust a llo w m e to g o to th e S tr e et o f th e
S to ry te lle rs .”
“ T he d au g hte r o f th e g ra n d v iz ie r g oin g in to th e c it y!
In to th e baza ar! To th e str e et of th o se lo ath so m e
sto ry te lle rs ? Com mone rs ! Lit tle bette r th an be ggars !
N eve r! It is im possib le! T he s u lta n w ould n e ve r p erm it y o u
to le ave t h e p ala ce .”
“ I c o uld g o in d is guis e,” S ch e he ra za de s u g geste d.
“A nd h o w c o uld a n yo ne d is guis e th o se r a vis hin g e ye s
o f y o urs , m y d arlin g c h ild ? H ow c o uld a n yo ne dis guis e
yo ur an g elic gra ce , yo ur de licate fo rm ? No, it is
im possib le. Y o u m ust r e m ain in t h e p ala ce .”
S ch e he ra za d e th re w h e rs e lf o nto th e p illo ws n ext to
h e r fa th e r an d so b bed desp era te ly , “T he n bid yo ur
d arlin g dau g hte r fa re w ell, most no ble fa th e r. By
to m orro w ’s s u n I w ill be s la in .”
T he g ra n d v iz ie r g aze d u p on h is da ug hte r w ith tr u e
te nd ern e ss, eve n as he r so bs tu rn e d to sh rie ks of
d esp air. H e tr ie d to th in k o f s o m e w ay to e ase h e r fe ars ,
b ut he kn e w th at he co uld ne ve r ta ke th e ris k of

sm ug glin g h is d au g hte r o ut o f th e p ala ce . T he y w ould
b oth lo se t h e ir h e ad s if t h e s u lta n dis co ve re d it.
G ro w in g w eary o f h is d au g hte r’s w ailin g, th e g ra n d
viz ie r s u d denly h ad th e � a sh o f a n id ea. H e c rie d out, “ I
h ave it , m y b est b elo ve d d au g hte r!”
S ch e he ra za d e lif te d h e r t e ar-s tr e ake d fa ce .
“If th e P ro p he t— ble sse d b e h is n am e— ca n no t g o to
t h e m ounta in , th e n th e m ounta in will co m e to th e
P ro p he t!”
T he gra n d viz ie r ra is ed his eye s to Alla h in
th an ksg iv in g f o r h is r e ve la tio n a n d h e s a w o nce a g ain t h e
p eelin g g old le af o f th e c e ilin g. H is h e art h arde ne d with
a n g er a g ain st a ll slip sh o d w ork m en, in clu din g (o f c o urs e )
sto ry te lle rs .
A nd s o it w as a rra n g ed t h at a q uarte t o f b urly g uards w as
d is patc h e d th at v e ry m orn in g fr o m th e s u lta n ’s p ala ce to
th e str e et of th e sto ry te lle rs , w ith orde rs to brin g a
sto ry te lle r to th e g ra n d v iz ie r w ith o ut fa il. T his th e y d id,
alth o ug h t h e g ra n d v iz ie r’s h o p es fe ll once h e be he ld th e
sto ry te lle r t h e g uard s h ad d ra g ged in.
He w as s h o rt a n d ro und , ro un d of fa ce a n d be lly, w ith
b ig , ro und e ye s th at se em ed abo ut to p op o ut o f h is
he ad . H is b eard w as ra g ged, h is clo th e s ta tte re d an d
ta rn is he d f r o m lo ng w ear. T he g uards h ustle d him in to t h e
g ra n d viz ie r’s p riv ate ch am ber an d th re w h im ro ug hly
o nto th e m osa ic �o or befo re th e gra n d viz ie r’s hig h-
b acke d , e la bora te ly ca rv e d ch air o f sa n d alw ood inlaid
with iv ory a n d � lig re es o f g old .

Fo r long mom ents th e gra n d viz ie r stu d ie d th e
sto ry te lle r, w ho k n e lt tr e m blin g o n th e p atc h e d kn e e s o f
his p an ta lo ons, h is n o se p re sse d to th e tile s o f th e � o or.
S ch e he ra za d e w atc h e d fr o m th e ve ile d galle ry o f th e
w om en’s q uarte rs , h ig h a b ove , u nse en by h e r fa th e r o r
his v is ito r.
“ Y o u m ay lo ok u p on m e,” s a id t h e g ra n d v iz ie r.
T he s to ry te lle r r a is ed h is h e ad bu t r e m ain ed kn e e lin g.
H is e ye s w ent h ug e a s h e to ok in th e s p le nd or o f th e
su m ptu o usly a p poin te d c h am ber. D on’t y o u d are lo ok u p
a t t h e c e ilin g , t h e g ra n d v iz ie r t h o ug ht.
“ Y o u a re a s to ry te lle r? ” h e a sk e d, h is v o ic e s te rn .
T he s to ry te lle r s e em ed to g ath e r h im se lf a n d re p lie d
with a s u rp ris in gly s tr o ng v o ic e, “ N ot m ere ly a s to ry te lle r,
o h m ighty o ne . I a m th e sto ry te lle r o f sto ry te lle rs . T he
b est o f a ll th o se w ho — ”
The g ra n d v iz ie r c u t h im s h o rt w ith , “ Y o ur n am e?”
“H ari-ib n-H ari, e m inence .” W it h o ut ta kin g a br eath , th e
sto ry te lle r c o ntin ue d , “M y s to rie s a re k n o w n th ro ug ho ut
th e w orld . A s fa r a s d is ta n t C ath ay a n d th e m isty is le s o f
th e C elts, m y s to rie s a re b elo ve d by a ll m en.”
“ T e ll m e o ne ,” s a id th e g ra n d v iz ie r. “ If I lik e it , y o u w ill
be re w ard ed . If n o t, y o ur to ng ue w ill be c u t fr o m y o ur
b oastfu l th ro at.”
H ari-ib n-H ari c lu tc h e d a t h is t h ro at w ith bo th h an d s.
“W ell? ” dem an d ed th e gra n d viz ie r. “W he re ’s yo ur
sto ry ?”

“N ow , y o ur p uis sa n ce ?”
“N ow .”
N early a n h o ur la te r, th e g ra n d viz ie r h ad to a dm it th at
H ari-ib n-H ari’ s ta le o f th e s a ilo r S in bad was n o t w ith o ut
m erit .
“A n in te re stin g f a b le , s to ry te lle r. H ave y o u a n y o th e rs ? ”
“H und re d s, o h p ro te cto r o f th e p oor!” e xc la im ed th e
sto ry te lle r. “ T ho usa n d s!”
“ V ery w ell, ” s a id th e g ra n d v iz ie r. “E ach d ay y o u w ill
co m e t o m e a n d r e la te t o m e o ne o f y o ur t a le s.”
“ G la dly ,” s a id H ari-ib n-H ari. B ut th e n, h is ro und eye s
narro w in g s lig htly , h e d are d to a sk , “A nd w hat p aym ent
w ill I r e ce iv e?”
“P aym ent? ” t h und ere d t h e g ra n d v iz ie r. “ Y o u k e ep y o ur
to ng ue ! T hat is y o ur r e w ard !”
T he s to ry te lle r h ard ly b lin ke d at th at. “ B le ssin gs u p on
yo u, m ost m erc if u l one . B ut a sto ry te lle r m ust eat. A
sto ry te lle r m ust d rin k, a s w ell. ”
The g ra n d v iz ie r th o ug ht th at p erh ap s dr ink w as m ore
im porta n t t h an f o od t o t h is m isera ble w re tc h .
“H ow ca n I co ntin ue to re la te m y ta le s to yo u, o h
m ag ni� ce nt o ne , if I f a in t f r o m h ung er a n d t h ir st? ”
“Y o u e xp ect p aym ent f o r y o ur t a le s? ”
“It w ould s e em ju st.”
A ft e r a m om ent’s c o nsid era tio n, th e g ra n d v iz ie r s a id
m ag nan im ously , “ V ery w ell. Y o u w ill be p aid one c o p per

fo r e ach s to ry y o u r e la te .”
“ O ne co p per? ” sq ue ake d th e sto ry te lle r, cre stfa lle n.
“O nly o ne?”
“D o n o t p re su m e u p on m y g ene ro sit y,” t h e g ra n d v iz ie r
warn e d . “ Y o u a re n o t t h e o nly s to ry te lle r in B ag hda d.”
Hari-ib n-H ari looke d dis ap poin te d, bu t he m eekly
a g re ed , “ O ne c o p per, o h g uardia n o f t h e p eo p le .”
S ix w eeks la te r, H ari-ib n-H ari sa t in h is m isera ble lit tle
h o ve l o n t h e S tr e et o f t h e S to ry te lle rs a n d s p oke t h usly t o
s e ve ra l oth e r sto ry te lle rs sit tin g aro und him on th e
p acke d -e arth � o or.
“ T he s it u atio n is th is , m y fe llo ws: th e s u lta n be lieve s
th at a ll w om en a re f a ith le ss a n d untr u stw orth y.”
“ M an y a re ,” m utte re d F are ed -a l-S ha� a, g la ncin g a t th e
o nly fe m ale s to ry te lle r a m ong th e m en, w ho s a t n ext to
h im , h e r fa ce b old ly u nve ile d, h e r h aw k’s e ye s g lit te rin g
with u nyie ld ing d ete rm inatio n.
“B eca u se o f t h e s u lta n ’s b elie f, h e t a ke s a n e w br ide t o
h is bed each nig ht an d has he r behe ade d th e next
m orn in g.”
“ W e k n o w a ll th is ,” c rie d th e y o ung est a m ong th e m ,
Haro un-
e l-A hso n, w ith o b vio us im patie nce .
H ari-ib n-H ari gla re d a t th e u p sta rt, w ho w as a lw ays
se ekin g atte ntio n fo r him se lf, an d co ntin ue d, “B ut
S ch e he ra za d e, d au g hte r o f th e g ra n d v iz ie r, h as s u rv iv ed
m ore th an tw o m onth s no w by te llin g th e su lta n a
beg uilin g s to ry e ach n ig ht.”

“A sto ry sta ys th e su lta n ’s blo ody han d ?” ask e d
an o th e r s to ry te lle r, J a m il-a bu-B lissa . L e an a n d le arn e d, h e
w as s h arin g a h o oka h w ate r p ip e w ith F are ed-a l-Sha� a.
B etw een th e m , th e y b le w c lo ud s o f s o ft , g ra y s m oke th at
w aft e d t h ro ug h t h e c ro w ded lit tle r o om .
W ith a ra sp in g co ug h, Hari-ibn -Hari exp la in ed,
“S ch e he ra za d e does no t �n is h he r sto ry by th e tim e
daw n a ris es. S he le ave s th e s u lta n in s u ch s u sp ense th at
h e a llo ws h e r to liv e to th e n ext n ig ht, s o h e c a n h e ar th e
co nclu sio n o f h e r s to ry .”
“ I se e !” exc la im ed th e yo ung Haro un-e l-A hso n.
“C li� han g ers ! V ery c le ve r o f h e r.”
H ari-ib n-H ari fr o w ne d a t t h e u p sta rt’s v u lg ar p hra se bu t
went o n t o t h e h e art o f t h e p ro b le m .
“I h ave to ld th e g ra n d v iz ie r e ve ry s to ry I c a n th in k o f,”
h e s a id , h is v o ic e s in kin g w ith w oe, “ a n d s till he de man d s
m ore .”
“ O f co urs e . H e doesn ’t w an t his da ug hte r to be
sla ug hte re d .”
“ N ow I m ust tu rn to y o u, m y fr ie nd s a n d c o lle ag ue s.
P le ase te ll me yo ur sto rie s, n e w sto rie s, fr e sh sto rie s.
O th e rw ise th e la dy S ch e he ra za de w ill peris h.” H ari-ibn -
Hari d id n o t m entio n th at th e g ra n d v iz ie r w ould ta ke th e
to ng ue f r o m h is h e ad if h is d au g hte r w as k ille d.
Fare ed -a l-S ha� a ra is ed his han d s to Alla h an d
p ro no unce d , “W e w ill be ho no re d to assis t a fe llo w
sto ry te lle r in s u ch a n o b le p urs u it.”
B efo re H ari-ib n-H ari co uld e xp re ss h is u ndy ing th an ks,

th e beard ed , gno m ish sto ry te lle r who was kn o w n
th ro ug ho ut t h e b aza ar a s t h e D ae m on o f t h e N ig ht, a sk e d
co ld ly, “H ow m uch d oes th e su lta n p ay yo u fo r th e se
sto rie s? ”
T hus, it c a m e to p ass th at H ari-ibn -Hari, a cco m pan ie d by
Fare ed -a l-S ha� a a n d th e g ra y-be arde d Da em on o f th e
N ig ht, kn e lt befo re th e gra n d viz ie r. The work m en
re fu rb is hin g th e gold en ce ilin g of th e gra n d viz ie r’s
c h am ber w ere d is m isse d fr o m th e ir s c a � o lds be fo re th e
g ra n d v iz ie r d em an d ed , f r o m h is c h air o f a u th o rit y:
“W hy h ave y o u a sk e d t o m eet w ith m e t h is da y?”
T he th re e sto ry te lle rs , on th e ir kn e e s, gla nce d
q ue stio nin gly at one an o th e r. A t le ng th , H ari-ibn -Hari
d are d t o s p eak.
“O h, m ag ni� ce nt o ne , w e h ave p ro vide d yo u w ith a
m yria d of sto rie s so th at yo ur be au tif u l an d vir tu o us
d au g hte r, o n w ho m A lla h h as be sto w ed much g ra ce a n d
w isdom , m ay c o ntin ue t o d elig ht t h e s u lta n .”
“ M ay h e liv e in g lo ry ,” e xc la im ed Fa re ed-a l-Sha� a in
h is r e ed y v o ic e.
T he g ra n d v iz ie r e ye d th e m im patie ntly , w aitin g fo r th e
next s lip per t o d ro p.
“W e h ave s p are d n o e � o rt to p ro vide y o u w ith n e w
sto rie s, fa th e r o f a ll joys,” sa id Hari-ibn -Hari, h is vo ic e
quakin g only slig htly . “A lm ost eve ry sto ry te lle r in
Bag hd ad h as c o ntr ib ute d t o t h e e � o rt.”
“ W hat o f it ?” th e g ra n d v iz ie r s n ap ped. “ Y o u s h o uld be
h ap py t o b e o f s u ch u se t o m e— an d m y da ug hte r.”

“J u st so ,” H ari-ib n-H ari ag re e d. B ut th e n h e adde d,
“H ow eve r, h ung er is s ta lk in g t h e S tr e et o f t h e S to ry te lle rs .
S ta rv a tio n is o n it s w ay.”
“ H ung er? ” t h e g ra n d v iz ie r s n ap ped. “ S ta rv a tio n?”
H ari-ib n-H ari exp la in ed , “W e sto ry te lle rs have be nt
e ve ry th o ug ht w e h ave to c re atin g n e w s to rie s fo r y o ur
lo ve ly d au g hte r— ble ssin gs u p on h e r. W e d on’t h ave tim e
to t e ll sto rie s in t h e b aza ar a n ym ore — ”
“Y o u’d b ette r no t!” th e g ra n d viz ie r w arn e d ste rn ly .
“T he s u lta n m ust h e ar o nly n e w s to rie s, s to rie s th at n o
o ne e ls e h as h e ard b efo re . O th e rw ise, h e w ould n o t b e
in tr ig ue d b y th e m , a n d m y d early lo ve d da ug hte r w ould
lo se h e r h e ad .”
“ B ut, m ost m uni� ce nt one ,” crie d Hari-ibn -Hari, “by
d evo tin g o urs e lv es co m ple te ly to yo ur n e eds , w e are
n e g le ctin g o ur o w n. S in ce w e n o lo ng er h ave th e tim e to
t e ll sto rie s in th e b aza ar, w e h ave n o o th e r so urc e o f
in co m e e xc e p t t h e c o p pers y o u p ay u s f o r o ur t a le s.”
T he g ra n d v iz ie r a t la st s a w w he re th e y w ere h e adin g.
“Y o u w an t m ore ? O utr a g eo us!”
“ B ut, o h fa r-s eein g o ne , a s in gle c o p per fo r e ach s to ry
is n o t e no ug h t o k e ep u s a liv e!”
F are ed -a l-S ha� a a d ded , “W e h ave fa m ilie s to fe ed. I
m yse lf h ave f o ur w ives a n d m an y c h ildr en.”
“ W hat is th at to m e?” th e g ra n d viz ie r sh o ute d. H e
th o ug ht th at th e se pitifu l sto ry te lle rs were ju st lik e
work m en e ve ry w he re , tr y in g to e xto rt h ig he r w ag es fo r
th e ir m eag er e � o rts .

“W e c a n no t c o ntin ue to g iv e y o u s to rie s fo r a s in gle
co p per a p ie ce ,” F are ed -a l-S ha� a s a id �a tly .
“T he n I w ill have y o ur t o ng ue s t a ke n f r o m y o ur t h ro ats .
H ow m an y s to rie s w ill yo u b e a ble t o t e ll th e n?”
T he th re e s to ry te lle rs w ent p ale . B ut th e Da em on o f
th e Nig ht, sm all an d fr a il th o ug h he was in body ,
str a ig hte ne d h is s p in e a n d fo und th e s tr e ng th to s a y, “ If
y o u d o t h at, m ost n o b le o ne , y o u w ill get n o m ore s to rie s,
a n d y o ur d au g hte r w ill lose h e r lif e.”
T he g ra n d v iz ie r g la re d a n g ril y a t t h e s to ry te lle rs . Fr om
he r h id den p ost in th e v e ile d galle ry , S ch e he ra za de fe lt
he r he art sin k. O h, fa th e r! sh e beg ged sile ntly , b e
gene ro us. O pen y o ur h e a rt.
A t le ng th , th e g ra n d v iz ie r m utte re d da rk ly , “ T he re a re
m an y s to ry te lle rs in B ag hd ad . If y o u t h re e r e fu se m e, I w ill
�n d o th e rs w ho w ill gla dly se rv e . A nd , o f co urs e , th e
th re e o f y o u w ill lose y o ur to ng ue s. C onsid er c a re fu lly .
Pro d uce sto rie s fo r m e at one co p per ap ie ce or be
sile nce d f o re ve r.”
“ O ur c h ild re n w ill sta rv e !” c rie d Fa re ed-a l-Sha� a.
“O ur w ives w ill have to ta ke to th e str e ets to fe ed
th e m se lv es,” w aile d H ari-ib n-H ari.
T he D ae m on o f t h e N ig ht s a id n o th in g.
“T hat is y o ur c h o ic e,” s a id t h e g ra n d v iz ie r, a s c o ld an d
unyie ld ing as a ste el bla de. “S to rie s at one co p per
ap ie ce , o r I g o to o th e r s to ry te lle rs . A nd y o u lo se y o ur
to ng ue s.”
“ B ut m ag ni� ce nt o ne — ”

“T hat is y o ur c h o ic e,” t h e g ra n d viz ie r r e p eate d ste rn ly .
“Y o u h ave u ntil no on t o m orro w t o de cid e.”
I t w as a g lo om y tr io o f s to ry te lle rs w ho w end ed th e ir w ay
b ack t o t h e b aza ar t h at d ay.
“H e is u nyie ld ing,” F are ed -a l-S ha� a s a id. “T o o b ad. I
h ave been th in kin g of a ne w sto ry abo ut a ba nd of
th ie ve s a n d a y o ung a d ve ntu re r. I th in k I’ll ca ll him A li
Bab a.”
“ T hat’s a silly nam e,” H ari- ibn -Hari re jo ined. “W ho
co uld ta ke s e rio usly a s to ry w he re th e h e ro ’s n am e is s o
silly ?”
“I don’t th in k th e nam e is silly ,” Fa re ed-a l-Sha� a
m ain ta in ed . “ I r a th e r lik e it .”
A s th e y tu rn e d in to th e S tr e et o f th e S to ry te lle rs , w ith
ra g ged , le an , a n d h ung ry m en a t e ve ry do or p le adin g
with p asse rs b y to lis te n to th e ir ta le s, th e D ae m on o f th e
N ig ht s a id s o ft ly , “A rg uin g o ve r a n am e is n o t g oin g to
s o lv e o ur p ro b le m . B y to m orr o w n o on w e c o uld lo se o ur
to ng ue s.”
H ari-ib n-H ari to uch e d re �e xiv ely a t h is th ro at. “B ut to
c o ntin ue to s e ll our ta le s fo r o ne s in gle c o p per is dr ivin g
us in to s ta rv a tio n.”
“ W e w ill sta rv e m uch fa ste r if o ur to ng ue s a re c u t o ut,”
s a id F are ed -a l-S ha� a.
T he o th e rs n o d ded u nh ap pily a s th e y p lo dde d up th e
str e et a n d s to p ped a t a l-S ha� a’s h o ve l.
“C om e in a n d h ave c o �ee w ith m e,” h e sa id to h is
co m pan io ns. “W e m ust th in k of a way out of th is

pro b le m .”
A ll fo ur o f F are ed -a l-S ha� a’s w ives w ere h o m e, a n d a ll
fo ur of th e m ask e d th e sto ry te lle r ho w th e y were
e xp ecte d t o f e ed t h e ir m an y c h ildr en if h e d id no t b rin g in
m ore c o in s.
“B eg one ,” he co m man d ed th e m — aft e r th e y had
se rv e d t h e c o �ee. “ B ack t o t h e w om en’s q uarte rs .”
T he w om en’s quarte rs w as no th in g m ore th an a
sq ualid r o om in th e r e ar o f th e h o ve l, te em ing w ith n o is y
ch ild re n.
O nce th e wom en had le ft , th e th re e sto ry te lle rs
s q uatte d o n th e th re ad bare c a rp et a n d sip ped at th e ir
co �ee c u p s.
“S up pose t h is c a rp et c o uld � y,” m use d Hari-ibn -Hari.
F are ed -a l-S ha� a hum phe d . “S up pose a genie
ap peare d a n d g ave u s r ic he s be yo nd im ag in ing.”
T he D ae m on of th e N ig ht �xe d th e m both w ith a
so m ber g aze . “S up pose y o u bo th s to p to yin g w ith n e w
sto ry id eas a n d t u rn y o ur a tte ntio n t o o ur p ro ble m.”
“ S ta rv e fr o m lo w w ag es o r lo se o ur to ng ue s,” s ig he d
H ari-ib n-H ari.
“ A nd o nce o ur to ng ue s h ave be en c u t o ut, th e g ra n d
viz ie r g oes to o th e r s to ry te lle rs to ta ke o ur p la ce ,” s a id
th e D ae m on o f t h e N ig ht.
F are ed -a l-S ha� a sa id slo wly, “T he gra n d viz ie r
assu m es th e o th e r s to ry te lle rs w ill be to o te rri� ed by o ur
exa m ple t o r e fu se h is s ta rv a tio n w ag e.”

“H e’s r ig ht,” H ari-ib n-H ari sa id bit te rly .
“Is h e?” m use d F are ed . “ P erh ap s n o t.”
“ W hat d o y o u m ean?” h is tw o c o m pan io ns a sk e d in
unis on.
S tr o kin g h is b eard th o ug htfu lly , F are ed-a l-Sha� a s a id,
“W hat if a ll th e s to ry te lle rs re fu se d to w ork fo r a s in gle
co p per p er t a le ?”
H ari-ib n-H ari ask e d cyn ic ally , “W ould th e y re fu se
b efo re o r a ft e r o ur t o ng ue s h ave be en t a ke n o ut? ”
“B efo re , o f c o urs e .”
T he Dae m on of th e Nig ht sta re d at his fe llo w
sto ry te lle r. “A re yo u su g gestin g w hat I th in k yo u’r e
s u g gestin g?”
“I a m .”
H ari-ib n-H ari gap ed a t th e tw o o f th e m . “ N o, it w ould
ne ve r w ork . It ’s im possib le!”
“ Is it ?” a sk e d F are ed -a l-S ha� a. “ P erh ap s n o t.”
T he n ext m orn in g, t h e t h re e b le ary -e ye d sto ry te lle rs w ere
b ro ug ht befo re th e gra n d viz ie r. Once ag ain
S ch e he ra za d e w atc h e d an d lis te ne d fr o m he r ve ile d
galle ry . S he h e rs e lf w as b le ary -e ye d as w ell, h avin g s p ent
all nig ht te llin g th e s u lta n th e ta le o f A la -a l-Din a n d h is
m ag ic la m p. A s u su al, s h e h ad left th e ta le u n�n is he d as
th e d aw n b rig hte ne d t h e s k y.
T his n ig ht s h e m ust � n is h th e ta le a n d be gin a n o th e r.
B ut s h e h ad n o o th e r to te ll! H er fa th e r h ad to g et th e
sto ry te lle rs to b rin g h e r fr e sh m ate ria l. If n o t, s h e w ould

lose h e r h e ad w ith t o m orro w ’s da wn.
“W ell? ” dem an d ed th e gra n d viz ie r as th e th re e
sto ry te lle rs kn e lt tr e m blin g be fo re him . “W hat is yo ur
d ecis io n?”
T he th re e o f th e m h ad ch o se n th e D ae m on o f th e
N ig ht t o b e t h e ir s p oke sp ers o n. B ut a s h e g aze d up a t t h e
�e rc e c o unte nan ce o f th e g ra n d v iz ie r, h is v o ic e c h o ke d
in h is t h ro at.
F are ed -a l-S ha� a n ud ged h im , g ently a t � rs t, t h e n m ore
� rm ly.
At la st th e D ae m on sa id , “O h, m ag ni� ce nt o ne , w e
ca n no t c o ntin ue to su p ply y o ur sto rie s fo r a m isera ble
o ne c o p per p er t a le .”
“ T he n y o u w ill lose y o ur t o ng ue s!”
“ A nd yo ur dau g hte r will lose he r he ad, most
c o nsid era te o f f a th e rs .”
“ B ah ! T he re a re p le nty o f o th e r s to ry te lle rs in B ag hda d.
I’ll have a n e w s to ry fo r m y d au g hte r b efo re t h e s u n g oes
d ow n.”
B efo re t h e D ae m on o f t h e N ig ht c o uld r e p ly , Fa re ed-a l-
Sha� a s p oke th usly , “ N ot s o , s ir . N o s to ry te lle r w ill work
fo r y o u f o r a s in gle c o p per p er t a le .”
“ N onse nse !” s n ap ped t h e g ra n d v iz ie r.
“ It is tr u e ,” sa id th e D ae m on o f th e N ig ht. “A ll th e
sto ry te lle rs h ave a g re ed . W e h ave s w orn a m ighty o ath .
N one o f u s w ill giv e y o u a s to ry u nle ss y o u ra is e y o ur
ra te s.”

“E xto rtio n!” c rie d t h e g ra n d v iz ie r.
H ari-ib n-H ari fo und h is v o ic e. “ If y o u ta ke o ur to ng ue s,
o h m ost m erc if u l of m en, n o ne o f th e o th e r s to ry te lle rs
w ill deal w ith y o u a t a ll. ”
Befo re th e a sto und ed g ra n d v iz ie r c o uld re p ly to th at,
F are ed -
al-S ha� a exp la in ed , “W e have fo rm ed a guild , yo ur
m ag ni� ce nce , a s to ry te lle r’s g uild. W hat y o u do to o ne o f
us, y o u d o t o u s a ll. ”
“Y o u c a n ’t d o t h at!” t h e g ra n d v iz ie r s p utt e re d.
“It is d one ,” s a id th e D ae m on o f th e N ig ht. H e s a id it
so ft ly , a lm ost in a w his per, b ut w ith g re at � n alit y.
T he g ra n d v iz ie r s a t o n h is c h air o f a u th o rit y g ettin g
re d der a n d r e d der in th e fa ce , h is c h e st h e avin g, h is � sts
c le nch in g. H e lo oke d lik e a v o lc an o a bo ut t o e ru p t.
W he n, fr o m th e ve ile d galle ry abo ve th e m ,
Sch e he ra za d e crie d out, “I th in k it’s wond erfu l! A
sto ry te lle r’s g uild . A nd y o u c re ate d it ju st f o r m e!”
T he t h re e s to ry te lle rs r a is ed t h e ir w ide nin g e ye s t o t h e
b alc ony o f th e g alle ry , w he re th e y c o uld m ake o ut th e
slim an d gra ce fu l fo rm of a yo ung w om an , su ita bly
g ow ne d a n d v e ile d, w ho s te p ped fo rth f o r t h e m a ll to s e e.
T he g ra n d v iz ie r tw iste d a ro und in h is c h air a n d n e arly
c h o ke d w ith f u ry .
“F ath e r,” Sch e he ra za d e ca lle d sw eetly , “is it no t
w ond erfu l th at th e s to ry te lle rs h ave ba nd ed to g eth e r s o
th at t h e y c a n p ro vid e s to rie s f o r m e t o t e ll th e s u lta n n ig ht
aft e r n ig ht? ”

The g ra n d viz ie r sta rte d to re p ly o nce , tw ice, th re e
tim es. E ach tim e, n o w ord s e sc a p ed his lip s. T he th re e
sto ry te lle rs kn e lt b efo re h im , sta rin g u p at th e g alle ry
w he re S ch e he ra za d e s to od o p enly be fo re t h e m — su ita bly
g ow ne d a n d v e ile d.
B efo re th e gra n d viz ie r co uld �n d his vo ic e,
S ch e he ra za d e s a id , “ I w elc om e y o u, s to ry te lle rs , a n d y o ur
g uild . T he g ra n d v iz ie r, t h e m ost m uni� ce nt o f fa th e rs , w ill
gla dly pa y y o u te n c o p pers fo r e ach s to ry y o u re la te to
m e. M ay y o u b rin g m e a t h o usa n d o f t h e m !”
B efo re th e gra n d viz ie r co uld �g ure ho w m uch a
th o usa n d sto rie s w ould c o st, a t te n c o p pers p er sto ry ,
F are ed -a l-S ha� a sm ile d up at Sch e he ra za de an d
m urm ure d , “ A t h o usa n d a n d o ne , o h g ra cio us o ne .”
T he g ra n d v iz ie r w as u nh ap py w ith t h e n e w a rra n g em ent,
a lth o ug h he had to ad m it th at th e sto ry te lle r’s ne w ly
fo und ed guild pro vid ed sto rie s th at ke p t th e su lta n
b em use d a n d h is d au g hte r a liv e.
T he s to ry te lle rs w ere p le ase d , o f c o urs e . N ot o nly did
th e y k e ep th e ir to ng ue s in th e ir h e ads a n d e arn a d ece nt
in co m e fr o m th e ir s to rie s, b ut th e y s h are d th e s u b sidia ry
r ig hts to th e sto rie s with th e gra n d viz ie r once
S ch e he ra za d e had to ld th e m to th e su lta n , an d th e y
co uld t h e n b e r e la te d t o t h e g ene ra l p ub lic .
Te n c o p pers p er s to ry w as e xto rtio nate , in th e g ra n d
viz ie r’s o p in io n, b ut t h e s to ry te lle r’s g uild a g re ed to s h are
th e in co m e fr o m th e s to rie s o nce th e y w ere to ld in th e
b aza ar. T he re w as e ve n ta lk o f a n in ve ntio n fr o m fa r-o �
Cath ay, w he re sto rie s co uld be p rin te d on ve llu m a n d

so ld th ro ug ho ut th e k in gd om . T he g ra n d v iz ie r c o nso le d
him se lf w ith th e th o ug ht th at if s a le s w ere g ood eno ug h,
th e in co m e c o uld p ay f o r r e g ildin g h is c e ilin g.
The s u lta n e ve ntu ally le arn e d of th e a rra n g em ent, o f
co urs e . B ein g n o fo ol, h e d em an d ed th at h e be c u t in o n
th e p ro �ts . R elu cta n tly , t h e g ra n d v iz ie r c o m plie d.
Sch e he ra za d e w as th e h ap pie st o f a ll. S he k e p t te llin g
sto rie s to th e s u lta n u ntil he re le nte d of h is m urde ro us
w ays a n d e ve ntu ally m arrie d he r, m uch to th e jo y o f a ll
B ag hd ad .
S he th o ug ht of th e sto ry te lle r’s guild as he r ow n
pers o nal cre atio n an d ca lle d it S ch e he ra za de ’s Fa ble s
an d W ond ers A sso cia tio n.
T hat s lig htly p ond ero us n am e w as s o on a bbr evia te d to
S FW A �.
� SFW A is als o th e ab bre via te d fo rm of th e Scie nce Fic tio n W rit e rs
A sso cia tio n, th e p ro fe ssio nal o rg an iz a tio n o f s c ie nce � ctio n a n d fa n ta sy
w rit e rs . The co in cid ence betw een th at org an iz a tio n’s tit le an d
S ch e he ra za d e’s a sso cia tio n is p ure ly  .  .  . w ell, in te ntio nal.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“T H E S U PER SO NIC
Z E P PELIN ”
I w ork e d in t h e a e ro sp ace in dustr y fo r a n um be r o f y e ars ,
a n d th is sto ry is a slig htly exa g gera te d sp oof o f h o w
m ajo r p ro je cts g et in itia te d a n d so m eho w a cq uir e a lif e o f
th e ir o w n.
T he ch ara cte rs h e re in are als o slig htly exa g gera te d
p ortr a its o f so m e o f th e p eo p le I w ork e d with . S lig htly
e xa g gera te d .
The B use m an n b ip lane c o nce p t is r e al, by t h e w ay. I’v e
a lw ays belie ve d th at good sc ie nce �ctio n sh o uld be
b ase d a s s o lid ly a s p ossib le o n r e al sc ie nce .

TH E S U PER SO NIC
Z E P PELIN
L e t’s s e e n o w . H ow d id it a ll beg in ?
A bunch of th e boys w ere w ho op in g it up in th e
M ala m ute S alo on— no , th at’s n o t rig ht; a ctu ally , it s ta rte d
in t h e c a fe te ria o f t h e A nso n A ero sp ace p la nt in P ho enix .
O ka y, t h e n, h o w a b out:
T he re a re s tr a n g e th in gs d one in th e m idn ight s u n by
th e m en w ho m oil fo r g old — well, y e ah , bu t it w as o nly a
lit tle a ft e r n o on w he n B ob W isdo m p lo pped his lo ade d
lunch t r a y o n o ur t a b le a n d s a t d ow n lik e a m an dis guste d
w ith th e u niv ers e . A nd a n yw ay, e ng in ee rs do n’t m oil fo r
g old ; t h e y’r e o n s a la ry .
I d id n’t lik e th e w ay th e y a ll lo oke d do wn o n m e, bu t I
c e rta in ly d id n’t le t it s h o w . It w asn ’t ju st th at I w as th e

ne w bie a m ong th e m : I w asn ’t e ve n a n e ng in ee r, ju st a
re ce ntly gra d uate d M BA assig ne d to w ork w ith th e
A dva n ce d P la nnin g T e am , a p tly a cro nym ed APT. A s f a r a s
th e y w ere c o nce rn e d , I w as e ith e r a u se le ss a p pend ag e
fo rc e d o n th e m , o r a s n o op fr o m m an ag em ent s e nt to
p ro vid e in fo o n w hic h o f t h e m s h o uld g et la id o�.
A ctu ally , m y a ssig nm ent w as to g et th e se g eniu se s to
c o m e u p w ith a p ro je ct th at w e c o uld s e ll to s o m ebo dy,
an yb od y. O th e rw ise, w e’d a ll be h it by th e ir o n b all whe n
th e n ext w ave o f la yo �s s ta rte d, ju st be fo re C hris tm as.
S ix s h o p pin g w eeks le ft ; I k n e w .
“W hat’s w ith y o u, B ob?” R ay K urtz a sk e d. “ Y o u lo ok lik e
yo u s p ent t h e m orn in g s n i� ng a ro und a m an ure p ile .”
B ob W isdom w as ta ll an d la nky, w ith a r o und fa ce th at
w as no rm ally ch e erfu l, eve n in th e fa ce of Anso n
A ero sp ace ’s c o m ing w ave o f c u tba ck s a n d la yo �s. T o da y
he lo oke d d ark a n d p ouch y-e ye d.
“L a st n ig ht I w atc h e d a T V d ocu m enta ry a bo ut th e o ld
S ST.”
“ T he C onco rd e ?” a sk e d K urtz . H e w ore a fu ll bush y
b eard t h at m ad e h im lo ok m ore lik e a do gsle d dr iver t h an
a m eta llu rg ic al e ng in eer.
“ Y e ah . The y ju st to w ed th e la st one out to th e
S m ith so nia n on a barg e. A be au tif u l hunk of �yin g
m ach in e lik e th at rid ing to it s �n al re stin g p la ce o n a
co nve rte d g arb ag e s c o w .”
T hat’s e ng in eers fo r y o u. O ur c a re ers w ere h an g in g by
a h air, a n d h e ’s u p se t o ve r a p ie ce o f m ach in ery .

“B eau tif u l, m ayb e,” s a id T o m my R ohr. “ B ut it w as n e ve r
a p ra ctic al co m merc ia l a ir lin er. It c o uld n e ve r � y e � cie ntly
e no ug h t o b e e co no m ically v ia ble .”
F o r a n e ng in eer, R ohr w as u nne rv in gly a ccu ra te in h is
e co no m ic a n aly se s. H e’d g otte n o ut o f t h e do t-c om bo om
b efo re it b urs t. O f t h e � ve o f u s a t t h e lu nch t a ble , T o m my
was t h e o nly o ne w ho w asn ’t w orrie d abo ut lo sin g h is jo b
— he h ad a m uch m ore im media te w orry : h is n e w tr o p hy
w ife a n d h e r c re d it c a rd s.
“It ’s ju st a d am ne d s h am e,” W isdo m g ru m ble d. “T he
e nd o f a n e ra .”
K urtz , our bush y-b eard ed meta llu rg is t, sh o ok his
g ra yin g h e ad . “ T he e co -n uts w ould n’t le t it � y s u p ers o nic
o ve rp op ula te d are as. The y didn ’t w an t so nic bo om s
ra ttlin g th e ir n e ig hb orh o od s. T hat ru in ed its c h an ce s o f
b ein g p ra ctic al.”
“T he tr o ub le is ,” W isdom m utt e re d as h e u nw ra p ped a
so g gy s a n d w ich, “ y o u c a n b uild a s u p ers o nic a ir cra ft th at
d oesn ’t p ro d uce a s o nic b oom .”
“ N o so nic boom ?” I ask e d . Lik e I sa id, I w as th e
ne w co m er t o t h e A PT g ro up .
B ob W isdom s m ile d lik e a s p hin x.
“W hat’s th e c a tc h ?” a sk e d R ic hard Gra n d in h is s lig htly
A ng li� ed a cce nt. H e’d b een b orn in th e B ro nx, bu t h e ’d
w on a R ho d es s c h o la rs h ip a n d c a m e b ack tr y in g to ta lk
lik e S ir S ta � o rd C rip ps.
T he c a fe te ria w as o nly h alf � lle d, b ut th e re w as s till a
fa ir am ount o f cla tte rin g an d ya m merin g g oin g o n all

aro und u s. O uts id e th e p ic tu re w in do w I c o uld s e e it w as
ra in ing c a ts a n d e le phan ts , a re al m onso o n do wnp our.
S om eth in g t o d o w ith g lo bal w arm ing, I’d be en t o ld.
“C atc h ?” B ob e ch o ed , tr y in g to lo ok h urt. “ W hy s h o uld
th e re b e a c a tc h ?”
“B eca u se if s o m eo ne c o uld b uild a s u p ers o nic a ir cra ft
t h at d id n’t s h atte r o ne ’s e ard ru m s w ith it s s o nic bo om , o ld
b oy, o b vio usly s o m eo ne c o uld have do ne it lo ng be fo re
th is .”
“ W e c o uld d o it ,” B ob s a id p le asa n tly . T he n h e b it it
in to h is s a n d w ich.
“W hy a re n’t w e, t h e n?” K urtz a sk e d, h is br ow s k n ittin g.
B ob s h ru g ged e la bora te ly a s h e c h e w ed on h is h am
a n d � ve -g ra in b re ad .
R ohr w ag gle d a � n g er a t h im . “ W hat do y o u k n o w th at
w e d on’t ? O r is t h is a g ag ?”
B ob sw allo wed an d re p lie d, “It ’s just sim ple
ae ro d yn am ics.”
“ W hat’s th e g o o f it ?” G ra n d a sk e d. H e g ot th at p hra se
fr o m r e ad in g a b io gra p hy o f J a m es C le rk M axw ell.
“W ell, ” B ob s a id , p uttin g d ow n th e lim p r e m ain s o f th e
sa n d w ich, “th e re ’s a ty p e of win g th at a Germ an
a e ro d yn am icist n am ed A dolp h B use m an n in ve nte d ba ck
in th e �� �� s. It ’s a s o rt o f b ip lane c o n�g ura tio n, a ctu ally .
The s h o ck w ave s th at c a u se a s o nic b oom a re c a n ce le d
out b etw een t h e t w o w in gs.”
“ N o s o nic b oom ?”

“N o s o nic b oom . In ste ad o f � a t w in gs, lik e n o rm al, y o u
ne ed to w ra p th e w in gs a ro und th e fu se la ge, m ake a
rin gw in g.”
“ W hat’s a r in gw in g?” a sk e d in no ce nt lil me.
B ob p ulle d a fe lt-t ip p en fr o m h is sh ir t p ocke t an d
b eg an s k e tc h in g o n h is p ap er p la ce m at.
“ H ere ’s th e fu se la ge o f th e p la ne .” H e d re w a n arro w
cig ar sh ap e. “N ow w e w ra p th e w in g a ro und it, lik e a
sle eve . S ee?” H e d re w w hat lo oke d to m e lik e a tu b e
w ra p ped a ro und th e c ig ar. “A ctu ally , it ’s tw o w in gs, o ne
in sid e th e o th e r, a n d a ll th e s h o ck w ave s th at c a u se th e
so nic b oom g et c a n ce le d o ut. N o s o nic bo om .”
T he r e st o f u s lo oke d a t B ob, th e n do wn a t th e s k e tc h ,
th e n u p at B ob ag ain . R ohr lo oke d wary , lik e h e w as
w aitin g f o r t h e p unch lin e. K urtz lo oke d lik e a p uzz le d Karl
M arx .
“I d on’t k n o w th at m uch a bo ut a e ro dy nam ics,” R ohr
sa id s lo wly, “ b ut t h is is a B use m an n b ip lane y o u’r e t a lk in g
ab out, is n’t it ?”
“T hat’s r ig ht.”
“ U h-h uh . A nd is n’t it tr u e th at a B use m an n bip lane ’s
w in gs p ro d uce n o lif t? ”
“T hat’s r ig ht,” B ob a d m itte d , b re akin g in to a g rin .
“N o lif t? ” K urtz s n ap ped .
“Z ero lif t.”
“ T he n h o w t h e h e ll do y o u g et it o � t h e g ro und? ”
“It w on’t �y, O rv ille ,” Bob W isdo m sa id, his grin

wid enin g. “ T hat’s w hy n o b od y’s bu ilt o ne .”
T he re st o f u s g ro an e d w hile B ob laug he d at u s. A n
eng in eer’s jo ke , in th e fa ce o f im pend in g do om . W e’d
b een h ad .
U ntil, th at is , I b lu rte d o ut, “ S o w hy do n’t y o u � ll it w ith
h e liu m?”
T he g uys s p ent t h e n ext f e w d ays la ug hin g a t m e a n d t h e
id ea o f a su p ers o nic ze p pelin . I h ave to a dm it, a t th at
sta g e o f th e g am e, I th o ug ht it w as k in d o f s illy to o. B ut
ye t .  .  .
R ic hard G ra n d co uld be pom pous, but he w asn ’t
s tu p id . B efo re th e w eek w as o ut, h e ju st h ap pene d to
p ass b y m y p ho ne b ooth -s ized c u bic le a n d dr op ped in fo r
a lit tle c h at, lik e t h e lo rd o f t h e m an o r be ing g ra cio us t o a
s ta b le h an d .
“T hat was ra th e r cle ve r of yo u, th at su p ers o nic
ze p pelin q uip ,” h e sa id a s h e e nsc o nce d him se lf o n a
te eny w he ele d ch air h e h ad to ro ll in fr o m th e e m pty
c u b ic le n ext d oor.
“ T han ks,” I sa id no nco m mit ta lly , w ond erin g w hy a
se nio r eng in eer w ould giv e a co m plim ent to a ju nio r
M BA .
“It m ight e ve n b e fe asib le,” G ra n d m use d. “ T e ch nic ally ,
th at is .”
I c o uld s e e in h is e ye s th e s p ecte r o f C hris tm as-y et-t o-
co m e a n d th e la yo �s th at w ere c o m ing w ith it . I f a s e nio r
guy lik e G ra nd w as w orrie d , I th o ug ht, I o ug ht to b e
sc a re d p urp le . C ould I u se th e S SZ id ea to m ove u p

Anso n A ero sp ace ’s h ie ra rc h ic al la dde r? T he g uys a t th e
b otto m w ere t h e � rs t o ne s s c h e du led fo r la yo �s, I k n e w . I
b ad ly n e ed ed s o m e a ltitu d e, a n d e ve n t h o ug h it s o unde d
kin d of w ild , th e su p ers o nic ze p pelin w as th e only
fo oth o ld I h ad t o g et u p o � t h e � o or.
“ S till, ” G ra n d w ent o n, “ it is n’t lik ely th at m an ag em ent
w ould g o f o r t h e c o nce p t. P ity, is n’t it ?”
I n o d ded a g re e m ent w hile m y m ind ra ce d. If I c o uld
g et m an ag em ent to ta ke th e S SZ s e rio usly , I m ight s a ve
m y jo b. M ayb e e ve n g et a p ro m otio n. B ut I n e e de d an
e ng in eer to p ro p ose th e c o nce p t to m an ag em ent. T ho se
su its up sta ir s w ould n’t lis te n to a ne w ly-m inte d MBA ;
m ost o f th e m w ere fo rm er e ng in ee rs th e m se lv es w ho ’d
c lim bed a n o tc h o r t w o u p t h e o rg an iz atio n.
G ra n d sa t th e re in th at sq ue aky little ch air an d
p hilo so p hiz ed a b out th e p lig ht o f th e a e ro sp ace in du str y
in g ene ra l an d th e b le ak p ro sp ects fo r A nso n A ero sp ace
in p artic ula r.
“ N ot t h e b est o f t im es t o a p pro ach m an ag em ent w ith a
b old , in no va tiv e c o nce p t,” h e c o nclu ded.
O h m y G od , I th o ug ht. H e’s ta lk ed h im se lf o ut o f it ! H e
w as s ta rtin g t o g et u p a n d le ave m y c u bic le.
“Y o u kn o w ,” I sa id , litera lly gra bbin g his sle eve ,
“W insto n C hurc h ill backe d a lo t o f bo ld, in no va tiv e ide as,
d id n’t h e? L ik e, h e p ush e d th e de ve lo pm ent o f ta n ks in
W orld W ar I, e ve n th o ug h h e w as in th e n avy, n o t th e
arm y.”
G ra n d g ave m e a s tr a n g e lo ok.

“A nd r a d ar, in W orld W ar II,” I a d de d.
“A nd th e ato m ic bom b,” G ra n d re p lie d. “V ery fe w
p eo p le re aliz e it w as S ir W insto n w ho s ta rte d th e a to m ic
bom b w ork , lo ng b efo re t h e Y a n ks g ot in to it .”
T he Ya nks? I th o ug ht. T his fr o m a Je w ish e ng in eer
fr o m t h e B ro nx H ig h S ch o ol fo r S c ie nce .
I s ig he d lo ng in gly . “ If C hurc h ill were h e re to da y, I b et
he ’d p ush t h e S SZ f o r a ll it’s w orth . H e h ad th e c o ura g e o f
his c o nvic tio ns, C hurc h ill did .”
G ra n d n o d ded b ut sa id n o th in g an d le ft m e at m y
desk . T he n ext m orn in g, th o ug h, h e c a m e to m y c u b ic le
an d t o ld m e t o f o llo w h im .
Gla d t o g et a w ay f r o m m y c la ustr o p ho bic w ork sta tio n, I
h e ad ed a ft e r h im , a sk in g, “ W he re a re w e g oin g?”
“U psta ir s.”
M an ag em ent t e rrit o ry !
“W hat f o r? ”
“T o b ro ach th e c o nce p t o f th e s u p ers o nic z e p pelin ,”
s a id G ra n d , stic kin g out his lo wer lip in im ita tio n of
C hurc h illia n p ug nacio usn e ss.
“T he S SZ? F o r r e al? ”
“L is te n, m y b oy, a n d le arn . T he w ay t h is in du str y w ork s
is th is : y o u g ra b o nto a n id ea a n d r ide it fo r a ll it’s w orth .
I’v e decid ed to hitch m y w ag on to th e su p ers o nic
ze p pelin , a n d y o u s h o uld t o o.”
I s h o uld t o o? H ell, I t h o ug ht o f it � rs t!

Jo hn D riv er had a w ho le o� ce to him se lf an d a
lu sc io us, sw eet-t em pere d e xe cu tiv e a ssis ta n t o f G re ek-
It a lia n an ce str y , with alm ond-s hap ed dark eye s an d
lu str o us h air e ve n d ark e r. H er n am e w as L is a, a n d h alf t h e
m ale e m plo ye es o f A nso n A ero sp ace fa n ta siz ed abo ut
h e r, in clu din g m e.
D riv er’s d esk w as b ig e no ug h to la nd a h e lic op te r o n,
an d h e ke p t it im macu la te ly cle an , m ain ly be ca u se h e
se ld om d id a n yth in g e xc e p t s it be hin d it a n d tr y to lo ok
im porta n t. Driv er was he ad of se ve ra l eng in ee rin g
se ctio ns, in clu din g A PT. L ik e s o m an y o th e rs in A nso n, h e
h ad been pro m ote d to his le ve l of in co m pete ncy: a
perfe ct e xa m ple o f th e P ete r P rin cip le. Un der h is le ss-
th e n-b rillia nt le ad ers h ip , APT had man ag ed to avo id
d eve lo pin g a n yth in g m ore a d va n ce d th an a s h o rt-r an g e
d ro ne a ir cra ft th at ra n o n e th an o l. It didn ’t � y v e ry w ell,
b ut th e g ro und c re w u se d th e c o rn -b ase d fu e l to m ake
b ooze th at w ould peel th e pain t o� a w all just by
bre ath in g a t it f r o m � ft e en f e et a w ay.
I le t G ra n d d o th e ta lk in g, o f c o urs e . A nd , e q ually o f
co urs e , he m ad e D riv er th in k th e SSZ w as his id ea
in ste ad o f m ine.
“A s u p ers o nic z e p pelin ?” D riv er s n ap ped, o nce G ra n d
h ad o utlin ed t h e id ea t o h im . “ R idic ulo us!”
U np ertu rb ed b y o ur b oss’s h o stilit y to w ard ne w id eas,
G ra n d s a id s m ooth ly , “ D on’t b e to o h asty to d is m iss th e
co nce p t. It m ay h ave c o nsid era ble m erit . A t t h e v e ry le ast,
I belie ve w e co uld ta lk N ASA or th e Tra n sp orta tio n
Dep artm ent in to giv in g us so m e m one y to stu d y th e

co nce p t.”
A t th e w ord m one y D riv er’s fr o w n e ase d a lit tle . Dr iver
w as le an fa ce d , w ith h ard fe atu re s a n d a g aze th at h e
lik ed to th in k w as p ie rc in g. H e n o w s u b je cte d Gra n d to
h is m ost p ie rc in g s ta re .
“Y o u h ave to sp end m one y to m ake m one y in th is
b usin ess,” h e s a id , in h is b est F o rb es m ag azin e a cu m en.
“I u nd ers ta n d th at,” G ra n d re p lie d sti� y. “B ut w e a re
q uite w illin g to p ut s o m e o f o ur o w n tim e in to th is — until
w e c a n o b ta in g ove rn m ent f u ndin g.”
“ Y o ur o w n t im e?” D riv er q ue rie d.
W e? I a sk e d m yse lf. A nd im med ia te ly a n sw ere d myse lf,
d am ne d r ig ht . T his is m y id ea, a n d I’m g oin g t o f o llo w it t o
th e t o p. O r b ust.
“ I re ally b elie ve w e m ay b e o nto s o m eth in g th at c a n
sa ve t h is c o m pan y,” G ra n d w as p urrin g.
D riv er dru m med his m an ic ure d �n g ers on his va st
d esk . “A ll rig ht, if y o u fe el so s tr o ng ly a bo ut it . Do it o n
yo ur o w n tim e a n d c o m e b ack to m e w he n y o u’v e g ot
so m eth in g w orth s h o w in g. D on’t s a y a w ord to a n yo ne
e ls e, u nd ers ta n d ? J u st m e.”
“ R ig ht, C hie f.” I le arn e d la te r th at w he ne ve r G ra n d
w an te d t o � a tte r D riv er, h e c a lle d him C hie f.
“ O ur ow n tim e” was ae ro sp ace in du str y ja rg on fo r
b ootle ggin g ho urs fr o m le gitim ate pro je cts . Eng in ee rs
h ave to c h arg e e ve ry h o ur th e y w ork a g ain st a n o ng oin g
co ntr a ct, o r els e th e ir tim e is p aid by th e co m pan y’s
o ve rh e ad acco unt. Anso n’s man ag em ent— an d th e

acco untin g dep artm ent— was ve ry de �n ite ly ag ain st
sp end in g an y m one y out of th e co m pan y’s ove rh e ad
a cco unt. S o I b eca m e a m aste r bo otle gger, � n d in g c h arg e
num bers fo r m y APT eng in eers . The y acce p te d my
bootle ggin g w ith o ut a w ord o f th an ks a n d c o m pla in ed
w he n I co uld n’t �n d a va lid ch arg e n um be r an d th e y
actu ally had to w ork o n th e ir o w n tim e, aft e r re g ula r
ho urs .
F o r t h e n ext s ix w eeks W isdom , R ohr, K urtz , a n d e ve n I
w ork e d eve ry nig ht on th e su p ers o nic ze p pelin . The
e ng in eers w ere d oin g c a lc ula tio ns a n d m akin g s im ula to r
ru ns in t h e ir c o m pute rs . I w as dr aw in g u p a b usin ess p la n,
as clo se to a w ork o f �ctio n a s a n yth in g o n th e b est
se lle rs lis t. M y s o cia l lif e w ent to z e ro , w hic h w as— I h ave
to a d m it— no t a ll th at m uch o f a dr op. E xc e p t fo r Dr iver’s
lu sc io us exe cu tiv e assis ta n t, Lis a, w ho w ork e d so m e
nig hts to h e lp u s. I w ishe d I h ad th e tim e to a sk h e r to
d in ne r.
G ra n d w ork e d a w ay e ve ry n ig ht t o o, o n a g lo ssy s e t o f
illu str a tio ns t o u se a s a p re se nta tio n.
W e mad e our pre se nta tio n to Driv er. The guys’s
c a lc ula tio ns, m y b usin ess p la n, a n d G ra n d ’s im ag es. H e
did n’t se em im pre sse d , an d I le ft th e m eetin g fe elin g
pre tty gu nky. O ve r t h e s ix w eeks, I’d co m e t o lik e t h e id ea
o f a s u p ers o nic z e p pelin , a n S SZ. I re ally b elie ve d it w as
m y tic ke t to a d va n ce m ent. B esid es, n o w I h ad no e xc u se
to s e e L is a, u p in D riv er’s o � ce .
O n th e p lu s s id e, th o ug h, n o ne o f th e A PT te am w as
la id o �. W e w ent th ro ug h th e m otio ns o f th e C hris tm as

o� ce p arty w ith th e re st o f th e u nde ad. Ta lk a bo ut a
su rv iv or’s r e alit y s h o w !
I was mop in g in my cu b ic le th e morn in g aft e r
C hris tm as w he n m y p ho ne b eep ed, an d D riv er’s fa ce
ca m e u p o n m y s c re en.
“D ro p y o ur s o ck s a n d p ack a ba g. Y o u’r e g oin g w ith
m e t o W ash in gto n t o s e ll th e S S Z c o nce p t.”
“ Y e ssir !” I s a id a u to m atic ally . “ E r .  .  . w he n?”
“T o m orro w , b rig ht a n d e arly .”
I ra ce d to G ra n d ’s c u b ic le , b ut h e a lr e ady k n e w a bo ut
it.
“S o w e’r e b oth g oin g,” I s a id , f e elin g p re tty e xc it e d.
“N o, o nly y o u a n d D riv er,” h e s a id.
“B ut w hy a re n’t y o u— ”
Gra n d ga ve m e a k n o w in g s m ile . “ Dr iver w an ts a ll th e
cre d it f o r h im se lf if t h e id ea s e lls .”
T hat n e ttle d m e, b ut I k n e w b ette r t h an t o a rg ue a bo ut
it. In ste ad , I a sk e d , “ A nd if it do esn ’t s e ll? ”
“Y o u get th e bla m e fo r a stu p id idea. Yo u’r e lo w
eno ug h o n t h e t o te m p ole t o be o �ere d up a s a s a cri� cia l
vic tim .”
I n o d ded . I d id n’t lik e it , b ut I h ad to a dm it it w as a
g ood le sso n in m an ag em ent. I tu cke d it a w ay in m y m ind
fo r f u tu re r e fe re nce .
I’d n e ve r b een to W ash in gto n be fo re . It w as c h illy , g ra y,
a n d c la m my; n o c o m paris on to s u nny P ho enix . T he tr a � c

mad e m e d iz zy, b ut D riv er th o ug ht it w as p re tty lig ht.
“ H alf th e to w n’s o n h o lid ay v a ca tio ns,” h e to ld me a s w e
ro d e a s e ed y, b eat-u p ta xic ab to th e m ag ni� ce nt g la ss
a n d s ta in le ss s te el hig h-r is e o � ce bu ilding th at h o use d
th e T ra n sp orta tio n D ep artm ent.
A s w e clim bed o ut o f th e sm elly ta xi, I n o tic ed th e
p la que on th e w all by th e re vo lv in g gla ss do ors . It
p uzzle d m e.
“T ra n sp orta tio n an d U rb an Rene w al Dep artm ent? ” I
ask e d . “ S in ce w he n .  .  .”
“ L a st y e ar’s re o rg an iz atio n,” Dr iver sa id, h e adin g fo r
th e re vo lv in g d oor. “ T he y p ut th e tw o a g encie s to g eth e r.
N ext y e ar th e y’ll pull th e m a p art, w he n th e y re in ve nt th e
g ove rn m ent a g ain .”
“ W elc om e to T U RD h e ad quarte rs ,” s a id Tra cy K eene ,
o nce w e g ot in sid e t h e b uild ing’s lo bby .
Keene was Anso n Aero sp ace ’s cra cke rja ck
W ash in gto n re p re se nta tiv e, a la rg e, ro und man w ho
co nve ye d t h e im pre ssio n t h at h e k n e w t h in gs n o o ne e ls e
kn e w . K eene ’s jo b w as to � n d ne w c u sto m ers fo r A nso n
fr o m a m ong th e ta n g le o f g ove rn m ent a g encie s, p la ca te
o ld c u sto m ers w he n A nso n in evit a bly a lie nate d th e m , a n d
g uid e v is ito rs fr o m h o m e b ase th ro ug h th e W ash in gto n
m aze . T he jo b in vo lv ed g ro te sq ue a m ounts o f w in ing a n d
d in ing. I h ad b een t o ld t h at K ee ne h ad once be en a s w iry
an d a g ile a s a V ene zu e la n s h o rts to p. N ow h e lo oke d to
m e lik e h e w as o n h is w ay to be co m ing a S um o w re stle r.
A nd w hat h e w as g ain ing in g irth , h e w as lo sin g in h air.
“L e t’s g o,” K eene s a id , g estu rin g to w ard th e s e cu rit y

ch e ck p oin t th at b lo cke d th e lo bby . “ W e do n’t w an t to be
la te .”
T w o h o urs la te r K eene w as s n o rin g s o ft ly in a s tr a ig ht-
b acke d m eta l ch air w hile D riv er w as s h o w in g th e la st o f
his Pow erP oin t im ag es to Rog er K. M em o, Assis ta n t
U nd er D ire cto r f o r T ra n sp orta tio n R ese arc h o f T U RD .
M em o an d his ch ie f sc ie ntis t, Dr. Alo nzo X.
Pencilb eam , were sit tin g on one side of a sm all
co nfe re nce ta b le , D riv er a n d I o n th e o th e r. K eene w as a t
th e e nd , d ozin g r e stfu lly . T he o nly lig ht in th e r o om c a m e
fr o m th e lit tle p ro je cto r, w hic h th re w a b la nk g la re o nto
t h e w an -y ello w w all th at s e rv e d as a s c re en n o w th at th e
la st im ag e h ad b een s h o w n.
D riv er c lic ke d t h e p ro je cto r o �. T he lig ht w ent o ut, a n d
th e fa n ’s w hir rin g n o is e a b ru p tly s to p ped. K ee ne je rk e d
aw ake a n d in sta n tly re ach e d a ro und an d � ic ke d th e w all
sw itch t h at t u rn e d o n t h e o ve rh e ad lig hts . I h ad to a dm ire
th e m an ’s r e �e xe s.
A lth o ug h t h e m ag ni� ce nt T U RD bu ilding w as s p ark lin g
ne w , M em o’s sp acio us o � ce so m eho w lo oke d se edy .
The re w asn ’t e no ug h fu rn itu re fo r th e s iz e o f it : o nly a
g ove rn m ent-is su e s te el desk w ith a s w ivel ch air, a h alf-
e m pty b ookc a se , a n d t h is s lig htly w obbly lit tle c o nfe re nce
ta b le w ith six ch air s th at d idn ’t m atc h . T he w alls an d
�o ors w ere b are , a n d th e re w as a d is tin ct e ch o w he n
an yo ne s p oke o r e ve n w alk ed a cro ss th e r o om . T he o nly
w in dow had ve rtic al sla ts in ste ad of a cu rta in an d it
lo oke d o ut o n a p ark in g b uild ing. T he o nly de co ra tio n o n
th e w alls w as M em o’s d octo ra l de gre e, p urc h ase d fr o m

so m e o b sc u re “ d is ta n ce le arn in g” s c h o ol in M issis sip pi.
Fro m a cro ss th e c o nfe re nce ta ble , Dr iver � xe d Mem o
with h is s te ely g aze . “W ell, w hat d o y o u th in k o f it ?” h e
ask e d s u b tly .
M em o p urs e d h is lip s. H e w as jo wly fa t, c o m ple te ly
b ald , w ore g la sse s a n d a r u m ple d gra y s u it.
“I don’t kn o w ,” he sa id �rm ly. “It so unds  .  .  .
unusu al .  .  .”
D r. P encilb eam w as s it tin g b ack in h is c h air a n d s m ilin g
benig nly . H is P hD h ad b een e arn e d in th e �� �� s, w he n
ne w ly g ra d uate d p hysic ists w ere d riv in g t a xic abs o n w hat
th e y g lu m ly c a lle d “ N ixon fe llo w sh ip s.” H e w as v e ry th in ,
fr a g ile lo okin g, w ith th e lo ng , s k in ny lim bs o f a p ra yin g
m an tis .
Pencilb eam d ug in to h is ja cke t p ocke t a n d p ulle d out
an ele ctr o nic gam e. R efo rm ed sm oke r , I th o ug ht. H e
ne ed s s o m eth in g t o d o w ith h is ha nd s.
“It ce rta in ly lo oks in te re stin g,” h e sa id in a sc ra tc h y
vo ic e w hile his gam e so ft ly be ep ed an d bo op ed. “I
im ag in e it ’s t e ch nic ally a ch ie va ble  .  .  . a n d lo ts o f f u n.”
M em o s n o rte d . “ W e’r e n o t h e re t o h ave f u n.”
K eene le an e d a cro ss th e ta b le a n d � xe d Mem o w ith
h is best h e re ’s so m eth in g fr o m behin d th e sc e ne s
exp re ssio n. “ D o y o u re aliz e h o w th e W hite H ouse w ould
re act to a s e nsib le p ro g ra m fo r a s u p ers o nic tr a n sp ort?
W ith th e C onco rd e g one , y o u c o uld p ut th is c o untr y in to
t h e f o re fr o nt o f a ir t r a n sp orta tio n a g ain .”
“ H m m,” s a id M em o. “ B ut .  .  .”

“T hin k of th e jo bs th is pro g ra m ca n cre ate . The
p re sid ent is desp era te to im pro ve th e em plo ym ent
�g ure s.”
“ I s u p pose s o  .  .  .”
“ N atio nal pre stig e,” Keene into ne d kn o w in gly .
“A ero sp ace e m plo ym ent  .  .  . ba lance o f p aym ents   .  .  .
g old out� o w  .  .  . th e pre side nt w ould be te rri� ca lly
im pre sse d w ith y o u.”
“ H m m,” M em o r e p eate d . “ I s e e  .  .  .”
I co uld se e w he re th e re al actio n w as, so I w an g le d
m yse lf an assig nm ent to th e co m pan y’s W ash in gto n
o� ce a s K eene ’s s p ecia l assis ta n t fo r th e S SZ p ro p osa l.
T hat’s w he n I s ta rte d le arn in g w hat m one y a n d c lo ut—
a n d t h e p ow er o f in �u e nce — are a ll abo ut.
A s th e m onth s ro lle d a lo ng , w e g ave lo ts o f br ie�n g s
an d a tte nd ed lo ts o f c o ck ta il partie s. I k n e w w e w ere o n
th e rig ht tr a ck w he n n o le ss th an R og er K . M em o in vit e d
m e to a cco m pan y h im to o ne o f th e s w an kie st p artie s o f
th e s e aso n. A pp are ntly , h e th o ug ht th at s in ce I w as fr o m
A nso n’s h o m e o � ce in P ho enix , I m ust be a n e ng in ee r
an d n o t ju st a n o th e r s a le sm an .
T he p arty w as in fu ll sw in g b y th e tim e K eene a n d I
a rriv ed . It w as n e arly im possible t o h e ar y o ur o w n v o ic e in
t h e s w irlin g b ab ble o f c h atte r a n d c lin kin g g la ssw are . In
t h e m iddle of th e su m ptu o us liv ing ro om , th e vic e
pre sid ent w as dem onstr a tin g his golf sw in g. Seve ra l
ca b in et w ives w ere c h attin g in t h e d in ing r o om . O ut in t h e
fo ye r, th re e se nato rs w ere c o m parin g fa ct-� nd in g to urs
th e y w ere a rra n g in g fo r t h e m se lv es t o t h e Fr ench R iv ie ra ,

Berm ud a, a n d A m eric an S am oa, r e sp ectiv ely .
M em o n e ve r d ra n k a n yth in g s tr o ng er th an g in ger a le ,
an d I fo llo wed h is e xa m ple . W e sto od in th e do orw ay
b etw een th e fo ye r a n d th e liv ing r o om , h e arin g s n atc h e s
o f co nve rs a tio n am ong th e th re e ju nke tin g se nato rs .
W he n th e tr io bro ke up , M em o in te rc e p te d Senato r
G ood ye ar (R -O H) a s h e h e ad ed to w ard th e ba r.
“ H ello , S enato r!” M em o b oo m ed he artily . It w as th e
o nly w ay t o b e h e ard o ve r t h e p arty n o is e.
“A h .  .  . h e llo .” S enato r G ood ye ar o bv iously th o ug ht
th at he w as su p pose d to kn o w M em o, an d ju st as
o b vio usly co uld n’t re ca ll his nam e, ra n k, or in �u e nce
ra tin g.
G ood ye ar w as m ore t h an s ix f e et t a ll an d t o w ere d ove r
M em o’s p au nch y � g ure . T o g eth e r th e y s h o uld ere d th e ir
w ay th ro ug h th e c ro w d a ro und th e b ar, w ith m e tr a ilin g
th e m lik e a ro w boat bein g to w ed behin d a ya ch t.
G ood ye ar o rd ere d b ourb on o n th e ro ck s, a n d th e re fo re
s o d id M em o. B ut h e m ere ly h e ld onto h is g la ss w hile t h e
se nato r im med ia te ly b eg an t o g ulp a t h is dr ink.
A s ta tu e sq ue b lo nd in a s p ecta cu la r g ow n s a u nte re d
p ast u s. T he s e nato r’s e ye s t r a cke d he r lik e a ba ttle sh ip ’s
r a n g e � n d er f o llo win g a m ovin g t a rg et.
“ I h e ar y o u’r e g oin g t o S am oa,” M em o s h o ute d as t h e y
ed ged a w ay f r o m t h e b ar, f o llo win g t h e blo nd .
“E h .  .  . y e s,” t h e s e nato r a n sw ere d ca u tio usly , in a t o ne
h e u su ally r e se rv e d f o r n e w s r e p orte rs .
“B eau tif u l p art o f t h e w orld ,” M em o s h o ute d.

The b lo nd s lip ped a n a rm a ro und th e w ais t o f o ne o f
th e y o ung , lo ng -h air e d m en, a n d th e y dis ap peare d into
a n o th e r ro om . G ood ye ar tu rn e d his a tte ntio n ba ck to h is
d rin k.
“I sa id ,” M em o re p eate d , sta n d in g o n tip to es, “th at
S am oa is a b eau tif u l p la ce .”
N od din g, G ood ye ar re p lie d, “I’m g oin g to in ve stig ate
e co lo gic al co nd itio ns th e re   .  .  . my co m mitte e is
co nsid erin g le gis la tio n o n e co lo gy, y o u k n o w .”
“ O f co urs e . O f co urs e . Yo u’v e got to se e th in gs
�rs th an d if y o u’r e g oin g t o e nact m ean in gfu l le gis la tio n.”
S lig htly le ss g uard ed ly , G ood ye ar s a id, “ E xa ctly .”
“ It ’s a lo ng w ay o �, t h o ug h,” M em o s a id.
“T w elv e h o urs f r o m L A X.”
“ I h o p e y o u w on’t b e stu ck in e co no m y c la ss. T he y
re ally s q ue eze t h e s e ats in t h e re .”
“ N o, n o ,” s a id t h e s e nato r. “ F ir st c la ss a ll th e w ay.”
A t t h e e xp ense o f t h e t a xp a ye rs , I t h o ug ht.
“ S till, ” M em o s y m path iz ed , “It m ust ta ke c o nsid era ble
d ed ic atio n t o u nd erg o s u ch a lo ng t r ip .”
“ W ell, y o u k n o w , w he n y o u’r e in p ub lic se rv ic e, y o u
ca n ’t t h in k o f y o ur o w n c o m fo rts .”
“ Y e s, o f c o urs e . T o o b ad t h e S ST is n’t � yin g a n ym ore . It
c o uld h ave c u t y o ur tr a ve l tim e in h alf. T hat w ould g iv e
yo u m ore tim e to sta y in Sam oa  .  .  . in ve stig atin g
co nd itio ns t h e re .”

The he arin g ro om in th e ca p ito l was ja m med with
re p orte rs a n d c a m era c re w s. S enato r G oo dy ear s a t in t h e
ce nte r o f th e lo ng fr o nt ta b le , a s be �tte d th e c o m mitte e
ch air m an . I w as in th e la st ro w o f s p ecta to rs , a s b e�tte d
th e n e w ly p ro m ote d ju nio r W ash in gto n re p re se nta tiv e o f
A nso n A ero sp ace C orp . I w as fo llo win g th e in dustr y ’s
r o utin e p ro ce d ure a n d rid ing th e S SZ p ro g ra m u p th e
co rp ora te la dder.
A ll th ro ug h th at h o t s u m mer m orn in g, th e c o m mitte e
had lis te ne d to w itn e sse s: m y fo rm er bo ss Jo hn Dr iver,
R og er K . M em o, A lo nzo P encilb eam , a n d m an y o th e rs .
T he c o nce p t o f th e s u p ers o nic z e p pelin u nfo lde d be fo re
th e n e w s m ed ia a n d s ta rte d to ta ke o n de �n ite s o lidit y in
th e r o co co -t rim med h e arin g c h am be r.
S enato r G ood ye ar sa t th e re so le m nly all morn in g,
lis te nin g to th e ca re fu lly re he ars e d te stim ony an d
sn e akin g p eeks a t th e g re ene ry o uts ide th e big , s u nny
w in dow . W he ne ve r h e re m em be re d th e T V c a m era s, h e
sa t u p str a ig hte r a n d tr ie d to lo ok le an a n d to ug h. I’d
b een t o ld h e h ad a d ra w er f u ll o f o ld Clin t E astw ood �ic ks
in h is O hio h o m e.
N ow it w as h is tu rn to s u m m ariz e w hat th e w itn e sse s
had to ld th e c o m mitte e. H e lo oke d str a ig ht in to th e b an k
o f c a m era s, t r y in g t o c o m e o n s tr o ng a n d de te rm ined, lik e
a h ig h-p lain s d rif te r.
“ G entle m en,” h e b eg an , im media te ly a n ta g oniz in g th e
w om en in th e ro om , “ I b elie ve th at w hat w e h ave h e ard
h e re t o d ay c a n m ark t h e b eg in nin g o f a n e w p ro g ra m t h at
w ill re vit a liz e th e A m eric an a e ro sp ace in du str y a n d p ut

our g re at natio n b ack in th e fo re fr o nt o f in te rn atio nal
co m merc e — ”
One o f th e yo ung er se nato rs a t th e fa r e nd o f th e
ta b le , a w om an , in te rru p te d :
“E xc u se m e, M r. C hair m an , b ut m y earlie r q ue stio n
ab out p ollu tio n w as n e ve r a d dr esse d. W on’t th e S SZ u se
th e s a m e k in d o f je t e ng in es th at th e C onco rd e use d ?
A nd w on’t t h e y c a u se ju st a s m uch p ollu tio n?”
G ood ye ar glo were d at th e junio r mem be r’s
im pud ence , b ut c o ntr o lle d h is te m per w ell eno ug h to s a y
o nly , “E rm  .  .  . D r. Pencilb eam , w ould yo u ca re to
c o m ment o n t h at q ue stio n?”
H alf d ozin g a t o ne o f th e fr o nt be nch e s, P encilbe am
lo oke d s ta rtle d a t th e m entio n o f h is n am e. T he n h e g ot
to h is fe et lik e a c a rp ente r’s ru le r u nfo ldin g, w ent to th e
w itn e ss ta b le , sa t d ow n, a n d hunch e d his bo ny fr a m e
aro und t h e m icro p ho ne t h e re .
“T he p ollu tio n fr o m th e C onco rd e w as s o m inim al th at
it h ad n o m easu ra b le e � ect o n th e str a to sp he re . T he
e arly cla im s th at a �e et of SSTs would cre ate a
perm an e nt c lo ud d eck o ve r t h e n o rth e rn h e m isphe re a n d
co m ple te ly destr o y th e ozo ne laye r were ne ve r
su b sta n tia te d .”
“ B ut th e re w ere o nly a h alf-d oze n C onco rd e s � yin g,”
s a id th e ju nio r s e nato r. “ If w e b uild a w ho le � e et o f S SZs
— ”
Befo re sh e co uld go an y fu rth e r, G oody ear fa ir ly
sh o ute d in to h is m icro p ho ne , “R est a ssu re d th at w e a re

well aw are o f t h e p ossib le p ollu tio n p ro ble m.” H e p op ped
his P’s lik e artille ry burs ts . “M ore im porta n tly , th e
A m eric an a e ro sp ace in dustr y is s u � erin g, e m plo ym ent is
in th e d old ru m s, a n d o ur e co no m y is s lu m pin g. T he S SZ
w ill pro vid e jo bs a n d b oost th e e co no m y. O ur e ng in ee rs
w ill, I a ssu re y o u, � n d w ays to d eal w ith a n y a n d e ve ry
p ollu tio n p ro b le m t h at m ay b e a sso cia te d with t h e S SZ.”
I h ad � g ure d th at s o m eb od y, s o one r o r la te r, w ould ra is e
th e q ue stio n o f p ollu tio n. T he e ng in ee rs ba ck in P ho enix
w an te d to lo ok in to th e p oss ibilit ies o f u sin g h ydr og en
fu e l fo r th e S SZ’s je t e ng in es, b ut I � g ure d th at ju st th e
m entio n o f h yd ro g en w ould m ake p eo p le th in k o f th e o ld
H in denb erg , an d th at w ould sc u ttle th e p ro g ra m rig ht
th e re an d th e n. So w e w ent w ith ordin ary tu rbo jet
eng in es t h at b urn e d o rd in ary je t f u e l.
B ut I w ent a s te p f a rth e r. In m y c a p acit y a s a ju nio r (a n d
ris in g) e xe cu tiv e, I u se d e xp ense -a cco unt m one y to p la nt
a sn o op in th e org an iz atio n of th e natio n’s le adin g
eco lo gy fr e ak, M ark S eq uo ia . It tu rn e d out th at, u nkn o w n
to S eq uo ia , A nso n A ero sp ace w as a ctu ally h is b ig gest
� n an cia l co ntr ib uto r. Polit ics m ake str a n g e be dfello ws,
d oesn ’t it ?
Yo u s e e, S eq uo ia h ad fa lle n o n re la tiv ely h ard tim es.
O nce a �a m ing cru sa d er fo r eco lo gic al sa lv atio n an d
e nvir o nm enta l p ro te ctio n, S eq uo ia h ad made t h e m ista ke
o f le ttin g th e C om monw ealth o f P ennsy lv an ia h ir e h im a s
th e s ta te ’s D ire cto r o f E nvir o nm enta l Pro te ctio n. H e h ad
sp ent ne arly �ve ye ars earn e stly tr y in g to cle an up
P ennsy lv an ia , a jo b th at h ad dr iven fo ur g ene ra tio ns o f
th e o rig inal Penn fa m ily in to e arly Q uake r g ra ve s. T he

deep er S eq uo ia b urie d h im se lf in th e s o lid waste p olit ics
of Pitts b urg h, Phila delp hia , Che ste r, Erie , an d oth e r
ho p ele ssly co rru p te d cit ie s, th e fe w er dedic ate d
fo llo wers a n d n e w s m ed ia h e adlin es h e a ttr a cte d. A ft e r a
v e ry c re d ib le M a�a th re at o n h is lif e, h e q uite s e nsib ly
re sig ne d h is p ost a n d r e tu rn e d to p riv ate lif e, s c a rre d bu t
wiser. A nd a liv e.
W he n th e w ord a b out th e S S Z p ro g ra m re ach e d him ,
Seq uo ia w as h ik in g a lo ng a w oo dla nd tr a il in Fa irm ont
P ark , P hila delp hia , le ad in g a sc ra g gly h an d fu l of su lle n
hig h sc h o ol stu d ents th ro ug h th e p ark ’s so ot-r ava g ed
w ood la nd s o n a s te am ing A ug ust a ft e rn o o n. T he y w ere
d is pirite d ly pic kin g up em pty be er ca n s an d gum my
pro p hyla ctic s— an d k e ep in g a w ary e ye o ut fo r m ug gers .
E ve n fu ll daylig ht w as n o p ro te ctio n a g ain st a ssa u lt. A nd
th e s c h o ol kid s w ould n’t h e lp h im , S eq uo ia k n e w . H alf o f
th e m w ould ju m p in a n d jo in t h e f u n.
S eq uo ia w as bro ad sh o ulde re d, alm ost bu rly . His
ru g ged fa ce was se am ed by weath e r an d ne w s
co nfe re nce s. H e lo oke d s tr o ng a n d � t, bu t la te ly h is ba ck
h ad b een g iv in g h im t r o ub le , a n d h is o ld tr ic k k n e e  .  .  .
H e h e ard s o m eo ne p ound in g u p t h e t r a il be hin d h im .
“M ark ! M ark !”
S eq uo ia tu rn e d to se e La rry H elp er, h is o lde st a n d
th e re fo re m ost tr u ste d aid e, ru nnin g alo ng th e g ra ve l
p ath to w ard h im , w avin g a c o p y o f th e D aily N ew s o ve r
his he ad . New sp ap er pag es w ere slip pin g fr o m his
sw eaty g ra sp a n d � u tte rin g o � in to t h e bu sh e s.
“L it te rin g,” Seq uo ia m utte re d in a to ne so m etim es

use d b y a rc h b is ho p s w he n f a cin g a c a se o f h e re sy.
“S om e of yo u kid s,” sa id Seq uo ia in his most
a u th o rit a tiv e v o ic e, “ p ic k u p t h o se n e w sp ap er p ag es.”
A c o uple o f th e s tu d ents la ck a da isic ally a m ble d aft e r
th e � u tte rin g s h e ets .
“M ark , lo ok h e re !” H elp er s k idde d to a g rit ty s to p o n
th e g ra ve l an d b re ath le ssly w ave d th e fr o nt p ag e o f th e
ne w sp ap er. “ L o ok!”
S eq uo ia g ra b bed h is a id e’s w ris t a n d to ok w hat w as
le ft o f th e n e w sp ap er fr o m h im . H e fr o w ne d at H elp er,
w ho c rin ged a n d s te p ped b ack .
“I  .  .  . I t h o ug ht y o u’d w an t t o s e e .  .  .”
S atis �e d th at he had esta blis he d his dom inan ce ,
S eq uo ia tu rn e d h is a tte ntio n to th e fr o nt p ag e’s bla rin g
he ad lin e.
“S up ers o nic ze p p elin ?”
T w o nig hts la te r, S eq uo ia w as m eetin g w ith a half
d oze n m en a n d w om en in th e ba se m ent o f a p ro sp ero us
d ow nto w n ch urc h th at sp ecia liz ed in w orth y ca u se s
ca p ab le o f � llin g t h e p ew s u p sta ir s.
O nce S eq uo ia c a lle d h is m ee tin g, I w as in fo rm ed by
th e m ole I h ad p la nte d in h is p itifu l lit tle g ro up o f do -
good ers . A s a n e w co m er to th e s c e ne , I h ad no tr o ub le
jo ining Seq uo ia ’s Frie nd s of th e Pla ne t org an iz atio n,
e sp ecia lly w he n I F e d Ex’d th e m a p ers o nal ch e ck fo r a
th o usa n d dolla rs — fo r whic h Anso n Aero sp ace
re im burs e d m e, o f c o urs e .

So I w as s it tin g o n th e � o or li k e a g ood envir o nm enta l
a ctiv ist w hile S eq uo ia p ace d a cro ss th e lit tle r o om . T he re
w as n o ta b le , ju st a fe w fo ld in g c h air s s c a tte re d aro und,
an d a lo cke d b ookc a se s tu � ed w ith to m es a bo ut s e x a n d
m arria ge. I c o uld t e ll ju st fr o m lo okin g a t S eq uo ia t h at t h e
o ld a ctiv ist � a m es w ere b urn in g in sid e h im a g ain . H e fe lt
aliv e, s tr o ng , t h e c e nte r o f a tte ntio n.
“W e c a n ’t ju st d riv e d ow n to W ash in gto n a n d c a ll a
ne w s c o nfe re nce ,” h e e xc la im ed, p oundin g a � st in to h is
o p en p alm . “ W e’v e g ot t o d o s o m eth in g dr am atic !”
“ A uto m ob ile s p ollu te , a n yw ay,” s a id one o f t h e w om en,
a c o m ely re d he ad w ho se d azzlin g g re en e ye s n e ve r le ft
S eq uo ia ’s b ro ad , s tu rd y-lo okin g � g ure .
“W e c o uld t a ke t h e t r a in ; it ’s e le ctr ic .”
“ P ow er s ta tio ns p ollu te .”
“ A irp la ne s p ollu te t o o.”
“ W hat a b out r id ing d ow n t o W ash in gto n o n h o rs e ba ck !
Lik e P au l R eve re !”
“ H ors e s p ollu te .”
“ T he y d o?”
“E ve r b een a ro und a s ta b le ?”
“O h.”
S eq uo ia pound ed his �st ag ain . “I’v e got it! It ’s
p erfe ct!”
“ W hat? ”
“A b allo on! W e’ll rid e d ow n to W ash in gto n in a n o n-

pollu tin g b allo on � lle d w ith h e liu m. T hat’s th e d ra m atic
w ay t o e m phasiz e o ur o p posit io n t o t h is S SZ m onste r.”
“ F an ta stic !”
“ M arv e lo us!”
T he re d he ad w as p an tin g w ith e xc it e m ent. “ O h, M ark ,
yo u’r e s o c le ve r. S o d ed ic ate d .” T he re w ere te ars in h e r
eye s.
H elp er ask e d so ft ly , “U h  .  .  . does an yb ody kn o w
w he re w e c a n g et a b allo on? A nd h o w m uch t h e y c o st? ”
“M one y is n o o b je ct,” S eq uo ia s n ap ped, p oundin g h is
�st a g ain . T he n h e w ru ng h is h an d ; h e h ad pounde d to o
hard .
W he n th e m eetin g � n ally b ro ke u p , H elp er h ad be en
g iv en th e ta sk o f � n d in g a su ita ble ba lloon, p re fe ra bly
o ne d onate d b y it s o w ne r. I h ad vo lu nte ere d to a ssis t h im .
Seq uo ia w ould s p earh e ad th e e � o rt to r a is e m one y fo r a
k n o ckd ow n �g ht ag ain st th e SSZ. The re dh ead
vo lu nte ere d to a ssis t h im . T he y le ft th e m eetin g a rm in
a rm .
I w as le arn in g t h e W ash in gto n lo bby ing bu sin ess f r o m t h e
b otto m u p b ut ris in g fa st. T w o w eeks la te r I w as in th e
W hite H ouse , n o le ss, ja m med in a m ong n e w s re p orte rs
a n d W est W ing s ta � ers w aitin g fo r a p re side ntia l ne w s
co nfe re nce to b eg in . T V lig hts w ere g la rin g a t th e e m pty
p od iu m . T he re p orte rs a n d c a m era c re w s s h u� ed th e ir
fe et, c o ug he d , t a lk ed t o o ne a n o th e r. T he n:
“L a d ie s a n d g entle m en, th e P re side nt o f th e Un ite d
S ta te s.”

We a ll sto od u p a n d a p pla ude d as s h e e nte re d. I h ad
b een th rille d to b e in vit e d to th e n e w s c o nfe re nce . W ell,
actu ally , it w as K eene w ho ’d be en in vit e d, a n d h e b ro ug ht
m e w ith h im , s in ce I w as th e W ash in gto n r e p fo r th e S SZ
pro je ct. T he P re sid ent s tr o d e t o t h e p odiu m a n d s m ile d at
u s in w hat so m e cyn ic s had dubbe d he r r a ttle sn a ke
m od e . I t h o ug ht s h e w as b ein g g ra cio us.
“B efo re an yth in g e ls e, I h ave a sta te m ent to m ake
a b out t h e t r a g ic m isfo rtu ne t h at h as o ve rta ke n o ne o f o ur
�n e st pu blic �g ure s, M ark Seq uo ia . A cco rdin g to th e
la te st re p ort I h ave re ce iv ed fr o m th e C oast G uard— no
m ore th an te n m inute s a g o— th e re is s till no tr a ce o f h is
p arty . A ppare ntly , th e b allo on th e y w ere ridin g in w as
b lo wn o ut to s e a tw o d ays a g o, a n d n o th in g h as be en
he ard f r o m t h e m s in ce .
“N ow le t m e m ake t h is p erfe ctly c le ar. M r. S eq uo ia w as
fr e q ue ntly o n t h e o th e r s id e o f t h e p olit ical fe nce f r o m m y
ad m inistr a tio n. H e w as o ft e n a c rit ic o f m y p olic ies a n d
actio ns, p olic ies a n d a ctio ns th at I be lieve in c o m ple te ly .
H e w as o n h is w ay to W ash in gto n to p ro te st o ur n e w
su p ers o nic ze p pelin pro g ra m whe n th is unfo rtu nate
a ccid ent o ccu rre d .
“M r. S eq uo ia o p pose d th e S SZ p ro g ra m d esp ite th e
fa ct th at th is p ro je ct w ill em plo y th o usa n d s o f a e ro sp ace
e ng in eers who are oth e rw ise une m plo ye d an d
untr a in ab le . D esp ite th e fa ct th at th e S SZ p ro g ra m w ill
sa ve th e A m eric an d olla r o n th e in te rn atio nal m ark e t a n d
sa lv ag e Am eric an pre stig e in th e te ch no lo gic al
b attle gro und o f t h e w orld .

“A nd w e s h o uld k e ep in m ind th at Fr an ce a n d R ussia
h ave a n no unce d th at th e y a re s tu d yin g th e p ossibilit y o f
jo intly s ta rtin g th e ir o w n S SZ e � o rt, a c le ar te ch no lo gic al
ch alle ng e t o A m eric a.”
G rip pin g th e ed ges of th e podiu m tig hte r, th e
P re sid ent w ent o n, “R um ors th at h is ba lloon w as blo wn
o� co urs e b y a � ig ht o f A ir Fo rc e je ts a re co m ple te ly
unfo und ed , th e S ecre ta ry o f De fe nse a ssu re s m e. I h ave
d is patc h e d e ve ry a va ila ble m ilit ary , c o ast g uard, a n d c iv il
air p atr o l pla ne to s e arc h th e e ntir e c o astlin e fr o m C ap e
C od to C ap e H atte ra s. W e w ill �n d M ark S eq uo ia a n d h is
b ra ve t h o ug h m isguid ed b an d o f e co fr  .  .  . e r, a ctiv ists — or
th e ir r e m ain s.”
I k n e w p erfe ctly w ell th at S eq uo ia ’s ba lloon h ad no t
b een b lo wn o ut t o s e a b y a ir f o rc e je ts . T he y w ere p riv ate
p la ne s: e xe cu tiv e je ts , a ctu ally .
“A re t h e re a n y q ue stio ns? ” t h e P re side nt a sk e d.
T he A sso cia te d P re ss re p orte r, a hic ko ry -t oug h old
m an w it h th ic k g la sse s a n d a s n o w -w hite g oate e, g ot to
h is fe et an d ask e d , “Is th at a Vers a ce dre ss yo u’r e
w earin g? It ’s q uite b eco m ing.”
T he P re sid ent b eam ed . “ W hy, t h an k y o u. Y e s, it is  .  .  .”
K eene p ulle d m e b y th e arm . “L e t’s g o. W e’v e g ot
no th in g t o w orry a b out h e re .”
I w as ris in g fa st, in p art b eca u se I w as w illin g to do th e
le gw ork (a n d d irty w ork , lik e S eq uo ia ) t h at K ee ne w as t o o
la zy o r to o sq ue am ish to d o. H e w as still he ad of o ur
W ash in gto n o� ce , in nam e. I w as ru nnin g th e SSZ

pro g ra m , w hic h w as ju st a b out th e o nly p ro g ra m A nso n
had g oin g fo r it se lf, w hic h m ean t th at I w as ru nnin g th e
W ash in gto n o � ce in r e alit y.
B ack in P ho enix , B ob W isdom a n d th e o th e r g uys h ad
b eco m e th e n ucle us o f th e te am th at w as d esig nin g th e
S SZ p ro to ty p e. T he p ro g ra m w ould ta ke ye ars , w e a ll
kn e w , y e ars in w hic h w e h ad assu re d jobs . If th e S SZ
actu ally w ork e d th e w ay w e d esig ne d it, w e c o uld s p end
th e r e st o f o ur c a re ers b ask in g in it s g lo ry .
I w as a lm ost g ettin g a ccu sto m ed to be ing c a lle d ove r
to t h e W est W ing t o d eal w ith bu re au cra ts a n d p olit icia ns.
S till, it w as a g enuin e th rill whe n I w as in vit e d into th e
O va l O � ce it se lf.
T he P re sid ent’s d esk w as c le are d of p ap ers . N oth in g
clu tte re d th e bro ad exp an se of ro se w ood exc e p t th e
te le pho ne c o nso le , a b la ck-f ra m ed pho to g ra p h o f h e r la te
h usb an d (w ho h ad o nce a ls o s a t a t t h at d esk ), a n d a g old-
fr a m ed p ho to g ra p h o f h e r d au g hte r o n h e r � rs t da y in t h e
H ouse o f R ep re se nta tiv es (D -A R).
S he sa t in he r hig h-b acke d le ath e r ch air an d �re d
in str u ctio ns a t h e r s ta �.
“I w an t th e p ub lic to r e aliz e,” s h e in str u cte d he r m edia
co nsu lta n t, “ th at a lth o ug h w e a re n o w in a ra ce w ith th e
R ussia ns a n d th e F re nch , w e a re b uild ing th e S SZ fo r
so und eco no m ic an d so cia l re aso ns, no t beca u se of
co m petit io n f r o m o ve rs e as.”
“ Y e s, m a’a m ,” s a id t h e m ed ia c o nsu lta n t.
S he tu rn e d to th e w om an in c h arg e o f c o ng re ssio nal

liaison. “ A nd y o u’d b ette r m ake da mne d ce rta in th at th e
S enate ap pro p ria tio ns co m mitte e oka ys th e in cre ase d
fu nd in g fo r th e S SZ p ro to ty p e. T e ll th e m th at if w e d on’t
g et th e e xtr a fu nd in g, w e’ll fa ll behin d th e Iv a n s a n d th e
Fro g s.
“A nd I w an t y o u,” s h e p oin te d a m an ic ure d �n g er a t
th e re se arc h d ire cto r o f T U RD , “ to s p end e ve ry n ic ke l o f
yo ur e xis tin g S SZ m one y a s fa st a s y o u c a n . O th e rw ise,
w e w on’t b e a b le to g et th e a ddit ional ap pro p ria tio n o ut
o f C ong re ss.”
“ Y e s, m a’a m ,” s a id R og er K . M em o, w ith o ne o f h is r a re
s m ile s.
“B ut, M ad am P re sid ent,” t h e h e ad of t h e B udg et O � ce
sta rte d t o o b je ct.
“ I kn o w w hat yo u’r e goin g to sa y,” th e Pre side nt
sn ap ped a t h im . “ I’m p erfe ctly a w are th at m one y do esn ’t
g ro w o n t r e es. B ut w e’v e g ot to g et t h e S SZ p ro to ty p e o �
th e g ro und a n d d o it b efo re n ext N ove m be r. T a ke m one y
fr o m ed uca tio n, fr o m th e sp ace pro g ra m , fr o m th e
e nvir o nm enta l su p erfu nd — I d on’t c a re h o w y o u do it , ju st
g et it d one . I w an t th e S SZ p ro to ty p e u p a n d � yin g b y
next su m mer, w he n I’m sc h e du led to vis it Paris an d
M osc o w .”
T he w ho le s ta � g asp ed in s u d de n re aliz atio n o f th e
P re sid ent’s m aste rfu l p la n.
“T hat r ig ht,” s h e s a id , s m ilin g s ly ly a t th e m . “ I in te nd to
b e th e �rs t C hie f of Sta te to cro ss th e A tla ntic in a
su p ers o nic z e p pelin .”

Alth o ug h n o ne o f u s re aliz ed it s im porta n ce a t th e tim e,
th e cru cia l in cid ent, w e kn o w n o w , h ap pene d month s
b efo re t h e P re sid ent’s d ecis io n t o � y t h e S SZ t o P aris a n d
M osc o w . I’v e g one t h ro ug h e ve ry s c ra p o f in fo rm atio n w e
co uld beg , borro w or ste al abo ut th at de cis iv e da y,
re vie win g it a ll tim e a n d a g ain , tr y in g to � n d so m e w ay to
u nd o t h e d am ag e.
It h ap pene d a t th e V A h o sp ita l in H ag ers to w n, a fe w
d ays a ft e r M ark S eq uo ia h ad be en r e sc u e d. T he h o sp ita l
h ad n e ve r se en so m an y re p orte rs . T he re w ere n e w s
m ed ia p eo p le th ro ng in g th e lo bby , lo ung in g in th e h alls ,
brib ing n urs e s, s n e akin g in to e le va to rs a n d e ve n s u rg ic al
th e ate rs (w he re s e ve ra l of th e m fa in te d) . T he p ark in g lo t
was a ju m ble o f c a rs b earin g m edia s tic ke rs a n d h ug e T V
va n s s tu d ded w ith a n te nnas.
O nly tw o r e p orte rs w ere a llo wed to s e e M ark S eq uo ia
o n a n y g iv en d ay, a n d th e y w ere re q uir e d to s h are th e ir
in te rv ie ws w ith a ll th e o th e rs in th e p re ss c o rp s. T o da y
th e tw o— pic ke d b y lo t— were a c ru sty o ld ve te ra n fr o m
Fox N ew s a n d a p erk y y o ung b lo nd fr o m W om en’s W ea r
D aily .
“B ut I’v e to ld y o ur c o lle ag ue s w hat h ap pene d at le ast
a doze n tim es,” mum ble d Seq uo ia fr o m be hin d a
sw ath in g o f b an d ag es.
H e w as han g in g b y b oth arm s an d le gs fr o m fo ur
tr a ctio n b ra ce s, h is b ack sid e ba re ly to uch in g th e c ris ply
sh e ete d b ed . B an d ag es co ve re d eig hty p erc e nt o f h is
b od y a n d a ll of h is fa ce , e xc e p t fo r tin y s lit s fo r h is e ye s,
n o str ils a n d m outh .

The Fox N ew s re p orte r he ld his palm -sized vid eo
ca m era in o ne h an d w hile h e s c ra tc h e d at h is s tu b ble d
ch in w ith th e o th e r. O n th e o p posit e s id e o f th e b ed, th e
b lo nd he ld a sim ilar ca m co rde r clo se to Seq uo ia ’s
b an d ag ed f a ce .
S he lo oke d m isty -e ye d . “A re  .  .  . are yo u in m uch
p ain ?”
“N ot re ally ,” S eq uo ia a n sw ere d brave ly , w ith a s lig ht
tr e m or in h is v o ic e.
“W hy a ll th e tr a ctio n?” a sk e d Fox N ew s . “T he m ed ic s
sa id t h e re w ere n’t a n y b ro ke n bo ne s.”
“ S plin te rs ,” S eq uo ia a n sw ere d w eakly .
“B one s p lin te rs !” g asp ed t h e b lo nd . “ O h, h o w a w fu l!”
“N o,” S eq uo ia co rre cte d . “S plin te rs . W ood sp lin te rs .
W he n th e b allo on �n ally ca m e d ow n, w e la nd ed in a
clu m p o f tr e es ju st o uts id e H ag ers to w n. I g ot th o usa n d s
of s p lin te rs . It t o ok m ost o f t h e s u rg ic al sta � t h re e d ays t o
p ic k th e m a ll out o f m e. T he c h ie f o f s u rg ery s a id he w as
g oin g to s a ve th e w ood a n d b uild a s c a le m ode l of th e
T ita nic w ith it .”
“ O h, h o w p ain fu l!” T he b lo nd insis te d on g asp in g. S he
g asp ed v e ry w ell, S eq uo ia n o te d, w atc h in g h e r blo use .
“A nd w hat a b out y o ur h air ?” F ox N ew s a sk e d .
S eq uo ia fe lt h im se lf b lu sh u nde rn e ath th e ba nd ag es.
“I  .  .  . u h  .  .  . I m ust h ave b een v e ry f r ig hte ne d. A ft e r a ll, w e
were a lo ft in t h at s tu p id b allo on f o r s ix da ys, w ith o ut f o od,
w ith o ut a n yth in g to d rin k e xc e p t a s ix p ack o f P errie r. W e
went t h ro ug h a d oze n d i� ere nt t h unde rs to rm s .  .  .”

“W ith lig htn in g?” t h e b lo nd a sk e d.
N od din g p ain fu lly , S eq uio a r e p lie d, “ W e a ll th o ug ht w e
were g oin g t o d ie .”
F ox N ew s fr o w ne d . “S o y o ur h air tu rn e d white fr o m
fr ig ht. T he re w as s o m e t a lk t h at c o sm ic r a ys did it.”
“ C osm ic ra ys? W e n e ve r g ot th at h ig h. C osm ic ra ys
d on’t h ave a n y e � ect o n y o u u ntil yo u g et r e ally u p t h e re ,
is n’t t h at r ig ht? ”
“H ow h ig h d id y o u g o?”
“I d on’t kn o w ,” S eq uo ia an sw ere d. “S om e o f th o se
u p d ra ft s in th e th und ers to rm s p ush e d us p re tty h ig h. T he
air g ot k in d o f t h in .”
“ B ut n o t h ig h e no ug h t o c a u se c o sm ic r a y da mag e.”
“ W ell, I d on’t k n o w  .  .  . m ayb e .  .  .”
“ It ’d m ake a b ette r s to ry th an ju st be ing s c a re d, ” s a id
F ox N ew s . “H air tu rn e d w hite b y co sm ic ra ys. M aybe
e ve n s te riliz ed .”
“ S te riliz ed ?” S eq uo ia y e lp ed .
“C osm ic r a ys d o t h at t o o,” F ox N ew s s a id . “ I c h e cke d .”
“ W ell, w e w ere n’t th a t h ig h.”
“ Y o u’r e s u re ?”
“Y e ah  .  .  . w ell, I d on’t th in k w e w ere th at h ig h. W e
did n’t h ave a n a ltim ete r w ith u s .  .  .”
“ B ut y o u c o uld h ave b een.”
S hru g gin g w as s h e er t o rtu re , S eq uo ia f o und.

“O ka y, b ut th o se th und ers to rm s co uld ’v e lif te d yo u
p re tty d am ne d h ig h,” F ox N ew s p ers is te d .
B efo re S eq uo ia c o uld t h in k o f w hat t o a n sw er, t h e do or
to h is p riv ate r o om o p ene d , a n d a h o rs e -f ace d nurs e s a id
�rm ly, “T hat’s a ll. T im e’s u p . M r. S eq uo ia m ust re st n o w .
Aft e r h is e ne m a.”
“ O ka y, I th in k I’v e g ot s o m eth in g to h an g a s to ry o n,”
F ox N ew s sa id w ith a sa tis �e d grin . “N ow to �n d a
sp ecia lis t in c o sm ic r a ys.”
T he blo nd lo oke d th o ro ug hly sh o cke d an d te rribly
u p se t. “ Y o u .  .  . y o u d on’t th in k y o u w ere r e ally s te riliz ed,
d o y o u?”
S eq uo ia tr ie d to m ake him se lf so und worrie d an d
b ra ve a t th e s a m e tim e. “I d on’t k n o w . I ju st  .  .  . do n’t
k n o w .”
L a te th at n ig ht th e b lo nd sn uck b ack in to h is ro om ,
m asq ue ra d in g as a nurs e . If sh e kn e w th e di� ere nce
b etw een ste riliz atio n an d im pote nce , sh e didn ’t te ll
S eq uo ia a b out it . F o r h is p art, h e fo rg ot a bo ut h is s till-
t e nd er s k in a n d th e tr a ctio n br ace s. T he m orn in g n urs e
fo und h im u nco nsc io us, o ne s h o uld er d is lo ca te d, m ost o f
his b an d ag es r u b bed o �, h is s k in te rribly in �a m ed, a n d a
g oofy g rin o n h is f a ce .
I kn e w th at th e w ay up th e co rp ora te la dde r w as to
s o m eho w a cq uir e a sta � th at re p orte d to m e. A nd , in
tr u th , th e S SZ p ro je ct w as g ettin g so b ig th at I tr u ly
ne ed ed m ore peo p le to han d le it. I m ean , all th e
e ng in eers h ad to d o w as b uild th e da mne d th in g a n d
m ake it � y. I h ad to m ake c e rta in th at th e m one y k e p t

�o w in g, a n d th at w asn ’t e asy. A n in cre asin gly la rg e p art
o f m y re sp onsib ilit ies as th e de fa cto h e ad of th e
W ash in gto n o � ce c o nsis te d o f p utt in g o ut � re s.
“W ill yo u lo ok a t t h is !”
S enato r G ood ye ar w ave d th e m orn in g P ost a t m e. I
h ad a lr e ad y re ad th e e le ctr o nic e dit ion be fo re I’d left m y
ap artm ent th at m orn in g. N ow , a s I s a t a t T ra cy K eene ’s
f o rm er desk , th e se nato r’s re d fa ce �lle d my pho ne
sc re en.
“T hat S eq uo ia !” h e g ru m ble d. “ H e’ll sto p a t n o th in g to
d estr o y m e. Ju st beca u se th e O hio R iv er m elte d his
h o use b oat, a ll th o se y e ars a g o.”
“ It ’s ju st a s c a re h e ad lin e,” I s a id, tr y in g to c a lm h im
d ow n. “P eo p le won’t be ste riliz ed by �yin g in th e
su p ers o nic z e p p elin a n y m ore t h an t h e y w ere by � yin g in
t h e o ld Conc o rd e .”
“ I k n o w it ’s b ulls hit! A nd y o u k n o w it ’s bu llshit! B ut th e
g od dam ne d n e w s m ed ia a re m akin g a m ajo r s to ry o ut o f
it! Seq uo ia ’s on eve ry ne tw ork ta lk sh o w . I’m unde r
pre ssu re t o c a ll fo r h e arin gs o n t h e s te riliz atio n p ro ble m!”
“ G ood id ea,” I to ld h im . “ H ave a S enate in ve stig atio n.
T he s c ie ntis ts w ill pro ve t h at t h e re ’s n o th in g t o it .”
T hat w as m y �rs t m ista ke . I didn ’t g et a ch an ce to
m ake a n o th e r.
I h ig hta ile d it th at m orn in g to M em o’s o � ce . I w an te d to
s e e P encilb eam a n d s ta rt b uildin g a de fe nse a g ain st th is
ste riliz atio n s to ry . T he s k y w as g ra y a n d th re ate nin g. A n
in ch or tw o of sn o w w as fo re ca st, an d peo p le w ere

alr e ad y le avin g t h e ir o � ce s f o r h o m e, a t t e n o ’c lo ck in t h e
m orn in g. Ded ic ate d gove rn m ent bure au cra ts an d
co rp ora te em plo ye es, ta kin g th e slig hte st exc u se to
k n o ck o � w ork .
T he tr a � c w as s o b ad th at it h ad actu ally s ta rte d to
s n o w , s o ft ly , b y t h e t im e I r e ach e d Mem o’s o � ce . H e w as
p acin g acro ss th e th in ly ca rp ete d �o o r, his sh o es
sq ue akin g u nne rv in gly in th e s p acio us ro om . C op ie s o f
The W ash in gto n P ost , T he N ew Y o rk T im es , an d A via tio n
W eek w ere s p re ad a cro ss h is u su ally im macu la te de sk ,
b ut h is a tte ntio n w as fo cu se d o n h is w in do w, w he re w e
co uld s e e � u � y s n o w �a ke s g ently dr iftin g do wn.
“T ra � c’s g oin g to g et w ors e as th e da y g oes o n,”
M em o m utte re d .
“T he y’r e s a yin g it ’ll only b e a n in ch o r s o ,” I t o ld him .
“T hat’s e no ug h t o p ara ly ze t h is t o w n.”
Y e a h, e sp ecia lly w he n e ve ry bo dy ju m ps in th e ir c a rs
a nd s ta rts � e ein g th e to w n a s if a te rro ris t n uke is abo ut
to g o o � , I r e p lie d s ile ntly .
Alo ud , I a sk e d , “ W hat a b out th is s te riliz atio n bu sin ess?
Is t h e re a n y s u b sta n ce t o t h e s to ry ?”
M em o gla nce d sh arp ly at m e. “T he y don’t ne ed
su b sta n ce a s lo ng a s t h e y c a n s ta rt a p an ic .”
D r. Pencilb eam sa t at one of th e unm atc h e d
co nfe re nce c h air s, a ll bony lim bs a n d e lbo ws a n d k n e e s.
“R ela x, R og er,” P encilb eam s a id ca lm ly. “ C ong re ss is n’t
g oin g to h alt th e S SZ p ro g ra m . It m ean s to o m an y jo bs ,
to o much inte rn atio nal pre stig e. And be side s, th e

Pre sid ent h as s ta ke d h e r c re dibilit y o n it .”
“ T hat’s w hat w orrie s m e,” M em o m utt e re d.
“W hat? ”
B ut M em o’s e ye w as c a u g ht by m ove m ent o uts ide h is
w in dow . H e w ad dle d p ast h is d esk a n d lo oke d dow n in to
t h e s tr e et b elo w.
“O h m y G od .”
“ W hat’s g oin g o n?” P encilb eam u nfo lde d lik e a p ocke t
ru le r in to a six -foot-lo ng hum an an d hurrie d to th e
w in dow . O uts id e, in th e th in , m ush y sn o w , a lin e of
so m ber m en a n d w om en w ere � lin g a lo ng t h e s tr e et p ast
th e T U RD b uild ing, b earin g s ig ns t h at s c re am ed:
“��� � �� � ��� ! ”“ � � �’� ��� � �� �� � �� � ��� ��
�� � �! ”“ � �� � ��� �� � � � �� �� � � �� � ��� ! ” “ � �� ����� �, � �
� � � �! ” “ Is n ’t t h at o ne w ith t h e s ig n a bo ut u nb orn c h ildr en
a p rie st? ” P encilb eam a sk e d .
M em o s h ru g ged . “ Y o ur e ye s a re be tte r t h an m ine.”
“ A ha! A nd lo ok a t t h is !”
P encilb eam p oin te d a lo ng , b ony � n g er fa rth e r do wn
th e s tr e et. A no th e r s w arm o f p eo p le w ere a dv an cin g o n
th e b uild ing. T he y a ls o c a rrie d p la ca rds :
“��� � � � � � � ” “� �� ����� �, � �! � � ��� �, � � !” “� �� ����� �
�� � � � �� �� ��� � � � ��� � � ” “ � � � � � � �� ” M em o s a g ged
ag ain st t h e w in dow . “ T his  .  .  . t h is is a w fu l.”
T he Z ero P op ula tio n G ro w th g ro up m arc h e d th ro ug h
th e th in sn o w fa ll str a ig ht at th e e nvir o nm enta lis ts an d
an ti-b irth -c ontr o l pic ke ts . In sta n tly , th e sile nce was

sh atte re d by sh o uts an d ta u nts . Shrill fe m ale vo ic es
b attle d a g ain st ru m blin g b arit o ne s a n d b asso s. P la ca rds
w ave re d . B od ie s p ush e d . S om eo ne s c re am ed. O ne s ig n
str u ck a s k u ll, a n d t h e n b lo od y w ar br oke o ut.
M em o, P encilb eam , an d I w atc h e d ag hast until th e
h e lm ete d T A C sq uad p olic e do use d th e w ho le ta n g le d
m ess o f th e m w ith rio t g as, im partia lly c lu bbe d men a n d
w om an a lik e, a n d ca rte d e ve ry o ne o �, in clu din g th re e
b ysta n d ers a n d a h o m ele ss p an h an d le r.
T he Senate he arin gs w ere su ch a cir cu s th at Dr iver
su m mone d m e b ack to P ho enix fo r a str a te g y se ssio n
with A nso n’s to p m an ag em ent. I w as g la d to g et o uts ide
th e b eltw ay, a n d e sp ecia lly g la d to s e e L is a a g ain . S he
e ve n a g re ed t o h ave d in ne r w ith m e.
“Y o u’r e d oin g a w ond erfu l jo b th e re in W ash in gto n,”
s h e s a id , s m ilin g w ith g le am ing t e eth a n d � a sh in g e ye s.
M y k n e es w ent w eak, b ut I fo und th e c o ura g e to a sk ,
“W ould yo u co nsid er tr a n sfe rrin g to th e W ash in gto n
o� ce ? I c o uld u se a s h arp e xe cu tiv e a ssis ta n t— ”
She d id n’t e ve n le t m e � n is h. “ I’d love t o !”
I w an te d to d o h an d sp rin gs. I w an te d to g ra b he r a n d
kis s h e r h ard e no ug h to b ru is e o ur lip s. I w an te d to , bu t
Driv er c a m e o ut o f h is o � ce ju st a t th at m om ent, lo okin g
his ja w-ju ttin g g rim mest.
“ C om e o n, k id . T im e t o m eet t h e t o p br ass.”
T he to p b ra ss w as a m ixtu re o f ba nke rs a n d fo rm er
eng in eers . T o m y d is gust, in ste ad of t r y in g t o p ut t o g eth e r
a str a te g y to defe at th e envir o nm enta lis ts , th e y w ere

alr e ad y t h in kin g a b out h o w m an y m en a n d w om en t h e y’d
h ave to la y o � w he n W ash in gto n p ulle d th e p lu g o n th e
S SZ p ro g ra m .
“B ut th at’s c ra zy !” I p ro te ste d . “T he p ro g ra m is s o lid.
The p re sid ent h e rs e lf is b ehin d it.”
D riv er � xe d m e w ith h is s te ely s ta re . “ W ith fr ie nd s lik e
th at, w ho n e ed s e ne m ies? ”
I le ft th e m eetin g fe elin g v e ry de pre sse d, u ntil I s a w
Lis a a g ain . H er s m ile c o uld lig ht u p t h e w orld.
B efo re h e ad in g b ack to W ash in gto n to � g ht S eq uo ia ’s
s te riliz atio n p ro p ag an d a, I lo oke d up m y o ld APT bu ddie s.
T he y w ere in th e fa cto ry se ctio n w he re th e S SZ w as
b ein g f a b ric ate d .
The h ug e fa cto ry asse m bly ba y w as �lle d with th e
alu m inum s k e le to n o f th e g ia nt d irig ible . G re at g le am ing
m eta l rib s s tr e tc h e d f r o m it s t it a n iu m n o se ca p t o t h e m ore
in tr ic ate ca g ew ork of th e ta il �n s. Tin y �g ure s w ith
�a sh in g la se r w eld ers cra w le d alo ng th e ribbin g lik e
mag gots cle an in g th e b one s o f so m e n o ble , str a n d ed
w hale .
Eve n th e je t e ng in es sit tin g o n th e ir c a rry in g p alle ts
d w arfe d hum an sc a le . Som e of th e welde rs he ld
cla nd estin e poke r gam es in side th e ir in ta ke co w lin gs,
B ob W isdom to ld m e. The cle an in g cre w s ke p t q uie t
ab out th e s p ills , c ru m bs, a n d o th e r de tr it u s th e y fo und in
th e m n ig ht a ft e r n ig ht. I s to od w ith B ob, R ay K urtz , T o m my
Rohr, an d Ric hard G ra n d beside one of th o se hug e
eng in e p od s, c ra n in g o ur n e ck s t o w atc h t h e c o nstr u ctio n
work g oin g o n h ig h o ve rh e ad . T he a sse m bly b ay r a n g to

th e s h o uts o f w ork in g m en a n d w om en, th ro bbe d with
th e h um o f m ach in ery , c la ng ed with th e c la tte r o f m eta l
a g ain st m eta l.
“It ’s g oin g to b e so m e C hris tm as p arty if C ong re ss
c a n ce ls t h is p ro je ct,” K urtz m utte re d glo om ily .
“O h, th e y would n’t dare ca n ce l it no w th at th e
w om en’s m ove m ent is behin d it,” sa id Gra n d , w ith a
sa rd onic lit tle s m ile .
Kurtz g la re d a t h im fr o m b ehin d h is be ard. “ Y o u w ish.
H alf th o se id iots in C ong re ss w ill vo te a g ain st u s ju st to
p ro ve t h e y’r e p ro -e nvir o nm ent.”
“ A ctu ally , th e s c ie nti� c e vid ence is c o m ple te ly o n o ur
sid e,” G ra n d sa id . “A nd in th e lo ng ru n, th e w eig ht o f
evid ence p re va ils .”
H e a lw ays a cts a s if h e k n o w s m ore th an an yb ody
els e , I th o ug ht. B ut h e ’s d ea d w ro ng h e re . H e h as n’t th e
fo g gie st n o tio n o f h o w W ash in g to n w ork s. B ut h e s o unds
so d am ne d s u re o f h im se lf! It m ust b e th at p ho ny ac ce nt
o f h is .
“W ell, ju st lis te n to m e, p al,” s a id Wisdo m, ja bbin g a
fo re �n g er a t G ra n d . “ I’v e b een w ork in g o n th at s e cre ta ry
o f m ine s in ce th e la st C hris tm as p arty , a n d if th is p ro je ct
fa lls th ro ug h a n d th e p arty is a bu st, th at p alp ita tin g h unk
o f fe m ininity is g oin g to ru n h o m e a n d cry in ste ad of
co m ing t o t h e p arty !”
G ra n d b lin ke d a t h im s e ve ra l tim es, o bv iously tr y in g to
th in k o f th e rig ht th in g to sa y. F in ally , h e e nuncia te d,
“P ity.”

But I w as th in kin g a b out L is a. If th e S SZ is c a n ce le d,
Driv er w on’t le t h e r tr a n sfe r to th e W ash in gto n o � ce .
T he re ’d b e n o n e ed to h ir e m ore s ta � fo r m e. T he re ’d be
no n e ed f o r m e!
I w ent b ack to W ash in gto n d ete rm ined to s a ve th e S SZ
fr o m th is stu p id ste riliz atio n n o nse nse . B ut it w as lik e
tr y in g to s to p a ts u nam i w ith a � o or m op. T he w om en’s
m ove m ent, th e envir o nm enta l move m ent, th e labo r
unio ns, eve n T V co m ed y ho sts g ot in to th e act. T he
S enate h e arin gs tu rn e d in to a s h am ble s; P encilbe am a n d
th e oth e r sc ie ntis ts w ere ig no re d while m ovie sta rs
te sti� ed th at th e y w ould n e ve r � y in a n S SZ be ca u se o f
th e d an g ers o f r a d ia tio n.
T he � n al blo w c a m e w he n th e p re side nt a n no unce d
th at sh e w as n o t g oin g to P aris a n d M osc o w , a ft e r a ll.
U rg ent p ro b le m s e ls ew he re . In ste ad, s h e � e w to H aw aii
fo r an e co no m ic su m mit o f th e P aci� c n atio ns. In h e r
su b so nic A ir F o rc e O ne .
T he b an ne r p ro cla im ing “ H ap py H olida ys!” dr oop ed sa dly
a cro ss o ne w all of th e c o m pan y c a fe te ria . O uts ide in th e
la te aft e rn o on dark n e ss, lig hts glim mere d, ca rs w ere
m ovin g, a n d a b rig ht, fu ll m oo n s h o ne do wn o n a r a p idly
em pty in g p ark in g lo t.
In sid e, t h e A nso n A ero sp ace c a fe te ria w as n o th in g bu t
glo om . The C hris tm as party had been a dis mal �o p,
p rim arily b eca u se half th e co m pan y’s w ork fo rc e had
re ce iv ed la yo � n o tic es t h at m orn in g. T he t a ble s h ad be en
p ush e d to o ne s id e o f th e c a fe te ria to m ake ro om fo r a
d an ce �o or. Syru p y ho lid ay m usic ooze d out of th e

sp eake rs b uilt in to th e a co ustic tile s o f th e c e ilin g. B ut n o
o ne w as d an cin g.
B ob W isdom sa t a t o ne o f th e ta ble s, p ro p pin g h is
ach in g h e ad in h is h an d s. R ay K urtz a n d T o m my R ohr s a t
w ith h im , e q ually d eje cte d .
“W hy th e h e ll did th e y h ave to c a n ce l th e p ro je ct tw o
days b efo re C hris tm as? ” R ohr a sk e d rh e to ric ally .
“M ake s f o r m ore p ath o s,” K urtz g ro w le d.
“It ’s p ath e tic , a ll rig ht,” W isdom s a id. “ I’v e n e ve r s e en
so m an y w om en c ry in g a t o nce . O r m en, f o r t h at m atte r.”
“ E ve n D riv er w as c ry in g, a n d h e h asn ’t e ve n b een la id
o�,” R ohr s a id .
“W ell, ” K urtz s a id , s ta rin g a t th e h alf-� nis he d drink in
fr o nt of him , “S eq ouia did it. H e’s a big m edia he ro
a g ain .”
“ A nd w e’r e o n t h e b re ad lin e,” s a id Rohr.
“ Y o u g ot la id o � ?” I a sk e d .
“N ot y e t— but it ’s c o m ing. T his p la ce w ill be c lo sin g it s
d oors b efo re t h e � sc a l y e ar e nds .”
“ It ’s n o t th at b ad ,” s a id W isdom . “ W e s till have th e A ir
Fo rc e w ork . As lo ng as th e y’r e sh o otin g o� cru is e
m issile s, w e’ll be in b usin ess.”
R ohr g rim ace d . “ Y o u k n o w w hat g ets m e? T he w ay t h e
w ho le p ro je ct w as s c ra p ped , w ith o ut g iv in g u s a c h an ce
to c o m ple te t h e b ig b ird a n d s h o w h o w it ’d work . W ith o ut
a g od dam ne d c h an ce .”
K urtz s a id , “ C ong re ssm en a re s c a re d of p eo p le g ettin g

ste riliz ed .”
“ N ot r e ally ,” I s a id . “ T he y’r e s c a re d of n o t be ing o n t h e
rig ht b an d w ag on.”
A ll th re e o f t h e m t u rn e d t o w ard me.
R ohr sa id , “N ext tim e yo u d re am u p a p ro je ct, p al,
m ake it und erg ro und . Som eth in g in a le ad mine. O r
deep er s till, a g old m ine. T he n C ong re ss w on’t h ave to
w orry a b out c o sm ic r a ys.”
W isdom t r ie d t o la ug h, b ut it w ould n’t c o m e.
“Y o u kn o w ,” I sa id slo wly, “y o u ju st m ight have
so m eth in g t h e re .”
“ W hat? ”
“W he re ?”
“A s u p ers o nic t r a n sp ort— in a t u nne l.”
“O h f o r C hri— ”
But W isdom s a t u p s tr a ig hte r in h is c h air. “Y o u c o uld
m ake a n a ir -c ush io n v e hic le g o s u p ers o nic . If y o u p ut it in
a tu n ne l, y o u g et a w ay fr o m th e s o nic bo om a n d th e a ir
p ollu tio n.”
“ T he sa fe ty asp ects would be bette r to o,” Kurtz
a d m itte d . T he n, m ore e xc it e d ly , “ A nd p um p th e a ir o ut o f
th e t u nne l, lik e a p ne um atic t u be !”
R ohr sh o ok h is h e ad . “Y o u g uys a re c ra zy. W ho th e
h e ll’ s g oin g t o b uild t u nne ls a ll ove r t h e c o untr y ?”
“T he re ’s a lo t o f t u nne ls a lr e ad y b uilt ,” I c o unte re d. W e
co uld a d ap t t h e m f o r t h e S SST.”

“S SST?”
“S ure ,” I a n sw ere d , g rin nin g fo r th e � rs t tim e in w ee ks.
“S up ers o nic s u b w ay t r a in .”
T he y s ta re d a t m e. R ohr p ulle d out h is P D A a n d s ta rte d
ta p pin g o n it . W isdom g ot th at fa ra w ay lo ok in h is e ye s.
K urtz s h ru g ged a n d s a id , “ W hy t h e h e ll no t? ”
I g ot u p a n d h e ad ed fo r th e d oor. S up ers o nic s u b w ay
tr a in . T hat w as m y t ic ke t. I w as g oin g ba ck t o W ash in gto n,
I k n e w . A nd t h is t im e I’ll brin g L is a w ith m e.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“M ARS F A RTS ”
In sp iratio n is w he re y o u � n d it .
T he r o b otic s p ace cra ft w e’v e s e nt to M ars h ave fo und
so m e s u rp ris in g t h in gs, in clu din g t h e fa ct t h at t h e M artia n
atm osp he re in clu des o cca sio nal w hi� s o f m eth an e g as.
T he m eth an e a p pears s e aso nally , th e n d is ap pears , o nly
to s h o w u p a g ain t h e n ext y e ar.
M eth an e is c o m pose d o f o ne a to m o f c a rbo n a n d fo ur
o f hyd ro g en: C H �. Sunlig ht in th e th in , cle ar M artia n
atm osp he re quic kly dis so cia te s th e co m pound into
in div id ual ato m s. T he h yd ro g en— lig hte st o f a ll th e a to m s
— ris es to th e to p o f th e a tm osp he re a n d e ve ntu ally w aft s
o � in to sp ace . T he ca rb on a to m p re su m ably b eco m es
p art of th e sc a n t Martia n atm osp he re , whic h is
pre d om inan tly c o m pose d o f c a rbo n dio xide .

Oka y, w e k n o w w he re th e C H � g oes. B ut w he re do es
it c o m e f r o m ?
One possib le exp la natio n is th at it co m es fr o m
m icro sc o p ic c re atu re s liv ing d ee p be ne ath th e s u rfa ce o f
M ars . O n E arth th e re a re “bu gs” liv ing de ep be low th e
su rfa ce th at eat dirt an d eve n ro ck s— an d exc re te
m eth an e . S im ilar m icro org an is m s m ay e xis t de ep be ne ath
M ars ’s s u rfa ce .
M ars f a rts ?

MARS F A RTS
“A C ath o lic , a J e w , a n d a M uslim a re s tu ck in th e m iddle
of M ars ,” s a id R ash id F aiy um .
“T hat is n’t f u nny,” J a co b B ern ste in r e p lie d wearily .
Patr ic k O ’C onne r, th e le ad er o f th e th re e-m an te am ,
sh o ok h is h e ad in sid e th e h e lm et o f h is p re ssu re su it.
“L a u g h, a n d t h e w orld la ug hs w ith y o u, Ja ke .”
N one o f th e m c o uld s e e th e fa ce s o f th e ir c o m pan io ns
th ro ug h th e tin tin g o f th e ir h e lm et v is ors . B ut th e y c o uld
h e ar t h e b le akn e ss in B ern ste in ’s t o ne . “ T he re ’s n o t m uch
to la ug h a b out, is t h e re ?”
“N ot m uch ,” F aiy um a g re ed .
A ll aro un d th e m s tr e tc h e d th e ba rre n, fr o ze n, ru st-r ed
sa n d s of Uto p ia Pla nita . The ir little ho p per le an e d
lo psid ed ly o n it s t h re e s p in dly le gs in t h e m iddle o f n e w ly

ch urn e d p ock m ark s fr o m th e m ete o r sh o w er th at h ad
str u ck t h e a re a o ve rn ig ht.
O � o n th e h o riz on s to od th e b lo ck y fo rm o f th e o ld
V ik in g � la nd er, w hic h h ad b een th e re fo r m ore th an a
c e ntu ry . O ne o f th e ir m issio n o bje ctiv es had been to
r e tr ie ve p arts o f th e V ik in g to re tu rn to E arth , fo r s tu d y
an d e ve ntu al sa le to a m use um . Lik e e ve ry th in g e ls e
ab out th e ir m issio n, th at o b je ctiv e h ad be en s ide lined by
th e m ete o r s h o w er. T he ir g oal n o w w as s u rv iv al.
A b arra g e o f tin y b its o f s to ne , m ost o f th e m n o la rg er
th an d ust m ote s. O nce th e y h ad be en p art o f an ic y
co m et, b ut t h e ic e h ad m elte d a w ay a ft e r G od kn o w s h o w
m an y t r ip s a ro und t h e s u n, a n d no w o nly t h e s to ne s w ere
le ft w he n th e re m ain s o f th e c o m et h ap pene d to c o llide
w ith t h e p la ne t M ars .
O ne o f th e ra re s to ne s, a lm ost th e s iz e o f a p ebble ,
had p unctu re d th e fu e l ce ll th at w as th e m ain e le ctr ic al
p ow er so urc e fo r th e th re e-m an ho p per. W ith o ut th e
e le ctr ic al pow er fr o m th at fu e l ce ll, th e ir ro cke t e ng in e
co uld n o t fu nctio n. T he y w ere s tr a n d ed in th e m iddle o f
th e f r o ze n, a rid p la in .
In h is g le am ing s ilv ery p re ssu re s u it, Fa iyum r e m inded
O ’C onno r o f a k n ig ht in s h in ing a rm or, e xc e p t t h at h e w as
b end in g in to th e b ay th at h e ld th e fu e l ce ll, h is h e lm ete d
he ad o b sc u re d b y th e b ay’s u p ra is ed hatc h . B ern ste in ,
sim ilarly s u ite d , s to od b y n e rv o usly be side h im .
The h atc h h ad b een p unctu re d by w hat lo oke d like a
b ulle t h o le . F aiy um w as m utte rin g, “ O f a ll th e m ete o ro ids
in a ll th e so la r sy ste m in a ll o f M ars , th is o ne ’s g ot to

sm ack o ur p ow er c e ll. ”
Bern ste in a sk e d , “ H ow b ad is it ?”
S tr a ig hte nin g u p , F aiy um re p lie d, “A ll th e h ydr og en
d ra in ed o ut d urin g t h e n ig ht. It ’s de ad as a do orn ail. ”
“T he n s o a re w e,” B ern ste in s a id.
“I’d bette r ca ll Tith o niu m ,” sa id O’C onno r, an d he
h e ad ed fo r th e la dder th at le d to th e h o p per’s c ra m ped
co ck p it. “ W hile t h e b atte rie s a re s till good. ”
“H ow lo ng w ill th e y la st? ” a sk e d Bern ste in .
“L o ng e no ug h t o g et h e lp .”
I t w asn ’t th at e asy. T he c o m munic atio ns lin k ba ck to
T ith o niu m w as re la ye d b y a n e tw ork o f s a te llit es in lo w
orb it aro und M ars , an d it w ould b e an o th e r h alf h o ur
b efo re o ne o f t h e c o m msa ts c a m e o ve r t h e ir h o riz on.
Faiy um a n d B ern ste in f o llo wed O’C onno r b ack in to t h e
co ck p it, an d su d denly th e co m pact lit tle sp ace w as
u nco m fo rta b ly c ro w ded .
W ith no th in g to do but w ait, O ’C onno r sa id, “I’ll
p re ssu riz e t h e c o ck p it s o w e c a n t a ke o � t h e h e lm ets a n d
h ave s o m e b re akfa st.”
“ I d on’t t h in k w e s h o uld w aste e le ctr ic al p ow er u ntil w e
get c o n�rm atio n fr o m T ith o niu m th at th e y’r e se nd in g a
b ack u p t o u s.”
“ W e’v e g ot t o e at,” O ’C onno r s a id.
S ittin g th is c lo se in th e c ra m ped co ck p it, th e y c o uld
se e e ach o th e r’s fa ce s e ve n th ro ug h th e tin tin g o f th e
h e lm et v is ors . F aiy um b ro ke in to a s tu b bly -chin ne d grin .

“L e t’s p re te nd it s R am ad an ” h e su g geste d, “a n d w e
have t o f a st f r o m s u nup t o s u ndo wn.”
“ L ik e yo u fa st durin g Ram ada n,” Bern ste in sn ip ed.
O ’C onno r re m em bere d o ne o f th e ir � rs t da ys o n M ars ,
w he n a c le an -s have n F aiy um h ad jokin gly a sk e d whic h
dire ctio n M ecca w as. O ’C onno r h ad poin te d up .
“L e t’s n o t w aste p ow er,” B ern ste in r e p eate d.
“W e have eno ug h pow er du rin g th e day,” Faiy um
p oin te d o ut. “ T he s o la r p an e ls w ork � n e .”
T han ks to M ars ’s th in , n e arly clo ud le ss a tm osp he re ,
ju st a b out th e sa m e a m ount o f su nsh in e fe ll up on th e
su rfa ce o f M ars as u p on E arth , de sp ite M ars ’s fa rth e r
d is ta n ce fr o m th e su n. T ha nk G od fo r th a t , O ’C onno r
th o ug ht. O th e rw ise, w e’d b e d ea d in a f e w ho urs .
T he n he re aliz ed th at, als o th an ks to M ars ’s th in
atm osp he re , th o se m icro m ete o ro ids h ad made it a ll th e
w ay d ow n to th e g ro und to s tr a fe th e m lik e a s p ra y o f
b ulle ts , in ste ad o f b urn in g u p fr o m a tm osp he ric fr ic tio n,
as th e y w ould h ave o n E arth . T he L o rd g iv eth a nd th e
Lo rd t a ke th a w ay , h e t o ld h im se lf.
“T ith o niu m he re ,” a vo ic e cra ck le d th ro ug h th e
sp eake r o n th e c o ck p it c o ntr o l pan e l. A ll th re e o f th e m
tu rn e d to th e dis pla y sc re en, su d de nly tig ht with
e xp ecta tio n.
“W hat’s y o ur s it u atio n, E -t hre e ?” a sk e d th e fa ce in th e
sc re en. Ern ie Roeb uck , th e y re co g niz ed: ch ie f
co m munic atio ns e ng in eer.
T he m ain b ase fo r th e e xp lo ra tio n te am w as d ow n a t

Tith o niu m C hasm a, p art o f t h e im mense G ra n d C an yo n o f
M ars , m ore th an th re e th o usa n d kilo mete rs fr o m th e ir
E xc u rs io n T hre e s it e .
O ’C onno r w as th e te am ’s astr o nau t: a th o ro ug hly
co m pete nt B osto n Ir is hm an w ith a g enia l d is posit io n, w ho
to le ra te d th e b an te rin g o f F aiy um a n d B ern ste in — bo th
g eo lo gis ts — an d tr ie d to ke ep th e m fr o m d eve lo pin g a
re al an im osit y. A M uslim fr o m P eo ria a nd a N ew Y o rk
J e w : ho w in th e w orld ha d th e psy c h o lo gis ts bac k
Ea rth sid e e ve r p ut t h e t w o o f t h e m o n t h e s am e t e am , h e
w ond ere d .
In th e c lip ped ja rg on o f p ro fe ssio nal �ie rs , O ’C onno r
re p orte d o n t h e ir d ead f u e l c e ll.
“N o p ow er o utp ut a t a ll? ” R oebu ck lo oke d incre du lous.
“Z ero ,” sa id O’C onno r. “H ydr og en all leake d out
o ve rn ig ht.”
“ H ow d id y o u g et t h ro ug h t h e n ig ht? ”
“T he v e hic le a u to m atic ally s w itch e d to ba tte ry p ow er.”
“ W hat’s t h e s ta tu s o f y o ur b att e ry s y ste m ?”
O ’C onno r s c a n ne d th e d ig ita l re ado uts o n th e c o ntr o l
p an e l. “D ow n to o ne -t hir d o f n o m inal. T he s o la r p an e ls
are r e ch arg in g ’e m .”
A p au se . R oeb uck lo oke d a w ay, a n d th e y c o uld h e ar
vo ic es m utte rin g in th e b ackg ro und. “A ll rig ht,” s a id th e
co m munic ato r a t la st. “ W e’r e g ettin g y o ur te le m etr y . W e’ll
g et b ack t o y o u in a n h o ur o r s o .”
“ W e n e ed a lif t o ut o f h e re ,” O ’C onno r s a id.

Ano th e r fe w m om ents o f s ile nce . “T hat m ight n o t be
p ossib le rig ht a w ay. W e’v e g ot o th e r p ro ble ms to o. Y o u
g uys w ere n’t th e o nly o ne s h it b y th e m ete o r sh o w er.
W e’v e ta ke n so m e dam ag e he re . The garde n’s be en
w ip ed o ut, a n d E-o ne h as t w o c a su altie s.”
E xc u rs io n O ne w as a t th e � a n k o f O lym pus M ons, th e
ta lle st m ounta in in t h e s o la r s y ste m .
“O ur � rs t p rio rit y h as t o b e t o g et t h o se p eo p le fr o m E-
o ne b ack h e re f o r m ed ic al tr e atm ent.”
“ Y e ah . O f c o urs e .”
“ G iv e u s a c o up le o f h o urs to s o rt th in gs o ut. W e’ll ca ll
yo u b ack a t n o on, o ur t im e. S it t ig ht.”
O ’C onno r gla nce d at th e m oro se fa ce s of his tw o
te am mate s, t h e n r e p lie d, “ W e’ll w ait f o r y o ur c a ll. ”
“W hat t h e h e ll els e c a n w e d o?” B ern ste in g ru m ble d.
Clic kin g o � th e v id eo lin k, O ’C onno r s a id, “ W e c a n g et
b ack t o w ork .”
F aiy um tr ie d to s h ru g in sid e h is s u it. “I lik e y o ur � rs t
su g gestio n b ette r. L e t’s e at.”
W ith th e ir h e lm ets o �, th e fa in t tr a ce s o f bo dy o do rs
b eca m e n o tic eab le . M unch in g o n a n e ne rg y ba r, Fa iyum
sa id , “A C ath o lic , a M uslim , a n d a J e w w ere s h o w erin g
to g eth e r in a Y M CA .  .  .”
“ Y o u m ean a Y M HA,” s a id B ern ste in .
“H ow w ould a M uslim g et in to e ith e r o ne?” O ’C onno r
w ond ere d .
“It ’s in th e Sta te s,” Faiy um exp la in ed. “T he y let

an yb od y in .”
“ N ot w om en.”
“ Y o u g uys h ave n o s e nse o f h um or.” Fa iyum p op ped
th e la st m ors e l o f t h e e ne rg y b ar in to h is m outh .
“T his ,” B ern ste in c o unte re d , “ c o m ing fr o m a m an w ho
w as n am ed a ft e r a d ep re ssio n.”
“ E l-F aiy um is b elo w s e a le ve l,” F aiy um a dm itte d easily ,
“b ut it ’s t h e g ard en s p ot o f E g yp t. H as be en f o r m ore t h an
th re e t h o usa n d y e ars .”
“ M ayb e it was th e gard en of Ede n,” O’C onno r
su g geste d .
“N o, t h at w as in Is ra e l,” s a id B ern ste in .
“W as it ?”
“It c e rta in ly w asn ’t h e re ,” F aiy um s a id, g azin g o ut th e
w in dsh ie ld a t t h e b le ak, c o ld M artia n de se rt.
“ It ’s g oin g to g o d ow n n e ar a h undr ed be low a g ain
to nig ht,” B ern ste in s a id .
“T he batte rie s w ill ke ep th e he ate rs goin g,” sa id
O ’C onno r.
“ A ll nig ht? ”
“L o ng e no ug h. T he n w e’ll re ch arg e ’e m w he n th e s u n
co m es u p .”
“ T hat w on’t w ork f o re ve r,” B ern ste in m utt e re d.
“W e’ll be o ka y f o r a d ay o r t w o.”
“ Y e ah , but th e nig hts . A hund re d below ze ro . The
b atte rie s w ill cra p o ut p re tty s o o n.”

Tig htly , O ’C onno r r e p eate d , “ W e’ll be o ka y f o r a da y o r
tw o.”
“ F ro m yo ur m outh to God ’s ear,” Bern ste in sa id
fe rv e ntly .
Faiy um lo oke d at th e co ntr o l pan e l’s dig ita l clo ck .
“A no th e r t h re e h o urs b efo re T ith o niu m c a lls .”
R each in g fo r h is h e lm et, O ’C onno r sa id, “W ell, w e’d
b ette r g o o ut a n d d o w hat w e c a m e h e re t o do .”
“ H au l up th e ic e co re ,” sa id Bern ste in , dis ple asu re
c le ar o n h is le an , h ars h f a ce .
“T hat’s w hy w e’r e h e re ,” F aiy u m s a id. H e didn ’t lo ok
an y h ap pie r t h an B ern ste in . “ S la ve la bo r.”
P uttin g o n a fa ls e h e artin ess, O ’C onno r s a id, “ H ey, y o u
g uys a re th e g eo lo gis ts . I th o ug ht y o u w ere h ap py to d rill
d ow n t h at d eep .”
“ O ve rjo ye d ,” s a id B ern ste in . “ A nd h e re o n M ars , w e’r e
d oin g a re o lo gy, n o t g eo lo gy.”
“ W hat’s in a n am e?” F aiy um q uo te d. “A ro se by a n y
o th e r n am e w ould s till sm ell. ”
“A nd so do yo u,” sa id B ern ste in an d O ’C onno r in
unis on.
T he m ajo r o b je ctiv e o f th e E xc u rs io n T hre e te am h ad
b een to drill th re e hund re d mete rs do wn in to th e
p erm afr o st th at la y ju st b ene ath th e su rfa ce o f Ut op ia
P la nita . T he fr o ze n re m ain s o f w hat h ad been a n o ce an
b illio ns o f y e ars e arlie r, w he n M ars h ad be en a w arm er
an d w ette r w orld , th e p erm afr o st ic e h e ld a r e co rd of th e

pla ne t’s h is to ry , a re co rd th at g eo lo gis ts (o r a e ro lo gis ts )
k e enly w an te d t o s tu d y.
O uts id e at th e d rill sit e , th e th re e m en be gan th e
la borio us ta sk of hau lin g up th e ic e co re th at th e ir
eq uip m ent had d ug . T he y w ork e d slo wly, ca re fu lly , to
m ake ce rta in th at th e fr a g ile , six -c entim ete r-w ide co re
c a m e o ut in ta ct. S ectio n b y s e ctio n, th e y u njo inte d each
in div id ual se g m ent a s it c a m e u p , m ark e d it c a re fu lly , a n d
sto w ed it in th e sp ecia l sto ra g e ra ck s bu ilt in to th e
h o p per’s s id e. “ H ow o ld d o y o u t h in k t h e lo west la ye rs o f
th is c o re w ill be?” B ern ste in a sk e d as th e y w atc h e d th e
e le ctr ic m oto r s lo wly, s lo wly li ft in g th e s le nd er m eta l tu b e
th at c o nta in ed t h e p re cio us ic e.
“C oup le b illio n y e ars , a t le ast,” Fa iyum r e p lie d. “ M aybe
m ore .”
O ’C onno r, n o tin g t h at t h e m oto r’s ba tte rie s w ere do wn
to le ss th an � ft y p erc e nt o f th e ir n o rm al ca p acit y, a sk e d,
“D o y o u t h in k t h e re ’ll be a n y liv in g o rg an is m s in t h e ic e?”
“N ot h ard ly ,” s a id B ern ste in .
“I th o ug ht th e re w ere su p pose d to be bu gs liv ing
dow n t h e re ,” O ’C onno r s a id .
“In t h e ic e?” B ern ste in w as c le arly s k e p tic al.
F aiy um sa id , “Y o u’r e ta lk in g abo ut meth an o g ens,
rig ht? ”
“Is t h at w hat y o u c a ll th e m ?”
“N ob od y’s f o und a n yth in g lik e t h at,” s a id Bern ste in .
“S o f a r,” F aiy um s a id .

O’C onno r sa id , “B ack in tr a in in g th e y to ld us a bo ut
tr a ce s o f m eth an e th at a p pear in th e M artia n a tm osp he re
n o w a n d t h e n.”
F aiy um ch uck le d. “A nd so m e of th e bio logis ts
p ro p ose d th at th e m eth an e c o m es fr o m ba cte ria liv ing
deep u nd erg ro und . T he b acte ria a re s u p pose d to e xis t
on th e w ate r m eltin g fr o m th e b otto m o f th e p erm afr o st
la ye r, d eep u nd erg ro und , a n d th e y e xc re te m eth an e g as.”
“ B ug f a rts ,” s a id B ern ste in .
O’C onno r n o d ded in sid e h is h e lm et. “ Y e ah . T hat’s w hat
th e y t o ld u s.”
“ T o ta lly u np ro ve n,” B ern ste in s a id.
“S o f a r,” F aiy um r e p eate d .
S ound in g s lig htly e xa sp era te d , B ern ste in s a id, “L o ok,
th e re ’s a d oze n a b io logic al w ays o f g ene ra tin g th e s lig ht
tr a ce s of meth an e th at’v e been obs erv e d in th e
atm osp he re .”
“ B ut th e y ap pear se aso nally,” Fa iyum poin te d out.
“ A nd th e meth an e is quic kly de str o ye d in th e
atm osp he re . S ola r u ltra vio let b re aks it d ow n in to c a rbo n
an d h yd ro g en. T hat m ean s th at s o m eth in g is p ro d ucin g
th e s tu � c o ntin uo usly .”
“ B ut th at doesn ’t mean it’s be ing pro du ce d by
bio logic al p ro ce sse s,” B ern ste in in sis te d.
“I th in k it ’s b ug fa rts ,” F aiy um s a id. “ It ’s k in d o f p oetic ,
yo u k n o w .”
“ Y o u’r e c ra zy.”

“Y o u’r e a s o urp uss.”
B efo re O’C onno r co uld bre ak up th e ir gro w in g
arg um ent, th e ir h e lm et e arp ho ne s c ra ck le d, “T ith o niu m
he re .”
A ll th re e of th e m sn ap ped to atte ntio n. It w as a
w om an ’s v o ic e, a n d th e y re co g niz ed who se it w as: th e
m issio n c o m man d er, v e te ra n a str o nau t G lo ria H aze ltin e,
kn o w n to m ost o f th e m en a s G lo ry H alle lujah. T he fa ct
th at G lo ry he rs e lf w as ca llin g th e m didn ’t bo de w ell,
O ’C onno r t h o ug ht. S he ’s g ot b ad n e w s t o t e ll us.
“W e’v e ch e cke d out th e num be rs ,” sa id he r
d is em bod ie d ra d io vo ic e. “T he earlie st w e ca n get a
re sc u e � ig ht o ut t o y o u w ill be in � ve da ys.”
“ F iv e d ays? ” O ’C onno r y ip ped.
“T hat’s th e best we ca n do , Pat,” th e missio n
co m man d er sa id , h e r to ne a s h ard as c o ncre te . “Y o u’ll
h ave t o m ake e nd s m eet u ntil th e n.”
“ O ur b atte rie s w ill cra p o ut o n u s, G lo ria . Y o u k n o w
th at.”
“ C onse rv e p ow er. Y o ur so la r p an e ls a re o ka y, a re n’t
t h e y?”
N od din g, O ’C onno r re p lie d, “T he y w ere n’t to uch e d,
th an k G od .”
“ S o re ch arg e y o ur b atte rie s by da y a n d u se m inim um
p ow er a t n ig ht. W e’ll co m e a n d g et y o u a s s o o n a s w e
possib ly c a n .”
“ R ig ht.” O ’C onno r c lic ke d o � t h e r a dio c o nne ctio n.

“T he y’ll co m e an d pic k up our fr o ze n bo die s,”
B ern ste in g ru m ble d.
Faiy um lo oke d ju st a s d is ap poin te d as B ern ste in , b ut
h e p ut o n a lo psid ed g rin a n d s a id, “ A t le ast o ur b odie s
will be w ell pre se rv e d .”
“ F ro ze n s o lid ,” O ’C onno r a g re ed.
T he th re e m en s to od th e re , o ut in th e o p en, e nca se d
in th e ir p re ssu re s u its a n d h e lm ets , w hile th e dr ill’s m oto r
b uzze d a w ay a s if n o th in g w as w ro ng . In th e th in M artia n
atm osp he re , th e d rill’ s d ro ne w as s tr a n g ely h ig h-p itch e d,
m ore o f a w hin e t h an a h um .
Fin ally , B ern ste in s a id , “W ell, w e m ight a s w ell �n is h
th e jo b w e c a m e o ut h e re t o do .”
“ Y e ah ,” sa id Faiy um , w ith o ut th e slig hte st tr a ce of
enth usia sm .
The s tr a n g ely s m all su n w as n e arin g t h e h o riz on by t h e
tim e th e y h ad s to re d a ll th e s e g m ents o f th e ic e c o re in
th e in su la te d r a ck s o n t h e h o p per’s s ide .
“A re co rd of ne arly th re e billio n ye ars of M artia n
his to ry ,” s a id B ern ste in , a lm ost p ro ud ly .
“O nly o ne a n d a h alf b illio n y e ars ,” Fa iyum c o rre cte d.
“T he M artia n y e ar is t w ice a s lo ng a s E arth y e ars .”
“ S ix h und re d e ig hty -s eve n E arth da ys,” B ern ste in s a id.
“T hat’s n o t q uite t w ice a t e rre str ia l y e ar.”
“ S o su e m e,” Faiy um co un te re d, as he pulle d an
e q uip m ent k it f r o m t h e h o p per’s s to ra g e ba y.
“W hat’r e y o u d oin g?” O ’C onno r a sk e d.

“S ettin g u p th e la se r sp ectr o m ete r,” Fa iyum re p lie d.
“Y o u k n o w , t h e e xp erim ent t h e bio logis ts w an t u s t o do .”
“ L o okin g f o r b ug f a rts ,” B ern ste in s a id.
“Y e ah . J u st b eca u se w e’r e g oin g to fr e eze to d eath is
n o r e aso n t o s to p w ork in g.”
O ’C onno r gru nte d . R ash id is rig ht , he th o ug ht. G o
th ro ug h t h e m otio ns. S ta y b usy.
W ith B ern ste in ’s o b vio usly re lu cta n t h e lp , Fa iyum s e t
up th e la se r a n d tr a in ed it a t th e o p enin g o f th e ir b ore
h o le . The n th e y ch e cke d out th e Rayle ig h sc a tte rin g
re ce iv er an d plu gged it into th e ra dio th at would
au to m atic ally tr a n sm it it s re su lts ba ck to T ith o niu m . T he
ra d io h ad its o w n b atte ry to su p ply th e m icro w atts o f
p ow er it r e q uir e d .
“T hat o ug ht to m ake th e b io lo gis ts h ap py,” B ern ste in
sa id , o nce t h e y w ere � n is he d .
“B ette r get back insid e,” O’C onno r sa id, lo okin g
to w ard t h e h o riz on w he re t h e s u n w as s e ttin g.
“It ’s g oin g t o b e a lo ng n ig ht,” B ern ste in m utt e re d.
“Y e ah .”
O nce th e y w ere se ale d in to th e co ck p it an d had
re m ove d th e ir he lm ets , Faiy u m sa id, “A bio logis t, a
geo lo gis t, a n d G lo ry H alle lujah w ere lo cke d in a h o te l
ro om in B an g ko k.”
B ern ste in m oan e d . O ’C onno r sa id, “Y o u kn o w th at
e ve ry th in g w e s a y is b ein g r e co rde d fo r t h e m issio n lo g.”
F aiy um s a id , “ H ell, w e’r e g oin g to b e d ead by th e tim e

th e y g et t o u s. W hat d i� ere nce do es it m ake ?”
“N o d is re sp ect f o r t h e m issio n c o m man d er.”
F aiy um sh ru g ged . “O ka y. How abo ut th is one : a
physic ist, a m ath e m atic ia n, a n d a la wye r a re e ach a sk e d,
‘H ow m uch is t w o a n d t w o?’ ”
“ I h e ard t h is o ne ,” B ern ste in s a id.
W ith o ut p ayin g h is te am mate th e slig hte st a tte ntio n,
Faiy um p lo wed a h e ad . “T he m ath e m atic ia n sa ys, ‘T w o
an d tw o are fo ur. A lw ays fo ur. Fo ur poin t ze ro .’ The
p hysic ist th in ks a m inute an d sa ys, ‘I t ’s so m ew he re
b etw een t h re e p oin t e ig ht a n d fo ur p oin t t w o.’ ”
O ’C onno r s m ile d. Y e a h, a p hysic ist p ro b ably w ould p ut
it t h a t w ay , h e t h o ug ht.
“ S o w hat d oes t h e la wye r a n sw er? ”
W ith a b ig g rin , F aiy um r e p lie d, “ T he la wye r s a ys, ‘H ow
m uch is t w o a n d t w o? H ow m uch do y o u w an t it t o be ?’ ”
B ern ste in g ro an e d , b ut O ’C onno r la ug he d. “ L a w ye rs ,”
h e s a id .
“W e c o uld u se a la wye r h e re ,” B ern ste in s a id. “ S ue t h e
b asta rd s.”
“ W hic h b asta rd s? ”
B ern ste in sh ru g ged ela bora te ly . “A ll of th e m ,” he
�n ally s a id .
The n ig ht w as lo ng . A nd d ark . A nd c o ld. O ’C onno r s e t
th e co ck p it’s th e rm osta t to b are ly abo ve fr e ezin g an d
o rd ere d t h e t w o g eo lo gis ts t o s w itch o � t h e ir s u it h e ate rs .

“W e’v e g ot to p re se rv e e ve ry w att o f e le ctr ic al pow er
w e c a n . S tr e tc h o ut th e b atte ry lif e a s m uch a s p ossible ,”
h e s a id � rm ly.
The t w o g eo lo gis ts n o d ded g lu m ly.
“B ette r p ut o ur h e lm ets b ack o n,” s a id Bern ste in .
Faiy um no d ded . “B ette r pis s no w , be fo re it gets
fr o ze n.”
T he s u it s w ere w ell insu la te d, O ’C onno r k n e w . T he y’ll
h o ld o ur b od y h e a t b ette r th a n blan ke ts , h e to ld h im se lf.
H e re m em bere d ca m pin g in N ew E ng la nd , w he n h e ’d
b een a k id . G ot p re tty c o ld th e re . T he n a m ock in g v o ic e
in h is m ind a n sw ere d , b ut n o t a h und re d belo w.
The y m ad e it th ro ug h th e � rs t n ig ht a n d w oke u p s ti�
a n d s h ud derin g a n d m isera b le . T he s u n w as u p , a s u su al,
an d t h e s o la r p an e ls w ere fe ed in g e le ctr ic al p ow er t o t h e
co ck p it’s h e ate rs .
“T hat wasn ’t to o bad ,” O’C onno r sa id, as th e y
m unch e d o n r a tio n b ars f o r b re akfa st.
F aiy um m ad e a f a ce . “ O th e r t h an t h at, h o w d id yo u lik e
th e p la y, M rs . L in co ln ?”
B ern ste in poin te d to th e co ntr o l pan e l’s dis pla ys.
“B atte rie s d am ne d n e ar d ie d o ve rn ig ht,” h e s a id.
“T he so la r pan e ls are re ch arg in g th e m ,” O ’C onno r
re p lie d.
“T he y w on’t co m e back a hundr ed perc e nt,” sa id
B ern ste in . “ Y o u k n o w t h at.”
O ’C onno r b it b ack th e re p ly h e w an te d to m ake . H e

mere ly n o d ded a n d m urm ure d , “ I k n o w .”
F aiy um p eere d a t th e d is pla y fr o m th e la se r th e y h ad
se t u p o uts id e. “ I’ll be d am ne d .”
T he o th e r t w o h unch e d u p c lo se r t o h im .
“L o ok at th at,” sa id Faiy um , poin tin g. “T he
sp ectr o m ete r’s sh o w in g th e re actu ally is meth an e
se ep in g o ut o f o ur b ore h o le .”
“ M eth an o g ens? ” m use d B ern ste in .
“C an ’t b e an yth in g e ls e,” F aiy um sa id. W ith a w ide
sm ile , h e s a id , “ W e’v e d is co ve re d life o n M ars ! W e c o uld
w in t h e N ob el P riz e f o r t h is !”
“ P osth um ously ,” s a id B ern ste in .
“W e’v e g ot to g et th is d ata b ack to T ith o niu m ,” s a id
O ’C onno r. “ L e t t h e b io logis ts t a ke a lo ok a t it .”
“ It ’s bein g te le m ete re d to Tith o niu m au to m atic ally ,”
B ern ste in r e m inded h im .
“Y e ah , b ut I w an t to s e e w hat th e bio logis ts h ave to
s a y.”
T he b io logis ts w ere d is ap poin tin gly ca u tio us. Ye s, it
w as m eth an e g as s e ep in g u p fr o m th e bo re h o le . Y e s, it
v e ry w ell might b e c o m ing fr o m m eth an o g enic ba cte ria
liv ing deep und erg ro und . But th e y ne e de d more
c o nclu siv e e vid ence .
“C ould y o u g et s a m ple s fr o m th e b otto m o f y o ur b ore
h o le ?” a sk e d t h e le ad b io logis t, a H ispan ic A m eric an f r o m
C alif orn ia . In th e v id eo s c re en o n th e c o ntr o l pan e l, h e
lo oke d a s if h e w ere t r y in g h ard no t t o g et e xc it e d.

“W e’v e g ot th e ic e c o re ,” F aiy u m re p lie d im media te ly .
“I’ll bet w e’v e g ot sa m ple s o f th e b ug s in th e b otto m
la ye rs .”
“ K eep it w ell pro te cte d ,” t h e b io logis t u rg ed.
“It ’s p ro te cte d ,” O ’C onno r a ssu re d him .
“W e’ll exa m ine it w he n y o u br ing it in ,” th e b io logis t
sa id , p uttin g o n a s e rio us f a ce .
O nce th e v id eo lin k w as d is co nne cte d, B ern ste in s a id
m oro se ly , “ T he y’ll be m ore in te re ste d in th e da mne d ice
co re t h an in o ur f r o ze n b od ie s.”
A ll day long th e y watc h e d th e sp ik es of th e
sp ectr o m ete r’s �ic ke rin g d is pla y. T he g as is su in g fr o m
th e ir b ore h o le w as m ostly m eth an e , a n d it w as c o m ing
up c o ntin uo usly , a t h in , in vis ib le br eath is su in g fr o m de ep
b elo w t h e s u rfa ce .
“T ho se b ug s are fa rtin g aw ay d ow n th e re ,” F aiy um
sa id h ap pily . “ B usy lit tle b asta rds .”
“ S un’s g oin g d ow n,” s a id B ern ste in .
O’C onno r ch e cke d th e sta tu s o f th e ba tte rie s. E ve n
w ith th e s o la r p an e ls re ch arg in g th e m a ll da y, th e y w ere
b are ly up to se ve nty -� ve perc e nt of th e ir no m inal
ca p acit y. H e d id s o m e q uic k a rit h m etic in h is h e ad. If it
ta ke s T ith o niu m � ve d ays to g et u s, w e’ll hav e fr o ze n to
d ea th o n t h e f o urth nig ht.
L ik e S ha ck le to n a t th e S outh P ole , h e th o ug ht. F ro ze
to d ea th , a ll o f ’e m .
T he y m ad e it th ro ug h th e s e co nd n ig ht, bu t O ’C onno r

bare ly sle pt. H e �n ally d oze d o�, lis te nin g to th e so ft
b re eze w aft in g b y o uts id e. W he n h e a w oke e ve ry jo int in
h is b od y a ch e d a n d it to ok n e arly a n h o ur fo r h im to s to p
his u nco ntr o lla ble t r e m blin g.
A s th e y c h e w ed o n th e ir n e arly -fro ze n br eakfa st b ars ,
B ern ste in s a id , “ W e’r e n o t g oin g t o m ake it .”
“ I c a n p ut in a c a ll to T ith o niu m , te ll ‘e m w e’r e in a b ad
w ay.”
“ T he y c a n s e e o ur te le m etr y ,” Fa iyum s a id, u nusu ally
m oro se . “ T he y k n o w t h e b atte rie s a re dr ain ing a w ay.”
“ W e c a n a sk t h e m f o r h e lp .”
“ Y e ah ,” sa id B ern ste in . “W he n’s th e la st tim e G lo ry
H alle lujah c h an g ed h e r m ind a bo ut a n yth in g?”
O ’C onno r c a lle d a n yw ay. In th e v ide o sc re en, G lo ria
H aze ltin e’s c h un ky b lo nd fa ce lo oke d lik e a n im pla ca ble
g od dess.
“W e’r e d oin g e ve ry th in g w e c a n ,” s h e s a id, h e r v o ic e
�a t an d �n al. “W e’ll get to yo u as so o n as w e ca n .
C onse rv e y o ur p ow er. T u rn o � e ve ry th in g y o u do n’t n e e d
to k e ep y o urs e lv es a liv e.”
O nce O’C onno r bro ke th e co m m lin k, Bern ste in
g ru m ble d, “ M ayb e w e c o uld h o ld our b re ath s fo r th re e o r
fo ur d ays.”
B ut F aiy um w as s ta rin g a t th e s p ectr o m ete r re ado ut.
M eth an e g as w as s till co m ing o ut o f th e bo re h o le , a th in
w aft , b ut s te ad y.
“O r m ayb e w e c o uld b re ath e b ug f a rts ,” h e s a id.

“W hat? ”
L o okin g o ut th e w in dsh ie ld to w ard th e ir b ore h o le ,
Faiy um sa id , “M eth an e co nta in s hydr og en. If w e ca n
ca p tu re t h e m eth an e t h o se b ug a re e m ittin g .  .  .”
“ H ow d o w e g et th e h yd ro g en o ut o f it ?” O ’C onno r
ask e d .
“L a se it . T hat’ll bre ak it u p in to h ydr og en a n d c a rbo n.
T he c a rb on p re cip ita te s o ut, le avin g th e h ydr og en fo r u s
to f e ed t o t h e f u e l c e ll.
B ern ste in sh o ok his he ad . “H ow ’r e we goin g to
c a p tu re th e m eth an e in th e � rs t p la ce ? A nd h o w a re w e
goin g t o r e p air t h e f u e l c e ll’ s d am ag e?”
“W e ca n w eld a p atc h o n th e ce ll, ” O ’C onno r sa id.
“W e’v e g ot t h e t o ols f o r t h at.”
“ A nd w e ca n a tta ch a w eath e r b allo on to th e bo re
h o le . T hat’ll ho ld t h e m eth an e c o m ing o ut.”
“ Y e ah , b ut w ill it b e e no ug h t o p ow er u p t h e f u e l c e ll? ”
“W e’ll se e.”
W ith B ern ste in cle arly d oubt fu l, th e y br oke in to th e
e q uip m ent lo cke r an d pulle d out th e sm all, alm ost
d elic ate , w eld in g ro d a n d s u p plie s. Fa iyum o p ene d th e
b in t h at c o nta in ed t h e w eath e r ba lloons.
“T he m ete o ro lo gis ts a re n’t g oin g t o lik e o ur u sin g t h e ir
stu �,” B ern ste in sa id . “W e’r e su p pose d to b e re le asin g
th e se b allo ons t w ice a d ay.”
B efo re O ’C onno r c o uld re p ly w ith a c h o ic e, F u ck th e
m ete o ro lo gis ts , F aiy um s n ap ped , “ L e t ’e m e at c a ke .”

The y g ot to w ork . A s te am le ade r, O ’C onno r w as g la d
of th e e xc u se to b e d oin g s o m eth in g. E ve n if th is is a b ig
�o p , h e th o ug ht, it ’s b ette r to b e b usy th a n to ju st lay
a ro und a nd w ait t o d ie .
A s h e s tr e tc h e d o ne o f th e w eath e r ba lloons o ve r th e
b ore h o le a n d fa ste ne d it in p la ce , Fa iyum ke p t u p a
ste ad y s tr e am o f tim ew orn jo ke s. B ern ste in g ro an e d in
th e p ro p er p la ce s, a n d O ’C onno r s w eate d insid e h is s u it
w hile he laborio usly weld ed th e bu llet-h ole siz ed
p unctu re o f t h e f u e l c e ll’ s h yd ro g en t a n k.
B y m idaft e rn o on th e w eath e r ba lloon w as sw ellin g
nic ely .
“H ow m uch h yd ro g en d o y o u th in k w e’v e g ot th e re ?”
B ern ste in w ond ere d .
“N ot e no ug h,” sa id F aiy um , se rio us fo r o nce . “W e’ll
n e ed t h re e, f o ur b allo ons f u ll. M aybe m ore .”
O ’C onno r lo oke d w estw ard , out acro ss th e ble ak,
fr o ze n p la in . T he s u n w ould be s e ttin g in a n o th e r c o up le
of h o urs .
W he n th e y � n is he d th e ir d ay’s w ork a n d c la m be re d
b ack in to th e c o ck p it, O ’C onno r sa w th at th e ba tte rie s
were b are ly u p to h alf th e ir s ta n d ard pow er le ve l, e ve n
w ith t h e s o la r p an e ls r e ch arg in g t h e m a ll da y.
W e’r e n o t g oin g to m ake it , h e th o ug ht. B ut h e s a id
n o th in g. H e c o uld s e e th at th e o th e r tw o s ta re d at th e
b atte ry r e ad out. N o o ne s a id a w ord, t h o ug h.
T he nig ht w as w ors e th an eve r. O ’C onno r co uld n’t
s le ep . T he c o ld hurt . H e h ad tu rn e d o � h is s u it ra dio , s o

he c o uld n’t t e ll if t h e o th e r t w o h ad dr ifte d o� t o s le ep . H e
co uld n’t . H e k n e w t h at w he n a m an fr o ze t o de ath , h e fe ll
asle ep � rs t. N ot a b ad w ay t o d ie , h e s a id t o h im se lf. A s if
t h e re ’s a g ood w ay.
H e w as s u rp ris ed w he n th e � rs t ra ys o f s u nlig ht w oke
h im . I f e ll asle ep a nyw ay. I d id n’t die . N o t y e t.
F aiy um w asn ’t in th e c o ck p it, h e s a w . L o o kin g ble arily
th ro ug h th e w in dsh ie ld , h e s p otte d th e g eo lo gis t in th e
e arly m orn in g s u n � xin g a fr e sh b allo on to th e b ore h o le ,
with a b ig , ro und , y e llo w b allo on b obbin g fr o m a ro ck
h e ’d t ie d it t o .
O ’C onno r s a w F aiy um w avin g to h im a n d g estu rin g to
h is le ft w ris t, t h e n r e m em bere d th at h e h ad tu rn e d his s u it
ra d io o �. H e c lic ke d t h e c o ntr o l stu d o n h is w ris t.
“ .  .  . d am ne d n e ar r e ad y to b urs t,” F aiy um w as s a yin g.
“G ood t h in g I c a m e o ut h e re in t im e.”
B ern ste in w as ly in g b ack in h is cra n ke d-do wn se at,
e ith e r a sle ep o r  .  .  . O ’C onn o r n udg ed his s h o uld er. N o
re actio n. H e s h o ok t h e m an h arde r.
“ W ha .  .  . w hat’s g oin g o n?”
O ’C onno r le t o ut a b re ath th at h e h adn ’t re aliz ed he ’d
b een h o ld ing.
“Y o u o ka y?” h e a sk e d s o ft ly .
“I g otta t a ke a c ra p .”
O ’C onno r g ig gle d. H e’s a ll rig ht. W e m ade it th ro ug h
th e n ig ht. B ut t h e n h e t u rn e d t o t h e c o ntr o l p an e l a n d s a w
th at t h e b atte rie s w ere d ow n t o z e ro .

Faiy um a n d B ern ste in s p ent th e da y bu ilding a s y ste m
o f p ip es th at le d fr o m th e b allo on’s n e ck to th e in put
va lv e o f t h e r e p air e d f u e l ce ll’ s h ydr og en t a n k. A s lo ng a s
th e su n w as sh in ing, th e y had ple nty o f e le ctr ic ity to
p ow er th e la se r. F aiy um fa ste ne d th e ba lloon’s n e ck to
o ne of th e ho p per’s sp id ery lit tle la nd in g le gs an d
co nne cte d it to th e ric ke ty -lo okin g p ip ew ork . D am ne d
co ntr a ptio n’s goin g to le ak lik e a sie ve , O’C onno r
th o ug ht. H yd ro g en’s s n e aky s tu �.
A s h e w ork e d , h e k e p t u p h is p atte r o f in an e jo ke s. “ A
C ath o lic , a M uslim , a n d a J e w — ”
“H ow co m e th e Je w is alw ays la st on yo ur lis t? ”
B ern ste in a sk e d , fr o m h is p ost a t th e fu e l ce ll. O ’C onno r
sa w t h at t h e h yd ro g en t a n k w as s ta rtin g t o � ll.
F aiy um la unch e d in to an ela bo ra te jo ke fr o m th e
an cie nt d ays o f th e o ld S ovie t Un ion, in w hic h Je ws w ere
tu rn e d aw ay fr o m e ve ry th in g fr o m bu tc h e r’s sh o p s to
c lo th in g s to re s.
“T he y w ere n’t eve n allo wed to sta n d in lin e,” he
exp la in ed a s h e h e ld t h e b ob bin g ba lloon b y it s n e ck . “ S o
w he n th e guys w ho ’v e bee n w aitin g in lin e at th e
b utc h e r’s s h o p s in ce s u nris e a re t o ld th at t h e re ’s n o m eat
to d ay, o ne o f th e m tu rn s to a n o th e r a n d s a ys, ‘S ee, th e
Je w s g et t h e b est o f e ve ry th in g!’ ”
“ I d on’t g et it ,” B ern ste in c o m pla in ed.
“T he y d id n’t h ave t o s ta n d in lin e a ll da y.”
“ B eca u se t h e y w ere d is crim inate d ag ain st.”
F aiy um s h o ok h is h e ad . “I th o ug ht y o u p eo p le w ere

su p pose d t o h ave a g re at s e nse o f h um or.”
“ W he n w e h e ar s o m eth in g f u n ny.”
O ’C onno r s u p pre sse d a g ig gle . B ern ste in u nd ers to od
th e jo ke p erfe ctly w ell , h e t h o ug ht, b ut h e w asn ’t g oin g t o
le t F a iy um k n o w it .
B y t h e t im e t h e s u n t o uch e d t h e h o riz on a g ain , t h e f u e l
ce ll’ s hyd ro g en ta n k w as half fu ll an d th e ho p per’s
b atte rie s w ere t o ta lly d ead .
O ’C onno r c a lle d T ith o niu m . “ W e’r e g oin g to r u n o n th e
fu e l c e ll to nig ht.”
F o r th e �rs t tim e sin ce he ’d kn o w n he r, Glo ria
H aze ltin e lo oke d s u rp ris ed . “B ut I th o ug ht y o ur fu e l ce ll
w as d ead .”
“ W e’v e re su rre cte d it ,” O ’C onn o r s a id hap pily . “ W e’v e
g ot e no ug h h yd ro g en to ru n th e h e ate rs m ost o f th e
nig ht.”
“ W he re ’d y o u g et t h e h yd ro g en?” G lo ry H alle lujah w as
w id e-e ye d w ith c u rio sit y.
“B ug fa rts ,” sh o ute d Faiy um , fr o m ove r O ’C onno r’s
s h o uld er.
T he y m ad e it t h ro ug h t h e n ig ht a lm ost c o m fo rta bly a n d
sp ent th e n ext d ay � llin g b allo ons w ith m eth an e , th e n
b re akin g d ow n t h e g as in to it s c o m pone nts a n d � llin g t h e
fu e l c e ll’ s t a n k w ith h yd ro g en.
B y th e tim e th e re lie f sh ip fr o m Tith o niu m la nd ed
b esid e th e ir h o p per, O ’C onno r w as a lm ost r e ady to w ave
th e m o � a n d r e tu rn t o t h e b ase o n t h e ir o w n p ow er.

In ste ad , th o ug h, he sp ent th e day he lp ing his
te am mate s a n d th e tw o-m an c re w o f th e re lie f sh ip to
a tta ch th e s to ra g e r a ck s w ith th e ir p re vio us ic e c o re o nto
t h e b ig ger v e hic le .
As th e y to ok o � fo r T ith o niu m , � ve m en ja m med into
t h e s h ip ’s c o m man d d eck , O ’C onno r f e lt a lm ost s a d to be
le avin g t h e ir lit tle h o p per a lo ne o n t h e f r ig id pla in . A lm ost.
W e’ll be b ack , h e to ld h im se lf. A nd w e’ll sa lv age th e
V ik in g � la nd er w he n w e r e tu rn .
Faiy um sh o w ed n o re m ors e a bo ut le avin g a t a ll. “A
J e w , a C ath o lic , a n d a M uslim w alk in to a ba r.”
“ N ot a n o th e r o ne ,” B ern ste in g ro use d.
U nd ete rre d , Faiy um plo wed ah e ad. “T he barte nd er
ta ke s o ne lo ok a t t h e m a n d s a ys, ‘W hat is t h is , a jo ke ?’ ”
E ve n B ern ste in la ug he d .

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“T H E M AN W HO
HAT E D G RAV IT Y ”
Beg in nin g w rit e rs a re o ft e n to ld to “ w rit e a bo ut w hat y o u
kn o w .”
I h ave n e ve r b een to th e m oon, a lth o ug h I s till harbo r
so m e h o p e o f m akin g th at tr ip so m eda y. I h ave n e ve r
b een a cir cu s acro b at; I h ave e no ug h o f a ch alle ng e
gettin g t h ro ug h m y e ve ry d ay r o utin e.
B ut I k n o w w hat it ’s lik e to h ave g ra vit y p la y it s sly
tr ic ks o n m e. M an y y e ars a g o, I in jure d my k n e e w hile
p la yin g te nnis . F o r w eeks I w alk ed with a br ace o n m y
leg. T he n I n e ed ed a c a n e t o w alk w ith .
M y in ju ry � n ally h e ale d, b ut th e e xp erie nce le d me to
w rit e th e sto ry of th e G re at Rola nd o, cir cu s ae ria lis t

extr a o rd in air e .
I s u p pose R ola nd o’s c h ara cte r c o uld b e c a te g oriz ed as
“th e m an w ho le arn s b ette r.” W hat do y o u t h in k?

TH E M AN W HO
HAT E D G RAV IT Y
The G re at R ola nd o h ad n o t a lw ays h ate d gra vit y. A s a
c h ild g ro w in g u p in th e tr a ve lin g c ir cu s th at h ad been h is
o nly h o m e, h e o ft e n fr ig hte ne d his p are nts by c lim bin g
to o h igh , s w in gin g to o fa r, d arin g m ore th an th e y c o uld
b ear t o w atc h .
T he s o n o f a c lo wn a n d a c o ok, R ola nd o h ad ye arn e d
fo r t r u e g re atn e ss a n d c o uld n o t r e st u ntil he be ca m e t h e
m ost r e no w ne d a e ria lis t o f t h e m a ll.
S lim a n d h an d so m e in h is sp an g le d tig hts , R ola nd o
so are d th ro ug h th e em pty air th ir ty fe et abo ve th e
cir cu s’s � im sy s a fe ty n e t. T he n � ft y fe et a bo ve it . T he n a
fu ll hund re d f e et h ig h, w ith n o n e t a t a ll.
“S ee th e G re at R ola nd o D efy G ra vit y!” sh o ute d th e

poste rs a n d T V a d ve rtis em ents . A nd th e p eo p le c a m e to
c ra n e th e ir n e ck s a n d h o ld th e ir b re ath s a s h e p erfo rm ed
a s p lit -s eco nd b alle t in m idair h ig h a bo ve th e m . L it e ra lly
�yin g fr o m one tr a p eze to an o th e r, tr ip le so m ers a u lts
w ere w ork a d ay c h o re s f o r t h e G re at R ola nd o.
H is fa th e r fe are d to w atc h his so n’s p erfo rm an ce s.
W ith a ll th e s u p ers tit io n b orn o f g ene ra tio ns o f c ir cu s lif e,
he c rin ged o uts id e th e b ig to p w hile th e c ro w ds ro are d
d elir io usly . B ehin d his clo wn’s pain te d grin , Rola nd o’s
f a th e r tr e m ble d. His moth e r pra ye d th ro ug h eve ry
p erfo rm an ce u ntil th e d ay s h e die d, s lu m ped ove r a ba re
w ood en p ew in a tin y, au ste re ch urc h fa r out in th e
m idweste rn p ra ir ie .
Fo r n o m atte r h o w fa r h e � e w , n o m atte r h o w w ildly h e
g yra te d in m idair, no m atte r ho w th e cro w ds be low
gasp ed a n d sc re am ed th e ir de light, th e G re at R ola nd o
push e d h im se lf f a rth e r, h ig he r, m ore r e ck le ssly .
O nce , w he n th e c ir cu s w as p la yin g N ew Y o rk C ity’s
h ug e c o nve ntio n c e nte r, th e m an ag em ent p ulle d a p ub lic
re la tio ns c o up . T he y g ot a b rillia nt y o ung p hysic ist fr o m
C olu m bia U niv ers it y to p ose w ith R ola nd o fo r th e m edia
ca m era s a n d c o ng ra tu la te h im o n de fy in g g ra vit y.
O nce th e c a m era c re w s h ad d ep arte d, th e p hysic ist
sa id to R ola nd o, “ I’v e a lw ays h ad a s e cre t y e arn in g to be
in t h e c ir cu s. I a d m ire w hat y o u do v e ry m uch .”
R ola nd o acce p te d th e co m plim ent with a
co nd esc e nd in g s m ile .
“B ut no one ca n re a lly defy gra vit y,” th e physic ist
w arn e d . “ It ’s a u niv ers a l fo rc e , y o u k n o w .”

The Gre at Rola nd o’s sm ile va n is he d. “ I c a n defy
g ra vit y. A nd I d o. E ve ry d ay.”
S eve ra l ye ars la te r R ola nd o’s fa th e r die d (o f a h e art
s e iz ure , durin g one of his so n’s perfo rm an ce s) an d
R ola nd o m arrie d th e b rillia nt y o ung lio n ta m er w ho h ad
jo ined th e c ir cu s s lig htly e arlie r. S he w as a p etit e , lit tle
th in g w ith g old en h air, th e lo ve lie st o f blu e e ye s, a n d s o
sw eet a d is posit io n th at n o o ne c o uld s a y a n yth in g a bo ut
h e r th at w as le ss th an p ra is e. E ve n th e g re at c a ts p urre d
fo r h e r.
S he to o fe are d Rola nd o’s eve r-bo lder da rin g, his
w ild er a n d w ild er r e ach in gs o n t h e h ig h t r a p eze .
“T he re ’s n o th in g t o b e a fr a id o f! G ra vit y c a n ’t h urt m e!”
A nd h e w ould la ug h a t h e r f e ars .
“B ut I a m afr a id ,” s h e w ould c ry .
“T he p eo p le p ay th e ir m one y to s e e m e d efy g ra vit y,”
R ola nd o w ould te ll his te arfu l w ife . “ T he y’ll get bo re d if I
k e ep d oin g t h e s a m e s tu nts o ne y e ar a ft e r a n o th e r.”
S he lo ve d h im d early a n d fe lt te rribly fr ig hte ne d fo r
him . It w as o ne t h in g t o m aste r a la rg e c a g e f u ll of B eng al
tig ers a n d ta w ny lio ns a n d sn arlin g bla ck p an th e rs . A ll
yo u n e ed ed w as w ill an d n e rv e . B ut s h e k n e w t h at g ra vit y
w as a n o th e r m atte r a lto g eth e r.
“ N o one ca n defy gra vit y fo re ve r,” sh e w ould sa y,
g ently , s o ft ly , q uie tly .
“I c a n ,” b oaste d t h e G re at R ola nd o.
B ut o f c o urs e , h e c o uld n o t. N o o ne c o uld . N ot fo re ve r.
T he fa ll, w he n it in evit a b ly ca m e, w as a m atte r of a

fr a ctio n o f a s e co nd . H is y o ung a ssis ta n t’s h an d s lip ped
o nly s ligh tly in s ta rtin g o ut t h e e m pty t r a p eze fo r R ola nd o
to ca tc h a ft e r a q uad ru p le so m ers a u lt. R ola nd o a lm ost
c a u g ht it . In m idair h e sa w th at th e ba r w ould be to o
sh o rt. H e s tr e tc h e d h is m ag ni� ce ntly tr a in ed bo dy to th e
utm ost, a n d h is � n g ers ju st g ra ze d its t a p e-w ound sh aft .
F o r an in sta n t he hung in th e air. The te nt w ent
ab so lu te ly s ile nt. T he c ro w d d re w in it s c o lle ctiv e br eath .
T he ban d sto p ped pla yin g. The n gra vit y w ra p ped its
in vis ib le te nta cle s aro und th e G re at Rola nd o, an d he
p lu m mete d , w ild -e ye d a n d s c re am ing, to th e s a w du st a
h und re d f e et b elo w.
“H is r ig ht le g is c o m ple te ly s h atte re d, ” s a id th e f a m ous
su rg eo n to R ola nd o’s w ife . S he h ad sta ye d ca lm u p to
th at m om ent, s tr o ng a n d le ve lh eade d while h e r h usb an d
la y u nco nsc io us in a n in te nsiv e c a re u nit.
“H is o th e r in jurie s w ill he al. B ut th e le g .  .  .” T he g ra y-
h air e d , g ra y-s uite d m an s h o ok h is d ig ni� ed he ad sa dly .
His a ssis ta n ts , g ath e re d b ehin d h im lik e a n h o no r g uard,
s h o ok th e ir he ad s in m etr o no m e sy n ch ro ny to th e ir
le ad er.
“ H is le g?” s h e a sk e d , t r e m blin g.
“H e w ill ne ve r b e ab le to w alk ag ain ,” th e fa m ous
su rg eo n p ro no unce d .
The p etit e , b lo nd lio n t a m er c ru m ple d an d s a g ged into
t h e sle ek le ath e r co uch o f th e h o sp ita l waitin g ro om ,
te ars s p illin g d ow n h e r c h e eks.
“U nle ss .  .  .” s a id t h e f a m ous s u rg eo n.

“U nle ss? ” s h e e ch o ed , s u d denly w ild with h o p e.
“U nle ss we re p la ce th e sh atte re d leg with a
pro sth e sis .”
“ C ut o � h is le g?”
T he fa m ous su rg eo n p ro m ised he r th at a p ro sth e tic
b io nic le g w ould b e “ ju st a s g ood as th e o rig inal— in fa ct,
e ve n bette r!” It w ould be a p erm ane nt p ro sth e sis ; it
w ould n e ve r h ave to c o m e o �, a n d it s s y n th e tic s u rfa ce
w ould b le nd s o w ell with R ola nd o’s re al sk in th at n o o ne
w ould b e a b le t o t e ll w he re h is n atu ra l le g e nd ed, a n d h is
p ro sth e tic le g b eg an . H is a ssis ta n ts n o dde d in u nis on.
Fre nzie d a t th e th o ug ht th at h e r h usb an d w ould n e ve r
w alk a g ain , a lo ne in th e fa ce o f c o o lly a ssu re d medic al
w isdom , s h e re lu cta n tly g ave h e r a sse nt a n d s ig ne d th e
ne ce ssa ry p ap ers .
T he arti� cia l leg w as part lig htw eig ht m eta l, part
c o m posit e sp ace -m an ufa ctu re d mate ria ls, an d entir e ly
�lle d with marv e lo usly tin y ele ctr o nic de vic es an d
m iracu lo usly miniatu riz ed moto rs th at move d th e
p ro sth e sis e xa ctly th e w ay a r e al le g s h o uld m ove . It w as
str o ng er th an �e sh an d bone , or so th e do cto rs
c o n�d ently a ssu re d t h e G re at R ola nd o’s w ife .
T he c ir cu s m an ag er, a c o nsta n tly fr o w nin g b ald man
w ho re p orte d to a b oard o f b an ke rs , la wye rs , a n d M BA s
in S t. P ete rs b urg , a g re ed to p ay th e fa m ous su rg eo n’s
a str o no m ical fe e.
“T he �rs t a e ria lis t w ith a b io nic le g,” h e m urm ure d,
d olla r s ig ns in h is e ye s.

Rola nd o to ok th e ne w s of th e am puta tio n an d
p ro sth e se s w ith s u rp ris in g c a lm . H e a g re ed with h is w ife :
b ette r a s tr o ng a n d r e lia ble a rti� cia l le g t h an a r u in ed re al
o ne .
In tw o w eeks, he w alk ed ag ain . B ut no t w ell. H e
lim ped . T he le g h urt, w ith a s u lle n, s tu b bo rn a ch e th at
re fu se d t o g o a w ay.
“It w ill ta ke a lit tle tim e to g et a ccu sto m ed to it ,” s a id
th e p hysic al th e ra p is ts .
R ola nd o w aite d . H e e xe rc is ed. H e tr ie d joggin g. T he
le g d id n o t w ork r ig ht. A nd it a ch e d co nsta n tly .
“T hat’s ju st n o t p ossib le,” th e d octo rs assu re d him .
“P erh ap s y o u o ug ht t o t a lk w it h a p sy c h o lo gis t.”
T he G re at R ola nd o s to rm ed o ut o f t h e ir o � ce s, lim pin g
an d c u rs in g, n e ve r to re tu rn . H e w ent ba ck to th e c ir cu s,
b ut n o t t o h is a e ria l a cro b atic s. A m an w ho c o uld n o t w alk
p ro p erly , w ho h ad a n a rti� cia l le g th at did no t w ork r ig ht,
h ad n o b usin ess o n t h e h ig h t r a p eze .
H is yo ung assis ta n t to ok th e sp otlig ht no w an d
d up lic ate d — alm ost— th e G re at Rola nd o’s re p erto ire of
ae ria l acro b atic fe ats . Rola n d o watc h e d him with
m ountin g je alo usy, h is o nly sa tis fa ctio n be ing th at th e
cro w ds w ere n o tic eab ly s m alle r t h an t h e y h ad be en w he n
he h ad b een th e s ta r o f th e s h o w . T he c ir cu s m an ag er
fr o w ne d a n d a sk e d w he n R ola nd o w ould be re ady to
w ork a g ain .
“W he n t h e le g w ork s r ig ht,” s a id Rola nd o.
B ut it c o ntin ue d t o p ain h im , t o m ake h im a w kw ard an d

inva lid .
That is w he n h e b eg an t o h ate g ra vit y. H e h ate d be ing
pin ne d d ow n to th e g ro und lik e a w orm , a be etle . H e
w ould h o b ble in to th e b ig te nt a n d e ye th e � ie rs p la tfo rm
a h und re d fe et o ve r h is h e ad a n d k n o w th at h e c o uld n o t
eve n c lim b th e la dder to re ach it . H e g re w a n g rie r e ach
d ay. A nd c lu m sy. A nd o b ese . T he da mne d fa ls e le g hurt ,
n o m atte r w hat th o se e xp ensiv e q uack s s a id. It w as n o t
p sy c h o so m atic . Rola nd o sn o rte d co nte m pt fo r th e ir
stu p id ity.
H e s p ent h is d ays b um pin g in to in an im ate o bje cts a n d
tr ip pin g o ve r te nt ro p es. H e s p ent h is n ig hts g ru m blin g
an d g ro usin g, fe arin g to m ove a bo ut in th e da rk , fe arin g
eve n th at h e m ight r o ll o� h is be d. W he n h e m an ag ed to
s le ep , th e s a m e n ig htm are g rip ped him : h e w as fa llin g,
plu ng in g d ow nw ard ete rn ally w hile g ra vit y la ug he d at
h im , an d all his sc re am s fo r he lp did him no good
w hate ve r.
H is fo rm er assis ta n t g rin ne d at him w he ne ve r th e y
m et. The cir cu s man ag er to ok to gro w lin g abo ut
R ola nd o’s w eig ht a n d a sk in g h o w lo ng h e e xp ecte d to be
o n t h e p ayro ll w he n h e w as n o t e arn in g h is k e e p .
R ola nd o lim ped a n d a ch e d . A nd w he n n o o ne c o uld
se e h im , h e c rie d. H e g re w bit te r a n d a n g ry , lik e a p ro ud
lio n t h at � n d s h im se lf c a g ed f o re ve r.
R ep re se nta tiv es fr o m th e bio nic s co m pan y th at
m an ufa ctu re d th e p ro sth e tic le g v is ite d th e c ir cu s, th e ir
fa ce s g ra ve w ith c o nce rn .
“T he pr osth e sis sh o uld be w ork in g ju st �n e ,” th e y

insis te d .
R ola nd o in sis te d e ve n m ore s ta u nch ly th at th e ir c la im s
were f r a u d ule nt. “ I s h o uld s u e y o u a n d t h e ba rba ria n w ho
to ok m y le g o �.”
T he m an ufa ctu re r’s re p s c o nsu lte d th e ir h o m e o � ce ,
an d w ith in t h e w eek R ola nd o w as w his ke d to S an Jo se in
t h e ir c o m pan y je t. F o r d ays o n e nd , th e y te ste d th e le g,
its e le ctr o nic in nard s, th e b io nic in te rfa ce w he re it lin ke d
w ith Rola nd o’s hum an ne rv o us sy ste m . Eve ry th in g
ch e cke d o ut p erfe ctly . T he y s h o w ed Rola nd o th e r e su lts,
a lm ost w ith t e ars in t h e ir e ye s.
“It s h o uld w ork � n e .”
“ It d oes n o t.”
I n e xc h an g e fo r a w rit te n a g re em ent n o t to s u e th e m ,
th e b io nic s c o m pan y g ave R ola nd o a p osit io n a s a � e ld
co nsu lta n t, a t a h e alth y s tip end . H is o nly du tie s w ere to
p ho ne S an J o se o nce a m onth to re p ort o n h o w th e le g
fe lt. Rola nd o delig hte d in desc ribin g each an d eve ry
in div id ual tw in ge, th e aw kw ardn ess o f th e le g, h o w it
m ad e h im lim p.
H is w ife w as t h e m ajo r e arn e r n o w , de sp ite h is m onth ly
co nsu lta n t’s f e e. S he w ork e d t w ice a s h ard as e ve r be fo re
a n d b eg an to d ra w cro w ds th at he ld th e ir br eath s in
vic ario us te rro r as th e y w atc h e d th e tin y blo nd p la ce
h e rs e lf a t t h e m erc y o f s o m an y f a n g s a n d c la ws.
R ola nd o t r a ve le d w ith h e r a s t h e c ir cu s m ade it s t o ur o f
N orth A m eric a e ach y e ar, g ro w in g fa tte r a n d u nh ap pie r
day b y h um ilia tin g, f r u str a tin g, p ain fu l da y.

Gra vit y d efe ate d h im e ve ry h o ur, in a th o usa n d s m all
w ays. H e w ould r e ad a m ag azin e in t h e ir c ra m ped mobile
ho m e u ntil, b ore d , h e to sse d it o nto th e ta ble . G ra vit y
w ould s ly ly tu g a t it s p ag es u ntil th e m ag azin e s lip ped
o ve r th e ta b le ’s e d ge an d fe ll to th e �o or. H e w ould
sh o w er la borio usly , hatin g th e bulg ing fa t th at no w
encu m bere d h is o nce -s le ek b ody . T he s o ap w ould s lide
fr o m his han d s w hile he w as half-blin ded with su d s.
In e vit a b ly h e w ould s lip o n it a n d b an g h im se lf p ain fu lly
ag ain st t h e s h o w er w all.
If t h e re w as a c a rp et s p re ad o n t h e � o o r, g ra vit y w ould
co ntr iv e to h ave it e nta n g le h is fe et a n d p ull him in to a
h um ilia tin g f a ll. S ta ir s t r ip ped h im . H is s ilv erw are c la tte re d
no is ily t o t h e � o or in r e sta u ra n ts .
H e s h unne d th e b ig to p a lto g eth e r, w he re th e p eo p le
w ho h ad o nce p aid to s e e h im s o ar th ro ug h th e a ir c o uld
se e ho w he avy an d clu m sy he had beco m e— eve n
th o ug h a n asty v o ic e in h is m ind to ld him th at n o o ne
w ould r e co g niz e t h e fa t o ld m an h e n o w w as a s t h e o nce
m ag ni� ce nt G re at R ola nd o.
A s th e y e ars s tr e tc h e d p ast, R ola nd o g re w g ra ye r a n d
h e avie r an d an g rie r. Fu rio us at gra vit y. Bello win g,
sc re am ing, ho w lin g w ith im pote nt ra g e at th e hate fu l
tr ic ks g ra vit y p la ye d o n h im e ve ry d ay, e ve ry h o ur. H e
to ok to le an in g o n a ca n e a n d stu m pin g a ro und th e ir
m ob ile h o m e, ro arin g h e lp lessly a g ain st g ra vit y a n d th e
fa te t h at w as k illin g h im b y in ch e s.
H is d arlin g w ife re m ain ed s te adf ast a n d s u p portiv e a ll
th ro ug h th o se te rrib le y e ars . O th e r c ir cu s fo lk s h o ok th e ir

he ad s in w ond er a t h e r. “ S he s p end s a ll da y w ith th e big
c a ts a n d th e n g oes h o m e to m ore ro arin g a n d s p ittin g,”
t h e y t o ld e ach o th e r.
T he n o ne w in te r aft e rn o on, as th e su n th re w lo ng
sh ad ow s acro ss th e H ousto n A str o do me park in g lo t,
w he re th e c ir cu s w as c a m ped fo r th e w eek, R ola nd o’s
w ife c a m e in to th e ir m ob ile h o m e, h e r s k y-blu e w ork o ut
su it d ark w ith p ers p iratio n, a n d a n no unce d th at a s m all
co ntin gent o f p erfo rm ers h ad be en in vit e d to M oonb ase
fo r a m onth .
“T o t h e m oon?” R ola nd o a sk e d, in cre du lous. “ W ho?”
“T he �ie rs an d tig htr o p e acts ,” sh e re p lie d, “a n d a
se le ctio n o f a cro b ats a n d c lo wns. “
“ T he re ’s no gra vit y up th e re ,” Rola nd o m utt e re d,
su d denly je alo us. “ O r le ss g ra vit y. S om eth in g lik e t h at.”
H e s lu m ped b ack in th e s o fa w ith o ut r e aliz ing th at th e
w ond erfu l sm ile o n h is w ife ’s fa ce m ean t th at th e re w as
m ore s h e w an te d t o t e ll him .
“W e’v e been invit e d to o!” sh e blu rte d, an d sh e
p erc h e d h e rs e lf o n h is la p, th re w h e r a rm s a ro und his
th ic k n e ck , a n d k is se d h im s o undly .
“Y o u m ean yo u’v e b een in vit e d ,” h e s a id d ark ly , p ullin g
aw ay fr o m h e r e m bra ce . “ Y o u’r e th e s ta r o f th e s h o w ; I’m
a h as-b een”
S he s h o ok h e r h e ad , s till sm ilin g h ap pily . “ T he y h ave n’t
a sk e d m e to p erfo rm . T he y c a n ’t br ing th e c a ts u p in to
s p ace . T he in vit a tio n is f o r t h e G re at R ola nd o a n d h is w ife
to s p end a m onth u p th e re a s g ue sts o f M oonb ase In c.!”

Rola nd o s u sp ecte d th at th e b io nic s c o m pan y h ad pulle d
so m e c o rp ora te s tr in gs. T he y w an te d to s e e h o w th e ir
d am nab le le g w ork s w ith o ut gra vit y, he w as ce rta in .
In w ard ly , h e w as e ag er to � n d out to o. B ut h e le t n o o ne
kn o w t h at, n o t e ve n h is w ife .
To h is u tte r s h am e a n d d is m ay, R ola nd o w as m isera bly
sic k a ll th e lo ng th re e d ays o f th e � ig ht fr o m Te xa s to
M oonb ase . Im med ia te ly aft e r ta ke o � th e sp ace cra ft
c a rry in g th e cir cu s perfo rm ers was in ze ro gra vit y,
w eig htle ss, an d Rola nd o fo und th at th e abs ence of
g ra vit y w as w ors e fo r h im th an g ra vit y it se lf. H is s to m ach
se em ed to b e fa llin g all th e tim e w hile , p ara do xic ally ,
an yth in g h e tr ie d to e at c ra w le d up w ard into h is th ro at
a n d m ad e h im v io lently ill.
In h is m isery a n d n e ar d elir ium , h e k n e w th at g ra vit y
w as la ug hin g a t h im .
Once o n t h e m oon, h o w eve r, e ve ry th in g be ca m e q uite
�n e . B ette r th an � n e , a s fa r a s R ola nd o w as c o nce rn e d.
W hile cle ar-e ye d , yo ung M oonb ase guid es in cris p
unifo rm s o f a m ber a n d b ro nze de monstr a te d th e c a u tio us
sh u� ing w alk t h at w as n e ed ed in t h e g entle lu nar g ra vit y,
R ola nd o r e aliz ed t h at h is le g n o lo ng er h urt.
“ I fe el �n e ,” h e w his pere d to h is w ife , in th e m iddle o f
th e d em onstr a tio n. T he n h e s ta rtle d th e g uid es a n d h is
fe llo w cir cu s fo lk alik e b y to ssin g h is ca n e aside an d
le ap in g � ve m ete rs in to th e a ir, s h o utin g a t th e to p o f h is
lu ng s, “ I f e el w ond er fu l !”
T he cir cu s perfo rm ers were ta ke n o� to sp ecia l
orie nta tio n le ctu re s, but Rola nd o an d his w ife w ere

esc o rte d by a pert yo ung re dh ead into th e o� ce of
M oonb ase ’s c h ie f a d m inistr a to r.
“ R em em ber m e?” a sk e d th e a dm inistr a to r a s h e s h o ok
R ola nd o’s h an d a n d h alf b ow ed to h is w ife . “I w as th e
p hysic ist a t C olu m bia w ho d id th at T V c o m merc ia l w ith
yo u s ix o r s e ve n y e ars a g o.”
R ola nd o d id n o t, in fa ct, re m em be r th e m an ’s fa ce a t
all, a lth o ug h h e d id r e ca ll his w arn in g a bo ut g ra vit y. A s h e
sa t dow n in th e ch air th e adm inistr a to r pro �ere d, he
fr o w ne d s lig htly .
The a d m inistr a to r w ore z ip pere d co ve ra lls o f p ow de r
blu e. H e h ik ed o ne h ip o nto th e e dg e o f h is d esk a n d
b eam ed h ap pily a t th e R ola nd os. “I c a n ’t te ll yo u h o w
d elig hte d I a m to h ave th e c ir cu s h e re , e ve n if it ’s ju st fo r
a m onth . I re ally had to sw eat blo od to get th e
co rp ora tio n’s m an ag em ent to o ka y br ingin g y o u u p h e re .
Tra n sp orta tio n’s s till quite e xp ensiv e, y o u k n o w .”
R ola nd o p atte d h is a rti� cia l le g. “ I im ag in e th e bio nic s
co m pan y p aid t h e ir f a ir s h are o f t h e c o sts .”
T he a d m inistr a to r lo oke d slig htly sta rtle d. “W ell, y e s,
th e y h ave p ic ke d u p t h e t a b f o r y o u a n d M rs . R ola nd o.”
“ I t h o ug ht s o .”
R ola nd o’s w ife s m ile d s w eetly . “ W e a re de lighte d th at
yo u in vit e d u s h e re .”
T he y ch atte d a while lo ng er, an d th e n th e
ad m inistr a to r p ers o nally e sc o rte d th e m t o t h e ir a p artm ent
in M oonb ase ’s to uris t s e ctio n. “H ave a h ap py s ta y,” h e
sa id , b y w ay o f t a kin g h is le ave .

Alth o ug h h e d id n o t e xp ect to , th at is e xa ctly w hat
R ola nd o did fo r th e next m an y da ys. M oonb ase w as
m arv e lo us! T he re w as e no ug h g ra vit y to k e e p h is in sid es
b ehavin g p ro p erly , b ut it w as so lig ht a n d g entle th at
e ve n h is o b ese b od y w ith it s fa ls e le g fe lt y o ung a n d
ag ile a g ain .
Rola nd o w alk ed th e le ng th a n d breadt h o f th e g re at
M ain P la za , h is w ife c lin gin g to h is a rm , a n d m arv e le d at
h o w th e M oonb ase p eo p le h ad land sc a p ed th e e xp an se
u nd er th e ir d om e, p la nte d it w ith g ra ss an d �o w erin g
sh ru b s. T he a p artm ent th e y h ad be en a ssig ne d to w as
d eep er u nd erg ro und , in o ne o f th e lo ng c o rrido rs th at
h ad b een b la ste d o ut o f s o lid ro ck . B ut t h e q uarte rs w ere
n o s m alle r th an th e ir m ob ile h o m e ba ck o n E arth , a n d it
h ad a v id eo s c re en th at to ok u p o ne e ntir e w all of th e
sit tin g r o om .
“I lo ve it h e re !” R ola nd o to ld h is w ife . “I co uld sta y
fo re ve r!”
“ It ’s o nly f o r o ne m onth ,” s h e s a id so ft ly . H e ig no re d it.
R ola nd o a d ju ste d q uic kly to w alk in g in th e e asy lu nar
g ra vit y, ne ve r no tic in g th at his w ife adju ste d just as
q uic kly (p erh ap s e ve n a s h ad e fa ste r). H e le ft h is c a n e in
th e ir a pa rtm ent a n d s tr o lle d u naide d each d ay th ro ug h
th e sh o p pin g arc a d es an d ath le tic �e lds of th e M ain
P la za , w alk in g f o r h o urs o n e nd w ith o ut a bit o f p ain .
He w atc h e d th e ro usta b outs w ho h ad co m e u p w ith
h im d ire ctin g t h e ir r o b ots t o s e t u p a big t o p in t h e m iddle
of th e pla za , a gau d y bla ze of co lo rfu l pla stic an d
p ennan ts b ene ath th e g re at g ra y do me th at s o are d hig h

ove rh e ad .
The m oon is m arv e lo us , th o ug ht R ola nd o. T he re w as
still gra vit y lu rk in g, tr y in g to tr ip h im u p a n d m ake h im
lo ok r id iculo us. B ut e ve n w he n h e fe ll, it w as s o s lo w a n d
g entle th at h e c o uld p ut o ut h is p ow erfu l arm s a n d p ush
h im se lf u p to a s ta n d in g p osit io n be fo re h is b ody a ctu ally
h it t h e g ro und .
“I lo ve it h e re !” h e s a id to h is w ife , d oze ns o f tim es
each d ay. S he s m ile d a n d tr ie d to re m ind h im th at it w as
o nly f o r t h re e m ore w eeks.
A t din ne r one eve nin g in Moonb ase ’s gra n d er
re sta u ra n t (t h e re w ere o nly tw o, n o t c o untin g c a fe te ria s)
h is e arth ly m usc le s p ro ve d t o o s tr o ng fo r t h e m oon w he n
he ra m med th e ir h alf-� nis he d b ottle o f w in e b ack in to it s
a lu m inum ic e b ucke t. T he b ucke t tip ped an d fe ll o� th e
e d ge o f th e ta b le . B ut R ola nd o s n atc h e d it w ith o ne h an d
in th e m idst o f it s la ng uid fa ll to w ard th e � o or a n d w ith a
s m ile a n d a � o uris h, d ep osit e d th e b ucke t w ith th e b ottle
s till in it b ack o n t h e t a b le b efo re a dr op h ad sp ille d.
“I lo ve it h e re ,” h e re p eate d fo r th e fo rtie th tim e th at
d ay.
G ra d ually , th o ug h, h is e up ho ric m ood sa n k. T he c ir cu s
b eg an g iv in g a b bre via te d p erfo rm an ce s in sid e it s big t o p,
an d R ola nd o s to od h e lp lessly p in ne d to th e g ro und while
th e s p otlig hts p ic ke d o ut t h e y o ung � ie rs in t h e ir s k in tig ht
co stu m es a s th e y s o are d s lo wly, dr eam ily th ro ug h th e a ir
b etw een o ne tr a p eze an d th e n ext, tw istin g, sp in nin g,
so m ers a u ltin g in t h e s o ft lu nar g ra vit y in w ays t h at n o o ne
h ad eve r done befo re . The au d ie nce gasp ed an d

ch e ere d a n d g ave t h e m s ta n d in g o va tio ns. R ola nd o s to od
ro ote d n e ar o ne o f th e te nt’s e ntr a n ce s, de ep in s h ado w,
w earin g a to uris t’s pale -g re en co ve ra lls , ch o kin g w ith
e nvy a n d f r u str a te d r a g e.
T he cro w ds were sm all— th e re were only a fe w
th o usa n d peo p le liv ing at M oonb ase , plu s perh ap s
an o th e r t h o usa n d t o uris ts — but t h e y s h o ok t h e p la stic t e nt
w ith t h e ir r o ars o f d elig ht.
R ola nd o w atc h e d a fe w p erfo rm an ce s, th e n sta ye d
aw ay. B ut he no tic ed at th e O lym pic -s ized pool th at
te enag ers w ere d iv in g fr o m a th ir ty -m ete r p la tfo rm a n d
d oin g h alf a d oze n s o m ers a u lts a s th e y fe ll lang uid ly in
th e easy gra vit y. Eve n w he n th e y hit th e w ate r, th e
sp la sh e s t h e y m ad e r o se la zily a n d t h e n fe ll ba ck in to t h e
p ool so le isure ly t h at it s e em ed lik e a s lo w-m otio n � lm .
Anyo ne c a n b e a n a th le te h e re , R ola nd o re aliz e d a s
h e w atc h e d to uris ts � yin g o n re nte d win gs th ro ug h th e
up per r e ach e s o f t h e M ain P la za ’s v a u lte d do me.
C hild re n co uld easily do no t m ere ly O lym pic , bu t
Olym pia n f e ats o f a cro b atic s. R ola nd o be gan t o dr ead th e
p ossib ilit y of se ein g a yo ung ste r do a quadr up le
so m ers a u lt f r o m a s ta n d in g s ta rt.
“ A nyo ne c a n d efy g ra vit y h e re ,” h e c o m pla in ed to h is
w ife , s ile ntly a d din g, a nyo ne b u t m e.
It m ad e h im m oro se to re aliz e th at fe ats w hic h h ad
ta ke n h im a lif etim e to a cco m plis h c o uld b e le arn e d by a
to d dle r in h alf a n h o ur. A nd s o o n h e w ould h ave t o r e tu rn
to E arth w ith it s h e avy, o p pre ssiv e, m ock in g g ra vit y.

I k n o w y o u’r e w aitin g fo r m e , h e s a id to g ra vit y. Y o u’r e
g oin g t o k ill me— if I d on’t d o t h e jo b fo r m yse lf f ir st.
T w o n igh ts b efo re th e y w ere d ue to d ep art, th e y w ere
th e d in ne r g ue sts o f t h e c h ie f a dm inistr a to r a n d s e ve ra l o f
his s ta �. A s fo rm al an o cca sio n a s M oonb ase e ve r h as,
th e m en w ore sp ort ja cke ts an d tu rtle ne ck sh ir ts , th e
w om en re al dre sse s a n d je welry. T he a dm inistr a to r to ld
ho ary o ld s to rie s o f h is c h ild ho od ye arn in g to be in th e
cir cu s. R ola nd o r e m ain ed m ode stly s ile nt, e ve n w he n th e
ad m inistr a to r s p oke g lo win gly o f h o w h e h ad adm ire d th e
d arin g f e ats o f t h e G re at R ola ndo —man y y e ars a g o.
A ft e r d in ne r, b ack in th e ir a p artm ent, R ola nd o tu rn e d
o n h is w ife . “Y o u g ot th e m to in vit e u s u p h e re , d idn ’t
y o u?”
S he a d m itte d , “ T he b io nic s c o m pan y to ld me th at th e y
w ere g oin g t o e nd y o ur c o nsu ltin g fe e. T he y w an t t o g iv e
up o n y o u! I a sk e d t h e m t o le t u s c o m e h e re t o s e e if y o ur
le g w ould b e b ette r in lo w g ra vit y.”
“ A nd t h e n w e g o b ack t o E arth .”
“ Y e s.”
“ B ack t o re a l gra vit y. B ack t o m y b ein g a c rip ple !”
“ I w as h o p in g .  .  .” H er v o ic e br oke a n d s h e s a n k o nto
t h e b ed , c ry in g.
S ud denly , Rola nd o’s an g er w as ove rw he lm ed by a
se arin g, a g oniz in g s e nse o f s h am e. A ll th e se y e ars s h e
h ad b een tr y in g s o h ard , s ta n din g b etw een h im a n d th e
re st o f th e w orld , p ro te ctin g h im , s h e lte rin g h im . A nd fo r
w hat? S o th at h e c o uld s c re am a t h e r fo r th e re st o f h is

life?
H e c o uld n o t b ear it a n y lo ng er.
U nab le t o s p eak, u nab le e ve n t o r e ach h is h an d o ut t o
c o m fo rt he r, he tu rn e d an d lum be re d out of th e
ap artm ent, le avin g h is w ife w ee p in g a lo ne .
H e k n e w w he re h e h ad to b e, w he re h e c o uld � n ally
p ut a n e nd to th is h um ilia tio n a n d m isery . H e m ade h is
w ay t o t h e b ig t o p.
A s tu b by, g unm eta l-g ra y r o b ot s to od guard at t h e m ain
e ntr a n ce , it s se nso rs fo cu sin g o n R ola nd o lik e th e re d
g lo win g e ye s o f a s p id er.
“ N o acce ss at th is tim e exc e p t to m em be rs o f th e
cir cu s t r o up e,” it s a id in a s y n th e siz ed vo ic e.
“I a m t h e G re at R ola nd o.”
“ O ne m om ent, ple ase , fo r vo ic ep rin t ide nti� ca tio n,”
s a id t h e r o b ot, t h e n, “ A ppro ve d. ”
Rola nd o sw ep t p ast th e co ntr a p tio n w ith a sn o rt o f
co nte m pt.
T he b ig to p w as e m pty a t th is h o ur. To m orro w th e y
w ould s ta rt t o d is m an tle it . T he n ext d ay t h e y w ould h e ad
b ack t o E arth .
R ola nd o w alk ed s lo wly, s ti� y to th e b ase o f th e la dde r
th at r e ach e d u p t o t h e t r a p eze s. T he s p otlig hts w ere s h ut
d ow n. T he o nly illu minatio n in side t h e t e nt c a m e fr o m t h e
h ars h w ork in g lig hts s p otte d h e re a n d t h e re .
R ola nd o h e ave d a d eep b re ath a n d str ip ped o� h is
ja cke t. The n, grip pin g one of th e la dde r’s ru ng s, he

beg an to c lim b: g ood le g � rs t, th e n th e a rti� cia l le g. H e
co uld fe el no d i� ere nce b etw een th e m . H is bo dy w as
o nly o ne -s ixth it s e arth ly w eig ht, o f c o urs e , bu t s till, th e
arti� cia l le g b ehave d e xa ctly a s h is n o rm al o ne .
H e re ach e d th e to p m ost p la tfo rm . H oldin g tig htly to
th e s id e r a il, h e p eere d d ow n in to th e g lo om y s h ado ws a
h und re d f e et b elo w.
W ith a slo w, p ond ero us n o d o f h is h e ad, th e G re at
R ola nd o � n ally a d m itte d w hat h e h ad ke p t bu rie d insid e
him all th e se long , an g uis he d ye ars . Fin ally , th e
co nce ale d tr u th e m erg ed a n d sto od nake d be fo re h im .
With t e ar-� lle d e ye s h e s a w it s r e alit y.
H e h ad b een liv in g a lie a ll th e se y e ars . H e h ad been
b la m ing g ra vit y fo r h is o w n fa ilu re . N ow h e u nde rs to od
w ith p re cis e, � n al cla rit y th at it w as n o t g ra vit y th at h ad
d estr o ye d h is lif e.
It w as f e ar.
H e s to od ro ote d o n th e h ig h p la tfo rm , tr e m blin g w ith
th e m em ory of fa llin g, plu ng in g, sc re am ing te rro r. H e
kn e w th at th is fe ar w ould liv e w ith in h im a lw ays, fo r th e
re m ain der o f h is lif e. It w as to o s tr o ng to o ve rc o m e; h e
w as a c o w ard , p ro b ab ly h ad a lw ays be en a c o w ard, a ll his
lif e. A ll his lif e.
W ith o ut c o nsc io usly th in kin g a bo ut it , R ola nd o u ntie d
one o f th e tr a p eze s a n d g rip ped th e ro ug h s u rfa ce o f it s
ta p ed b ar. H e d id n o t b oth e r w ith re sin . T he re w ould b e
no n e ed .
A s if in a d re am , h e sw ung o ut in to th e e m pty a ir,

fe elin g th e r u sh o f w in d r u � ing h is g ra y h air, h e arin g th e
cre ak o f t h e r o p es b ene ath h is w eig ht.
O nce , tw ice, th re e tim es h e sw ung ba ck a n d fo rth ,
kic kin g hig he r each tim e. He gru nte d with th e
unaccu sto m ed e xe rtio n. H e fe lt s w eat tr ic klin g fr o m h is
arm pits.
L o okin g d ow n, h e s a w th e h ard gro und so fa r b elo w.
O ne m ore fa ll , h e to ld h im se lf. J u st le t g o, a nd th a t w ill
end it f o re ve r. E nd t h e f e a r. E nd th e s h a m e.
“T e ach m e!”
T he v o ic e b oom ed lik e c a n no n � re a cro ss th e e m pty
te nt. R ola nd o f e lt e ve ry m usc le in h is bo dy t ig hte n.
O n th e o p posit e p la tfo rm , b efo re h im , s to od th e c h ie f
ad m inistr a to r, s till wearin g h is din ne r ja cke t.
“ T e ach m e!” h e c a lle d a g ain . “ S ho w m e h o w to d o it .
Ju st t h is o nce , b efo re y o u h ave t o le ave .”
R ola nd o h ung b y h is h an d s, s w in gin g ba ck a n d fo rth .
T he y o ung er m an ’s � g ure s ta n din g o n th e p la tfo rm c a m e
clo se r, c lo se r, th e n re ce d ed , dw indle d as in ertia c a rrie d
Rola nd o f o rw ard a n d b ack , f o rw ard an d ba ck .
“N o o ne w ill kn o w ,” th e a d m inistr a to r p le ade d th ro ug h
th e s h ad ow s. “I p ro m ise y o u; I’ll ne ve r te ll a s o ul. J u st
sh o w m e h o w t o d o it . J u st t h is o nce .”
“ S ta n d b ack ,” R ola nd o he ard his o w n vo ic e ca ll, it
sta rtle d h im .
Rola nd o k ic ke d o nce , tr ie d to ju dge th e dis ta n ce a n d
acco unt fo r th e lo wer g ra vit y a s b est a s h e c o uld , a n d le t

go o f t h e b ar. H e s o are d t o o f a r, bu t t h e s tr o ng c o m posit e
m esh a t th e re ar o f th e p la tfo rm c a u g ht h im , y ie ldin gly ,
an d h e w as a b le to g ra sp th e s id e r a ilin g a n d s ta n d e re ct
b efo re th e yo ung ad m inistr a to r co uld re ach out an d
ste ad y h im .
“W e b oth h ave a lo t to le arn ,” s a id th e G re at R ola nd o.
“T a ke o � y o ur ja cke t.”
F o r m ore th an an ho ur, th e tw o m en sw ung hig h
th ro ug h th e sile nt, sh ad ow y air. R ola nd o tr ie d no th in g
fa n cy, no le ap s fr o m one ba r to an o th e r, no re al
a cro b atic s. It w as tr ic ky e no ug h ju st la nd in g g ra ce fu lly o n
th e pla tfo rm in th e str a n g e lunar gra vit y. The
ad m inistr a to r d id e xa ctly a s R ola nd o in str u cte d him . Fo r
all his y o uth a n d d esir e to e m ula te a c ir cu s s ta r, h e w as
n o d are d evil. It s a tis �e d h im c o m ple te ly to s w in g s id e b y
sid e w ith t h e G re at R ola nd o, t o s h are t h e s a m e p la tfo rm .
“W hat m ad e y o u c o m e h e re to nig ht? ” R ola nd o a sk e d
as th e y sto od gasp in g an d sw eatin g on th e pla tfo rm
b etw een t u rn s.
“T he s e cu rit y r o b ot r e p orte d y o ur e ntr y . S tr ic tly r o utin e,
I g et a ll su ch re p orts p ip ed to m y q uarte rs . B ut I � g ure d
th is w as t o o g ood a c h an ce t o m iss!”
F in ally , so ake d w ith pers p iratio n, arm s ach in g, an d
�n g ers r a w a n d c ra m pin g, th e y m ade th e ir w ay do wn th e
la dder t o t h e g ro und . L a u g hin g.
“I’ll ne ve r fo rg et th is ,” th e a d m inistr a to r s a id. “It ’s th e
h ig h p oin t o f m y lif e.”
“ M ine t o o,” s a id R ola nd o f e rv e ntly . “ M ine t o o.”

Tw o d ays la te r th e a d m inistr a to r c a m e to th e ro cke t
te rm inal to s e e th e c ir cu s tr o up e o �. T a kin g R ola nd o a n d
h is w ife to o ne s id e, h e s a id in a lo w v o ic e th at br im med
w ith hap pin ess, “Y o u kn o w , w e’r e sta rtin g to acce p t
re tir e d co up le s fo r perm an e nt re side nce he re at
M oonb ase .”
R ola nd o’s w ife im med ia te ly re sp ond ed, “O h, I’m n o t
re ad y t o r e tir e y e t.”
“ N or I,” s a id R ola nd o. “ I’ll sta y w ith th e c ir cu s fo r a fe w
ye ars m ore , I th in k. T he re m ight s till be tim e fo r m e to
m ake a c o m eb ack .”
“ S till, ” sa id th e a d m inistr a to r, “w he n y o u do w an t to
r e tir e  .  .  .”
M rs . R ola nd o s m ile d a t h im . “ I’v e n o tic ed th at m y fa ce
lo oks b ette r in t h is lo wer g ra vit y. I p ro ba bly w ould n’t n e e d
a f a ce -lif t if w e c o m e t o liv e h e re .”
T he y la ug he d t o g eth e r.
T he re st o f th e tr o up e w as � lin g in to th e ro cke t th at
w ould t a ke t h e m b ack t o E arth . R ola nd o g alla ntly h e ld his
w ife ’s arm as sh e ste p ped up th e ra m p an d du cke d
th ro ug h th e h atc h . T he n h e tu rn e d to th e a dm inistr a to r
an d a sk e d s w iftly :
“W hat y o u to ld m e a b out g ra vit y a ll th o se y e ars a g o—
is it re ally tr u e? It is re ally u niv ers a l? T he re ’s n o w ay
aro und it ?”
“A fr a id no t,” th e ad m inistr a to r an sw ere d. “S om eda y
gra vit y w ill make t h e s u n c o lla pse . It m ight e ve n m ake t h e
e ntir e u niv ers e c o lla pse .”

Rola nd o n o d ded , s h o ok t h e m an ’s h an d , t h e n fo llo wed
his wife to his se at in sid e th e ro cke t’s passe ng er
co m partm ent. A s h e lis te ne d to th e ta p ed sa fe ty le ctu re
a n d s tr a p ped o n h is s a fe ty b elt, h e th o ug ht to h im se lf: s o
g ra vit y w ill get u s a ll in t h e e nd .
T he n h e s m ile d g rim ly. B ut n o t y e t. N ot y e t.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“S EP U LC HER ”
Why d o h um an b ein gs c re ate w ork s o f a rt?
A m ong th e earlie st pro d ucts of hum an han d s th at
a rc h e o lo gis ts h ave u nco ve re d a re tin y, p alm -sized bits o f
sto ne th at h ave b een sh ap ed into m iniatu re sta tu e s—
o ft e n cru d e fe m ale �g ure s with pro m inent se xu al
ch ara cte ris tic s.
W hy d id s o m eo ne t a ke t h e t im e a n d s p end t h e e ne rg y
to c o nve rt a lu m p o f s to ne in to a w ork o f a rt?
W hy d o I s p end m ost o f m y lif e c re atin g s to rie s, w rit in g
ta le s a b out im ag in ary p eo p le in f a n ta stic s e ttin gs?
I th in k o ne o f th e m otiv atio ns fo r c re atin g a rtw ork s is
c o m munic atio n . T he a rtis t— whe th e r s c u lp to r, p ain te r, o r
eve n a w rit e r o f s c ie nce � ctio n— is tr y in g to s p eak to a n

au d ie nce , tr y in g to s a y: th is is th e w ay th e u niv ers e lo oks
to m e. C an y o u s e e w hat I s e e? C an y o u f e el w hat I f e el?
E ach o f us is tr a p ped in sid e his o r he r o w n sh e ll,
g ro p in g th ro ug h a lifetim e of exp erie nce s, tr y in g
end le ssly t o m ake m ean in gfu l co nta ct w ith a ll th o se o th e r
p eo p le a ro und u s.
I th in k th at, a t h e art, th at is w hy so m e o f u s tr y to
c re ate w ork s o f a rt. F ro m th o se e arlie st � g urin es to th e
g ra n d est m onu m ents of hum an his to ry , artw ork s are
a tte m pts t o c o m munic ate , a t le ast in p art.
“ S ep ulc he r” is a t a le a b out s u ch a w ork o f a rt, a n d h o w
it a � ects t h re e v e ry d i� ere nt— an d v e ry h um an — peo p le .

SEP U LC HER
“I w as a s o ld ier,” h e s a id . “ N ow I a m a p rie st. Y o u m ay c a ll
m e D orn .”
E lv erd a A pach e ta c o uld n o t h e lp s ta rin g a t h im . S he
h ad s e en c yb org s b efo re , b ut th is  .  .  . p ers o n s e em ed
m ore m ach in e th an m an . She fe lt a ch ill rip ple of
co nte m pt g o th ro ug h he r ve in s. H ow co uld a hum an
b ein g a llo w h is b od y t o b e d is �g ure d so ?
H e was no t ta ll; Elv erd a he rs e lf sto od se ve ra l
ce ntim ete rs ta lle r th an he . H is sh o uld ers w ere quite
b ro ad , th o ug h; h is to rs o th ic k a n d s o lid. T he le ft s id e o f
his fa ce w as e ng ra ve d m eta l, a s w as th e e ntir e to p o f h is
h e ad : lik e a s k u llc ap m ad e o f � n e st e tc h e d ste el.
D orn ’s le ft h an d w as p ro sth e tic . H e m ade n o a tte m pt
to d is guis e it . B ene ath th e ro ug h fa br ic o f h is sh abby

tu nic a n d th re ad bare tr o use rs , h o w m uch m ore o f h im
w as m eta l an d e le ctr ic al m ach in ery ? T a tte re d th o ug h h is
clo th in g w as, h is ca lf-le ng th bo ots w ere p olis he d to a
h ig h g lo ss.
“A prie st? ” ask e d M ile s Ste rlin g. “O f w hat ch urc h ?
W hat o rd er? ”
T he h alf o f D orn ’s lip s th at c o uld m ove m ade a s lig ht
cu rl. A s m ile o r a s n e er, E lv erd a c o uld n o t t e ll.
“I w ill sh o w y o u to y o ur q uarte rs ,” s a id Do rn . H is v o ic e
w as a lo w r u m ble , a s if it c a m e f r o m t h e be lly o f a be ast. It
e ch o ed f a in tly o � t h e w alls o f r o ug h-h ew n r o ck .
S te rlin g looke d brie �y su rp ris ed. He was no t
accu sto m ed to havin g his que stio ns ig no re d. Elv erda
w atc h e d h is fa ce . S te rlin g w as a s h an d so m e a s c o sm etic
s u rg ery c o uld m ake a p ers o n a p pear: c h is ele d fe atu re s,
e arn e st sk y-b lue e ye s, str a ig ht o f sp in e, lo ng o f lim b,
ath le tic ally � a t m idse ctio n. Y e t th e re w as a fa in t s m ell of
co rru p tio n a b out h im , E lv erd a t h o ug ht. A s if h e w ere de ad
in sid e a n d a lr e ad y b eg in nin g t o r o t.
T he t e nsio n b etw een t h e t w o m en s e em ed to dr ain t h e
e ne rg y fr o m E lv erd a’s a g ed b ody . “It h as be en a lo ng
jo urn e y,” s h e s a id . “ I a m v e ry t ir e d. I w ould w elc om e a h o t
sh o w er a n d a lo ng n ap .”
“ B efo re y o u s e e it ?” S te rlin g s n ap ped.
“It h as t a ke n u s m onth s t o g et h e re . W e c a n w ait a fe w
ho urs m ore .” In w ard ly , s h e m arv e le d at h e r o w n w ords .
Once s h e w ould h ave b een a ll �e ry e xc it e m ent. H ad th e
ye ars ta u g ht he r patie nce ? No , sh e re aliz ed . O nly

wea ri n e ss .
“N ot m e!” S te rlin g s a id . T u rn in g to D orn , “ T a ke m e to it
n o w . I’v e w aite d lo ng e no ug h. I w an t t o s e e it n o w .”
D orn ’s e ye s, o ne a s b ro w n a s E lv erda ’s o w n, th e o th e r
a r e d , e le ctr o nic g lo w, r e g ard ed S te rlin g f o r a le ng th e nin g
m om ent.
“ W ell? ” S te rlin g d em an d ed .
“I a m a fr a id , s ir , t h at t h e c h am be r is s e ale d fo r t h e n ext
tw elv e h o urs . It w ill be im poss— ”
“S eale d? B y w ho m ? O n w ho se a u th o rit y?”
“T he ch am ber is se lf-c ontr o lle d. W ho eve r m ade th e
artif a ct in sta lle d t h e c o ntr o ls a s w ell. ”
“N o o ne t o ld m e a b out t h at,” s a id Ste rlin g.
D orn re p lie d, “Y o ur q uarte rs a re do wn th is c o rrido r.”
H e tu rn e d a lm ost lik e a s o lid blo ck o f m eta l, s h o uld ers
a n d hip s to g eth e r, he ad unm ovin g on th o se wide
sh o uld ers , a n d s ta rte d d ow n th e c e ntr a l co rrido r. E lv erda
fe ll in s te p a lo ng sid e h is m eta l half, s till an g ere d at h is
se lf-d ese cra tio n. Y e t, d esp ite h e rs e lf, s h e t h o ug ht o f w hat
a c h alle ng e it w ould b e to s c u lp t h im . I f I w ere y o ung er,
s h e to ld h e rs e lf. I f I w ere n o t s o c lo se to d ea th . H um an
and in hum an, a ll in o ne s tr a ng ely � e rc e � g ure .
S te rlin g c a m e u p o n D orn ’s o th e r sid e, h is fa ce re d
w ith b are ly s u p pre sse d a n g er.
T he y w alk ed d ow n th e c o rrido r in sile nce , S te rlin g’s
w eig hte d sh o es c lic kin g a g ain st th e u ne ve n ro ck � o or.
D orn ’s b oots m ad e h ard ly a n y n o is e a t a ll. H alf m ach in e

he m ay be , Elv erd a th o ug ht, b ut once in m otio n, he
m ove s lik e a p a n th e r.
T he aste ro id ’s in he re nt gra vit y w as so slig ht th at
S te rlin g n e ed ed th e w eig hte d fo otg ear to k e e p h im se lf
fr o m s tu m blin g r id iculo usly . E lv erda , w ho h ad sp ent m ost
o f he r long life in low-g ra vit y envir o nm ents , fe lt
co m ple te ly at ho m e. The co rrido r th e y w ere w alk in g
th ro ug h w as a ctu ally a tu nne l, s h ado wy a n d m yste rio us,
o r p erh ap s a n atu ra l ch im ne y v e nte d th ro ug h th e ro ck y
b od y b y e sc a p in g g ase s e o ns a g o w he n t h e a ste ro id was
still molte n. N ow it w as c o ld , c h ill eno ug h t o m ake E lv erda
s h ud der. T he ro ug h c e ilin g w as so lo w sh e w an te d to
s to op, e ve n th o ug h th e ra tio nal side o f h e r m ind k n e w it
w as n o t n e ce ssa ry .
S oon, th o ug h, th e w alls s m ooth e d out, a n d th e c e ilin g
gre w h ig he r. H um an s h ad e xte nd ed th e tu nne l, s q uarin g
it w ith la se r p re cis io n. D oors lin ed both w alls n o w , a n d
th e c e ilin g g lo wed w ith g la re le ss, s h ado wle ss lig ht. S till
s h e h ug ged h e rs e lf a g ain st th e c h ill th at th e o th e rs did
n o t s e em t o n o tic e.
T he y s to p ped a t a w id e d oub le do or. Do rn ta p ped out
th e e ntr a n ce c o d e o n th e p an e l se t in to th e w all an d th e
d oors s lid o p en.
“Y o ur q uarte rs , s ir ,” h e s a id to S te rlin g. “Y o u m ay, o f
co urs e , c h an g e t h e p riv acy c o de t o s u it y o urs e lf.”
S te rlin g g ave a c u rt n o d a n d s tr o de th ro ug h th e o p en
d oorw ay. Elv erd a got a glim pse of a sp acio us su ite ,
ca rp etin g o n th e �o or an d h o lo gra m w in dow s o n th e
w alls .

Ste rlin g tu rn e d in th e d oorw ay to fa ce th e m . “ I e xp ect
yo u to c a ll fo r m e in tw elv e h o urs ,” h e s a id to Do rn , h is
vo ic e h ard .
“E le ve n h o urs a n d � ft y -s eve n m inute s,” D orn re p lie d.
Ste rlin g’s n o str ils �a re d , a n d h e slid th e do ub le do ors
s h ut.
“ T his w ay.” D orn g estu re d w ith h is h um an h an d . “I’m
a fr a id yo ur quarte rs are no t as su m ptu o us as M r.
S te rlin g’s .”
E lv erd a s a id , “ I a m h is g ue st. H e is p ayin g a ll th e bills .”
“ Y o u a re a g re at a rtis t. I h ave h e ard of y o u.”
“ T han k y o u.”
“ F o r t h e t r u th ? T hat is n o t n e ce ssa ry .”
I w as a g re a t a rtis t , E lv erd a s a id t o h e rs e lf. O nce . L o ng
a go. N ow I a m a n o ld w om an w ait ing f o r d e a th .
A lo ud , s h e a sk e d , “ H ave y o u s e e n m y w ork ?”
D orn ’s v o ic e g re w h e avie r. “O nly h o lo gra m s. O nce I
se t o ut to se e T he R em em bere r fo r m yse lf, b ut— oth e r
m atte rs in te rv e ne d .”
“ Y o u w ere a s o ld ier t h e n?”
“Y e s. I h ave b een a p rie st o nly s in ce c o m ing to th is
p la ce .”
E lv erd a w an te d to a sk h im m ore , bu t Do rn sto p ped
b efo re a b la nk d oor a n d o p ene d it fo r h e r. Fo r a n in sta n t
sh e th o ug ht he w as goin g to re ach fo r he r w ith his
p ro sth e tic h an d . S he s h ra n k a w ay f r o m h im .

“I w ill ca ll fo r y o u in e le ve n h o urs a n d � ft y -s ix m inute s,”
h e s a id , a s if h e h ad n o t n o tic ed he r r e vu ls io n.
“T han k y o u.”
H e t u rn e d a w ay, lik e a m ach in e p iv otin g.
“W ait,” E lv erd a c a lle d. “P le ase — ho w m an y o th e rs a re
h e re ? E ve ry th in g s e em s s o q uie t.”
“ T he re a re n o o th e rs . O nly t h e t h re e o f u s.”
“ B ut— ”
“I a m in c h arg e o f th e s e cu rit y br igade . I o rde re d th e
o th e rs o f m y c o m man d to g o ba ck to o ur s p ace cra ft a n d
w ait t h e re .”
“ A nd th e s c ie ntis ts ? T he p ro sp ecto r fa m ily th at fo und
th is a ste ro id ?”
“T he y are in M r. S te rlin g’s sp ace cra ft , th e o ne yo u
arriv ed in ,” sa id D orn . “U nde r th e pro te ctio n of m y
brig ad e.”
E lv erd a lo oke d in to his eye s. W hate ve r bu rn e d in
th e m , s h e c o uld n o t f a th o m .
“T he n w e a re a lo ne h e re ?”
D orn n o d ded s o le m nly . “ Y o u a n d m e— an d M r. S te rlin g,
w ho pays all th e bills .” The hum an half of his fa ce
re m ain ed a s im mob ile a s t h e m eta l. E lv erda c o uld n o t t e ll
if h e w as t r y in g t o b e h um oro us o r bit te r.
“ T han k y o u,” s h e s a id . H e t u rn e d aw ay a n d s h e c lo se d
th e d oor.
H er q uarte rs c o nsis te d o f a s in gle ro om , c o m fo rta bly

warm b ut h ard ly la rg er th an th e c o m partm ent o n th e s h ip
th e y h ad c o m e in . E lv erd a s a w t h at h e r m eag er t r a ve l b ag
w as a lr e ad y sit tin g o n th e b ed, h e r w orn o ld draw in g
co m pute r r e stin g in it s tr a ve l-sm ud ged ca se o n th e de sk .
E lv erd a s ta re d a t t h e c o m pute r c a se a s if it w ere a ccu sin g
he r. I s h o uld h a ve le ft it h o m e , s h e th o ug ht. I w ill ne ve r
use it a g a in .
A s m all utilit y r o b ot, h ard ly m ore t h an a g lis te nin g dr um
o f m eta l an d six g le am ing arm s fo lde d like a p ra yin g
m an tis ’s , sto od m ute ly in th e fa rth e st co rn e r. Elv erda
s ta re d a t it . A t le ast it w as e ntir e ly a m ach in e; n o t a s e lf-
m utila te d h um an b ein g. T o t a ke t h e m ost be au tif u l fo rm in
t h e univ e rs e an d tu rn it in to a hybr id mech an is m , a
tr a ve sty o f h um an ity. W hy d id he do it ? S o h e c o uld be a
b ette r s o ld ier? A m ore e � cie nt k illin g m ach in e?
A nd w hy d id h e s e nd a ll th e o th e rs aw ay? s h e a sk e d
he rs e lf w hile s h e o p ene d th e tr a ve l hag . A s s h e c a rrie d
he r t o ilet rie s t o t h e n arro w a lc ove o f t h e b ath ro om , a n e w
th o ug ht s tr u ck h e r. D id h e s e nd th e m a w ay be fo re h e s a w
th e a rtif a ct, o r a ft e rw ard ? H as h e e ve n s e en it ? P erh ap s.
T he n s h e s a w h e r re �e ctio n in th e m irro r a bo ve th e
w ash b asin . H er h e art sa n k. O nce sh e h ad be en c a lle d
re g al, sta te ly , a god dess m ade of co p per. N ow sh e
lo oke d with e re d , drie d up , bo ne th in , he r fa ce a
geo lo gic al m ap o f to o m an y ye ars o f liv ing, h e r �ig ht
co ve ra lls h an g in g lim ply o n h e r e m acia te d fr a m e.
Yo u a re o ld , s h e s a id to h e r im ag e. O ld a nd a ch in g
and t ir e d .
It is t h e lo ng t r ip , s h e t o ld h e rs e lf. Y o u n e e d t o r e st. B ut

th e o th e r vo ic e in h e r m ind la ug he d sc o rn fu lly . Y o u’v e
d one n o th in g b ut re st fo r th e e ntir e tim e it ’s tak en to
r e a ch t h is p ie ce o f r o ck . Y o u a re r e ady f o r t h e p erm an ent
re st; w hy d en y it ?
S he h ad b een te ach in g a t th e u niv ers it y o n L u na, th e
clo se st sh e co uld g et to E arth a ft e r a lo ng lif etim e o f
liv ing in lo w-g ra vit y e nvir o nm ents . C lo se e no ug h to s e e
th e w orld o f h e r b irth , t h e o nly w orld of lif e a n d w arm th in
t h e s o la r s y ste m , th e o nly p la ce w he re a p ers o n c o uld
w alk o ut in t h e s u nsh in e a n d f e el it s w arm th s o akin g t h e ir
b one s, s m ell th e fe rtile e arth n urtu rin g it s bo unty , fe el a
co ol b re eze p lu ck in g a t t h e ir h air.
B ut s h e h ad s e p ara te d h e rs e lf fr o m E arth p erm an e ntly .
She h ad s to od a t th e s h o re o f T ita n ’s m eth an e s e a; fr o m
an orb itin g sp ace cra ft , sh e had watc h e d th e su rg in g
clo ud s o f J u p ite r s w irl th e ir o ve rp ow erin g c o lo rs ; s h e h ad
ca rv e d th e k ilo mete r-lo ng ro ck o f T he R em em bere r . B ut
sh e c o uld n o lo ng er s ta n d in t h e v illa ge o f h e r b irth , a t t h e
e d ge o f th e P aci� c’s b oom ing su rf, a n d w atc h th e so ft
w hite c lo ud s f o rm s h ap es o f im ag in ary a n im als .
H er c re ativ e lif e w as lo ng � n is he d. S he h ad lived to o
lo ng ; th e re w ere n o fr ie nd s le ft , a n d s h e h ad ne ve r h ad a
fa m ily . T he re w as n o p urp ose to h e r lif e, n o r e aso n to do
a n yth in g e xc e p t g o th ro ug h th e m otio ns a n d w ait. A t th e
univ ers it y s h e w as n o lo ng er tr u ly w ork in g a t h e r a rt bu t
he lp ing s tu d ents w ho h ad th e � re s o f in sp iratio n bu rn in g
fr e sh a n d h o t in sid e t h e m . H er lif e w as o ne o f v a in r e g re ts
fo r a ll th e th in gs s h e h ad n o t a cco m plis he d, fo r a ll th e
fa ilu re s s h e c o uld re ca ll. F ailu re s a t lo ve ; th o se w ere th e
b itte re st. S he w as p ra is ed a s th e s o la r s y ste m ’s g re ate st

artis t: th e s c u lp tr e ss o f T he R em em bere r , th e c re ato r o f
th e �rs t g re at io no sp he ric p ain tin g, T he V irg in of th e
A nd es . S he w as r e sp ecte d , b ut n o t lo ve d. S he fe lt e m pty ,
a lo ne , barre n. She had no th in g to lo ok fo rw ard to ,
ab so lu te ly n o th in g.
The n M ile s S te rlin g h ad sw ep t in to h e r e xis te nce . A
lif etim e y o ung er, b old , v it a l, e ve n r u th le ss, h e s to rm ed he r
aca d em ic to w er w ith th e n e w s th at a n a lie n a rtif a ct h ad
b een d is co ve re d d eep in t h e a ste ro id be lt.
“It ’s s o m e k in d o f a rt fo rm ,” h e s a id, de sp era te w ith
e xc it e m ent. “ Y o u’v e g ot t o c o m e w ith m e a n d s e e it .”
T ry in g t o c o ntr o l th e lo ng -f org otte n lo ng in g t h at s tir re d
w ith in h e r, E lv erd a h ad a sk e d quie tly , “ W hy do I h ave to
g o w ith y o u, M r. S te rlin g? A nd w hy m e? I’m a n o ld wo— ”
“Y o u are th e gre ate st artis t of our tim e,” he had
sn ap ped . “ Y o u’v e g ot to s e e th is ! D on’t b ulls hit m e w ith
fa ls e m od esty . Y o u’r e th e o nly o th e r p ers o n in th e w ho le
w hir lin g s o la r s y ste m w ho d ese rv e s to s e e it !”
“ T he only oth e r pers o n besid es w ho m ?” sh e had
a sk e d . H e h ad b lin ke d w ith s u rp ris e. “ W hy, be side s m e, o f
co urs e .”
S o n o w t h e y w ere o n t h is n am ele ss a ste ro id, w aitin g t o
s e e th e a lie n a rtw ork . J u st th e th re e o f th e m . T he r ic he st
m an in th e so la r sy ste m . An elde rly artis t w ho has
o utliv ed h e r u se fu ln ess. A nd a c yb org s o ldie r w ho h as
cle are d e ve ry o ne e ls e a w ay.
H e c la im s t o b e a p rie st , E lv erd a r e m em bere d . A p rie st
w ho is half m ach in e. S he sh iv ere d as if a co ld win d

su rg ed t h ro ug h h e r.
A hars h buzz in g no is e inte rru p te d he r th o ug hts .
L o okin g in to th e m ain p art o f th e ro om , E lv erda s a w th at
th e pho ne sc re en w as blin kin g re d in rh yth m to th e
b uzzin g.
“P ho ne ,” s h e c a lle d o ut.
S te rlin g’s fa ce ap peare d on th e sc re en in sta n tly .
“C om e t o m y q uarte rs ,” h e s a id. “ W e h ave t o t a lk .”
“ G iv e m e a n h o ur. I n e ed — ”
“N ow .”
E lv erd a fe lt h e r b ro w s r is e h au g htily . T he n t h e s tr e ng th
s a g ged o ut o f h e r. H e h a s b oug ht th e rig ht to c o m man d
yo u , s h e to ld h e rs e lf. H e is q uite c a pa ble o f re fu sin g to
a llo w y o u t o s e e t h e a rti fa ct.
“ N ow ,” s h e a g re ed .
Ste rlin g w as p acin g a cro ss th e p lu sh c a rp etin g w he n
sh e a rriv ed a t h is q uarte rs . H e h ad ch an g ed fr o m h is
�ig ht co ve ra lls into a co m fo rta bly loose ro ya l-blu e
pullo ve r a n d e xp ensiv e, g enu in e t w ill sla ck s. A s t h e do ors
s lid s h ut b ehin d h e r, h e s to p ped in fr o nt o f a lo w c o uch
a n d f a ce d h e r s q uare ly .
“D o y o u k n o w w ho t h is D orn c re atu re is ?”
E lv erd a a n sw ere d , “ O nly w hat h e h as t o ld us.”
“ I’v e ch e cke d him out. M y sta � in th e sh ip has a
co m ple te d ossie r o n h im . H e’s th e bu tc h e r w ho le d th e
C hry sa lis massa cre , f o urte en y e ars a g o.”
“ H e— ”

“E le ve n hund re d men, wom en, an d ch ildr en.
S la ug hte re d . H e w as th e m an w ho co m man d ed th e
atta ck .”
“ H e s a id h e h ad b een a s o ld ier.”
“ A m erc e nary . A co ld -b loode d murde re r. He was
w ork in g fo r T o ya m a th e n. T he C hry sa lis was th e ir h ab ita t.
W he n it s p op ula tio n v o te d f o r in dep end ence , T o ya m a p ut
h im in c h arg e o f a s q uad to b rin g th e m b ack in to lin e. H e
kille d t h e m a ll; t u rn e d o � t h e ir a ir a n d le t t h e m a ll die .”
E lv erd a fe lt s h akily fo r th e n e are st c h air a n d s a n k in to
it . H er le gs s e em ed t o h ave lo st a ll th e ir s tr e ng th .
“H is n am e w as H arb in t h e n. D orik H arbin .”
“ W asn ’t h e b ro ug ht t o t r ia l?”
“N o. H e ra n aw ay. D isap peare d. I alw ays th o ug ht
To ya m a h e lp ed to h id e h im . T he y ta ke c a re o f th e ir o w n,
th e y d o. H e m ust have ch an g ed his nam e aft e rw ard.
N ob od y w ould h ir e t h e b utc h e r, n o t e ve n T o ya m a.”
“ H is fa ce  .  .  . h alf h is b od y .  .  .” E lv erda fe lt te rribly
w eak, a lm ost f a in t. “ W he n .  .  .  ? ”
“M ust h ave b een a ft e r h e ra n a w ay. M aybe it w as a n
atte m pt t o d is guis e h im se lf.”
“ A nd n o w h e is w ork in g fo r y o u.” S he w an te d to la ug h
at t h e ir o ny o f it b ut d id n o t h ave t h e s tr e ng th .
“H e’s go t u s tr a p ped o n th is c h unk o f ro ck ! T he re ’s
n o b od y e ls e h e re e xc e p t t h e t h re e o f u s.”
“ Y o u h ave y o ur s ta � in y o ur s h ip . S ure ly , th e y w ould
co m e if y o u s u m mone d t h e m .”

“H is s e cu rit y s q uad ’s b een o rd ere d to k e e p e ve ry bo dy
exc e p t yo u an d m e o� th e aste ro id. H e gave th o se
o rd ers .”
“ Y o u c a n c o unte rm an d t h e m , c a n ’t y o u?”
F o r th e � rs t tim e s in ce s h e h ad m et M ile s S te rlin g, th e
m an lo oke d u nsu re o f h im se lf. “ I w ond er,” h e s a id.
“W hy?” E lv erd a a sk e d . “ W hy is h e do ing t h is ?”
“T hat’s w hat I in te nd t o � n d o ut.” S te rlin g s tr o de t o t h e
p ho ne c o nso le . “ H arb in !” h e c a lle d. “ D orik H arbin . C om e
to m y q uarte rs a t o nce .”
W ith o ut eve n an eye b lin k’s dela y th e pho ne ’s
c o m pute r-
s y n th e siz ed v o ic e r e p lie d, “ D orik H arbin n o lo ng er e xis ts .
T ra n sfe rrin g y o ur c a ll to D orn .”
S te rlin g’s blu e eye s sn ap ped at th e pho ne ’s bla nk
sc re en.
“D orn is n o t a va ila ble a t p re se nt,” th e p ho ne ’s v o ic e
sa id . “H e w ill ca ll fo r y o u in e le ve n h o urs a n d th ir ty -t w o
m inute s.”
“ G od dam n it!” S te rlin g s m acke d a � st in to th e o p en
p alm o f h is o th e r h an d . “G et m e th e o � ce r o n w atc h
a b oard t h e S te rlin g E a g le .”
“ A ll exte rio r co m munic atio ns are in op era ble at th e
p re se nt t im e,” r e p lie d t h e p ho ne .
“T hat’s im possib le!”
“ A ll exte rio r co m munic atio ns are in op era ble at th e
p re se nt t im e,” t h e p ho ne r e p eate d, u np ertu rbe d.

Ste rlin g s ta re d a t t h e e m pty s c re en, t h e n t u rn e d slo wly
to w ard E lv erd a. “H e’s cu t u s o �. W e’r e re ally tr a p ped
he re .”
E lv erd a fe lt th e ch ill of co ld meta l clu tc h in g a t h e r.
P erh a ps D orn is a m adm an , s h e th o ug ht. P erh a ps h e is
m y d ea th , p ers o ni �e d .
“W e’v e g ot t o d o s o m eth in g!” S te rlin g n e arly s h o ute d.
E lv erd a r o se s h akily to h e r fe et. “ T he re is n o th in g th at
w e c a n d o, fo r th e m om ent. I a m g oin g to m y q uarte rs to
ta ke a n ap . I b elie ve t h at D orn , o r H arbin , o r w hate ve r h is
id entit y is , w ill ca ll on u s w he n h e is r e ady t o .”
“ A nd d o w hat? ”
“S ho w u s th e a rtif a ct,” sh e re p lie d, sile ntly a ddin g, I
h o pe .
Le g ally , t h e a rtif a ct a n d t h e e ntir e a ste ro id be long ed to
S te rlin g E nte rp ris es, Ltd . It h ad be en dis co ve re d by a
fa m ily —husb an d , w ife , a n d tw o s o ns, a g es � ve a n d th re e
— who m ad e a liv ing fr o m se arc h in g out iro n-n icke l
aste ro id s an d se llin g th e m ining rig hts to th e big
co rp ora tio ns. The y �le d th e ir cla im to th is unnam ed
aste ro id , t o g eth e r w ith a p re lim inary de sc rip tio n o f it s t e n-
kilo mete r-w ide sh ap e, it s o rb it w ith in th e a ste ro id belt,
a n d a s a m ple a n aly sis o f it s s u rfa ce c o m posit io n.
S ix h o urs a ft e r th e ir o rig inal tr a n sm issio n re ach e d th e
co m mod itie s-m ark e t c o m pute r n e tw ork o n E arth — while a
fa ir ly s p irite d b id din g w ar w as g oin g o n a m ong f o ur m ajo r
co rp ora tio ns fo r th e aste ro id ’s m inera l rig hts — a ne w
m essa g e a rriv ed a t th e h e ad quarte rs o f th e In te rn atio nal

Astr o nau tic al Auth o rit y, in Lo nd on. The m essa g e w as
g arb le d, fr a g m enta ry , o b vio usly m ade in g re at h aste a n d
at fe ve r e xc it e m ent. T he re w as a n a rtif a ct o f s o m e s o rt in
a c a ve rn d eep in sid e t h e a ste ro id.
O ne o f th e fa ce le ss b ure au cra ts b urie d deep w ith in
th e IA A’s m ultila ye re d o rg an iz atio n se nt an im media te
m essa g e to a n e m plo ye e o f S te rlin g E nte rp ris es, L td. T he
b ure au cra t r e tir e d h o urs la te r, r ic he r t h an h e h ad an y r ig ht
to e xp ect, w hile M ile s S te rlin g p ers o nally c o nta cte d th e
p ro sp ecto rs a n d b oug ht th e a ste ro id outr ig ht fo r e no ug h
m one y to e nd th e ir p ro sp ectin g da ys fo re ve r. B y th e tim e
th e decis io n-m ake rs in th e IA A re aliz ed th at an alie n
artif a ct h ad b een d is co ve re d , th e y w ere fa ce d with a fa it
a cco m pli: t h e a rtif a ct, a n d t h e a ste ro id in w hic h it r e side d,
were t h e p ers o nal p ro p erty o f t h e r ic he st m an in t h e s o la r
sy ste m .
M ile s S te rlin g w as n o e g om an ia c. N or w as h e a fo ol.
G ra cio usly , h e a llo wed th e IA A to o rg an iz e a te am o f
sc ie ntis ts w ho w ould in sp ect th is � rs t s p ecim en o f a lie n
exis te nce . E ve n m ore g ra cio usly , S te rlin g o �ere d to fe rry
th e s c ie nti� c in ve stig ato rs a ll th e lo ng w ay t o t h e a ste ro id
at h is o w n e xp ense . H e m ad e o nly o ne de man d , a n d th e
IA A c o uld h ard ly re fu se h im . H e in sis te d th at h e s e e th is
artif a ct h im se lf b efo re t h e s c ie ntis ts w ere a llo wed to v ie w
it.
A nd h e b ro ug ht a lo ng t h e s o la r s y ste m ’s m ost h o no re d
an d fa m ous a rtis t. T o a p pra is e th e a rtif a ct’s w orth a s a n
art o b je ct, h e c la im ed . T o d ete rm ine h o w m uch h e c o uld
d ed uct fr o m h is c o rp ora te ta xe s by do natin g th e th in g to
th e IA A, s a id h is e ne m ies.

But o ve r th e m onth s o f th e ir v o ya g e to th e a ste ro id,
Elv erd a c a m e t o t h e c o nclu sio n t h at bu rie d de ep be ne ath
h is r u th le ss b usin ess p ers o na w as a n e ag er lit tle bo y w ho
w as tr e m end ously e xc it e d a t h avin g fo und a n e w to y. A
to y h e in te nd ed to p osse ss fo r h im se lf. A n art o bje ct
cre ate d b y a lie n h an d s.
F o r a n a rt o b je ct w as w hat th e a rtif a ct s e e m ed to b e.
T he fa m ily o f p ro sp ecto rs c o ntin ue d to s e nd ba ck v a g ue ,
alm ost ir ra tio nal re p orts o f w hat th e a rtif a ct lo oke d like.
T he re p orts were worth le ss. No tw o de sc rip tio ns
m atc h e d . If t h e m an a n d w om an w ere t o be be lieve d, t h e
artif a ct d id n o th in g b ut s it in th e m iddle o f a ro ug h-h ew n
ca ve rn . B ut th e y d esc rib ed it d i� ere ntly w ith e ve ry r e p ort
th e y s e nt. It g lo w ed w ith lig ht. It w as da rk e r th an d eep
sp ace . It w as a s ta tu e o f s o m e s o rt. It w as fo rm less. It
o ve rw he lm ed th e s e nse s. It w as s m all eno ug h a lm ost to
p ic k u p in o ne h an d . It m ad e t h e c h ildr en la ug h h ap pily . It
f r ig hte ne d t h e ir p are nts . W he n t h e y t r ie d to p ho to g ra p h it ,
th e ir tr a n sm issio ns sh o w ed n o th in g bu t bla nk sc re ens.
To ta lly b la nk.
A s S te rlin g lis te ne d to th e ir m adde nin g re p orts a n d
w aite d im patie ntly fo r th e IA A to o rg an iz e it s h an d pic ke d
te am o f s c ie ntis ts , h e o rd ere d his s e cu rit y m an ag er t o g et
a s q uad o f h ir e d p ers o nne l to th e a ste ro id as q uic kly a s
p ossib le. Fro m co rp ora te fa cilit ies on Tita n an d th e
m oons o f M ars , fr o m th re e s e p ara te o utp osts a m ong th e
aste ro id b elt it se lf, S te rlin g E nte rp ris es e � cie ntly br oug ht
to g eth e r a b rig ad e o f exp erie nce d merc e nary se cu rit y
tr o op s. T he y re ach e d th e a ste ro id long b efo re a n yo ne
e ls e c o uld a n d w ere u nd er o rd ers t o m ake c e rta in t h at n o

one w as a llo wed o nto th e a ste ro id befo re M ile s S te rlin g
him se lf r e ach e d it .
“T he t im e h as c o m e.”
E lv erd a woke slo wly, pain fu lly , like a sw im mer
str u g glin g fo r th e a ir a n d lig ht o f th e s u rfa ce . S he h ad
b een d re am ing o f h e r c h ild ho od, o f t h e v illa ge w he re s h e
h ad g ro w n u p , th e d is ta n t s n o w -c ap ped And es, th e w arm
n ig ht b re eze s t h at s p oke o f lo ve .
“T he t im e h as c o m e.”
I t w as D orn ’s d eep v o ic e, w his per s o ft . S ta rtle d, s h e
�a sh e d h e r e ye s o p en. S he w as a lo ne in th e ro om , bu t
Dorn ’s im ag e � lle d th e p ho ne sc re en by h e r b ed. T he
num bers g lo win g b ene ath th e s c re en s h o w ed th at it w as
in deed t im e.
“I a m a w ake n o w ,” s h e s a id t o t h e s c re en.
“I w ill be a t y o ur d oor in � ft e en m inute s,” D orn s a id.
“W ill th at b e e no ug h t im e f o r y o u t o p re p are y o urs e lf?”
“Y e s, p le nty .” T he d ays w he n sh e ne e de d tim e fo r
se le ctin g he r clo th in g an d arra n g in g he r ap peara n ce
w ere lo ng g one .
“In � ft e en m inute s, t h e n.”
“ W ait,” s h e b lu rte d . “ C an y o u s e e m e?”
“N o. V is ual tr a n sm issio n m ust be k e ye d man ually .”
“ I s e e.”
“ I d o n o t.”
A jo ke ? E lv erd a s a t u p o n th e b ed a s D orn ’s im ag e

win ke d o ut. I s h e c a pa ble o f h u m or?
S he s h ru g ged o ut o f th e s h ap ele ss c o ve ra lls s h e h ad
w orn to b ed , to ok a q uic k s h o w er, a n d p ulle d he r be st
c a ft a n fr o m th e tr a ve l bag . It w as a de ep m idn ight blu e,
sc a tte re d w ith g lit te rin g silv er sta rs . E lv erda h ad made
th e � o or-le ng th g ow n h e rs e lf , fr o m fa br ic w ove n by h e r
m oth e r lo ng a g o. S he h ad p ain te d th e sta rs fr o m h e r
m em ory o f w hat th e y h ad lo oke d like fr o m h e r n ativ e
villa ge.
A s sh e slid back he r fr o nt do or, sh e sa w Do rn
m arc h in g d ow n th e co rrid or w ith S te rlin g be side him .
Desp ite his long er legs, Ste rlin g se em ed to be
sc a m perin g lik e a c h ild to k e ep u p w ith Do rn ’s s te ady ,
sto lid s te p s.
“I d em and th at y o u re in sta te c o m munic atio ns w ith m y
sh ip ,” Ste rlin g w as sa yin g, his vo ic e ech o in g o� th e
co rrid or w alls . “I’ll dock y o ur p ay fo r e ve ry m inute th is
in su b ord in atio n c o ntin ue s!”
“ It is a se cu rit y m easu re ,” D orn sa id ca lm ly, w ith o ut
tu rn in g t o lo ok a t t h e m an . “ It is f o r y o ur o w n g ood. ”
“M y o w n g ood ? W ho in h e ll are y o u t o d ete rm ine w hat
m y o w n g ood m ight b e?”
D orn sto p ped th re e p ace s sh o rt o f E lv erda , m ade a
sti� lit tle b ow to h e r, a n d o nly th e n tu rn e d to fa ce h is
e m plo ye r.
“ S ir, I h ave s e en t h e a rtif a ct. Y o u have n o t.”
“ A nd th at m ake s y o u b ette r th an m e?” S te rlin g a lm ost
sn arle d t h e w ord s. “ H olie r, m aybe ?”

“N o,” s a id D orn . “ N ot h o lie r. W iser.”
S te rlin g s ta rte d t o r e p ly , t h e n t h o ug ht be tte r o f it .
“W hic h w ay d o w e g o?” E lv erda a sk e d in th e s u d de n
sile nce .
D orn p oin te d w ith his p ro sth e tic han d . “D ow n,” he
re p lie d. “ T his w ay.”
T he c o rrid or a b ru p tly b eca m e a ru g ged tu nne l ag ain ,
with lig hts fa ste ne d a t p re cis ely s p ace d inte rv a ls a lo ng
th e lo w c e ilin g. E lv erd a w atc h e d Dorn ’s h alf-h um an fa ce
a s th e p ools o f s h ad ow c h ase d th e h ig hlig hts g lin tin g o �
th e e tc h e d m eta l, lik e t h e m oon r a cin g t h ro ug h it s p hase s
eve ry h alf m inute , o ve r a n d a g ain .
Ste rlin g h ad fa lle n s ile nt a s th e y fo llo wed th e s la ntin g
tu nne l d ow nw ard in to t h e h e art o f t h e r o ck . E lv erda h e ard
o nly t h e c lic kin g o f h is s h o es, a t � rs t, bu t by c o nce ntr a tin g
sh e w as a b le to m ake o ut th e s o ft e r fo otfa lls o f Do rn ’s
p ad ded b oots a n d e ve n t h e w his per o f h e r o w n s lip pers .
T he a ir s e em ed to g ro w w arm er, c lo se r. O r w as it h e r
o w n a n tic ip atio n? S he g la nce d at S te rlin g; p ers p iratio n
bead ed his up per lip. The man ra dia te d te nse
e xp ecta tio n. D orn g lid ed a fe w s te p s a h e ad of th e m . H e
did n o t se em to b e h urry in g, ye t h e w as n o w le adin g
th e m d ow n th e tu nne l, lik e a n a n cie nt p rie st le adin g tw o
ne w a co ly te s— or s a cri� cia l v ic tim s.
T he t u nne l e nd ed in a s m ooth w all of du ll m eta l.
“W e a re h e re .”
“ O pen it u p ,” S te rlin g d em an d ed.

“It will op en itse lf,” re p lie d Dorn . He waite d a
he artb eat, t h e n a d ded , “ N ow .”
A nd th e m eta l slid u p in to th e ro ck a bo ve th e m a s
sile ntly a s if it w ere a c u rta in m ade o f s ilk .
None o f t h e m m ove d . T he n D orn s lo wly t u rn e d to w ard
th e t w o o f t h e m a n d g estu re d w ith h is h um an h an d .
“T he a rtif a ct lie s tw enty -t w o p oin t n in e m ete rs be yo nd
th is p oin t. T he tu nne l narro w s a n d tu rn s to th e rig ht. T he
ch am ber is la rg e eno ug h to acco m moda te only one
p ers o n a t a t im e, c o m fo rta b ly .”
“ M e � rs t!” S te rlin g t o ok a s te p f o rw ard.
D orn sto p ped him with an up ra is ed han d : The
p ro sth e tic h an d . “ I f e el it m y du ty t o c a u tio n y o u— ”
Ste rlin g tr ie d to p ush th e h an d a w ay; h e co uld n o t
b ud ge it .
“W he n I � rs t c ro sse d th is lin e, I w as a s o ldie r. A ft e r I
s a w t h e a rtif a ct, I g ave u p m y lif e.”
“ A nd b eca m e a s e lf-s ty le d p rie st. S o w hat? ”
“T he a rtif a ct ca n ch an g e yo u. I th o ug ht it be st th at
th e re b e n o w itn e sse s t o y o ur � rs t v ie win g o f it , e xc e p t f o r
th is g ifte d w om an w ho m yo u have br oug ht w ith yo u.
W he n y o u � rs t s e e it , it c a n b e— tr a u m atic .”
S te rlin g’s fa ce tw iste d w ith a m ixtu re o f an g er an d
d is gust. “ I’m n o t a m erc e nary k ille r. I d on’t h ave a n yth in g
to b e a fr a id o f.”
D orn le t h is h an d d ro p to h is s ide w ith a fa in t w hin e o f
m iniatu riz ed s e rv o m oto rs .

“P erh ap s no t,” he m urm ure d, so lo w th at Elv erda
b are ly h e ard it .
S te rlin g sh o uld ere d his w ay p ast th e cyb org . “S ta y
h e re ,” he to ld E lv erd a. “Y o u ca n se e it w he n I co m e
back .”
H e h urrie d d ow n t h e t u nne l, f o ots te p s s ta cca to .
T he n s ile nce .
E lv erd a lo oke d a t D orn . T he h um an s id e o f h is fa ce
se em ed u tte rly w eary .
“Y o u h ave s e en th e a rtif a ct m ore th an o nce , h ave n’t
y o u?”
“F o urte en t im es,” h e a n sw ere d.
“It h as n o t h arm ed y o u in a n y w ay, h as it ?”
H e h e sit a te d , th e n re p lie d, “It h as c h an g ed me. E ach
tim e I s e e it , it c h an g es m e m ore .”
“ Y o u .  .  . y o u r e ally a re D orik H arbin ?”
“I w as.”
“ T ho se p eo p le o f t h e C hry sa lis  .  .  .”
“ D orik H arb in k ille d th e m a ll. Y e s. T he re is n o e xc u se
fo r it , n o p ard on. It w as t h e a ct o f a m onste r.”
“ B ut w hy?”
“M onste rs d o m onstr o us th in gs. Do rik H arbin in geste d
p sy c h o tr o p ic dru g s to incre ase his ba ttle pro w ess.
A ft e rw ard , whe n th e battle dru g s cle are d fr o m his
b lo od str e am a n d h e u nd ers to od what h e h ad do ne , Do rik
H arb in h e ld a g re nad e a g ain st h is c h e st a n d s e t it o � .”

“O h m y G od ,” E lv erd a w him pere d.
“H e w as n o t allo wed to d ie , h o w eve r. T he m edic al
sp ecia lis ts re b uilt h is b od y, an d h e w as g iv en a fa ls e
id entit y. F o r m an y y e ars h e li v e d a s h am o f a lif e, h idin g
fr o m th e a u th o rit ie s, h id ing fr o m h is o w n g uilt . H e n o
lo ng er h ad th e c o ura g e to k ill h im se lf, th e p ain o f h is � rs t
a tte m pt w as fa r s tr o ng er th an h is o w n s e lf-lo ath in g. T he n
he w as h ir e d to c o m e to th is p la ce . Do rik H arbin lo oke d
up on th e a rtif a ct fo r th e � rs t tim e, a n d h is tr u e ide ntit y
e m erg ed a t la st.”
E lv erd a h e ard a sc u � ing so und, lik e fe et dr ag gin g,
sta g gerin g. M ile s Ste rlin g ca m e in to vie w, to tte rin g,
le an in g h e avily a g ain st t h e w all of t h e t u nne l, s lu m pin g a s
if h is le gs c o uld n o lo ng er h o ld him .
“N o m an  .  .  . n o o ne  .  .  .” H e p ush e d him se lf fo rw ard
a n d c o lla pse d in to D orn ’s a rm s.
“D estr o y it!” he w his pere d hars h ly , sp ittle dribblin g
dow n h is c h in . “ D estr o y t h is w ho le da mne d pie ce o f r o ck !
W ipe it o ut o f e xis te nce !”
“ W hat is it ?” E lv erd a a sk e d . “ W hat did yo u s e e?”
D orn lo were d h im to th e g ro un d g ently . S te rlin g’s fe et
sc ra b ble d a g ain st th e ro ck a s if h e w ere tr y in g to ru n
aw ay. S w eat c o ve re d h is f a ce , s o ake d his s h ir t.
“ It ’s   .  .  . b eyo nd  .  .  .” h e b abble d. “M ore  .  .  . th an
a n yo ne c a n  .  .  . n o b od y c o uld s ta n d it  .  .  .”
E lv erd a sa n k to he r kn e es be side him . “W hat has
h ap pene d to h im ?” S he lo oke d up a t Do rn , w ho k n e lt o n
Ste rlin g’s o th e r s id e.

“T he a rtif a ct.”
S te rlin g s u d denly ra n te d , “T he y’ll �n d o ut a bo ut m e!
E ve ry o ne w ill kn o w ! It ’s g ot t o be de str o ye d! N uke it ! B la st
it to b its!” H is � sts w in dm ille d in th e a ir, h is e ye s w ere
w ild .
“I tr ie d to w arn h im ,” D orn s a id as h e h e ld Ste rlin g’s
s h o uld ers d ow n, th e m an ’s h e ad in h is la p. “I tr ie d to
p re p are h im f o r it .”
“ W hat d id h e s e e?” E lv erd a’s h e art w as p oundin g; s h e
co uld h e ar it th und erin g in h e r e ars . “ W hat is it ? W hat d id
yo u se e?”
D orn sh o ok h is h e ad slo wly. “I ca n no t d esc ribe it . I
d oub t th at a n yo ne c o uld d esc ribe it — exc e p t, p erh ap s, a n
a rtis t: a p ers o n w ho h as t r a in ed he rs e lf t o s e e t h e t r u th .”
“ T he p ro sp ecto rs — th e y s a w it . E ve n th e ir c h ildr en s a w
it.”
“ Y e s. W he n I a rriv ed h e re , th e y h ad sp ent e ig hte en
d ays in th e c h am ber. T he y le ft it o nly w he n th e c h am be r
clo se d it se lf. T he y a te a n d s le p t a n d re tu rn e d he re , a s if
h yp no tiz ed .”
“ It d id n o t h urt t h e m , d id it ?”
“T he y w ere e m acia te d , d ehyd ra te d. It to ok a do ze n o f
m y s tr o ng est m en to re m ove th e m to m y s h ip . E ve n th e
ch ild re n f o ug ht u s.”
“ B ut— ho w co uld  .  .  .” Elv erda ’s vo ic e fa de d into
s ile nce . S he lo oke d a t th e b rig htly lit tu nne l. H er b re ath
c a u g ht in h e r t h ro at.

“D estr o y it,” S te rlin g m um ble d. “De str o y it be fo re it
d estr o ys u s! D on’t le t th e m � n d out. T he y’ll kn o w , th e y’ll
k n o w , t h e y’ll all kn o w .” H e b eg an t o s o b unco ntr o lla bly .
“Y o u d o n o t h ave to s e e it ,” Do rn s a id to E lv erda . “ Y o u
ca n r e tu rn t o y o ur s h ip a n d le ave t h is p la ce .”
L e a ve , u rg ed a v o ic e in sid e h e r h e ad. Run a w ay. L iv e
out w ha t’s le ft o f y o ur lif e a nd let i t g o.
T he n sh e h e ard h e r o w n v o ic e sa y, a s if fr o m a fa r
d is ta n ce , “ I’v e c o m e s u ch a lo ng w ay.”
“ It w ill ch an g e y o u,” h e w arn e d.
“W ill it r e le ase m e f r o m lif e?”
D orn g la nce d d ow n a t S te rlin g, s till mutt e rin g da rk ly ,
th e n r e tu rn e d h is g aze t o E lv erda .
“It w ill ch an g e y o u,” h e r e p eate d.
E lv erd a fo rc e d h e rs e lf to h e r fe et. L e an in g o ne h an d
ag ain st th e w arm ro ck w all to s te ady h e rs e lf, s h e s a id, “ I
w ill se e it . I m ust.”
“ Y e s,” s a id D orn . “ I u nd ers ta n d .”
S he lo oke d d ow n a t h im , s till kn e e lin g w ith S te rlin g’s
h e ad re stin g in h is la p. D orn ’s e le ctr o nic e ye g lo wed re d
in t h e s h ad ow s. H is h um an e ye w as h idde n in da rk n e ss.
H e s a id , “ I b elie ve y o ur p eo p le s a y, v a ya c o n D io s .”
E lv erd a s m ile d a t h im . S he h ad no t h e ard th at p hra se
in fo rty y e ars . “ Y e s. Y o u to o. V aya c o n D io s.” S he tu rn e d
an d ste p ped a cro ss th e fa in t g ro ove w he re th e m eta l
d oor h ad m et t h e � o or.

The tu nne l slo ped d ow nw ard only slig htly . It tu rn e d
sh arp ly to th e rig ht, E lv erd a s a w , ju st a s D orn h ad to ld
th e m . The lig ht se em ed brig hte r be yo nd th e tu rn ,
p uls atin g a lm ost, lik e a liv ing h e art.
S he h e sit a te d a m om ent b efo re m akin g th at � n al tu rn .
W hat la y b eyo nd ? W ha t d i� ere nce , s h e a n sw ere d h e rs e lf.
Y o u h a ve liv ed s o lo ng t h a t y o u h av e e m ptie d life o f all its
p urp ose . B ut s h e k n e w s h e w as ly in g to h e rs e lf. H er lif e
w as d evo id o f p urp ose b eca u se s h e h e rs e lf h ad made it
th at w ay. S he h ad s p urn e d lo ve ; s h e h ad eve n re je cte d
fr ie nd sh ip w he n it h ad b een o �ere d. S till, sh e re aliz ed
th at sh e w an te d to liv e. De sp era te ly , sh e w an te d to
c o ntin ue liv ing n o m atte r w hat.
Y e t sh e co uld n o t re sis t th e lu re . S tr a ig hte nin g h e r
sp in e, s h e s te p ped b old ly a ro und th e be nd in t h e t u nne l.
T he lig ht w as s o b rig ht it h urt h e r e ye s. S he ra is ed a
han d to he r bro w to sh ie ld th e m , an d th e in te nsit y
se em ed to d ecre ase slig htly , e no ug h to m ake o ut th e
fa in t o utlin e o f a f o rm , a s h ap e, a p ers o n.
E lv erd a g asp ed w ith re co g nitio n. A fe w m ete rs b efo re
h e r, c lo se e no ug h to r e ach a n d to uch , h e r m oth e r s a t o n
th e s w eet g ra ss b ene ath th e w arm s u m mer s u n, g ently
r o ck in g h e r b ab y a n d c ro onin g s o ft ly t o it .
M am a! sh e crie d sile ntly . M am a. T he ba by—Elv erda
h e rs e lf— looke d u p in to h e r m oth e r’s f a ce a n d s m ile d.
And th e m oth e r w as E lv erd a, a yo ung an d ra dia nt
E lv erd a, sm ilin g d ow n a t th e ba by sh e h ad ne ve r h ad,
te nd er a n d lo vin g a s s h e h ad n e ve r be en.

Som eth in g g ave w ay in sid e h e r. T he re w as n o p ain :
ra th e r, it w as a s if a p ain t h at h ad th ro bbe d su lle nly w ith in
h e r fo r to o m an y y e ars to c o unt s u dde nly fa de d aw ay. A s
if a w all of im pla ca b le ic e � n ally m elte d an d le t th e w arm
w ate rs o f lif e � o w t h ro ug h h e r.
E lv erd a sa n k to th e �o or, cry in g, gush in g te ars of
und ers ta n d in g an d re lie f an d gra tit u d e. Her m oth e r
sm ile d a t h e r.
“ I lo ve y o u, M am a,” s h e w his pere d. “I lo ve y o u.” H er
m oth e r n o d ded a n d b eca m e E lv erda h e rs e lf o nce m ore .
H er b ab y m ad e a g urg lin g la ug h o f p ure h ap pin ess, fa t
lit tle f e et w avin g in t h e a ir.
T he im ag e w ave re d , d im med , a n d slo wly fa de d into
e m ptin ess. E lv erd a sa t o n th e ba re ro ck �o or in u tte r
d ark n e ss, fe elin g a s tr a n g e s e re nity a n d u nde rs ta n d in g
warm ing h e r s o ul.
“A re y o u a ll rig ht? ”
D orn ’s vo ic e did no t sta rtle he r. She had been
exp ectin g h im t o c o m e t o h e r.
“ T he c h am ber w ill clo se it se lf in a n o th e r fe w m inute s,”
h e s a id . “ W e w ill have t o le ave .”
E lv erd a t o ok h is o �ere d h an d a n d r o se t o h e r f e et. S he
fe lt s tr o ng , f u lly in c o ntr o l o f h e rs e lf.
T he t u nne l o uts id e t h e c h am be r w as e m pty .
“W he re is S te rlin g?”
“I s e d ate d h im a n d th e n c a lle d in a m edic al te am to
t a ke h im b ack t o h is s h ip .”

“H e w an ts to d estr o y th e a rtif a ct,” E lv erda s a id. “ T hat
w ill no t b e p ossib le.” sa id D orn . “I w ill brin g th e IA A
sc ie ntis ts h e re fr o m th e s h ip be fo re S te rlin g a w ake s a n d
re co ve rs . O nce th e y s e e th e a rtif a ct, th e y w ill no t a llo w it
to b e d estr o ye d . S te rlin g m ay o w n th e a ste ro id, bu t th e
IA A w ill exe rt c o ntr o l o ve r t h e a rtif a ct.”
“ T he a rtif a ct w ill a� ect t h e m — str a n g ely .”
“ N o tw o o f th e m w ill be a � ecte d in th e s a m e m an ne r,”
s a id D orn . “A nd no ne of th e m w ill perm it it to be
dam ag ed in a n y w ay.”
“ S te rlin g w ill no t b e p le ase d w ith y o u.”
H e g estu re d u p th e tu nne l, a n d th e y be gan to w alk
b ack t o w ard t h e ir q uarte rs .
“N or w ith y o u,” D orn s a id . “ W e bo th s a w h im ba bblin g
an d b lu bberin g lik e a b ab y.”
“ W hat c o uld h e h ave s e en?”
“W hat h e m ost fe are d . H is w ho le lif e h ad be en d riv en
b y f e ar, p oor m an .”
“ W hat s e cre ts h e m ust b e h idin g!”
“ H e h id t h e m f r o m h im se lf. T he a rtif a ct s h o w ed him h is
o w n t r u e n atu re .”
“ N o w ond er h e w an ts it d estr o ye d. ”
“H e c a n no t d estr o y th e a rtif a ct, bu t h e w ill ce rta in ly
wan t to d estr o y u s. O nce h e r e co ve rs h is c o m posu re , h e
w ill wan t to w ip e o ut th e w itn e sse s w ho s a w h is r e actio n
to it .”
E lv erd a k n e w th at D orn w as rig ht. S he w atc h e d his

fa ce a s th e y p asse d b ene ath th e lig hts , w atc h e d th e g lin t
of t h e e tc h e d m eta l, t h e w arm th o f t h e h um an � e sh .
“Y o u k n e w th at h e w ould re act th is w ay, didn ’t y o u?”
s h e a sk e d .
“N o o ne co uld b e as ric h as he is w ith o ut havin g
dem ons d riv in g h im . H e lo oke d into h is o w n so ul an d
re co g niz ed h im se lf f o r t h e � rs t t im e in h is lif e.”
“ Y o u p la nne d it t h is w ay!”
“ P erh ap s I d id ,” h e s a id . “ P erh ap s th e a rtif a ct d id it fo r
m e.”
“ H ow c o uld — ”
“It is a p ow erfu l exp erie nce . A ft e r I h ad se e n it a fe w
tim es, I fe lt it w as o �erin g m e .  .  .” h e h e sit a te d, th e n
sp oke t h e w ord , “ s a lv atio n.”
E lv erd a s a w s o m eth in g in h is f a ce t h at Do rn h ad no t le t
sh o w befo re . She sto p ped in th e sh ado ws betw een
o ve rh e ad lig hts . D orn tu rn e d to fa ce h e r, h alf m ach in e,
sta n d in g in t h e r o ug h t u nne l o f ba re r o ck .
“Y o u h ave h ad y o ur o w n e nco unte r w ith it ,” h e s a id.
“Y o u u nd ers ta n d n o w h o w it c a n t r a n sfo rm y o u.”
“ Y e s,” s a id E lv erd a. “ I u nd ers ta n d .”
“ A ft e r a fe w tim es, I c a m e to th e re aliz atio n th at th e re
m ust b e th o usa n d s o f m y fe llo w m erc e narie s, k ille d in
eng ag em ents all th ro ug h th e aste ro id belt, still lyin g
whe re th e y fe ll. O r w ors e y e t, � o atin g fo re ve r in s p ace ,
alo ne , u natte nd ed , u ng rie ve d f o r.”
“ T ho usa n d s o f m erc e narie s? ’

“T he co rp ora tio ns do no t alw ays se ttle th e ir
d i� ere nce s in E arth ly c o urts o f la w,” sa id Dorn . “T he re
h ave b ee n m an y b attle s o ut h e re . W ars th at w e p aid fo r
w ith o ur b lo od .”
“ T ho usa n d s? ” E lv erd a r e p eate d. “ I k n e w t h at t h e re h ad
b een o cca sio nal �g hts o ut h e re — bu t w ars ? I do n’t th in k
an yo ne o n E arth k n o w s it ’s b een s o br uta l.”
“M en lik e Ste rlin g kn o w . The y sta rt th e w ars , an d
p eo p le lik e m e � g ht th e m . E xile s, n e ve r a llo wed to r e tu rn
to E arth a g ain o nce w e t a ke t h e m erc e nary ’s p ay.”
“ A ll th o se m en— kille d.”
D orn n o d ded . “ A nd w om en. T he a rtif a ct m ade m e s e e
th at it w as m y d uty t o � n d e ach o f t h o se fo rg otte n b odie s
an d g iv e e ach o ne a d ece nt � n al rit e . T he a rtif a ct s e em ed
to b e t e llin g m e t h at t h is w as t h e p ath o f m y a to ne m ent.”
“ Y o ur s a lv atio n,” s h e m urm ure d.
“I se e no w , ho w eve r, th at I und ere stim ate d th e
sit u atio n.”
“ H ow ?”
“S te rlin g. W hile I a m o ut t h e re s e arc h in g f o r t h e b odie s
of t h e s la in , h e w ill have m e k ille d.”
“N o! T hat’s w ro ng !”
D orn ’s d eep vo ic e w as e m pty o f re g re t. “It w ill be
sim ple fo r h im to s e nd a te am a ft e r m e. In th e d ep th s o f
d ark s pa ce , th e y w ill murd er m e. W hat I fa ile d to d o fo r
m yse lf, Ste rlin g w ill do fo r m e. H e w ill be m y �n al
ato ne m ent.”

“N eve r!” E lv erd a b la ze d w ith a n g er. “ I w ill no t p erm it it
to h ap pen.”
“ Y o ur o w n lif e is in d an g er f r o m h im ,” Do rn s a id.
“W hat o f it ? I a m a n o ld w om an , r e ady f o r de ath .”
“ A re y o u?”
“I w as, u ntil I s a w t h e a rtif a ct.”
“ N ow lif e is m ore p re cio us t o y o u, is n’t it ?”
“I d on’t w an t yo u to d ie ,” Elv erda sa id. “Y o u have
a to ne d f o r y o ur s in s. Y o u h ave bo rn e e no ug h p ain .”
H e lo oke d a w ay, t h e n s ta rte d u p t h e t u nne l a g ain .
“Y o u are fo rg ettin g one im porta n t fa cto r,” Elv erda
c a lle d a ft e r h im .
Dorn s to p ped , h is b ack to h e r. S he re aliz ed no w th at
th e c lo th e s h e w ore h ad b een h is m ilit ary u nifo rm . H e h ad
to rn a ll th e in sig nia s a n d p ocke ts f r o m it .
“T he a rtif a ct. W ho c re ate d it ? A nd w hy?”
T u rn in g back to w ard he r, Do rn an sw ere d, “A lie n
vis ito rs t o o ur s o la r s y ste m c re ate d it, u nkn o w n a g es a g o.
A s t o w hy— yo u t e ll m e: w hy d oes s o m eo ne c re ate a w ork
o f a rt? ”
“W hy w ould a lie ns cre ate a w ork o f a rt th at a � ects
h um an m inds? ”
D orn ’s hum an eye blin ke d . He ro cke d a ste p
b ack w ard . “H ow c o uld th e y c re ate a n a rtif a ct th at is a
m irro r to o ur s o uls ?” E lv erd a a sk e d, s te p pin g to w ard him .
“T he y m ust h ave k n o w n s o m eth in g a bo ut u s. T he y m ust

have b een h e re lo ng a g es a g o. T he y m ust h ave s tu d ie d
us— our a n ce sto rs .”
D orn r e g ard ed h e r s ile ntly .
C om ing clo se r to h im , E lv erd a w ent o n, “T he y m ay
h ave p la ce d t h is a rtif a ct h e re t o co m munic ate w ith u s.
“C om munic ate ?”
“P erh ap s it is a ve ry su b tle , ve ry pow erfu l
co m munic atio ns d evic e.”
“ N ot a n a rtw ork a t a ll. ”
“O h, y e s, o f c o urs e it ’s a n a rtw ork ! A ll work s o f a rt a re
c o m munic atio ns d evic es, fo r th o se w ho p osse ss th e s o ul
to u nd ers ta n d .”
D orn s e em ed t o p ond er t h is f o r lo ng m om ents . E lv erda
w atc h e d his so le m n fa ce , se arc h in g fo r so m e hum an
e xp re ssio n.
Fin ally , h e sa id , “T hat d oes n o t c h an g e m y m issio n,
e ve n if it is t r u e .”
“ Y e s, it d oes,” E lv erd a s a id , e ag er to s a ve h im . “Y o ur
m issio n is to p re se rv e a n d p ro te ct th is a rtif a ct a g ain st
S te rlin g a n d a n yo ne e ls e w ho w ould tr y to d estr o y it — or
p erv e rt it t o h is o w n u se .”
“ T he d ead ca ll to m e,” D orn sa id so le m nly . “I h e ar
th e m in m y d re am s n o w .”
“ B ut w hy b e a lo ne in y o ur m issio n? L e t o th e rs h e lp
yo u. T he re m ust b e o th e r m erc e narie s w ho fe el as y o u
d o.”
“ P erh ap s,” h e s a id s o ft ly .

“Y o ur tr u e m issio n is m uch g re ate r th an yo u th in k,”
E lv erd a sa id , tr e m blin g w ith ne w unde rs ta n d in g. “Y o u
have t h e p ow er t o e nd t h e w ars t h at h ave d estr o ye d yo ur
co m ra d es, t h at h ave a lm ost de str o ye d yo ur s o ul.”
“E nd t h e c o rp ora te w ars ? ”
“Y o u w ill be th e p rie st o f th is s h rin e, th is s e p ulc he r. I
w ill re tu rn t o E arth a n d t e ll eve ry o ne a bo ut t h e se w ars .”
“ S te rlin g a n d o th e rs w ill have y o u k ille d”
“I a m a fa m ous a rtis t; th e y da re n o t to uch m e.” T he n
sh e la ug he d . “ A nd I a m t o o o ld to c a re if t h e y do .”
“ T he s c ie ntis ts — do y o u th in k th e y m ay a ctu ally le arn
h o w t o c o m munic ate w ith t h e a lie ns? ”
“S om ed ay,” E lv erd a sa id . “W he n o ur so uls a re p ure
e no ug h t o s ta n d t h e s h o ck o f t h e ir p re se nce .”
T he hum an sid e of D orn ’s fa ce sm ile d at he r. H e
exte nd ed h is a rm , a n d s h e to o k it in h e r o w n, re aliz ing
th at s h e h ad fo und h e r o w n s a lv atio n. L ik e tw o k in dre d
so uls , lik e c o m ra d es w ho h ad s h are d th e s ig ht o f de ath ,
lik e m oth e r a n d s o n, th e y w alk ed up th e tu nne l to w ard
th e w aitin g r a ce o f h um an ity.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“T H E C A FÉ C O UP”
Tim e tr a ve l. T he a b ilit y to m ove a t w ill into th e fu tu re — or
th e p ast.
O f a ll th e p ossib ilit ies th at s c ie nce � ctio n h as tin ke re d
w ith , tim e tr a ve l se em s th e m ost fa n ta stic . Y e t th e k n o w n
la ws o f p hysic s t e ll us t h at t im e t r a ve l is n o t f o rbidde n.
A nd w hat is no t fo rb id den m ay one da y be co m e
possib le.
It s e em s u nlik ely , a d re am o f tr a ve lin g a cro ss tim e to a
d i� ere nt a g e. B ut o nce , s p ace � ig ht s e em ed lik e a dr eam .
So did sk ysc ra p ers an d mode rn medic ine an d
e le ctr o m ag ne tic co m munic atio ns sy ste m s th at lin k th e
w orld a lm ost in sta n ta n e o usly .
The q ue stio n, th e n, is th is : w ho w ould tr a ve l th ro ug h

tim e? A nd w hy?
T he re b y, a s t h e y s a y, h an g s a t a le .

TH E C A FÉ C O UP
Paris w as n o t fr ie nd ly to A m eric an s in th e s o ft s p rin gtim e
of A D �� ��. T he F re nch d id n’t c a re m uch fo r th e E ng lis h
eith e r a n d t h e y h ate d t h e v ic to rio us G erm an s, o f c o urs e .
I c o uld n’t b la m e th e m v e ry m uch . T he G re at W ar h ad
b een o ve r fo r m ore th an th re e y e ars , y e t P aris h ad still
n o t re co ve re d it s g aie ty , it s lig ht a n d c o lo r, de sp ite th e
h o rd es o f b ois te ro us G erm an t o uris ts w ho s p ent s o f r e ely
o n t h e b oule va rd s. M ore lik ely , be ca u se o f t h e m .
I s a t in o ne o f th e c ro w ded s ide walk c a fé s b ene ath a
s p le nd id w arm s u n, w aitin g f o r m y lo ve ly w ife t o s h o w u p .
B eca u se o f t h e c ro w ds o f G erm an s, I w as fo rc e d to s h are
m y m inusc u le ro und ta b le w ith a ta ll, g au nt Fr ench m an
w ho lo oke d m e o ve r w ith s u sp ic io us e ye s.
“Y o u a re a n A m eric an?” h e a sk e d, lo okin g do wn h is

pro m inent n o se a t m e. H is a cce nt w as w ors e th an m ine,
ce rta in ly n o t P aris ia n.
“N o,” I a n sw ere d tr u th fu lly . T he n I lie d, “ I’m fr o m N ew
Z eala nd .” It w as as fa r aw ay in dis ta n ce as m y re al
b irth p la ce w as in t im e.
“A h,” h e sa id w ith a n e xh ala tio n o f br eath th at w as
so m ew he re betw een a sig h an d a sn o rt. “Y o ur
co untr y m en f o ug ht w ell at G allip oli. W ere y o u t h e re ?”
“N o,” I s a id . “ I w as t o o y o ung .”
T hat a p pare ntly p uzzle d h im . O bv iously , I w as o f a n
a g e to h ave fo ug ht in th e G re at W ar. B ut in fa ct, I h adn ’t
b een born whe n th e Brit is h Em pire tr o op s were
d ecim ate d a t G allip oli. I h ad n’t be en b orn in t h e t w entie th
c e ntu ry a t a ll.
“W ere y o u in t h e w ar? ” I a sk e d n e e dle ssly .
“B ut c e rta in ly. To th e v e ry la st m om ent, I fo ug ht th e
B och e .”
“ It w as a g re at t r a g ed y.”
“ T he A m eric an s b etr a ye d u s,” h e m utt e re d.
M y b ro w s r o se a f e w m illim ete rs . H e w as q uite t a ll fo r a
F re nch m an , b ut p ain fu lly th in . H alf-s ta rv e d. E ve n h is e ye s
lo oke d h ung ry . T he in �a tio n, o f c o urs e . It c o st a ba sk e tfu l
o f fr a n cs, lit era lly , to b uy a lo af o f br ead. I w ond ere d ho w
he c o uld a � o rd th e p ric e o f a n a p erit if. De sp ite th e w arm
a ft e rn o on, he had w ra p ped him se lf in a sh abby old
le ath e r c o at, w orn s h in y a t t h e e lbo ws.
F ro m what I co uld se e, th e re were hardly an y

Fre nch m en in th e c a fé , m ostly ra u co us G erm an s ro arin g
with la ug hte r a n d h e artily p oun d in g o n th e lit tle ta ble s a s
th e y b ello wed fo r m ore b ee r. To m y am aze m ent, th e
w aite rs h ad le arn e d t o s p eak G erm an .
“W ils on,” m y co m pan io n co ntin ue d bit te rly . “H e h ad
th e g all to s p eak o f L a fa ye tte .”
“ I th o ug ht th at th e A m eric an p re side nt w as th e o ne
w ho a rra n g ed t h e a rm istic e.”
“ Y e s, w ith his Fo urte en Poin ts . Fo urte en da ggers
p lu ng ed in to t h e h e art o f F ra n ce .”
“ R eally ?”
“T he A m eric an s s h o uld h ave e nte re d th e w ar o n o ur
sid e! In ste ad , th e y s a t id ly by a n d w atc h e d us b le ed to
d eath w hile t h e ir b an ke rs e xto rte d eve ry g ra m o f g old we
posse sse d .”
“ B ut th e A m eric an s h ad n o re aso n to g o to w ar,” I
p ro te ste d m ild ly.
“F ra n ce n e ed ed th e m ! W he n th e ir p itifu l lit tle c o lo nie s
re b elle d ag ain st th e B rit is h lio n, Fr an ce w as th e o nly
natio n t o c o m e t o t h e ir a id . T he y o w e t h e ir v e ry e xis te nce
to F ra n ce , y e t w he n w e n e ed ed th e m , th e y tu rn e d th e ir
b ack s o n u s.”
T hat w as la rg ely m y fa u lt, a lth o ug h h e d idn ’t k n o w it . I
a ve rte d th e s in kin g o f th e Lu sit a nia b y th e G erm an U -
boat. It to ok eno rm ous ene rg ie s, bu t m y da rlin g w ife
a rra n g ed it s o th at th e Lu sit a nia w as c ra w lin g a lo ng a t a
m ere �ve kn o ts th at fa te fu l morn in g. I co nvin ce d
Lie ute nan t W ait h e r S ch w ie ger, s k ip per o f th e U -� � , t h at it

was sa fe e no ug h to su rfa ce a n d h o ld th e B rit is h lin er
ca p tiv e with th e deck gun while a bo ardin g party
s e arc h e d fo r th e a m munitio n th at I k n e w th e E ng lis h h ad
sto re d a b oard h e r.
T he entir e a� air w as han d le d with gre at ta ct an d
h o no r. N o s h o ts w ere � re d , n o liv es w ere lo st, a n d th e
o ne h und re d tw enty -t hre e A m eric an p asse ng ers a rriv ed
sa fe ly in L iv erp ool w ith g lo win g s to rie s o f h o w c o rre ct,
h o w ch iv alr o us, th e G erm an U-bo at sa ilo rs had be en.
A m eric a re m ain ed ne utr a l th ro ug ho ut th e G re at W ar.
In d eed , a g ood d eal of a n ti-B rit is h s e ntim ent s w ep t th e
U nite d Sta te s, esp ecia lly th e Midw est, whe n th e ir
ne w sp ap ers re p orte d th at th e B rit is h w ere tr a n sp ortin g
m ilit ary c o ntr a b an d in s e cre t a bo ard th e lin er a n d th us
p uttin g t h e liv es o f t h e A m eric an p asse ng ers a t r is k.
“W ell, ” I sa id , becko nin g to th e w aite r fo r an o th e r
P ern o d , “ th e w ar is o ve r, a n d w e m ust fa ce th e fu tu re a s
b est w e c a n .”
“ Y e s,” s a id m y c o m pan io n g lo om ily . “ I a g re e.”
O ne g ro up o f b urly G erm an s w as be ing p artic ula rly
o b noxio us, sin gin g b aw dy so ng s as th e y w ave d th e ir
b eer g la sse s to a n d fr o , s lo ppin g th e fo am ing be er o n
th e m se lv es an d th e ir ne ig hbo rin g ta ble s. No one
co m pla in ed . N o o ne d are d to s a y a w ord. T he G erm an
a rm y s till occu p ie d m uch o f F ra n ce .
M y c o m pan io n’s fa ce w as w hite w ith fu ry . Y e t e ve n h e
re str a in ed h im se lf. B ut I n o tic e d th at h e g la nce d at th e
w atc h o n h is w ris t e ve ry fe w m om ents , a s if h e w ere
e xp ectin g s o m eo ne . O r s o m eth in g.

If a n yo ne h ad b etr a ye d F ra n ce , it w as m e. T he w orld
th at I h ad b een b orn in to w as a c e ssp ool o f v io lence a n d
h ate , c ru m blin g in to tr ib al sa va g ery a ll acro ss th e g lo be .
Only a fe w o ase s o f sa fe ty e xis te d, tu cke d in re m ote
a re as fa r fr o m th e �lt h y, d is ease -r idde n cit ie s a n d th e
sw arm s of ig no ra n t, vic io us m onste rs w ho ra p ed an d
m urd ere d until th e y th e m se lv es were ra p ed an d
m urd ere d .
O nce th e y d is co ve re d o ur s o la r-p ow ere d cit y, tu cke d
hig h in th e S ie rra O rie nta l, I k n e w th at th e e nd w as n e ar.
S tu p id ly, t h e y a tta cke d u s, lik e a w ild b arba ria n h o rde . W e
sla ug hte re d th e m w ith la se r beam s an d he at-s eekin g
bulle ts . In ste ad o f d riv in g th e m a w ay, th at o nly w he tte d
th e ir a p petit e .
T he ir su rv iv ors la id sie ge to our m ounta in to p. W e
laug he d , a t � rs t, to th in k th e ir p itifu l han d fu l of ra g ged
ig no ra m use s co uld ove rc o m e our w alle d cit y, w ith its
h ig h-t ech w eap onry a n d e nd le ss e ne rg y f r o m t h e s u n. Y e t
so m eho w , th e y s p re ad th e w ord to o th e rs o f th e ir k in d.
D ay a ft e r d ay w e w atc h e d t h e ir n um be rs g ro w , a t a tte re d,
th re ad bare p ack o f r a ts s u rro und in g u s, w atc h in g, w aitin g
until th e ir n um bers w ere s o h ug e, th e y c o uld s w arm u s
und er d esp ite o ur w eap ons.
T he y w ere u nite d in th e ir b lo odlu st a n d th e ir g re ed.
T he y s a w lo ot a n d p ow er o n o ur m ounta in to p, a n d th e y
w an te d b oth . A t n ig ht I c o uld se e th e ir c a m p�re s d ow n
belo w u s, lik e t h e r e d e ye s o f r a ts w atc h in g a n d w aitin g.
O ur c o uncil was d iv id ed . S om e u rg ed th at w e s a lly o ut
ag ain st th e b esie gers , a tta ck th e m , a n d dr ive th e m a w ay.

But it w as a lr e ad y to o la te fo r th at. T he ir n um be rs w ere
fa r t o o la rg e, a n d e ve n if w e d ro ve t h e m a w ay, t h e y w ould
re tu rn , n o w t h at t h e y k n e w w e e xis te d.
O th e rs w an te d to �e e in to sp ace , to le ave Earth
a lto g eth e r a n d b uild c o lo nie s o � th e p la ne t. W e h ad th e
te ch no lo gy to build an d m ain ta in th e so la r-p ow ere d
sa te llit es, th e y p oin te d o ut. It w as o nly o ne te ch no lo gic al
ste p f a rth e r t o b uild h ab ita ts in s p ace .
B ut w he n w e p ut th e n um bers th ro ug h a co m pute r
an aly sis , it s h o w ed t h at t o b uild a h abit at la rg e e no ug h t o
h o use u s a ll perm an e ntly w ould be be yo nd o ur c u rre nt
re so urc e s— an d w e c o uld n o t e nla rg e o ur re so urc e ba se
a s lo ng a s w e w ere e ncir cle d by t h e ba rba ria ns.
I h ad w ork e d o n th e tim e tr a n sla to r s in ce m y s tu d ent
d ays. It to ok e no rm ous e ne rg y to m ove o bje cts th ro ug h
tim e, fa r to o m uch fo r a ll of u s to e sc a p e th at w ay. Y e t I
s a w a p ossib ilit y o f h o p e.
If I c o uld � n d a n exu s, a p iv ota l p oin t in t im e, p erh ap s I
c o uld c h an g e th e w orld . P erh ap s I c o uld a lte r e ve nts to
s u ch a n e xte nt t h at t h is m isera ble w orld of t e rro r a n d p ain
w ould d is so lv e, d is ap pear, a n d a be tte r w orld re p la ce it . I
b eca m e o b se sse d w ith t h e p ossibilit y.
“B ut yo u’ll destr o y th is world, ” m y wife gasp ed,
sh o cke d w he n I � n ally t o ld h e r o f m y s c h e m e.
“W hat o f it ?” I s n ap ped . “ Is th is w orld so de lightfu l th at
yo u w an t it t o c o ntin ue?”
S he sa n k w earily onto th e la b bench . “W hat w ill
hap pen to o ur fa m ilie s? O ur fr ie nd s? W hat w ill hap pen to

us? ”
“Y o u a n d I w ill make th e tr a n sla tio n. W e w ill live in a n
e arlie r, b ette r t im e.”
“ A nd t h e o th e rs ? ”
I s h ru g ged . “ I d on’t k n o w . T he m ath e m atic s is n’t c le ar.
B ut e ve n if th e y d is ap pear, th e w orld th at re p la ce s th e m
in t h is t im e w ill be b ette r t h an t h e w orld we’r e in n o w .”
“ D o y o u r e ally t h in k s o ?”
“W e’ll m ake it b ette r!”
T he fo ols o n th e c o uncil dis ag re ed, n atu ra lly . N o o ne
h ad tr a n sla te d th ro ug h tim e, th e y poin te d out. The
e ne rg y eve n fo r a pre lim inary exp erim ent w ould be
pro hib itiv ely hig h. W e ne ed ed th at ene rg y fo r our
w eap ons.
N one o f th e m b elie ve d I c o uld ch an g e a th in g. T he y
w ere n’t a fr a id th at th e y w ould be e ra se d fr o m e xis te nce ,
th e ir w orld lin e sn u� ed o ut lik e a c a n d le � a m e. N o, in
th e ir b lin d ig no ra n ce th e y in sis te d th at a n a tte m pt a t tim e
tr a n sla tio n w ould co nsu m e so m uch ene rg y th at w e
would b e le ft d efe nse le ss a g ain st th e be sie gin g s a va g es
o uts id e o ur w alls .
“T he s a va g es w ill no lo ng er e xis t,” I to ld th e m . “ N one
o f th is w orld lin e w ill exis t, o nce I’v e m ade th e p ro p er
ch an g e in t h e t e m pora l g eo d esic .”
T he y vo te d m e dow n. The y w ould ra th e r fa ce th e
b arb aria ns t h an g iv e u p t h e ir e xis te nce , e ve n if it m ean t a
b ette r w orld w ould r e p la ce t h e o ne t h e y k n e w .

Outw ard ly , I acce p te d th e ir ju dgm ent. In w ardly , I
beca m e t h e m ost p assio nate s tu d ent o f h is to ry o f a ll tim e.
Fe ve ris hly , I s e arc h e d th e b ooks a n d dis cs, s e ekin g th e
nexu s, th e tu rn in g p oin t, th e p la ce w he re I c o uld m ake
th e w orld c h an g e fo r th e b ette r. I k n e w I h ad only a fe w
m onth s; th e sa va g e h o rd e b elo w o ur m ounta in to p w as
g ro w in g a n d s tir rin g. I c o uld h e ar t h e ir m urm urin g dir ge o f
hate e ve n th ro ug h th e w alls o f m y la bo ra to ry , lik e th e
g ro w ls o f a p ack o f w ild b easts . E ve ry d ay, it g re w lo ud er,
m ore in sis te nt.
It w as th e w ar in th e m iddle o f th e tw entie th c e ntu ry
th at sta rte d th e w orld ’s d esc e nt in to m adn ess. A m an
ca lle d A dolf H itle r e sc a la te d th e h o rro r o f w ar to n e w
le ve ls o f in hum an ity. N ot o nly did he de libe ra te ly m urde r
millio ns of civ ilia n men, wom en, an d ch ildr en; he
d estr o ye d h is o w n c o untr y , s c re am ing w ith h is la st br eath
th at th e A ry a n ra ce d ese rv e d to be w ip ed out if th e y
co uld n o t c o nq ue r t h e w orld .
W he n I � rs t r e aliz ed th e e no rm ity o f H itle r’s r a g e, I s a t
stu nne d fo r an entir e day. H ere w as th e m ode l, th e
p ro to ty p e, fo r t h e b ru ta l, c ru e l, r u th le ss, s a dis tic m onste rs
w ho r a n g ed m y w orld s e ekin g blo od.
B efo re H itle r, w ar w as a s e nse le ss a � ro nt to c iv iliz ed
m en a n d w om en. S old iers w ere to le ra te d, a t be st; o ft e n
d esp is ed . T he y w ere u su ally sh unne d in p olit e so cie ty .
A ft e r H itle r, w ar w as co m monp la ce , geno cid e ro utin e,
nucle ar w eap ons v a lu ed fo r th e m eg ade ath s th e y c o uld
g ene ra te .
H itle r an d all he sto od fo r w as th e edg e of th e

pre cip ice, th e � rs t te rrib le ste p in to th e a by ss th at m y
world h ad p lu ng ed in to . If I co uld p re ve nt H itle r fr o m
co m ing to p ow er, p erh ap s p re ve nt h im fr o m e ve r be ing
born , I m ight sa ve m y w orld — or a t le ast, e ra se it a n d
re p la ce it w ith a b ette r o ne .
Fo r d ays o n e nd , I th o ug ht o f h o w I m ight tr a n sla te
b ack in t im e t o k ill th is m ad m an o r e ve n p re ve nt h is b irth .
S lo wly, h o w eve r, I b eg an to re aliz e th at th is s in gle m an
w as n o t th e c a u se o f it a ll. If H itle r h ad ne ve r be en b orn ,
so m eo ne e ls e w ould h ave a ris en in G erm an y a ft e r th e
G re at W ar, s o m eo ne e ls e w ould have u ni� ed th e G erm an
p eo p le in a lu st fo r re ve ng e ag ain st th o se w ho had
b etr a ye d a n d d efe ate d th e m , s o m eo ne e ls e w ould h ave
p re ach e d A ry a n purit y an d hatr e d of all oth e r ra ce s,
so m eo ne e ls e w ould h ave p lu ng ed civ iliz atio n in to W orld
W ar II.
T o s o lv e th e p ro b le m o f H itle r, I h ad to g o to th e ro ot
ca u se s o f t h e N azi p ro g ra m : G erm an y’s d efe at in t h e F ir st
W orld W ar, th e w ar th at w as ca lle d th e G re at W ar b y
th o se w ho h ad liv ed th ro ug h it . I h ad to m ake G erm an y
w in t h at w ar.
If G erm an y h ad w on W orld W ar I, th e re w ould h ave
b een n o h um ilia tio n o f th e G erm an p eo p le , n o th ir st fo r
re ve ng e, n o e co no m ic c o lla pse . H itle r w ould still exis t,
b ut h e w ould b e a re tir e d so ldie r, p erh ap s a p eace fu l
p ain te r or eve n a m inor fu nctio nary in th e Kais er’s
g ove rn m ent. T he re w ould b e n o W orld War II.
A nd s o I s e t m y p la ns to m ake G erm an y th e v ic to r in
th e G re at W ar, w ith t h e r e lu cta n t h e lp o f m y de ar w ife .

“Y o u w ould d efy th e c o uncil? ” s h e a sk e d me, s h o cke d
w he n I r e ve ale d m y d ete rm inatio n t o h e r.
“ O nly if y o u h e lp m e,” I s a id . “ I w on’t g o u nle ss y o u g o
w ith m e.”
S he fu lly u nd ers to od th at w e w ould n e ve r b e a ble to
r e tu rn t o o ur o w n w orld . T o d o s o , w e w ould h ave t o b rin g
th e co m pone nts fo r a tr a n sla to r with us an d th e n
asse m ble it in th e e arly tw entie th ce ntu ry . E ve n if w e
co uld d o th at, w he re w ould w e � n d a p ow er s o urc e in
th o se p rim itiv e y e ars ? T he y w ere s till usin g h o rs e s t h e n.
B esid es, o ur w orld w ould b e g one , v a n is he d, e ra se d
fr o m s p ace -t im e.
“W e’ll liv e o ut o ur liv es in th e tw entie th c e ntu ry ,” I to ld
he r. “ A nd w e’ll kn o w th at o ur o w n tim e w ill be fa r be tte r
th an it is n o w .”
“ H ow c a n y o u b e s u re it w ill be b ette r? ” s h e a sk e d me
so ft ly .
I sm ile d patie ntly . “T he re w ill be no W orld War II.
E uro p e w ill be peace fu l fo r th e re st of th e ce ntu ry .
C om merc e an d art will �o uris h. Eve n th e Russia n
co m munis ts w ill join th e E uro p ean fe de ra tio n p eace fu lly ,
to w ard t h e e nd o f t h e c e ntu ry .”
“ Y o u’r e c e rta in ?”
“I’v e r u n th e a n aly sis o n th e m aste r c o m pute r a d oze n
tim es. I’m a b so lu te ly c e rta in .”
“ A nd o ur o w n t im e w ill be b ett e r? ”
“It h as t o b e. H ow c o uld it p ossibly be w ors e ?”

She no d ded , he r beau tif u l fa ce so le m n with th e
und ers ta n d in g th at w e w ere le avin g o ur w orld fo re ve r.
G ood rid dance to it , I th o ug ht. B ut it w as th e o nly w orld
w e had eve r kn o w n, an d sh e was no t hap py to
d elib era te ly t o ss it a w ay a n d s p end t h e r e st o f h e r lif e in a
b yg one c e ntu ry .
S till, sh e ne ve r he sit a te d ab out co m ing w ith m e. I
w ould n’t g o w ith o ut h e r, s h e k n e w th at. A nd I k n e w th at
sh e w ould n’t le t m e g o u nle ss s h e c a m e w ith m e.
“It ’s re ally q uite ro m an tic , is n’t it ?” s h e a sk e d me, th e
nig ht b efo re w e le ft .
“ W hat is ?”
“T ra n sla tin g a cro ss tim e to g eth e r. O ur lo ve w ill sp an
th e c e ntu rie s.”
I h e ld h e r c lo se . “ Y e s. A cro ss t h e c e ntu rie s.”
B efo re su nris e th e n ext m orn in g, w e sto le in to th e
la bora to ry a n d p ow ere d u p t h e t r a n sla to r. N o o ne w as o n
g uard , n o o ne w as th e re to tr y to s to p u s. T he c o uncil
m em bers w ere a ll sle ep in g, to ta lly u naw are th at o ne o f
th e ir lo ya l cit iz ens w as a b out t o d efy t h e ir d ecis io n. T he re
w ere n o r e ne g ad es a m ong u s, n o r e be ls. W e h ad alw ays
a cce p te d t h e c o uncil’ s d ecis io ns a n d w ork e d to g eth e r f o r
our m utu al su rv iv al.
U ntil no w .
M y w ife s ile ntly to ok h e r p la ce o n th e tr a n sla to r’s fo ca l
sta g e w hile I m ad e th e � n al adju stm ents to th e c o ntr o ls .
She lo oke d ra d ia nt sta n d in g th e re , h e r fa ce g ra ve , h e r
g old en hair glo win g ag ain st th e dark e ne d labo ra to ry

sh ad ow s.
A t la st I s te p ped u p b esid e h e r. I to ok h e r h an d ; it w as
co ld w ith a n xie ty . I s q ue eze d h e r h an d c o n�d ently .
“W e’r e g oin g to m ake a b ett e r w orld, ” I w his pere d to
h e r.
T he la st th in g I s a w w as th e p in k g lo w o f da wn ris in g
ove r th e easte rn m ounta in s, fr a m ed in th e la b’s only
w in dow .
N ow , in th e P aris o f � � �� th at I h ad cre ate d, v ic to rio us
G erm an y ru le d E uro p e w ith s tr ic t bu t c iv iliz ed au th o rit y.
T he K ais er h ad b een q uite le nie nt w ith G re at B rit a in ; a ft e r
all, w as h e n o t re la te d b y b lo od to th e B rit is h k in g? E ve n
Fra n ce g ot o � re la tiv ely lig htly , fa r m ore lig htly th an th e
unlu ck y Russia n s. Germ an y ke p t Als ace -L orra in e, of
co urs e , b ut t o ok n o o th e r t e rrit o ry .
F ra n ce ’s p unis hm ent w as m ain ly �n an cia l: G erm an y
d em an d ed hug e, crip plin g re p ara tio ns. The re al
h um ilia tio n w as th at F ra n ce w as fo rc e d to dis arm . T he
p ro ud F re nch a rm y w as re d uce d to a fe w re g im ents a n d
fo rb id den mod ern arm am ents su ch as ta n ks an d
air p la ne s. T he P aris ia n p olic e f o rc e w as be tte r e q uip ped.
M y c o m pan io n g la nce d a t h is w atc h a g ain . It w as th e
ty p e t h at t h e a rm y h ad is su e d to it s o � ce rs , I s a w .
“C ould y o u t e ll m e t h e t im e?” I a sk e d, o ve r t h e dr unke n
sin gin g o f t h e G erm an t o uris ts . M y w ife w as la te , a n d t h at
w as q uite u nlik e h e r.
H e p aid n o a tte ntio n to m e. S ta rin g fu rio usly a t th e
G erm an s w ho s u rro und ed u s, h e s u d de nly s h o t t o h is f e et

an d s h o ute d , “ M en o f F ra n ce ! H ow lo ng s h all we e nd ure
th is h um ilia tio n?”
H e w as s o ta ll a n d le an th at h e lo oke d like a h um an
E i� el To w er sta n d in g am ong th e cro w de d side walk
ta b le s. H e h ad a p is to l in h is h an d . O ne o f t h e w aite rs w as
so s u rp ris ed b y h is o utb urs t th at h e dr op ped his tr a y. It
c la tte re d to th e pave m ent w ith a cra sh of sh atte re d
g la ssw are .
B ut o th e rs w ere no t su rp ris ed, I sa w . M ore th an a
d oze n m en le ap ed u p a n d sh o ute d, “V iv e L a Fr an ce !”
T he y w ere a ll dre sse d in o ld arm y u nifo rm s, a s w as m y
co m pan io n, b ene ath h is fr a ye d leath e r c o at. T he y w ere
a ll arm ed , a f e w o f t h e m e ve n h ad ri� es.
A bso lu te sile nce re ig ne d . The Germ an s sta re d,
d um bfo und ed . T he w aite rs fr o ze in t h e ir t r a ck s. I c e rta in ly
did n’t k n o w w hat t o s a y o r d o. M y o nly t h o ug ht w as o f m y
beau tif u l w ife ; w he re w as sh e , w hy w as sh e la te , w as
th e re s o m e s o rt o f in su rre ctio n g oin g o n? W as s h e s a fe ?
“F o llo w m e!” sa id th e ta ll Fre nch m an to his arm ed
co m patr io ts . D esp ite e ve ry in stin ct in m e, I s tr u g gle d to
m y f e et a n d w ent a lo ng w ith t h e m .
Fro m ca fé s on both sid es of th e w ide bo ule va rd,
a rm ed m en were str id ing purp ose fu lly to w ard th e ir
le ad er. H e m arc h e d s tr a ig ht a h e ad, r ig ht do wn t h e m iddle
of th e s tr e et, lo okin g n e ith e r to th e rig ht n o r le ft . T he y
fo rm ed u p b ehin d h im , s o m e t w o o r t h re e do ze n m en.
B re ath le ssly , I f o llo wed a lo ng .
“T o th e Ely se e!” sh o ute d th e ta ll one , str idin g

dete rm ined ly o n h is lo ng le gs, n e ve r g la ncin g ba ck t o s e e
if t h e o th e rs w ere f o llo win g h im .
The n I sa w m y w ife push in g th ro ug h th e cu rio us
o nlo oke rs th ro ng in g th e sid ew alk s. I c a lle d to h e r, a n d
sh e ra n to m e, b lo nd an d slim an d m ore lo ve ly th an
a n yo ne in a ll of s p ace -t im e.
“W hat is it ?” sh e a sk e d , a s b re ath le ss a s I. “W hat’s
h ap penin g?”
“S om e s o rt o f c o up , I t h in k.”
“ T he y have guns! W e sh o uld get in sid e. If th e re ’s
s h o otin g— ”
“N o, w e’ll be a ll rig ht,” I sa id. “I w an t to se e w hat’s
g oin g t o h ap pen.”
I t w as a c o up , a ll rig ht. B ut it f a ile d misera bly .
 A ppare ntly t h e t a ll one , a f a n atic al e x-m ajo r n am ed de
Gau lle , b elie ve d th at h is lit tle ba nd o f fo llo wers co uld
ca p tu re th e gove rn m ent. H e de pend ed on a ce rta in
G ene ra l Péta in , w ho h ad th e p re stig e a n d a u th o rit y th at
d e G au lle h im se lf la cke d .
Péta in lo st h is n e rv e a t th e c rit ic al m om ent, h o w eve r,
a n d a b an d one d th e c o up . T he p olic e a n d a de ta ch m ent
o f a rm y tr o op s w ere w aitin g fo r th e re be ls a t th e P etit
P ala ce ; a fe w s h o ts w ere e xc h an g ed. B efo re th e s m oke
h ad d rif te d a w ay, t h e r e b els h ad sc a tte re d, a n d d e G au lle
h im se lf w as t a ke n in to c u sto dy .
“H e w ill be c h arg ed w ith tr e aso n, I im ag in e,” I s a id to
m y d arlin g w ife a s w e s a t th at e ve nin g a t th e v e ry s a m e
sid ew alk c a fé . T he v e ry s a m e t a ble , in f a ct.

“I d oub t th at th e y’ll giv e h im m ore th an a s la p o n th e
w ris t,” s h e s a id . “ H e s e em s to be a h e ro to e ve ry o ne in
P aris .”
“ N ot t o t h e G erm an s,” I s a id .
She s m ile d a t m e. “ T he G erm an s ta ke h im a s a jo ke .”
S he u nd ers to od G erm an p erfe ctly a n d c o uld e ave sdr op
on t h e ir s h o ute d c o nve rs a tio ns q uite e asily .
“H e is n o jo ke .”
W e b oth t u rn e d t o t h e d ark lit tle m an s it tin g a t t h e n ext
ta b le ; w e w ere p acke d in s o c lo se th at h is c h air a lm ost
to uch e d m ine. H e w as a p artic ula rly u g ly m an , w ith la nk
b la ck h air a n d th e s w arth y fa ce o f a bo rn c o nsp irato r. H is
eye s w ere s m all, re p tilia n, a n d h is u p per lip w as tw iste d
b y a c u rv in g s ta r.
“ C harle s d e G au lle w ill be th e s a vio r o f F ra n ce ,” h e
sa id . H e w as a b so lu te ly s e rio us. G rim , e ve n.
“If h e ’s n o t g uillo tin ed fo r tr e aso n,” I r e p lie d lig htly . Y e t
in ward ly , I b eg an t o t r e m ble .
“Y o u w ere h e re . Y o u s a w h o w h e ra llie d th e m en o f
Fra n ce .”
“ A ll tw o d oze n o f t h e m ,” I q uip ped.
H e lo oke d a t m e w ith a n g ry e ye s. “ N ext tim e it w ill be
di� ere nt. W e w ill no t re ly o n c o w ards a n d tu rn co ats lik e
Péta in . N ext tim e w e w ill ta ke th e g ove rn m ent a n d br ing
all of F ra n ce u nd er h is le ad ers h ip . T he n .  .  .”
H e h e sit a te d , g la ncin g a ro und a s if t h e p olic e m ight b e
lis te nin g.

“T he n?” m y w ife c o axe d .
H e lo were d h is v o ic e. “ T he n r e ve ng e o n G erm an y a n d
all th o se w ho b etr a ye d u s.”
“ Y o u c a n ’t b e s e rio us.”
“ Y o u’ll se e. N ext tim e w e w ill win . N ext tim e w e w ill
have a ll of F ra n ce w ith u s. A nd th e n a ll of E uro p e. A nd
th e n, t h e w orld .”
M y ja w m ust h ave d ro p ped o p en. It w as a ll goin g to
h ap pen an yw ay. The Fre nch w ould re arm . Le d by a
ru th le ss, fa n atic a l de G au lle , th e y w ould p lu ng e E uro p e
in to a s e co nd w orld w ar. A ll m y e � o rts w ere fo r n o th in g.
The w orld t h at w e h ad le ft w ould c o ntin ue t o e xis t— or be
e ve n w ors e .
H e t u rn e d h is r e p tilia n e ye s t o m y lo ve ly w ife . A lth o ug h
m an y o f th e G erm an w om en w ere blo nd , sh e w as fa r
m ore b eau tif u l th an a n y o f t h e m .
“Y o u are Ary a n?” he ask e d, his to ne su d de nly
m enacin g.
S he w as n o np lu sse d . “ A ry a n? I do n’t u nde rs ta n d .”
“ Y e s, y o u d o,” h e s a id , a lm ost h is sin g th e w ords . “ N ext
tim e it w ill go h ard o n t h e A ry a n s. Y o u’ll se e.”
I s a n k m y h e ad in m y h an d s a n d w ep t o p enly .

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“T H E A NG EL’S G IF T ”
Eve ry b od y fr o m G oeth e to th e h ig h s c h o ol kid next d oor
has w rit te n a s to ry a b out a d eal w ith th e de vil: y o u k n o w ,
a ta le in w hic h a m an se lls his so ul in exc h an g e fo r
w orld ly w ealth an d p ow er. S om etim es th e sto ry end s
hap pily , a s in S te p he n V in ce nt B ené t’s “T he De vil an d
D an ie l Web ste r.” M ore oft e n it’s a tr a g edy , su ch as
“F au st.”
B ut a s fa r a s I k n o w , n o b ody ’s w rit te n a s to ry a bo ut
m akin g a d eal w ith a n a n g el.
S o h e re ’s a s to ry a b out a m an m akin g a d eal w ith o ne
o f th e h e ave nly h o st. H e h as to g iv e u p a ll his w orldly
w ealth a n d p ow er in o rd er to s a ve h is s o ul. I b elie ve th at
th is sto ry e xp la in s th e se em ingly in exp lic able fa ll of a
fo rm er P re sid ent o f t h e U nite d S ta te s.

Sort o f.

TH E A NG EL’S G IF T
He s to o d a t h is b ed ro om w in dow , g azin g h ap pily o ut a t
th e w ell-k ep t g ro und s a n d m an ic ure d park b eyo nd th e m .
The e ve nin g w as w arm a n d lo ve ly . D in ne r w ith t h e g ue sts
fr o m o ve rs e as had b een p erfe ct; th e de al was g oin g
sm ooth ly , a n d h e w ould g et a ll th e c re dit fo r it . A s w ell as
th e b ene �ts .
H e w as a t th e to p o f th e w orld no w , m aste r o f it a ll,
kin g o f t h e h ill. T he o ld d ark d ays o f fe ar a n d fa ilu re w ere
b ehin d h im n o w . E ve ry th in g w as g oin g h is w ay a t la st. H e
lo ve d it .
H is w ife sw ep t in to th e b ed ro om , ju st slig htly tip sy
fr o m th e ch am pag ne . B eam ing at h im , sh e sa id, “Y o u
w ere m ag ni� ce nt t h is e ve nin g, da rlin g.”
H e tu rn e d fr o m th e w in dow , s u rp ris ed beyo nd w ords .

Pra is e fr o m h e r w as s o ra re th at h e tr e asu re d it, s a vo re d
it lik e e xp ensiv e w in e, ju st a s h e h ad alw ays fe lt a s p ecia l
glo w w ith in h is b re ast o n th o se e xtr a o rdin ary o cca sio ns
w he n h is m oth e r h ad v o uch sa fe d him a k in d w ord.
“ U h .  .  . t h an k y o u,” h e s a id .
“M ag ni� ce nt, m y darlin g,” sh e re p eate d. “I am so
p ro ud o f y o u!”
H is f a ce w ent r e d w ith e m barra sse d hap pin ess.
“A nd th e se p eo p le are so m uch n ic er th an th o se L a tin
ty p es,” s h e a d ded .
“Y o u .  .  . y o u k n o w , y o u w ere  .  .  . y o u a re  .  .  . th e m ost
b eau tif u l w om an in th is c it y,” h e s ta m mere d. H e m ean t it .
In h e r g ow n o f g old la m é, a n d with h e r h air c o i� ed th at
w ay, s h e lo oke d p osit iv ely r e g al. H is h e art � lle d with jo y.
S he k is se d h im lig htly o n th e c h e ek, w his perin g in to
h is e ar, “I sh all be w aitin g fo r yo u in m y bo ud oir, m y
prin ce .”
T he b re ath g ush e d o ut o f h im . S he p iro ue tte d da intily ,
th e n w altze d to th e d oor th at co nne cte d to he r o w n
bed ro om . O penin g th e d oor, s h e tu rn e d ba ck to w ard him
an d b le w h im a k is s.
A s s h e c lo se d th e d oor b ehin d he r, h e to ok a d eep ,
sig hin g, sh ud d erin g bre ath . Brim ming with exc it e d
exp ecta tio n, h e w ent d ire ctly to h is c lo se t, u nbu tt o nin g
his tu xe d o ja cke t a s h e str o de p urp ose fu lly a cro ss th e
th ic kly c a rp ete d � o or.
H e y a n ke d o p en th e c lo se t d oo r. A m an w as s ta n d in g
th e re , d ire ctly u nd er t h e lig ht s e t in to t h e c e ilin g.

Sm ilin g, t h e m an m ad e a s lig ht b ow . “ P le ase d o n o t b e
ala rm ed , s ir . A nd d on’t b oth e r t o c a ll yo ur s e cu rit y g uards .
The y w on’t h e ar y o u.”
S till fu m blin g w ith h is ja cke t b utt o ns, h e s tu m ble d ba ck
fr o m th e clo se t d oor, a th o usa n d w ild th o ug hts ra cin g
th ro ug h h is m ind. A n a ssa ssin . A k idn ap per. A n e w sp ap er
co lu m nis t!
T he s tr a n g er s te p ped a s fa r a s th e c lo se t do or. “ M ay I
e nte r y o ur r o om , s ir ? A m I t o t a ke y o ur s ile nce f o r a sse nt?
In t h at c a se , t h an k y o u v e ry m uch .”
T he str a n g er w as ta ll but quite sle nd er. H e w as
p erfe ctly ta ilo re d in a sk y-blu e B ro oks B ro th e rs th re e-
p ie ce s u it. H e h ad th e y o uth fu l, in no ce nt, g olde n-c urle d
lo ok o f a E uro p ean te rro ris t. H is s m ile re ve ale d perfe ct,
d azzlin g te eth . Ye t his e ye s se em ed in�n ite ly sa d, as
th o ug h � lle d w ith k n o w le dge o f a ll hum an fa ilin gs. T ho se
ic y-b lue eye s pie rc e d rig ht th ro ug h th e m an in th e
tu xe d o.
“W h .  .  . w hat d o y o u w an t? W ho a re y o u?”
“I’m te rr ib ly s o rry to in tr u d e th is w ay. I re aliz e it m ust
b e a c o nsid era b le sh o ck to y o u. B ut y o u’r e a lw ays so
b usy. It ’s di� cu lt to �t an ap poin tm ent into yo ur
sc h e d ule .”
H is v o ic e w as a s w eet, m ild te no r, bu t th e a cce nt w as
str a n g e. E ast c o ast, s u re ly . H arv a rd, n o do ub t.
“ H ow d id y o u g et in h e re ? M y s e cu rit y .  .  .”
T he s tr a n g er g ave a s lig htly g uilt y g rin a n d h ik ed one
th um b c e ilin gw ard . “ Y o u m ight s a y I c a m e in th ro ug h th e

ro of.”
“ T he r o of? Im possib le!”
“ N ot f o r m e. Y o u s e e, I a m a n a n g el.”
“A n .  .  . a n g el? ”
W ith a se lf-a ssu re d n o d , th e str a n g er re p lie d, “Y e s.
O ne o f th e h e ave nly h o st. Y o ur v e ry o w n g uardia n a n g el,
to b e p re cis e.”
“ I d on’t b elie ve y o u.”
“ Y o u d on’t b elie ve in a n g els ?” T he s tr a n g er c o cke d a
gold en e ye b ro w a t h im . “ C om e n o w . I c a n s e e in to y o ur
so ul. Y o u d o b elie ve .”
“ M y c h urc h d oesn ’t g o in f o r t h at s o rt o f t h in g,” h e s a id,
tr y in g t o p ull him se lf t o g eth e r.
“ N o m atte r. Y o u d o b elie ve . A nd y o u do w ell to b elie ve ,
b eca u se it is a ll tr u e . A ng els , d evils , t h e e ntir e s y ste m . It is
a s r e al an d tr u e a s th is � n e h o use y o u liv e in .” T he a n g el
he ave d a s m all sig h. “ Y o u k n o w , ba ck in m edie va l tim es
p eo p le h ad a m uch � rm er g ra sp o n th e re alit ie s o f lif e.
To d ay .  .  .” H e s h o ok h is h e ad .
Eye s n arro w in g c ra ft ily , th e m an a sk e d, “If y o u’r e a n
a n g el, w he re a re y o ur w in gs? Y o ur h alo ? Y o u d on’t lo ok
an yth in g lik e a r e al a n g el.”
“O h.” T he an g el se em ed g enuin ely ala rm ed. “Do es
th at b oth e r yo u? I th o ug ht it w ould be e asie r o n yo ur
ne rv o us sy ste m to se e m e in a fo rm th at yo u’r e
a ccu sto m ed to dealin g with eve ry da y. But if yo u
w an t .  .  .”

The ro om w as � o od ed w ith a blin din g g olde n lig ht.
H eave nly vo ic es sa n g . T he str a n g er sto od befo re th e
m an ro b ed in ra d ia nce , hug e w hite w in gs outs p re ad,
�llin g t h e r o om .
The m an s a n k to h is k n e es a n d bu rie d his fa ce in h is
han d s. “ H ave m erc y o n m e! H ave m erc y o n m e!”
H e fe lt s tr o ng y e t g entle h an d s p ull him t e nd erly t o h is
fe et. T he a n g el w as b ack in h is B ro oks B ro th e rs s u it. T he
se arin g lig ht a n d e th e re al c h o ru s w ere g one .
“It is n o t in m y p ow er to sh o w y o u e ith e r m erc y o r
ju stic e,” h e s a id , h is s w eetly y o uth fu l fa ce u tt e rly g ra ve .
“O nly t h e c re ato r c a n d is pense s u ch t h in gs.”
“ B ut w hy .  .  . h o w  .  .  .” h e b ab ble d.
Calm ing h im , th e a n g el exp la in ed, “M y du ty a s y o ur
g uard ia n a n g el is to p ro te ct y o ur s o ul fr o m da mnatio n.
B ut y o u m ust c o op era te , y o u k n o w . I c a n no t fo rc e yo u to
b e s a ve d .”
“ M y s o ul is in d an g er? ”
“In d an g er? ” T he a n g el ro lle d h is e ye s h e ave nw ard.
“ Y o u’v e ju st ab out han d ed it ove r to th e ene m y, gift
w ra p ped . M ost o f th e m illio nair e s y o u din ed with to nig ht
h ave a b ette r c h an ce t o a tta in s a lv atio n t h an y o u h ave , a t
th e m om ent. A nd y o u k n o w h o w di� cu lt it is fo r a ric h
m an .”
T he m an to tte re d to th e w in gba ck c h air n ext to h is
kin g-s ized bed an d sa n k into it. He pulle d th e
h an d ke rc h ie f fr o m his b re ast p ocke t an d m op ped his
sw eaty f a ce .

The a n g el k n e lt b esid e h im a n d looke d up in to h is f a ce
p le ad in gly . “ I d on’t w an t to fr ig hte n y o u in to a p re m atu re
h e art s e iz ure , b ut y o ur s o ul re ally is in g re at p eril. ”
“B ut I h ave n’t d one a n yth in g w ro ng ! I’m n o t a c ro ok. I
h ave n’t k ille d a n yo ne o r s to le n a n yth in g. I’v e be en f a ith fu l
to m y w ife .”
T he a n g el g ave h im a s k e p tic al sm ile .
“W ell  .  .  .” H e w ip ed p ers p iratio n fr o m h is u p per lip .
“N oth in g se rio us. I’v e alw ays h o no re d my m oth e r an d
fa th e r.”
G ently , t h e a n g el a sk e d , “ Y o u’v e n e ve r t o ld a lie ?”
“U h, w ell  .  .  . n o th in g b ig e no ug h t o  .  .  .”
“ Y o u’v e n e ve r c h e ate d a n yo ne?”
“U m .”
“ W hat a b out th at a cto r’s w ife in C alif orn ia ? A nd th e
m one y y o u a cce p te d to s w in g c e rta in de als . A nd a ll th e
p ro m ises y o u’v e b ro ke n?”
“Y o u m ean t h in gs lik e t h at— th e y c o unt? ”
“E ve ry th in g c o unts ,” th e a n g el sa id �rm ly. “Do n’t y o u
re aliz e th at th e e ne m y h as y o ur s o ul alm ost in h is v e ry
h an d s? ”
“N o. I n e ve r t h o ug ht— ”
“A ll th o se d eals y o u’v e m ad e. A ll th o se c o rn e rs y o u’v e
c u t.” T he a n g el su d denly s h o t h im a p ie rc in g g la nce . “ Y o u
have n’t s ig ne d a n y d ocu m ents in blo od, h ave y o u?”
“N o!” H is h e art t w itch e d . “ C erta in ly n o t!”

“W ell, t h at’s s o m eth in g, a t le ast.”
“ I’ll behave ,” h e p ro m ised . “ I’ll be g ood. I’ll be a m ode l
of v ir tu e .”
“ N ot eno ug h,” th e an g el sa id, sh akin g his golde n
lock s. “N ot n e arly e no ug h. T hin gs h ave g one m uch to o
fa r.”
H is e ye s w id ene d w ith fe ar. H e w an te d to a rg ue , to
r e fu te , to d eb ate th e p oin t w ith h is g uardia n a n g el, b ut
th e w ord s s im ply w ould n o t fo rc e th e ir w ay th ro ug h h is
co nstr ic te d t h ro at.
“ N o, it is n o t e no ug h m ere ly to p ro m ise to r e fo rm ,” th e
an g el re p eate d . “ M uch s tr o ng er a ctio n is n e e de d.”
“S uch a s .  .  . w hat? ”
T he a n g el g ot t o h is f e et, p ace d acro ss t h e r o om a f e w
ste p s, th e n tu rn e d b ack to fa ce h im . H is y o uth fu l vis ag e
b rig hte ne d . “ W hy n o t? If t h e y c a n m ake a d eal fo r a s o ul,
w hy c a n ’t w e?”
“W hat d o y o u m ean?”
“H ush !” T he a n g el se em ed to be lis te nin g to a n o th e r
vo ic e, o ne th at th e m an c o uld n o t h e ar. F in ally , th e a n g el
no d ded a n d s m ile d. “ Y e s. I s e e. T han k y o u.”
“ W hat? ”
T u rn in g b ack t o t h e m an , t h e a n g el sa id, “ I’v e ju st be en
em pow ere d to m ake y o u a n o �er fo r y o ur so ul. If y o u
acce p t t h e t e rm s, y o ur s a lv atio n is a ssu re d. ”
The m an in sta n tly g re w w ary . “O h, n o y o u do n’t . I’v e
h e ard a b out d eals f o r s o uls . S om e o f m y be st f r ie nd s— ”

“B ut t h is is a d eal to sa ve yo ur s o ul!”
“H ow d o I k n o w th at? ” th e m an d em an d ed . “ H ow do I
k n o w y o u’r e re ally w hat y o u s a y y o u a re ? T he de vil has
p ow er t o a ssu m e p le asin g s h ap es, do esn ’t h e?”
T he an g el sm ile d joyfu lly . “G oo d fo r yo u! Yo u
re m em ber s o m e o f y o ur c h ildh ood te ach in gs.”
“ D on’t tr y to p ut m e o �. I’v e n e g otia te d a fe w tr ic ky
d eals in m y d ay. H ow d o I k n o w yo u’r e re ally a re a n
a n g el, a n d y o u w an t t o s a ve m y s o ul? ”
“B y t h e ir f r u its y e s h all kn o w t h e m ,” t h e a n g el re p lie d.
“W hat a re y o u t a lk in g a b out? ”
S till sm ilin g, th e a n g el re p lie d, “ W he n th e de vil m ake s
a d eal fo r a s o ul, w hat d oes h e p ro m ise? T e m pora l gifts ,
su ch a s p ow er, w ealth , r e sp ect, w om en, f a m e.”
“ I h ave a ll th at,” th e m an s a id . “ I’m o n to p o f th e w orld,
e ve ry o ne k n o w s t h at.”
“ In d eed .”
“ A nd I d id n’t s ig n a n y d eals w ith th e de vil to g et th e re ,
e ith e r,” h e a d ded s m ug ly .
“N one th at y o u k n o w o f,” th e a n g el w arn e d. “ A m an in
y o ur p osit io n d ele gate s m an y de cis io ns to h is s ta �, do es
he n o t? ”
T he m an ’s fa ce w ent g ra y. “O h m y G od, yo u do n’t
t h in k .  .  .”
W ith a s h ru g , th e a n g el sa id , “It d oesn ’t m atte r. T he
d eal th at I o �er g uara n te es y o ur s o ul’s s a lv atio n, if y o u
m eet t h e t e rm s.”

“H ow ? W hat d o I h ave t o d o?”
“Y o u h ave p ow er, w ealth , re sp ect, w om en, fa m e.” T he
an g el tic ke d each poin t o� on his sle nd er, gra ce fu l
�n g ers .
“Y e s, y e s, I k n o w .”
“ Y o u m ust g iv e t h e m u p .”
T he m an lu rc h e d f o rw ard in t h e w in gch air. “ H uh?”
“G iv e t h e m u p .”
“ I c a n ’t !”
“ Y o u m ust, if y o u a re t o a tta in t h e K in gdo m o f H eave n.”
“ B ut y o u d on’t u nd ers ta n d ! I ju st c a n ’t dr op e ve ry th in g!
The w orld d oesn ’t w ork th at w ay. I c a n ’t ju st  .  .  . w alk
aw ay f r o m a ll th is .”
“ T hat’s t h e d eal,” t h e a n g el sa id. “ G iv e it u p . A ll of it . O r
sp end e te rn ity in h e ll. ”
“B ut y o u c a n ’t e xp ect m e to — ” H e g ap ed. T he a n g el
w as n o lo ng er in th e ro om w ith h im . F o r s e ve ra l m inute s
he s ta re d in to e m pty a ir. T he n, k n e e s s h akin g, h e a ro se
a n d w alk ed to th e c lo se t. It , to o, w as e m pty o f s tr a n g e
pers o nag es.
H e lo oke d d ow n a t h is h an d s. T he y w ere t r e m blin g.
“I m ust h e g oin g c ra zy,” h e m utt e re d to h im se lf. “T o o
m uch s tr a in . T o o m uch t e nsio n.” B ut e ve n a s h e s a id it, h e
m ad e h is w ay to th e te le pho ne o n th e be dside ta ble . H e
he sit a te d a m om ent, th e n g ra bbe d up th e p ho ne a n d
p unch e d a n um ber h e h ad m em oriz ed month s e arlie r.

“H ello . C huck ? Ye s, th is is m e. Ye s, ye s, e ve ry th in g
went � n e t o nig ht. U p t o a p oin t.”
H e lis te ne d to h is u nd erlin g ba bblin g � a tte ry in to th e
p ho ne , w ond erin g ho w m an y tim es he had giv en his
p ow er o f a tto rn e y to th is w eaklin g a n d to e q ually v e nal
d ep utie s.
“L is te n, C huck ,” h e s a id a t la st. “ I h ave a jo b fo r y o u.
A nd it ’s g ot to b e d one rig ht, u nd ers ta n d ? O ka y, h e re ’s
t h e d eal— ” H e w in ce d in ward ly a t th e w ord. B ut, ta kin g a
d eep , m an ly b re ath , h e p lu ng ed a h e ad.
“Y o u kn o w th e Dem ocra ts are se ttin g up th e ir
ca m paig n quarte rs in th at ne w ap artm ent build ing—
w hat’s it c a lle d, W ate rg ate ? Y e ah . O ka y. N ow , I th in k it
w ould se rv e o ur p urp ose s v e ry w ell if w e b ug ged th e
p la ce b efo re t h e c a m paig n r e ally s ta rts t o w arm u p  .  .  .”
T he re w ere te ars in h is e ye s a s h e s p oke . B ut fr o m fa r,
f a r a w ay, h e c o uld h e ar a h e ave nly c h o ru s s in gin g.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“ W AT E R B O T”
But w he n it c o m es t o s la ug hte r
Yo u w ill do y o ur w ork o n w ate r,
A n’ y o u’ll lic k t h e b lo om in’ b oo ts o f ’im
th at’s g ot it .
— Rud ya rd K ip lin g, G ung a D in
W ate r is e sse ntia l, a n d n o t o nly to th e s o ldie r’s b lo ody
b usin ess.
A s hum an kin d exp an d s b eyo nd th e lim its of Earth ,
w ate r w ill be ju st a s im porta n t a r e so urc e a s it is h e re o n
th is p la ne t. N ot m ere ly fo r s u sta in ing h um an lif e in th e
d ark d ep th s o f in te rp la ne ta ry sp ace , bu t fo r p ro vidin g
ne ed ed fu e l fo r th e ro cke ts th at p ro p el our s p ace cra ft .
H yd ro g en a n d o xy g en, fr o m w ate r’s H �O , m ake e xc e lle nt

pro p ella nts .
B ut w ate r w ill be h ard er to � n d — an d still harde r to
k e ep .
“W ate rb ot” is a b out � n d in g— an d k e ep in g— wate r, o ut
in th e v a st e m ptin ess o f th e a ste ro id belt, be yo nd th e
o rb it o f M ars .
A nd it ’s a ls o a b out th e re la tio nsh ip be tw een a ve ry
h um an y o ung m an , a n d th e c o m pute r s y ste m th at is th e
o nly “ c re w ” o f h is lo ne ly s p ace cra ft — th e n e are st th in g h e
h as t o a c o m pan io n.

WAT E R B O T
“W ake u p , d um bbutt. J e rk y’s v e ntin ’ o �.”
I ’d b een a sle ep in m y b unk. I blin ke d aw ake , k in d o f
g ro g gy, b ut e ve n o n t h e lit tle s c re en s e t in to t h e bu lkhe ad
a t th e fo ot of th e bunk I co uld se e th e sm irk on
D onah o o’s u g ly fa ce . H e a lw ays c a lle d JR K�� N “J e rk y”
a n d s e em ed t o e njo y it w he n s o m eth in g w ent w ro ng w ith
th e v e sse l— whic h w as a ll to o o ft e n.
I sa t u p in th e b unk a n d ca lle d up th e d ia gno stic s
dis pla y. R ats ! D onah o o w as r ig ht. A s te ad y s p ra y o f s te am
w as s p urtin g o ut o f th e m ain w ate r ta n k. T he a ttit u d e je ts
w ere p u� ng a w ay, t r y in g t o c o m pensa te f o r t h e t h ru st.
“ Y o u d id n’t e ve n g et a n a la rm , didja ?” Do nah o o s a id.
“J e rk y’s so old an d fe eb le , yo ur sa fe ty sy ste m s are
b re akin ’ d ow n. Yo u’ll be lu ck y if yo u m ake it ba ck to

base .”
H e s a id it lik e h e e njo ye d it . I th o ug ht th at if h e w asn ’t
s o m uch b ig ger th an m e, I’d e njo y s o ck in g h im s q uare in
h is n asty m outh . B ut I h ad to a dm it h e w as rig ht; F o rty -
n in er w as r e ad y f o r t h e s c ra p h e ap .
“I’ll ta ke c a re o f it ,” I m utte re d to Do nah o o’s im ag e,
g la d th at it ’d ta ke m ore th an � ve m inute s fo r m y w ords to
r e ach h im b ack a t V esta — an d th e s a m e a m ount o f tim e
fo r h is n ext w ise-a ss c ra ck t o g et t o m e. H e w as s n ug a n d
co m fo rta b le b ack a t t h e c o rp ora tio n’s ba se a t V esta w hile
I w as m ore th an n in ety m illio n k ilo mete rs a w ay, dr ag gin g
th ro ug h t h e b elt o n J R K�� N .
I w asn ’t s u p pose d to b e o ut h e re . W ith m y b ra n d -n ew
d ip lom a in m y eag er lit tle han d , I’d sig ne d up fo r a
lo gis tic al eng in eer’s jo b, a c u sh y, s a fe p ostin g a t V esta ,
th e s e co nd -b iggest a ste ro id in th e be lt. B ut o nce I g ot
th e re , D onah o o jig gere d th e a ssig nm ent lis t a n d g ot m e
stu ck on th is pile of ju nk fo r a six m onth s’ to ur of
b ore d om a n d a g gra va tio n.
It ’s aw fu l lone ly out in th e be lt. Fla tla nd ers ba ck
E arth sid e p ic tu re t h e a ste ro id be lt a s s w arm ing w ith r o ck s
so th ic k a s h ip ’s in d an g er o f g ettin g s m ash e d. R ealit y is ,
th e b elt’s m ostly e m pty s p ace , d ark a n d c o ld an d b le ak. A
m an r u ns m ore r is k o f g oin g n utt y o ut th e re a ll by h im se lf
th an g ettin g h it b y a ’r o id b ig e no ug h t o do a n y da mag e.
JR K�� N w as a w ate rb ot. W ate r’s th e m ost im porta n t
co m mod ity y o u c a n � n d in th e be lt. B ack in th o se da ys,
th e n e w s n e ts tr ie d to m ake m ining th e a ste ro ids s e em
g la m oro us. T he y lik ed to ru n sto rie s a bo ut p ro sp ecto r

fa m ilie s s tr ik in g it r ic h w ith a n ic ke l-ir on a ste ro id, th e k in d
th at h as a fe w h und re d to ns o f g old an d p la tin um in it a s
im purit ie s. S o m uch g old a n d silv er a n d s u ch h ad be en
fo und in t h e b elt t h at t h e m ark e t fo r p re cio us m eta ls ba ck
o n E arth h ad g one d ow n t h e t o ile t.
B ut t h e re a lly pre cio us s tu � w as w ate r. S till is. P la in o ld
H �O . B asic fo r lif e s u p port. M ore v a lu able th an g old, o �-
E arth . T he c it ie s o n th e m oon n e e de d wate r. S o did th e
co lo nie s th e y w ere b uild ing in c is lu nar sp ace , a n d th e
R ock Rats hab ita t at C ere s an d th e re se arc h sta tio n
orb itin g J u p ite r a n d t h e c o nstr u ctio n c re w s a t M erc u ry .
W ate r w as als o th e b est fu e l fo r ch e m ical ro cke ts .
B re ak it d ow n in to h yd ro g en a n d o xy g en, a n d y o u g ot
d am ne d g ood s p eci� c im puls e.
Yo u get th e pic tu re . Fin din g icy aste ro ids w asn ’t
g la m oro us, like str ik in g a te n-kilo mete r-w ide ro ck
stu d ded w ith g old , b ut it w as im porta n t. T he c o rp ora tio ns
w ould n’t se nd w ate rb ots o ut th ro ug h th e be lt if th e re
w asn ’t a h e llu va p ro �t in vo lv ed. P eo p le p aid fo r w ate r,
p aid p le nty .
S o wate rb ots lik e weary old Fo rty -n iner cra w le d
th ro ug h t h e b elt, lo okin g f o r ic e c h unks. O nce in a w hile a
c o m et w ould c o m e w hiz zin g by , b ut th e y u su ally h ad to o
m uch d elta -v f o r a w ate rb ot t o c a tc h u p t o ’e m . W e c o zie d
up to ic y a ste ro id s, m elte d th e ic e to liq uid w ate r, a n d
�lle d o ur t a n ks w ith it .
T he c o rp ora tio n h ad � ft y w ate rbo ts c o m bin g th e b elt.
T he y w ere b uilt to b e c o m ple te ly a u to m ate d, c a p able o f
�n d in g ic e-b earin g a ste ro id s a n d c a rry in g th e w ate r ba ck

to t h e c o rp ora te b ase a t V esta .
B ut th e re were tw o pro b le m s abo ut havin g th e
w ate rb ots g o o ut o n t h e ir o w n:
Fir st, th e la wye rs a n d p olit icia ns h ad th is s illy ru le th at
a h um an b ein g h ad to b e p re se nt o n th e s c e ne be fo re
a n y co m pan y co uld sta rt m ining an yth in g fr o m an
a ste ro id . S o it w asn ’t e no ug h to s e nd o ut w ate rbo ts , y o u
had to h ave a t le ast o ne h um an be ing ridin g a lo ng o n
th e m t o m ake t h e c la im le gal.
T he s e co nd re aso n w as m ain te nan ce a n d re p air. T he
’b ots were old eno ug h so ’s so m eth in g was alw ays
b re akin g d ow n o n th e m , a n d th e y n e e de d so m ebo dy to
� x it. The y ca rrie d lit tle tu rtle -sized re p air ro bo ts , of
co urs e , but th o se su cke rs br oke do wn to o, ju st lik e
eve ry th in g els e. So I w as m ore or le ss a glo ri� ed
re p air m an o n J R K�� N . A nd a lm ost g la d of it , in a w ay. If
t h e sh ip ’s sy ste m s w ork e d perfe ctly , I w ould ’v e gone
b onzo w ith n o th in g t o d o f o r m onth s o n e nd .
A nd th e re w as a b lo od y w ar g oin g o n in th e b elt, to
b oot. T he h is to ry d is ks c a ll it th e A ste ro id Wars , b ut it
m ostly b oile d d ow n to a � g ht be tw een H um phrie s S pace
S yste m s an d A str o C orp ora tio n fo r co ntr o l of all th e
re so urc e s in th e b elt. B oth c o rp ora tio ns h ir e d merc e nary
tr o op s, a n d th e re w ere p le nty o f fr e ebo ote rs o ut in th e
b elt to o. P eo p le g ot k ille d. S om e o f m y be st fr ie nd s g ot
kille d, a n d I c a m e a s c lo se t o de ath a s I e ve r w an t t o be .
The m erc e narie s u su ally le ft w ate rbo ts a lo ne . T he re
w as a kin d of unw rit te n ag re em ent be tw een th e
co rp ora tio ns th at w ate r w as to o im porta n t to m ess

aro und with . But so m e of th e fr e ebo ote rs jum ped
w ate rb ots , k ille d t h e p oor d um bjo hns r idin g o n t h e m , a n d
so ld t h e w ate r a t a c u t-r ate p ric e w he re ve r t h e y c o uld .
So, g ru m blin g a n d g ro usin g, I p ush e d myse lf o ut o f t h e
b unk. Still in m y sw eaty , w rin kle d sk iv vie s, I du cke d
th ro ug h th e hatc h th at co nne cte d my sle ep in g
co m partm ent w ith th e brid ge. M y co m partm ent, th e
b rid ge, th e c lo se t-s ized g alle y, th e e ve n s m alle r la va to ry ,
lif e-s up port e q uip m ent, a n d fo od sto re s w ere a ll jam med
in to a p od n o b ig ger th an it h ad to b e, a n d th e p od itse lf
w as a tta ch e d t o F o rty -n iner’s m ain bo dy b y a s e t o f s tr u ts .
N oth in g fa n cy o r e ve n c o m fo rta ble . T he c o rp ora tio n p aid
fo r w ate r, n o t c re atu re c o m fo rts .
C allin g it a b rid ge w as b ein g c h arit a ble . It w as n o th in g
m ore th an a c u rv in g p an e l of s c re ens th at d is pla ye d th e
sh ip ’s s y ste m s a n d c o ntr o ls , w ith a w ra p aro und gla sste el
w in dow a b ove it a n d a h ig h-b acke d re clin able c o m man d
ch air s h o eho rn e d in to th e m iddle o f it a ll. T he c o m man d
ch air w as m ore c o m fo rta b le t h an m y bu nk, a ctu ally . C ra n k
it b ack a n d y o u c o uld d rif t o � t o s le ep in n o t im e.
I slip ped in to th e ch air, th e sk in of m y bare le gs
stic kin g slig htly to it s fa ke le ath e r p addin g, w hic h w as
co ld e no ug h t o m ake m e b re ak o ut in g oose bu mps.
T he m ain w ate r ta n k w as s till ve ntin g, b ut th e s a fe ty
a la rm s w ere a s q uie t a s m onks o n a v o w o f s ile nce .
“N in er, w hat’s g oin g o n?” I d em an d ed.
Fo rty -n iner’s c o m pute r-g ene ra te d vo ic e a n sw ere d, “A
te st, s ir . I a m v e ntin g s o m e o f o ur c a rg o.” T he v o ic e w as
m ale , so rt o f: b la nd , so ft , an d se xle ss. The co rp ora te

psy c h o te ch nic ia ns cla im ed it w as so o th in g, b ut a ft e r a
fe w w eeks a lo ne w ith n o b ody e ls e to ta lk to , it co uld
d riv e y o u b atty .
“S to p it . R ig ht n o w .”
“ Y e s, s ir .”
T he s p urt o f s te am s to p ped im media te ly . T he lo gis tic s
gra p h t o ld m e w e’d o nly lo st a f e w h undr ed kilo s o f w ate r,
a lth o ug h w e w ere d am ne d n e ar th e re dlin e o n re actio n
m ass f o r t h e a ttit u d e je ts .
F ro w nin g a t th e d is pla ys, I a sk e d, “W hy’d yo u sta rt
p um pin g o ut o ur c a rg o?”
F o r a h e artb eat o r t w o, F o rty -n iner d idn ’t r e p ly . T hat’s a
lo ng tim e fo r a c o m pute r. J u st w he n I s ta rte d wond erin g
what w as g oin g o n, “A te st, sir . T he w ate r je t’s a ctu al
th ru st m atc h e d t h e a m ount o f t h ru st c a lc ula te d to w ith in a
t e nth o f a p erc e nt.”
“ W hy’d y o u n e ed to te st th e a m ount o f th ru st y o u c a n
g et o ut o f a w ate r je t? ”
“E m erg ency m an e uve r, s ir .”
“ E m erg ency? W hat e m erg ency?” I w as s ta rtin g to g et
an no ye d . Fo rty -n iner’s vo ic e was just a co m pute r
sy n th e sis , b ut it s u re fe lt lik e h e w as b ein g e va siv e.
“In ca se w e are atta cke d , sir . A ddit ional th ru st ca n
m ake it m ore d i� cu lt f o r a n a tta cke r t o t a rg et u s.”
I co uld fe el my blo od pre ssu re ris in g. “A tta cke d?
N ob od y’s g onna a tta ck u s.”
“ S ir, a cco rd in g to T a ctic al M an u al ��� �, it is n e ce ssa ry

to b e p re p are d f o r t h e w ors t t h at a n e ne m y c a n do .”
T a ctic al M anua l ��� �. F o r G od ’s s a ke . I had p um ped
th at a n d a d oze n o th e r t e xts in to t h e c o m pute r ju st b efo re
w e s ta rte d th is ru n th ro ug h th e be lt. I h ad inte nd ed to
r e ad th e m , stu d y th e m , im pro ve m y m ind— an d m y jo b
ra tin g— while co astin g th ro ug h th e big , da rk lo ne lin ess
o ut th e re . S om eho w , I’d n e ve r g otte n a ro und to re adin g
an y o f t h e m . B ut F o rty -n iner d id, a p pare ntly .
Lik e I sa id , yo u’v e g ot a lo t o f tim e o n yo ur h an d s
cru is in g th ro ug h th e b elt. S o I h ad bro ug ht in a lib ra ry o f
re fe re nce te xts . A nd th e n ig no re d th e m . I a ls o br oug ht in
a fu ll-b od y vir tu al re alit y sim ula tio ns su it an d eno ug h
ero tic V R pro g ra m s to w hile aw ay th e lo ne ly ho urs .
S tim ula tio n f o r m ind an d b od y , I t h o ug ht.
B ut F o rty -n iner k e p t m e s o b usy w ith re p air s, I h ardly
h ad tim e e ve n fo r th e s e x s im s. D onah o o w as rig ht, th e
o ld b ucke t w as b re akin g d ow n a ro und my e ars . I s p ent
m ost o f m y w akin g h o urs p atc h in g u p Fo rty -n iner’s fa ilin g
sy ste m s. The m ain te nan ce ro bo ts w ere n’t m uch he lp :
th e y ne ed ed as m uch re p air w ork as all th e oth e r
sy ste m s, c o m bin ed .
A nd a ll th e tim e I w as w ork in g— an d s le ep in g, to o, I
g ue ss— Fo rty -n iner was goin g th ro ug h my libra ry ,
a b so rb in g e ve ry w ord a n d t a kin g t h e m a ll se rio usly .
“I d on’t c a re w hat th e ta ctic al m an ual sa ys,” I g ro use d,
“n o b od y’s g oin g t o a tta ck a w ate rbo t.”
“ F o ur w ate rb ots h ave b een a tta cke d so fa r th is y e ar,
s ir . T he in fo rm atio n is ava ila ble in th e arc h iv es o f th e
ne w s m ed ia t r a n sm issio ns.”

“N ob od y’s g oin g t o a tta ck u s!”
“ If y o u sa y so , sir .” I sw ear h e — I m ean , it — so und ed
re se ntfu l, a lm ost s u lle n.
“I s a y s o .”
“ Y e s, s ir .”
“ Y o u waste d se ve ra l hund re d kilo s of wate r,” I
gru m ble d.
Im med ia te ly , th at d am ne d so ft vo ic e re p lie d, “E asily
re p la ce d , s ir . W e a re o n c o urs e fo r A ste ro id �� -� �. O nce
th e re w e c a n � ll our t a n ks a n d s ta rt f o r h o m e.”
“ O ka y,” I s a id . “ A nd la y o � t h at t a ctic al m an ual.”
“Y e s, s ir .”
I fe lt p re tty d am ne d a n no ye d. “W hat e ls e h ave yo u
b een r e ad in g?” I d em an d ed .
“T he astr o no m y te xt, sir . It ’s quite in te re stin g. The
sh ip ’s astr o g atio n pro g ra m co nta in s th e ru d im ents of
p osit io nal astr o no m y, b ut th e te xt is m uch de ep er. Did
y o u re aliz e th at o ur s o la r s y ste m is o nly o ne o f s e ve ra l
m illio n t h at h ave b een— ”
“E no ug h!” I co m man d ed . “Q uie t dow n. Te nd to
m ain te nan ce a n d a str o g atio n.”
“ Y e s, s ir .”
I to ok a d eep b re ath a n d s ta rte d to th in k th in gs o ve r.
F o rty -n iner’s a c o m pute r, f o r G od’ s s a ke , n o t m y p artn e r.
It ’s su p pose d to b e ke ep in g w atc h o ve r th e sh ip ’s
s y ste m s, no t p okin g in to m ilit ary ta ctic s o r astr o no m y

te xts .
I h ad b ro ug ht a c h e ss p ro g ra m w ith m e, bu t a ft e r a
c o up le o f w eeks I’d g iv en it u p . F o rty -n iner b eat m e e ve ry
tim e. It ne ve r m ad e a bad m ove an d ne ve r fo rg ot
an yth in g. G re at fo r m y s e lf-e ste em . I w ound up p la yin g
so lit air e a lo t, a n d e ve n th e n, I h ad th e fe elin g th at th e
no sy b usy b od y w as ju st it ch in g to te ll me w hic h c a rd to
p la y n ext.
If th e d am ne d co m pute r w asn ’t bu rie d de ep in th e
ve sse l’s g uts , w ed ged in t h e re w ith t h e f u sio n r e acto r a n d
th e b ig w ate r ta n ks, I’d b e te m pte d to g ra b a s c re w dr iver
an d g iv e F o rty -n iner a lo boto m y.
A t le ast th e v e sse l w as ru nnin g s m ooth ly e no ug h, fo r
th e tim e b ein g. N o re d lig hts o n th e bo ard, a n d th e o nly
am ber o ne w as b eca u se th e a ttit u d e je ts ’ re actio n m ass
w as lo w. W ell, w e c o uld s u ck s o m e n itro g en o ut o f � � -� �
w he n w e g ot th e re . T he m ain te nan ce lo g s h o w ed th at it
w as tim e to re p la ce th e m ete o r bu mpers aro und th e
fu sio n d riv e. P le nty o f tim e fo r th a t , I to ld m yse lf. D o it
to m orro w .
“F o rty -n iner,” I ca lle d, “s h o w m e th e sp ectr o g ra p hic
an aly sis o f A ste ro id � � -� �.”
T he g ra p h c a m e u p in sta n tly o n th e c o ntr o l bo ard’ s
m ain s c re en. Y e s, th e re w as p le nty o f n itro g en m ixed in
with t h e w ate r. G ood .
“W e ca n re p le nis h th e a ttit u de je ts ’ re actio n m ass,”
F o rty -n iner s a id .
“W ho a sk e d y o u?”

“I m ere ly s u g geste d — ”
“Y o u’r e s u g gestin g to o m uch ,” I s n ap ped, s ta rtin g to
fe el an no ye d a g ain . “ I w an t y o u to de lete th at a str o no m y
te xt f r o m y o ur m em ory c o re .”
S ile nce . T he d ela y w as lo ng e no ug h fo r m e t o h e ar m y
he art b eatin g in sid e m y r ib s.
T he n, “ B ut y o u in sta lle d t h e t e xt y o urs e lf, s ir .”
“ A nd n o w I’m u nin sta llin g it . I d on’t w an t it a n d I d on’t
n e ed it .”
“ T he te xt is u se fu l, s ir . It c o nta in s d ata th at a re v e ry
in te re stin g. D id y o u k n o w t h at t h e s ta r E ta C arin ae — ”
“E ra se it , y o u b ucke t o f c h ip s! Y o ur jo b is m ain ta in ing
th is v e sse l, n o t s ta rg azin g!”
“ M y d utie s a re fu l� lle d, s ir . A ll sy ste m s a re fu nctio nin g
no m inally , a lth o ug h t h e m ete o r s h ie lds —”
“I k n o w a b out t h e b um pers ! E ra se t h e a str o no m y t e xt.”
A gain , th at h e sit a tio n. T he n, “P le ase do n’t e ra se th e
astr o no m y te xt, s ir . Y o u h ave y o ur s e x s im ula tio ns. P le ase
a llo w m e t h e p le asu re o f s tu dy ing a str o no m y.”
P le asu re ? A c o m pute r t a lk s a b out p le asu re ? S om eho w ,
th e t h o ug ht o f it r e ally t ic ke d m e o �.
“E ra se it !” I c o m man d ed . “ N ow !”
“ Y e s, s ir . P ro g ra m e ra se d .”
“ G ood ,” I s a id . B ut I f e lt lik e a t u rd fo r do ing it .
B y th e tim e D onah o o ca lle d ag ain , Fo rty -n iner w as
ru nnin g s m ooth ly . A nd q uie tly .

“S o w hat ca u se d th e le ak?” he ask e d, w ith th at
sm irkin g g rin o n h is b eefy f a ce .
“F au lty su b ro utin e,” I lie d, kn o w in g it w ould ta ke
a lm ost s ix m inute s f o r h im t o h e ar m y a n sw er.
S ure eno ug h, th ir te en minute s an d tw enty -s eve n
se co nd s la te r, D onah o o’s fa ce c a m e ba ck o n m y c o m m
sc re en, w ith t h at s p ite fu l lo psid ed sn e e r o f h is .
“Y o ur ol’ Je rk y’s fa llin ’ ap art,” he sa id, obv iously
re lis hin g it . “ If y o u m ake it b ack h e re to ba se , I’m g onna
re co m mend s c ra p pin ’ t h e b ucke t o f bo lts.”
“ C an ’t b e s o on e no ug h f o r m e,” I r e p lie d.
Most o f th e o th e r J R K s e rie s o f w ate rbo ts h ad been
re p la ce d alr e ad y. W hy no t Fo rty -n iner? Beca u se he
b eg ged to s tu d y a str o no m y? T hat w as ju st a s u b ro utin e
th at th e psy c h o te ch s had w rit te n in to th e co m pute r’s
p ro g ra m , th e ir id ea o f m akin g th e m ach in e s e em m ore
h um an lik e. A ll it d id w as a g gra va te m e, r e ally .
So I s a id n o th in g a n d w ent ba ck to w ork , s u ch a s it
w as. Fo rty -n iner had eve ry th in g ru nnin g sm ooth ly , fo r
once , e ve n th e lif e-s up port s y ste m s. N o p ro ble ms. I w as
a b oard o nly b eca u se o f th at stu p id ru le th at a h um an
b ein g h ad t o b e p re se nt f o r a n y c la im t o a n a ste ro id to be
v a lid , a n d D onah o o p ic ke d m e to b e th e o ne w ho ro de
JR K�� N .
I sa t in th e co m man d ch air an d sta re d at th e big
em ptin ess o ut th e re . I c h e cke d our E TA a t � � -� �. I ra n
th ro ug h th e d ia gno stic s p ro g ra m . I s ta rte d to th in k th at
m ayb e it w ould b e fu n t o le arn a bo ut a str o no m y, bu t t h e n

I re m em bere d th at I’d o rd ere d Fo rty -n iner to e ra se th e
te xt. W hat a b out th e ta ctic al m an ual? I h ad inte nd ed to
s tu d y th at w he n w e’d s ta rte d th is ru n. B ut w hy b oth e r?
N ob od y atta cke d wate rb ots , exc e p t th e occa sio nal
fr e eb oote r. A n a tta ck w ould b e a w elc om e r e lie f f r o m t h is
m ono to ny , I t h o ug ht.
T he n I r e aliz ed , Y e a h, a s h o rt r e lie f. T he y s h o w u p , an d
bang ! Y o u’r e d ea d .
The re w as a lw ays th e V R s im . I’d have to w rig gle in to
t h e fu ll bod y s u it, t h o ug h. D am n! E ve n s e x w as s ta rtin g t o
lo ok d ull to m e.
“W ould yo u ca re fo r a g am e o f ch e ss? ” Fo rty -n iner
ask e d .
“N o!” I s n ap ped . H e’d ju st b eat m e a g ain . W hy bo th e r?
“ A ne w s bro ad ca st? An ente rta in m ent vid? A
dis cu ssio n o f t a ctic al m an e uve rs in — ”
“S hut u p !” I y e lle d. I p ush e d m yse lf o � th e c h air, th e
sk in o f m y b are le gs m akin g a n a lm ost o bs ce ne n o is e a s
th e y u nstu ck f r o m t h e f a ke le ath e r.
“ I’m g oin g t o s u it u p a n d r e p la ce t h e m ete o r b um pers ,”
I s a id .
“V ery g ood , s ir ,” F o rty -n iner r e p lie d.
While th e c h an ce s o f g ettin g h it by a n yth in g big ger
th an a d ust m ote w ere m icro sc o p ic , e ve n a d ust m ote
c o uld c a u se d am ag e if it w as m ovin g fa st e no ug h. S o
sp ace cra ft h ad th in sh e ets o f c e rm et a tta ch e d to th e ir
vit a l are as, lik e th e m ain th ru st c o ne o f th e fu sio n dr ive.
T he b um pers g ot a b ra d ed o ve r t im e by t h e s a n d pap erin g

of m icro m ete o rs — dust m ote s, lik e I s a id— an d t h e y h ad to
b e r e p la ce d o n a r e g ula r s c h e d ule .
Outs id e, h o ve rin g a t th e e nd o f a te th e r in a s p ace su it
th at sm elle d of sw eat an d ove rh e ate d ele ctr o nic s
cir cu itry , y o u g et a fe elin g fo r h o w a lo ne y o u re ally a re .
W hile t h e lit tle t u rtle -shap ed m ain te nan ce ’bo ts c u t u p t h e
o ld m ete o r bum pers w ith th e ir la se r-t ip ped arm s an d
w eld ed th e n e w o ne s in to p la ce , I ju st h ung th e re a n d
lo oke d o ut a t th e u niv ers e . T he s ta rs lo oke d ba ck a t m e,
b rig ht a n d ste ad y, n o fr ie nd ly tw in klin g, n o t o ut in th is
e m ptin ess, ju st a w fu lly , a w fu lly f a r a w ay.
I lo oke d fo r th e b rig ht b lu e sta r th at w as E arth bu t
co uld n’t � n d it . J u p ite r w as b ig a n d b rillia nt, th o ug h. A t
le ast, I th o ug ht it w as J u p ite r. M aybe S atu rn . I c o uld ’v e
u se d t h at a str o no m y t e xt, d am mit.
T he n a fu nny th o ug ht h it m e. If F o rty -n iner w an te d to
g et rid o f m e, a ll he h ad to do w as lig ht u p th e fu sio n
driv e. T he h o t p la sm a w ould fr y m e in a s e co nd , e ve n
in sid e m y s p ace s u it. B ut F o rty -n iner w ould n’t do t h at. T o o
easy. F re aky c o m pute r w ould ju st w atc h m e g o c ra zy w ith
a g gra va tio n a n d lo ne lin ess, in ste ad.
Tw o m ore m onth s , I th o ugh t. T w o m onth s u ntil we g et
b ack to V esta a n d s o m e re al h um an be ings. Y e a h , I s a id
to m yse lf. R ea l h um an b ein gs. L ik e D o na ho o .
Ju st th e n o ne o f th e m ain te nan ce ’bo ts m ade a lit tle
b le ep o f d is tr e ss a n d s h ut it se lf do wn. I g ave a s q uir t o f
th ru st to m y s u it je ts a n d g lid ed ove r to it , g ru m blin g to
m yse lf a b out h o w e ve ry th in g in th e blin kin g sh ip w as
o ve rd ue f o r t h e r e cyc le r.

Befo re I c o uld r e ach t h e d um ba ss ’bo t, Fo rty -n iner t o ld
m e in th at b la nd , c a lm v o ic e o f h is , “R obo t S ix ’s b atte ry
h as o ve rh e ate d , s ir .”
“ I’ll have t o r e p la ce t h e b atte ry p ack ,” I s a id.
“T he re a re n o s p are s re m ain ing, s ir . Y o u’ll have to u se
y o ur s u it’s fu e l ce ll to p ow er R obo t S ix u ntil its b atte ry
c o ols t o a n a cce p ta b le t e m pera tu re .”
I h ate d it w he n F o rty -n iner to ld m e w hat I s h o uld do .
Esp ecia lly s in ce I k n e w it a s w ell as h e d id. E ve n m ore
e sp ecia lly b eca u se h e w as a lw ays r ig ht, da mmit.
“G iv e m e a n e stim ate o n th e tim e re m ain ing to � n is h
th e m ete o r s h ie ld r e p la ce m ent.”
“ F o urte en minute s, ele ve n se co nd s, at op tim al
e � cie ncy, sir . A dd th re e m inute s fo r re cir cu itin g R obo t
Six ’s p ow er p ack , p le ase .”
“ S eve nte en, e ig hte en m inute s, t h e n.”
“ S eve nte en m inute s, e le ve n s e co nd s, s ir . T hat tim e is
w ell with in th e a va ila ble c a p acit y o f y o ur s u it’s fu e l ce ll,
sir .”
I n o d ded in sid e m y h e lm et. D am ne d Fo rty -n iner w as
alw ays te llin g m e th in gs I a lr e ady k n e w , o r a t le ast c o uld
�g ure o ut fo r m yse lf. It ir rit a te d th e h e ll out o f m e, bu t t h e
b la ste d p ile o f c h ip s s e em ed to e njo y re m indin g m e o f
th e o b vio us.
D on’t lo se y o ur te m per , I to ld m yse lf. I t ’s n o t h is fa ult;
h e ’s p ro g ra m med t h a t w ay.
Y e a h , I g ru m ble d in ward ly . M ayb e I o ug ht t o c h an g e it s

pro g ra m ming. B ut th at w ould m ean g oin g do wn to th e
h e art o f t h e v e sse l a n d o p enin g u p it s C PU . T he big brain s
back a t c o rp ora te h e ad quarte rs p ut th e c o m pute r in th e
sa fe st p la ce th e y c o uld , n o t th e c ra m ped little p od I h ad
to li v e in . A nd th e y d id n’t w an t u s fo ot s o ldie rs ta m perin g
with t h e c o m pute rs ’ b asic p ro g ra m s, e ith e r.
I � n is he d t h e b um per r e p la ce m ent a n d c a m e ba ck in to
t h e s h ip th ro ug h th e p od ’s a ir lo ck . M y s p ace su it s m elle d
pre tty d am ne d r ip e w he n I t o ok it o �. It m ight be a c o up le
hund re d d eg re es b elo w z e ro o ut t h e re , b ut in side t h e s u it
yo u g ot s o akin g w et w ith p ers p iratio n.
I d ucke d in to t h e c o � n-s ized la v a n d t o ok a n ic e, lo ng ,
lin gerin g s h o w er. T he w ate r w as r e cyc le d, o f c o urs e , a n d
h e ate d fr o m o ur fu sio n r e acto r. JR K�� N h ad so la r p an e ls ,
su re , b ut o ut in th e b elt, y o u n e ed re ally e no rm ous w in gs
to g et a w orth w hile a m ount o f e le ctr ic ity fr o m th e s u n,
an d b oth o f th e so la r arra ys had fr o ze n up o nly tw o
weeks o ut o f V esta . O ne o f t h e m ain te nan ce jo bs t h at t h e
ro b ots s c re w ed u p . It w as o n m y lis t o f t h in gs t o do . I h ad
to c o m man d F o rty -n iner t o s to p n ag gin g m e a bo ut it . T he
fu sio n-p ow ere d g ene ra to r w ork e d �n e . A nd w e h ad fu e l
ce lls a s a b ack u p . T he s o la r p an e ls c o uld g et � xe d whe n
w e g ot b ack to V esta — if th e c o rp ora tio n d idn ’t de cid e to
ju nk J R K�� N a lto g eth e r.
I had ju st ste p ped out of th e sh o w er w he n Fo rty -
n in er’s v o ic e c a m e t h ro ug h t h e o ve rh e ad sp eake r:
“ A v e sse l is in t h e v ic in ity, s ir .”
T hat su rp ris ed me. Out he re yo u didn ’t exp ect
co m pan y.

“A no th e r sh ip ? W he re ?” S om eb od y to ta lk to , I
th o ug ht. A no th e r h um an b ein g. S om ebo dy to s w ap jo ke s
w ith a nd s h a re g r ip es .
“A ve ry w eak ra d ar re �e ctio n, sir . T he ve sse l is n o t
em ittin g a beaco n no r te le m etr y da ta . Rada r puts its
d is ta n ce a t f o urte en m illio n k ilo m ete rs .”
“ T ra ck ?” I a sk e d a s I t o w ele d m yse lf.
“D rif tin g a lo ng th e e clip tic , s ir , in th e s a m e dir ectio n a s
th e m ain b elt a ste ro id s.”
“ N o t h ru st? ”
“N o d is ce rn ab le e xh au st p lu m e, s ir .”
“ Y o u’r e s u re it a s h ip ? N ot a n u n ch arte d ’r o id? ”
“R ad ar re �e ctio n s h o w s it is d e�n ite ly a v e sse l, n o t a n
a ste ro id , s ir .”
I p ad ded t o m y c o m partm ent a n d p ulle d on a fr e sh s e t
o f co ve ra lls . N o b ea co n. D rif tin g. M ayb e it ’s a sh ip in
tr o ub le . D a m aged .
“N o t r a ck in g b eaco n f r o m h e r? ” I c a lle d to Fo rty -n iner.
“ N o te le m etr y s ig nals , e ith e r, s ir . N o e m issio ns o f a n y
kin d.”
A s I d ucke d th ro ug h th e h atc h in to th e br idg e, Fo rty -
n in er c a lle d o ut, “ It h as e m itte d a p la sm a p lu m e, s ir . It is
m an e uve rin g.”
D am ne d if h is v o ic e d id n’t s o un d e xc it e d. I k n o w it w as
ju st m y ow n exc it e m ent: Fo rty -n iner didn ’t have an y
e m otio ns. S till  .  .  .

I slid in to th e co m man d ch air an d ca lle d up a
m ag ni� ed vie w of th e ra d ar im ag e. And th e sc re en
im med ia te ly b ro ke in to h ash .
“A w , ra ts !” I y e lle d. “ W hat a tim e fo r th e ra da r to c o nk
o ut!”
“ R ad ar is fu nctio nin g no rm ally , sir ,” Fo rty -n iner sa id
ca lm ly.
“Y o u c a ll th is n o rm al? ” I ra p ped my k n uck le s o n th e
sta tic -s tr e ake d d is pla y s c re en.
“R ad ar is fu nctio nin g n o rm ally , s ir . A ja m ming s ig nal is
ca u sin g t h e p ro b le m .”
“ J a m ming?” M y v o ic e m ust h ave ju m ped tw o o cta ve s.
“C om munic atio ns, ra d ar, te le m etr y , an d tr a ck in g
beaco n a re a ll bein g in te rfe re d with , s ir , b y a p ow erfu l
ja m ming s ig nal.”
J a m ming. A nd th e v e sse l o ut th e re w as r u nnin g s ile nt,
n o t r a ck in g b eaco n o r t e le m etr y e m issio ns.
A fr e eb oote r! A ll of a s u d den, I w ishe d I’d stu d ie d th at
ta ctic al m an ual.
A lm ost au to m atic ally , I ca lle d up th e co m m sy ste m .
“T his is H um phre y S pace S yste m s w ate rbo t J R K�� N ,” I
s a id , tr y in g to ke ep m y vo ic e �rm . M aybe it w as a
co rp ora te v e sse l, o r o ne o f th e m erc e narie s. “I re p eat,
w ate rb ot J R K�� N .”
N o r e sp onse .
“T he ir ja m ming b lo ck s y o ur m essa g e, s ir .”
I s a t th e re in th e c o m man d c h air s ta rin g a t th e dis pla y

sc re ens. B ro ke n, ja gged lin es s c ro lle d do wn a ll th e c o m m
sc re ens, h is sin g a t m e lik e s n ake s. O ur in te rn al sy ste m s
were still fu nctio nal, th o ug h. Fo r w hat is w as w orth ,
p ro p uls io n, s tr u ctu re s, e le ctr ic a l pow er a ll se em ed to be
in t h e g re en. L ife s u p port t o o.
B ut n o t f o r lo ng , I � g ure d .
“C om pute o ur b est c o urs e f o r V esta ,” I c o m man d ed.
“O ur p re se nt c o urs e — ”
“Is fo r � � -� �, I k n o w . C om pute h ig h-t hru st c o urs e fo r
V esta , d am mit!”
“ D one , s ir .”
“ E ng ag e t h e m ain d riv e.”
“ S ir, I m ust p oin t o ut th at a c o urs e to w ard Vesta w ill
brin g u s c lo se r t o t h e u nid enti� e d ve sse l.”
“W hat? ”
“T he v e sse l th at is ja m ming o ur c o m munic atio ns, s ir , is
p osit io ne d b etw een u s a n d V esta .”
R ats ! T he y w ere p re tty s m art. I th o ug ht a bo ut c lim bin g
to a h ig he r d eclin atio n, o ut o f t h e e clip tic .
“W e c o uld m an e uve r t o a h ig he r de clin atio n, s ir ,” Fo rty -
n in er sa id , ca lm as e ve r, “a n d leave th e p la ne o f th e
e clip tic .”
“ R ig ht.”
“ B ut p ro p ella nt c o nsu m ptio n w ould b e p ro hibit ive, s ir .
W e w ould b e u nab le to re ach V esta , e ve n if w e a vo ide d
th e a tta ck in g v e sse l.”

“W ho sa ys it’s an atta ck in g ve sse l? ” I sn ap ped. “It
h asn ’t a tta cke d u s y e t.”
A t th at in sta n t th e sh ip sh udde re d. A c lu ste r o f re d
lig hts b la ze d u p o n t h e d is pla y p an e l, a n d t h e e m erg ency
a la rm s ta rte d w ailin g.
“O ur m ain d eute riu m t a n k h as be en p unctu re d, s ir .”
“ I c a n s e e t h at!”
“ A ttit u d e je ts a re c o m pensa tin g fo r u nexp ecte d th ru st,
s ir .”
Y e ah , a n d in a n o th e r c o up le m inute s th e a ttit u d e je ts
w ould b e o ut o f n itro g en. N o d eute riu m fo r th e fu sio n
driv e a n d n o p ro p ella nt fo r th e a ttit u d e je ts . W e’d be a
s it tin g d uck .
A no th e r jo lt. M ore re d lig hts o n th e bo ard. T he a la rm
s e em ed t o s c re ech lo ud er.
“ O ur f u sio n d riv e t h ru ste r c o ne h as be en h it, s ir .”
T w o la se r s h o ts a n d w e w ere c rip ple d. A s w ell as de af,
d um b, a n d b lin d.
“T u rn o � th e a la rm ,” I y e lle d, o ve r th e h o otin g. “ I k n o w
w e’r e in t r o ub le .”
T he a la rm s h ut o �. M y e ars s till rin gin g, I s ta re d at th e
h ash -s tr e ake d s c re ens a n d t h e r e d lig hts g lo werin g a t m e
fr o m th e d is pla y b oard . W hat to d o? I c o uld n’t e ve n c a ll
o ve r to th e m an d su rre nde r. The y w ould n’t ta ke a
pris one r, a n yw ay.
I f e lt t h e s h ip lu rc h a g ain .
“A no th e r h it?”

“N o, s ir ,” a n sw ere d F o rty -n iner. “ I a m s w in gin g t h e s h ip
so t h at t h e c o ntr o l p od f a ce s a w ay f r o m t h e a tta cke r.”
P uttin g th e b ulk o f th e sh ip b etw een m e a n d th o se
la se r b eam s. “ G ood t h in kin g,” I s a id weakly .
“S ta n d ard defe nsiv e man e uve r, sir , acco rdin g to
T a ctic al M an ual � �� �.”
“ S hut u p a b out t h e d am ne d t a ctic al m an ual!”
“T he n e w m ete o r s h ie ld s h ave be en p unctu re d, s ir .” I
s w ear F o rty -n iner a d ded th at s w eet bit o f n e w s ju st to
y a n k m y c h ain .
The n I s a w th at th e m an e uve rin g je t p ro p ella nt w ent
e m pty , t h e p an e l d is pla y lig hts � ic kin g f r o m a m be r t o r e d.
“R ats , w e’r e o ut o f p ro p ella nt!”
I re aliz ed th at I w as d one fo r. Fo rty -n iner h ad tr ie d to
s h ie ld m e fr o m th e a tta cke r’s la se r s h o ts by tu rn in g th e
sh ip s o th at it s ta n ka g e a n d fu sio n dr ive e q uip m ent w as
sh ie ld ing m y p od b ut d oin g s o h ad use d up t h e la st o f o ur
m an e uve rin g p ro p ella nt.
C old s w eat b ead ed m y fa ce . I w as g asp in g fo r b re ath .
T he fr e eb oote rs o r w ho eve r w as sh o otin g a t u s c o uld
co m e u p c lo se e no ug h to s p it a t u s n o w . T he y’d riddle
th is p od a n d m e in it .
“S ir, s ta n d ard p ro ce d ure c a lls fo r y o u to p ut o n y o ur
sp ace s u it.”
I n o d ded m ute ly a n d g ot u p fr o m th e c h air. T he s u it
w as in it s ra ck b y th e a ir lo ck . A t le ast Fo rty -n iner didn ’t
m entio n t h e t a ctic al m an ual.

I h ad o ne le g in t h e s u it w he n t h e s h ip s u d de nly b eg an
to acce le ra te so hard th at I slip ped to th e de ck an d
cra cke d m y sk u ll on th e bulk he ad. I re ally sa w sta rs
� a sh in g in m y e ye s.
“W hat t h e h e ll  .  .  .  ? ”
“W e are acce le ra tin g, sir . Retr e atin g fr o m th e la st
k n o w n p osit io n o f t h e a tta ck in g v e sse l.”
“A cce le ra tin g? H ow ? W e’r e o ut o f— ”
“I am u sin g o ur ca rg o as p ro p ella nt, sir . T he th ru st
p ro vid ed is — ”
Fo rty -n iner w as sq uir tin g o ut o ur w ate r. Fin e by m e.
B ette r to h ave e m pty c a rg o ta n ks a n d b e a liv e th an to
h an d a f u ll ca rg o o f w ate r t o g uys w ho w an te d to k ill me. I
� n is he d w rig glin g in to m y sp ace su it, e ve n th o ug h m y
he ad w as th um pin g fr o m th e fa ll I’d ta ke n. J u st b efo re I
p ulle d o n th e h e lm et, I fe lt m y s c a lp . T he re w as a n ic e-
siz ed lu m p; it f e lt h o t t o m y � n g ers .
“Y o u co uld ’v e w arn e d m e th at yo u w ere goin g to
a cce le ra te t h e s h ip ,” I g ru m ble d as I s e ale d th e h e lm et t o
th e s u it’s n e ck r in g.
“T im e w as o f t h e e sse nce , s ir ,” Fo rty -n iner r e p lie d.
The sh ip lu rc h e d ag ain as I ch e cke d my ba ck p ack
co nne ctio ns. A no th e r h it.
“W he re ’d t h e y g et u s? ” I s h o ute d.
N o an sw er. T hat re ally sc a re d me. If th e y kn o cke d
Fo rty -n iner o ut, a ll th e s h ip ’s s y ste m s w ould bo nk o ut t o o.
“M ain po wer g ene ra to r, s ir ,” F o rty -n iner � n ally re p lie d.

“W e a re n o w r u nnin g o n a u xilia ry p ow er, s ir .”
T he b ack u p fu e l ce lls . T he y w ould n’t la st m ore th an a
fe w h o urs . If th e d am ne d s o la r p an e ls w ere w ork in g— no ,
I re aliz ed ; th o se b ig fa t w in gs w ould ju st m ake te rri� c
ta rg et p ra ctic e f o r t h e b asta rd s.
A no th e r lu rc h . T his tim e I s a w th e b rig ht � a sh th ro ug h
th e b rid ge’s w in dow . T he b eam m ust’v e s p la sh e d o� th e
str u ctu re ju st o uts id e th e p od. M y G od, if th e y p unctu re d
th e p od , t h at w ould b e t h e e nd of it . S ure , I c o uld s lide m y
vis or d ow n a n d g o t o t h e b ack p ack ’s a ir s u p ply . B ut t h at’d
g iv e m e o nly t w o h o urs o f a ir, a t b est. J u st e no ug h t im e t o
w rit e m y la st w ill an d t e sta m ent.
“ I th o ugh t yo u tu rn e d th e p od aw ay fr o m th e m !” I
ye lle d.
“T he y a re m an e uve rin g t o o, s ir .”
G re at. S ittin g in th e c o m man d ch air w as a w kw ard, in
th e s u it. T he d is pla y b oard lo oke d like a C hris tm as tr e e,
m ore r e d t h an g re en. T he p od s e e m ed to b e in ta ct s o f a r.
L ife s u p port w as o ka y, a s lo ng a s w e h ad ele ctr ic al p ow er.
A no th e r jo lt, a b ig one . Fo rty -n iner sh ud de re d an d
sta g gere d sid ew ays lik e it w as be ing punch e d by a
gig an tic � st.
A nd th e n, ju st lik e th at, th e c o m m s c re ens c a m e ba ck
to lif e. R ad ar sh o w ed th e o th e r ve sse l, w ho eve r th e y
w ere , m ovin g a w ay f r o m u s.
“T he y’r e g oin g a w ay!” I w ho op ed.
Fo rty -n iner’s v o ic e s e em ed fa in te r th an u su al. “ Y e s, s ir .
T he y a re le avin g.”

“H ow c o m e?” I w ond ere d .
“T he ir la st la se r s h o t r u p tu re d our m ain w ate r ta n k, s ir .
In e le ve n m inute s an d th ir ty -e ight se co nd s, o ur e ntir e
ca rg o w ill be d is ch arg ed .”
I ju st s a t t h e re , m y m ind c h ug gin g h ard. W e’r e s p ra yin g
our w ate r in to sp ace , th e w ate r th at th o se ba sta rds
w an te d to s te al fr o m u s. T hat’s w hy th e y le ft . In e le ve n
an d a h alf m inute s, w e w ould n o lo ng er h ave a n y w ate r
fo r t h e m t o t a ke .
I a lm ost b ro ke in to a sm ile . I’m w asn ’t g oin g to die ,
aft e r a ll. N ot r ig ht a w ay, a t le ast.
T he n I re aliz ed th at J R K�� N w as w ith o ut p ro p uls io n
pow er a n d w ould b e o ut o f e le ctr ic al pow er in a fe w
ho urs . I w as g oin g t o d ie a ft e r a ll, da mmit. O nly s lo wer.
“ S end o ut a d is tr e ss c a ll, b ro adba nd ,” I c o m man d ed.
B ut I k n e w th at w as a b out a s u se fu l as a to oth p ic k in a
s o up f a cto ry . T he c o rp ora tio n didn ’t s e nd r e sc u e m issio ns
fo r w ate rb ots , n o t w ith th e w ar g oin g o n. T o o da ng ero us.
T he o th e r s id e c o uld u se th e c rip ple d sh ip a s ba it a n d
p ic k o � an y ve sse l th at ca m e to re sc u e it. A nd th e y
ce rta in ly w ould n’t c o m e o ut fo r a v e sse l as o ld as Fo rty -
n in er. T he y’d ju st c h e ck th e n u m be rs in th e ir le dg ers a n d
w rit e u s o �. W it h a fo rm le tte r o f r e g re t a n d a n in su ra n ce
ch e ck t o m y m oth e r.
“ D istr e ss ca ll on a ll fr e q ue ncie s, sir .” B efo re I co uld
th in k of an yth in g m ore to sa y, Fo rty -n iner w ent on,
“E le ctr ic al p ow er is c rit ic al, s ir .”
“ D on’t I k n o w it .”

“T he re is a p ro hib itio n in m y p ro g ra m ming, s ir .”
“ A bout e le ctr ic al p ow er? ”
“Y e s, s ir .”
T he n I re m em bere d I h ad co m man d ed him to sto p
nag gin g m e a b out r e p air in g th e s o la r p an e ls . “ C an ce l th e
p ro hib itio n,” I t o ld h im .
Im med ia te ly F o rty -n iner ca m e ba ck w ith , “T he so la r
pan e ls m ust b e e xte nd ed a n d activ ate d, s ir ,” s o ft a n d c o ol
an d im pla ca b le as he ll. “O th e rw ise, w e w ill lose all
e le ctr ic al p ow er.”
“ H ow lo ng?”
It to o k a fe w se co nd s fo r h im to a n sw er, “Fo urte en
ho urs a n d t w enty -n ine m inute s, s ir .”
I w as a lr e ad y in m y s p ace s u it, s o I g ot u p fr o m th e
co m man d ch air an d plo dded re lu cta n tly to w ard th e
air lo ck . T he d am ne d s o la r p an e ls . If I c o uld n’t g et th e m
fu nctio nin g, I’d b e d ead . L e t m e t e ll yo u, t h at f o cu se s y o ur
m ind, it d oes.
S till, it w asn ’t e asy. I w re stle d with th o se ble edin g,
b la ste d , fr o ze n b earin gs fo r h o urs , u ntil I w as s o fa tig ue d
th at m y su it w as slo sh in g kn e e -de ep w ith sw eat. T he
d am ne d T in ke rto y re p air ’b ots w ere n’t m uch h e lp , e ith e r.
M ost of th e tim e th e y beep ed an d blin ke d an d did
no th in g.
I g ot o ne o f th e p an e ls h alfw ay e xte nd ed. T he n I h ad
to q uit. M y v is io n w as b lu rrin g, a n d I c o uld h ardly lif t m y
arm s, t h at’s h o w w eary I w as.

I s ta g gere d b ack in to th e p od w ith ju st e no ug h e ne rg y
le ft t o s tr ip o � t h e s u it a n d c o lla pse o n m y bu nk.
W he n I w oke u p , I w as s ta rv in g h ung ry a n d s m elle d
like a c e ssp ool. I p eele d m y s k iv vie s o � a n d du cke d into
t h e s h o w er.
A nd ju m ped r ig ht o ut a g ain . T he w ate r w as ic e c o ld.
“W hat th e he ll hap pene d to th e ho t wate r? ” I
sc re ech e d .
“C onse rv in g e le ctr ic al pow er, s ir . W ith o nly o ne s o la r
pan e l fu nctio nin g at ap pro xim ate ly one th ir d of its
n o m inal c a p acit y, e le ctr ic al p ow er m ust be c o nse rv e d. ”
“H eat th e b la ste d w ate r,” I g ro w le d. “ T u rn o � th e h e at
a ft e r I’m � n is he d s h o w erin g.”
“ Y e s, s ir .” D am ne d if h e d id n’t s o und re se ntfu l.
O nce I’d g otte n a m eal in to m e, I w ent b ack to th e
b rid ge a n d c a lle d u p th e a str o g atio n p ro g ra m to � g ure
o ut w he re w e w ere a n d w he re w e w ere h e adin g.
It w asn ’t g ood n e w s. W e w ere dr iftin g o utw ard, a w ay
fr o m V esta . W ith n o p ro p uls io n to tu rn u s a ro und to a
h o m ew ard h e ad in g, w e w ere p ris one rs o f K ep le r’s la ws,
ju st an o th e r ch unk o f m atte r in th e b ro ad, d ark , co ld
em ptin ess o f t h e b elt.
“W e w ill ap pro ach C ere s in e ig ht m onth s, s ir ,” Fo rty -
n in er a n no unce d . I s w ear h e w as t r y in g t o s o und ch e erfu l.
“A ppro ach ? H ow c lo se ?”
It to ok h im a fe w s e co nd s to a n sw er, “S eve n m illio n,
fo ur hund re d th o usa n d an d six kilo mete rs , sir , at our

clo se st p oin t.”
T e rri� c. T he re w as a m ajo r h ab ita t o rbit ing C ere s, bu ilt
by th e indep end ent miners an d pro sp ecto rs th at
e ve ry b od y c a lle d t h e R ock R ats . Fr eebo ote rs m ade C ere s
th e ir harb or to o. Som e of th e m do ub le d as sa lv ag e
op era to rs whe n th e y co uld get th e ir han d s on an
a b an d one d v e sse l. B ut w e w ould n’t g et c lo se e no ug h fo r
th e m to s e nd e ve n a s a lv ag e m issio n o ut to re sc u e u s.
B esid es, yo u’r e n o t a llo wed sa lv ag e rig hts if th e re ’s a
liv ing p ers o n o n t h e v e sse l. T hat w ould n’t bo th e r s o m e o f
th o se c u tth ro ats , I k n e w . B ut it bo th e re d me. P le nty .
“S o w e’r e u p t h e c re ek w ith o ut a p addle ,” I m utt e re d.
It to ok a c o up le o f s e co nd s, bu t F o rty -n iner a sk e d, “ Is
t h at a e up he m ism , s ir ?”
I blin ke d w ith su rp ris e. “W hat do yo u kn o w abo ut
e up he m ism s? ”
“I h ave se ve ra l dic tio narie s in m y m em ory co re , sir .
P lu s, tw o th e sa u ru se s an d fo ur vo lu m es of fa m ous
q uo ta tio ns. W ould y o u lik e to h e ar s o m e o f th e w ords o f
S ir W insto n C hurc h ill, s ir ?”
I w as to o d ep re sse d to g et s o re a t h im . “ N o, th an ks,” I
s a id . A nd le t’s f a ce it : I w as s c a re d white .
S o w e d rif te d . E ve ry d ay I w ent o ut to g ra p ple w ith th e
no -g ood , m oth e r-lo vin g, m ule -stu b bo rn s o la r p an e ls a n d
th e d um bass re p air ’b ots . I sp ent m ore tim e � xin g th e
’b ots th an a n yth in g e ls e. T he so la r w in gs w ere fr o ze n
tig ht; I c o uld n’t g et th e m to bu dge, a n d w e didn ’t c a rry
s p are s.

Fo rty -n iner was work in g lik e m ad, to o, tr y in g to
c o nse rv e e le ctr ic ity. W e h ad t o h ave p ow er f o r t h e a ir a n d
w ate r r e cyc le rs , o f c o urs e , b ut Fo rty -n iner s ta rte d sh utt in g
th e m d ow n e ve ry o th e r h o ur. It w ork e d fo r a w hile . T he
w ate r s ta rte d t o t a ste lik e u rin e, b ut I � g ure d th at w as ju st
m y im ag in atio n. T he air w ould g et th ic k, an d I’d sta rt
c o ug hin g fr o m th e C O � b uildu p, bu t th e n th e re cyc le r
would c o m e b ack o nlin e a n d I c o uld br eath e a g ain . Fo r
an h o ur.
I w as sle ep in g w he n Fo rty -n iner w oke m e w ith a
w ailin g, “ � � �� � �� ��. � � �� � �� ��. ” I h o p ped o ut o f m y
bunk b lin kin g an d ye llin g, “W hat’s w ro ng? W hat’s th e
tr o ub le ?”
“T he a ir r e cyc le r w ill no t r e sta rt, s ir .” H e s o unde d guilt y
ab out it , lik e it w as h is f a u lt.
G ru m blin g a n d c u rs in g, I p ulle d on m y s m elly s p ace
su it an d clo m ped out of th e pod an d dow n to th e
e q uip m ent b ay. It w as e erie d ow n th e re in th e bo wels o f
th e s h ip , w ith n o lig hts e xc e p t th e la m p o n m y h e lm et.
T he a tta cke r’s la se r b eam s h ad s la sh e d rig ht th ro ug h th e
h ull; I c o uld s e e t h e s ta rs o uts ide .
“L ig hts ,” I c a lle d o ut. “ I n e ed t h e lig hts o n do wn h e re .”
“ S ir, c o nse rv a tio n o f e le ctr ic al p ow er— ”
“W on’t m ean a d am ne d th in g if I c a n ’t re sta rt th e a ir
re cyc le r a n d I c a n ’t d o th at w ith o ut s o m e bla ste d lig hts
d ow n h e re !”
T he lig hts ca m e on. Som e of th e m , at le ast. The
re cyc le r w asn ’t d am ag ed , ju st it s a ctiv atio n c ir cu itry h ad

malfu nctio ne d fr o m b ein g tu rn e d o� an d o n so m an y
tim es. I b yp asse d th e c ir cu it a n d th e p um ps s ta rte d up
rig ht a w ay. I c o uld n’t h e ar th e m , s in ce th e s h ip ’s in nards
w ere in v a cu um n o w , b ut I f e lt t h e ir v ibr atio ns.
W he n I g ot b ack to th e p od , I to ld Forty -n iner to le ave
th e r e cyc le rs o n. “ N o m ore o n a n d o �,” I s a id.
“B ut, s ir , c o nse rv a tio n— ”
As re aso nab ly a s I c o uld I e xp la in ed, “It ’s n o blin kin g
use c o nse rv in g e le ctr ic al pow er if th e bla ste d re cyc le rs
c ra p o ut. L e ave ’e m o n!”
“ Y e s, s ir .” I s w ear, h e s ig he d .
W e s ta g g ere d a lo ng fo r w eeks a n d w eeks. Fo rty -n iner
p ut m e o n a ra tio nin g p ro g ra m to s tr e tc h o ut th e fo od
su p ply . I w as d ow n to o ne s o y bu rg er p atty a da y, a n d a
c u p o f re co nstit u te d ju ice. P lu s a ll th e w ate r I w an te d,
w hic h t a ste d m ore lik e p is s e ve ry da y.
I w as g ettin g w eake r a n d g ru m pie r b y th e h o ur. F o rty -
n in er did his best to ke ep m y sp irits up . H e quo te d
C hurc h ill at m e: “W e s h all �g ht o n th e be ach e s a n d th e
la nd in g �e ld s, w e sh all �g ht in th e �e lds an d in th e
str e ets , we sh all �g ht in th e hills . W e sh all ne ve r
su rre nd er.”
Y e ah . R ig ht.
H e p la ye d B eeth o ve n s y m pho nie s. V ery in sp iratio nal,
b ut t h e y d id n’t � x a n yth in g.
H e a lm ost le t m e b eat h im a t c h e ss, e ve n. I’d get to
w ith in tw o move s of win nin g, an d he ’d sp rin g a
ch e ck m ate o n m e.

But I k n e w I w asn ’t g oin g to la st e ig ht m ore w ee ks, le t
alo ne th e e ig ht m onth s it w ould ta ke u s to g et clo se
e no ug h t o C ere s t o  .  .  . t o w hat?
“ N ob od y’s g oin g to c o m e o ut a n d g et u s,” I m utt e re d,
m ore t o m yse lf t h an F o rty -n iner. “ N obo dy g iv es a da mn.”
“ D on’t g iv e u p h o p e, s ir . O ur e m erg ency b eaco n is s till
b ro ad ca stin g o n a ll fr e q ue ncie s.”
“ S o w hat? W ho g iv es a r a p ?”
“W he re t h e re ’s lif e, s ir , t h e re is h o p e. D on’t g iv e u p t h e
sh ip . I h ave n o t y e t b eg un to � g ht. R etr e at h e ll, w e ju st
g ot h e re . W he n, in d is gra ce w ith fo rtu ne a n d m en’s e ye s,
I— ”
“�� �� � �! ” I sc re am ed . “J u st sh ut th e fu ck u p an d
le ave m e a lo ne ! D on’t s a y a n o th e r w ord to m e. N oth in g.
D o n o t s p eak t o m e a g ain . E ve r.”
F o rty -n iner w ent s ile nt.
I s to od it f o r a b out a w eek a n d a h alf. I w as lo sin g t r a ck
o f tim e; e ve ry h o ur w as lik e e ve ry o th e r h o ur. T he s h ip
sta g gere d alo ng . I w as sta rv in g. I hadn ’t bo th e re d to
s h ave o r e ve n w ash in w ho k n o w s h o w lo ng . I lo oke d lik e
th e w ors t s h ag gy, s m elly , s c u m -suck in g be ggar y o u e ve r
sa w . I h ate d to se e m y o w n re �e ctio n in th e b ridg e’s
w in dow .
Fin ally , I co uld n’t sta n d it an ym ore . “Fo rty -n iner,” I
ca lle d, “ S ay s o m eth in g.” M y v o ic e c ra cke d. M y th ro at fe lt
d ry a s M ars s a n d .
N o r e sp onse .

“A nyth in g,” I c ro ake d .
Still no r e sp onse . H e’s s u lk in g, I t o ld myse lf.
“A ll rig ht.” I c a ve d in . “I’m c a n ce lin g th e o rde r to b e
sile nt. T a lk t o m e, d am mit.”
“ E le ctr ic al pow er is crit ic al, sir . T he so la r p an e l has
b een a b ra d ed b y a s w arm o f m icro m ete o rs .”
“ G re at.” T he re w as n o th in g I c o uld do a bo ut t h at.
“ F o od sto re s are alm ost gone , sir . At cu rre nt
co nsu m ptio n ra te , fo od s to re s w ill be e xh au ste d in fo ur
d ays.”
“ W ond erfu l.” W asn ’t m uch I c o uld do a bo ut t h at, e ith e r,
e xc e p t m ayb e s ta rv e s lo wer.
“ W ould y o u lik e t o p la y a g am e o f c h e ss, s ir ?”
I a lm ost b ro ke in to a la ug h. “ S ure , w hy th e h e ll no t? ”
T he re w asn ’t m uch e ls e I c o uld do .
Fo rty -n iner b eat m e, a s u su al. H e le t th e g am e g et
clo se r th an e ve r b efo re , b ut ju st w he n I w as o ne m ove
a w ay f r o m w in nin g, h e c h e ck m ate d me.
I d id n’t g et s o re . I d id n’t h ave th e e ne rg y. B ut I d id get
an id ea.
“N in er, o p en t h e a ir lo ck . B oth h atc h e s.”
N o a n sw er f o r a c o up le o f s e co nd s. T he n, “ S ir, o p enin g
both a ir lo ck h atc h e s s im ulta n e o usly w ill allo w a ll th e a ir in
t h e p od t o e sc a p e.”
“ T hat’s t h e g ene ra l id ea.”
“ Y o u w ill su � o ca te w ith o ut a ir, s ir . H ow eve r, e xp lo siv e

deco m pre ssio n w ill kill yo u � rs t.”
“ T he s o one r t h e b ette r,” I s a id.
“B ut y o u w ill die , s ir .”
“ T hat’s g oin g to h ap pen a n yw ay, is n’t it ? L e t’s g et it
o ve r w ith . B lo w t h e h atc h e s.”
F o r a lo ng tim e— mayb e te n s e co nd s o r m ore — Fo rty -
n in er did n’t re p ly . C he ck in g su br outin es an d pro g ra m
p ro hib itio ns, I � g ure d .
“I c a n no t a llo w y o u t o k ill yo urs e lf, s ir .”
T hat w as p art o f h is p ro g ra m m ing, I k n e w . B ut I a ls o
kn e w h o w to g et a ro und it . “ E m erg ency o ve rride A lp ha-
O ne ,” I s a id , m y v o ic e s c ra tc h y, p arc h e d.
N oth in g. N o re sp onse w hats o eve r. A nd th e air lo ck
h atc h e s s ta ye d s h ut.
“ W ell? ” I d em an d ed . “ E m erg ency o ve rride A lp ha-O ne .
P op t h e g od dam ne d h atc h e s. N ow !”
“ N o, s ir .”
“ W hat? ”
“I c a n no t a llo w y o u t o c o m mit s u ic ide , s ir .”
“ Y o u g od dam ne d s tu b born b ucke t o f c h ip s, do w hat I
te ll yo u! Y o u c a n ’t r e fu se a d ire ct o rde r.”
“ S ir, h um an lif e is p re cio us. A ll re lig ions a g re e o n th at
p oin t.”
“ S o n o w y o u’r e a t h e o lo gia n?”
“S ir, if y o u d ie , I w ill be a lo ne .”

“S o, w hat? ”
“I d o n o t w an t t o b e a lo ne , s ir .”
T hat sto p ped m e. But th e n I th o ug ht, H e’s ju st
p a rro tin g so m e p ro g ra m ming th e p sy c h o te ch s p ut in to
h im . H e d oesn ’t g iv e a b lip a bo ut be ing alo ne . O r abo ut
m e. H e’s ju st a c o m pute r. H e do esn ’t h av e e m o tio ns.
“It ’s a lw ays d ark e st b efo re t h e da wn, s ir .”
“ Y e ah . A nd t h e re ’s n o t im e lik e t h e p re se nt. I c a n q uo te
c lic hé s t o o, b ud dy.”
R ig ht a w ay h e c a m e b ack w it h , “ H op e s p rin gs e te rn al
in t h e h um an b re ast, s ir .”
H e a lm ost m ad e m e la ug h. “ W hat a bo ut, n e ve r p ut o �
till to m orro w w hat y o u c a n d o t o da y?”
“T he re is a v a ria tio n o f th at, s ir : N eve r d o to da y w hat
yo u ca n put o� to to m orro w ; yo u’v e alr e ady m ade
e no ug h m ista ke s t o d ay.”
T hat o ne d id m ake m e la ug h. “ W he re ’d yo u g et th e se
o ld s a w s, a n yw ay?”
“T he re ’s a su b se ctio n on ada ges in one of th e
q uo ta tio n � le s, s ir . I h ave h und re ds m ore , if y o u’d ca re to
h e ar t h e m .”
I n e arly s a id y e s. It w as k in d o f fu n, s w ap pin g c lin ke rs
w ith h im . B ut th e n re alit y s e t in . “ N in er, I’m g oin g to d ie
an yw ay. W hat’s th e d i� ere nce be tw een n o w a n d a w eek
fr o m n o w ?”
I e xp ecte d th at h e ’d ta ke a fe w s e co nd s to c h e w th at
o ne o ve r, b ut in ste ad h e im media te ly s h o t ba ck , “ E th ic s,

sir .”
“ E th ic s? ”
“T o b e d estr o ye d b y fa te is o ne th in g; to d elibe ra te ly
d estr o y y o urs e lf is e ntir e ly d i� ere nt.”
“ B ut t h e e nd r e su lt is t h e s a m e, is n’t it ?”
W ell, t h e t r ic ky lit tle w iseass g ot m e a rg uin g e th ic s a n d
m ora lit y w ith him fo r ho urs on end . I fo rg ot abo ut
co m mittin g s u ic id e. W e g ab ble d at e ach o th e r u ntil my
th ro at g ot s o s o re , I c o uld n’t t a lk a n y m ore .
I w ent to m y b unk a n d s le pt p re tty da mne d well fo r a
g uy w ho o nly h ad a f e w d ays le ft t o liv e. B ut w he n I w oke
u p , m y s to m ach s ta rte d r u m blin g, a n d I r e m em be re d th at
I d id n’t w an t t o s ta rv e t o d eath .
I s a t o n t h e e d ge o f t h e b unk, w oozy a n d e m pty in sid e.
“G ood m orn in g, s ir ,” F o rty -n iner s a id. “ Do es y o ur t h ro at
fe el b ette r? ”
It d id , a lit tle . T he n I r e aliz ed th at w e h ad a fu ll sto re o f
p harm ace utic als in a c a b in et in th e la va to ry . I s p ent th e
m orn in g s o rtin g o ut th e p ills , tr y in g to � g ure o ut w hic h
one s w ould k ill me. F o rty -n iner k e p t s ile nt w hile I tr o tte d
b ack an d fo rth to th e brid ge to ca ll up th e m edic al
p ro g ra m . It w asn ’t a n y u se , th o ug h. T he br ightbo ys ba ck
a t he ad quarte rs had m ad e ce rta in no bo dy co uld put
to g eth e r a s u ic id e c o ck ta il.
O ka y , I to ld m yse lf. T he re ’s o nly o ne th in g le ft to do .
Go to th e airlo ck and op en th e hat ch e s m an ually .
Ove rrid e th e e le ctr o nic c ir cu its. T ak e Fo rty -n iner a nd h is
g od dam ne d e th ic s o ut o f t h e lo op.

Once h e r e aliz ed I h ad p rie d o p en t h e c o ntr o l p an e l o n
th e b ulk h e ad b esid e th e in ne r hatc h , Fo rty -n iner sa id
so ft ly , “ S ir, t h e re is n o n e ed f o r t h at.”
“ M ind y o ur o w n b usin ess.”
“ B ut, sir , th e co rp ora tio n co uld ho ld yo u �n an cia lly
re sp onsib le f o r d elib era te d am ag e t o t h e c o ntr o l p an e l.”
“S o le t t h e m s u e m e a ft e r I’m de ad. ”
“S ir, t h e re r e ally is n o n e ed t o c o m mit s u ic ide .”
F o rty -n iner h ad � g ure d o ut w hat I w as g oin g to do , o f
co urs e . S o w hat? T he re w asn ’t a n yth in g h e c o uld do to
s to p m e.
“W hat’s t h e m atte r? Y o u s c a re d of be ing a lo ne?”
“I w ould r a th e r n o t b e a lo ne , s ir . I p re fe r y o ur c o m pan y
to s o lit ud e.”
“ T o ug h n uts , p al. I’m g oin g t o blo w t h e h atc h e s a n d p ut
an e nd t o it .”
“ B ut, s ir , t h e re is n o n e ed — ”
“W hat d o y o u k n o w a b out n e ed? ” I b ello wed at h im .
“H um an n e ed ? I’m a h um an be ing, n o t a c o lle ctio n o f
cir cu it b oard s.”
“ S ir, I k n o w th at h um an s re q uir e c e rta in p hysic al an d
e m otio nal su p ports .”
“ D am ne d rig ht w e d o.” I h ad th e p an e l o�. I s h o rte d
o ut th e s a fe ty c ir cu it, g iv in g m yse lf a n asty lit tle e le ctr ic al
sh o ck in t h e p ro ce ss. T he in ne r h atc h s lid op en.
“I h ave b een t r y in g t o s a tis fy y o ur n e eds , s ir , w ith in t h e

limits o f m y p ro g ra m ming.”
A s I s te p ped in to th e c o � n-s ized air lo ck I th o ug ht to
m yse lf, Y e a h, h e h a s . F o rty -n iner ’s b een d oin g h is b est to
k e ep m e a liv e. B ut it ’s n o t e no ug h. N ot n e ar ly e n o ug h.
I sta rte d p ry in g o p en th e c o ntr o l pan e l of th e o ute r
hatc h . S ix c e ntim ete rs a w ay fr o m m e w as th e v a cu um o f
in te rp la ne ta ry sp ace . O nce th e h atc h o p ens, p oof ! I’m
g one .
“S ir, p le ase lis te n t o m e.”
“ I’m lis te nin g,” I s a id , a s I t r ie d t o � g ure o ut h o w I c o uld
sh o rt o ut th e s a fe ty c ir cu it w ith o ut g iv in g m yse lf a n o th e r
sh o ck . S tu p id , is n’t it ? H ere I w as t r y in g t o c o m mit s u ic id e
an d w orrie d a b out a lit tle e le ctr ic al sh o ck .
“T he re is a s h ip a p pro ach in g u s, s ir .”
“ D on’t b e f u nny.”
“ It was no t an atte m pt at hum or, sir . A sh ip is
ap pro ach in g us an d hailin g us at sta n d ard
c o m munic atio ns f r e q ue ncy.”
I lo oke d u p a t t h e s p eake r s e t in to t h e o ve rh e ad of t h e
air lo ck .
“Is th is p art o f yo ur p sy c h o lo gic al pro g ra m ming?” I
g ro use d .
Fo rty -n iner ig no re d m y sa rc a sm . “B ack tr a ck in g th e
ap pro ach in g s h ip ’s tr a je cto ry s h o w s th at it o rig inate d at
C ere s, sir . It sh o uld m ake re nd ezv o us w ith u s in n in e
ho urs a n d f o rty -o ne m inute s.”
I sto m ped out of th e air lo ck an d du cke d into th e

brid ge, m utte rin g , “ If t h is is s o m e w iseass p lo y o f y o urs t o
k e ep m e f r o m — ”
I lo oke d a t t h e d is pla y p an e l. A ll its s c re ens w ere da rk :
co nse rv in g e le ctr ic al p ow er.
“ Is t h is s o m e k in d o f p sy c h o lo gy s tu nt? ” I a sk e d.
“N o, s ir , it is a n a ctu al sh ip . W ould y o u lik e t o a n sw er it s
ca ll to u s, s ir ?”
“L ig ht u p t h e r a d ar d is pla y.”
G od dam n! T he re w as a b lip o n t h e s c re en.
I th o ug ht I m ust h ave b een h allu cin atin g. O r m aybe
F o rty -n iner w as fo olin g w ith th e r a da r dis pla y to k e e p m e
fr o m pop pin g th e air lo ck hatc h . But I sa n k in to th e
co m man d c h air a n d to ld F o rty -n iner to p ip e th e in co m ing
m essa g e to th e c o m m s c re en. A nd th e re w as Do nah o o’s
u g ly m ug t a lk in g a t m e! I k n e w I w as h allu cin atin g.
“H an g in th e re ,” h e w as s a yin g . “ W e’ll get y o u o ut o f
th at s c ra p h e ap in a f e w h o urs .”
“ Y e ah , s u re ,” I s a id , a n d tu rn e d o� th e c o m m s c re en.
To Fo rty -n iner, I ca lle d out, “T han ks, pal. N ic e tr y . I
ap pre cia te it . B ut I th in k I’m g oin g to ba ck to th e a ir lo ck
a n d o p enin g t h e o ute r h atc h n o w .”
“ B ut sir ,” Fo rty -n iner so unde d alm ost lik e he w as
p le ad in g, “ it re ally is a s h ip a p pro ach in g. W e a re s a ve d,
sir .”
“ D on’t y o u th in k I k n o w y o u c a n p ull up Do nah o o’s
im ag e fr o m yo ur � le s a n d a n im ate it ? M an ip ula te it to
m ake h im s a y w hat y o u w an t m e t o h e ar? G et r e al!”

Fo r se ve ra l he artb eats F o rty -n iner didn ’t an sw er. A t
la st h e s a id , “ T he n le t u s c o nd uct a r e alit y t e st, s ir .”
“ R ealit y t e st? ”
“T he a p pro ach in g s h ip w ill re nde zv o us w ith u s in n in e
ho urs , t w enty -s eve n m inute s. W ait t h at lo ng , s ir . If n o s h ip
re ach e s u s, th e n y o u c a n re su m e y o ur s u ic ida l co urs e o f
actio n.”
I t m ad e se nse . I k n e w F o rty -n iner w as ju st tr y in g to
k e ep m e a liv e, a n d I a lm ost r e sp ecte d th e p ile o f c h ip s f o r
b ein g so devio usly cle ve r ab out it. N ot th at I m ean t
an yth in g to h im o n a p ers o nal ba sis . Fo rty -n iner w as a
c o m pute r. N o em otio ns. N ot eve n an urg e fo r se lf-
p re se rv a tio n. W hate ve r h e w as do ing to k e e p m e a liv e
had b een p ro g ra m med in to h im by t h e p sy c h o te ch s.
A nd th e n I th o ug ht, y e ah , a n d whe n a h um an be ing
ris ks h is b utt to sa ve th e lif e o f a n o th e r h um an be ing,
th at’s b een p ro g ra m med in to h im b y m illio ns o f y e ars o f
evo lu tio n. Is t h e re t h at m uch o f a di� ere nce ?
S o I s a t t h e re a n d w aite d . I c a lle d to Do nah o o a n d t o ld
him I w as aliv e an d d am ne d hung ry . H e g rin ne d th at
lo psid ed s n e er o f h is a n d to ld m e h e ’d have a s o y s te ak
w aitin g fo r m e. N oth in g th at Fo rty -n iner co uld n’t h ave
g in ne d u p f r o m it s � le s o n m e a n d Do nah o o.
“I’v e g ot to ad m it, yo u’r e d am ne d good, ” I sa id to
F o rty -n iner.
“ It ’s n o t m e, sir ,” h e re p lie d. “M r. Do nah o o is re ally
co m ing t o r e sc u e y o u.”
I sh o ok m y he ad . “Y e ah . A nd S an ta C la us is rig ht

behin d h im in a sle ig h fu ll of to ys p ulle d by e ig ht tin y
re in deer.”
I m med ia te ly , Fo rty -n iner sa id, “ A Vis it fr o m St.
N ic ho la s , b y C le m ent M oore . W ould y o u lik e to h e ar th e
e ntir e p oem , s ir ?”
I ig no re d th at. “ L is te n, N in er, I a p pre cia te w hat y o u’r e
tr y in g to d o, b ut it ju st d oesn ’t m ake s e nse . Do nah o o’s a t
co rp ora te h e ad quarte rs a t V esta . H e’s n o t a t C ere s a n d
h e ’s n o t a n yw he re n e ar u s. G oo d tr y , b ut y o u c a n ’t m ake
m e b elie ve th e c o rp ora tio n w ould p ay to h ave h im c o m e
all th e w ay o ve r to C ere s to s a ve a br oke n-d ow n b ucke t
o f a w ate rb ot an d one ve ry ju nio r an d exp end able
e m plo ye e.”
“ N eve rth e le ss, s ir , th at is w hat is h ap penin g. A s y o u
w ill se e fo r y o urs e lf in e ig ht h o urs a n d � ft y -t w o m inute s,
sir .”
I d id n’t b elie ve it fo r a n an o se co nd . B ut I p la ye d alo ng
w ith F o rty -n iner. If it m ad e h im fe el b ette r, w hat d id I h ave
to lo se ? W he n th e tim e w as u p a n d th e bu bble bu rs t, I
c o uld a lw ays g o b ack to th e a ir lo ck a n d p op th e o ute r
hatc h .
B ut h e m ust h ave h e ard m e m utt e rin g t o m yse lf, “ It ju st
d oesn ’t m ake s e nse . It ’s n o t lo gic al.”
“S ir, what are th e ch an ce s th at in th e sie ge of
Le nin gra d in W orld W ar II th e � rs t a rtille ry s h e ll �re d by
th e G erm an a rm y in to t h e c it y w ould k ill th e o nly e le phan t
in th e Le nin gra d zo o? The sta tis tic al ch an ce s w ere
a str o no m ical, b ut t h at is e xa ctly w hat h ap pene d, s ir .”

So I le t h im b ab ble o n a b out s tr a n g e h ap penin gs a n d
d ra m atic re sc u e s. W hy a rg ue? It m ade h im fe el be tte r, I
g ue ss. T hat is , if F o rty -n iner h ad an y fe elin gs. W hic h h e
d id n’t , I k n e w . W ell, I g ue ss le ttin g h im n atte r o n w ith h is
ra h -r ah p ep t a lk m ad e m e fe el b ette r. A lit tle .
It w as a re al sh o ck w he n a fu sio n to rc h sh ip to ok
sh ap e on m y co m m sc re en. C om ple te w ith sta n d ard
r e g is tr a tio n in fo s p elle d o ut o n th e ba r r u nnin g a lo ng th e
sc re en’s b otto m : H u D avis , o ut o f C ere s.
“B e th e re in a n h o ur a n d a h alf,” Do nah o o s a id, s till
s n e erin g. “ C hris t, y o ur o ld J e rk y re ally lo oks lik e a s c ra p
h e ap . Y o u m usta t a ke n s o m e ba tte rin g.”
C ould Fo rty -n iner fa ke th a t? I a sk e d m yse lf. T he n a
p art o f m y m ind w arn e d , d on’t g et y o ur h o pes u p . It ’s a ll a
sim ul a tio n.
E xc e p t th at, a n h o ur a n d a h alf la te r, th e H u D avis w as
rig ht a lo ng sid e u s, a s b ig a n d de ta ile d as lif e. I c o uld s e e
�e ck s o n it s m ete o r b um pers w he re m icro m ete o rs h ad
a b ra d ed th e m . I ju st s ta re d . It c o uld n’t be a s im ula tio n.
N ot t h at d eta ile d.
A nd D onah o o w as s a yin g, “ I’m c o m in’ in th ro ug h y o ur
m ain a ir lo ck .”
“ N o!” I y e lp ed . “ W ait! I’v e g ot to c lo se th e in ne r h atc h
� rs t.”
D onah o o lo oke d p uzzle d. “W hy th e fu ck ’s th e in side
h atc h o p en?”
I d id n’t a n sw er h im . I w as a lr e ady d uck in g th ro ug h th e
h atc h of th e brid ge. D am ne d if I didn ’t get an o th e r

ele ctr ic s h o ck c lo sin g a ir lo ck ’s t h e in ne r h atc h .
I s to od th e re w rin gin g m y h an d while th e o ute r h atc h
slid o p en. I co uld se e th e sta tu s lig hts o n th e co ntr o l
p an e l go fr o m re d fo r v a cu um th ro ug h a m be r a n d � n ally
to g re en. F o rty -n iner c o uld f a ke a ll th at, I k n e w . T his m ight
still be n o th in g m ore t h an a n e la bo ra te s im ula tio n.
B ut th e n th e in ne r h atc h s ig he d op en, a n d Do nah o o
ste p ped t h ro ug h, b ig a n d u g ly a s lif e.
H is pota to no se tw itch e d . “C hris t, it sm ells lik e a
garb ag e p it in h e re .”
T hat’s w he n I kn e w it w asn ’t a sim ula tio n. H e w as
re ally t h e re . I w as s a ve d .
W ell, it w ould ’v e b een fu nny if e ve ry bo dy w asn ’t so
tic ke d o � a t m e. D onah o o h ad be en s e nt by c o rp ora te
h e ad quarte rs a ll th e w ay fr o m V esta to C ere s to p ic k m e
up a n d tu rn o � th e d is tr e ss ca ll Fo rty -n iner h ad be en
b eam ing o ut o n th e b ro ad ban d fr e q ue ncie s fo r a ll th o se
w eeks.
It w as o nly a m illiw att s ig nal, didn ’t c o st u s a p i� e o f
ele ctr ic al p ow er, b ut th at te eny lit tle s ig nal g ot p ic ke d up
at th e L u nar F ars id e O bse rv a to ry , w he re th e y h ad bu ilt
th e b ig S ET I ra d io te le sc o p e. W he n th e y � rs t de te cte d
o ur d is tr e ss ca ll, th e astr o no m ers w ent de lirio us: th e y
th o ug ht th e y’d fo und a n in te llig ent e xtr a te rre str ia l sig nal,
aft e r m ore t h an a c e ntu ry o f s e arc h in g. T he y w ere s o re a s
h e ll w he n t h e y r e aliz ed it w as o nly a d in ky o ld wate rbo t in
t r o ub le , n o t a lie ns t r y in g t o s a y h e llo .
The y d id n’t g iv e a r a t’s a ss o f a h o ot a bo ut Fo rty -n iner

an d m e, b ut a s lo ng a s o ur M ayda y w as b ein g b eam ed
o ut, th e ir fa n cy ra d io te le sc o p e se arc h fo r ETs w as
sc re w ed . So th e y ble ep ed to th e In te rn atio nal
A str o nau tic al Auth o rit y, an d th e IA A co m pla in ed to
c o rp ora te h e ad quarte rs , a n d D onah o o g ot c a lle d on th e
ca rp et a t V esta a n d to ld to g et to J R K�� N a n d tu rn o �
th at d am ne d d is tr e ss s ig nal!
A nd th at’s h o w w e g ot r e sc u e d. N ot be ca u se a n yb ody
ca re d ab out an ag ed w ate rbo t th at w as du e to be
sc ra p ped , o r th e v e ry ju nio r d um ba ss r idin g o n it . W e g ot
sa ve d b eca u se w e w ere b oth e rin g th e a str o no m ers a t
F ars id e.
D onah o o m ad e u p so m e o f th e co st o f h is re sc u e
m issio n b y s e llin g o � w hat w as le ft o f Fo rty -n iner to o ne
o f th e s a lv ag e o ut� ts a t C ere s. T he y s ta rte d cu tt in g u p
th e o ld b ird a s s o on a s w e p ark e d it in o rbit t h e re .
B ut n o t b efo re I p ut o n a c le an , n e w s p ace s u it a n d
w ent a b oard J R K�� N o ne la st t im e.
I h ad fo rg otte n h o w b ig th e s h ip w as. It w as h ug e, a
b ig m assiv e c o lle ctio n o f s p he ric al ta n ks t h at dw arfe d th e
fu sio n d riv e t h ru ste r a n d t h e c ra m ped little p od I h ad liv ed
in a ll th o se w eeks. H an g in g th e re in o rbit , e m pty a n d
alo ne , F o rty -n iner lo oke d k in d o f s a d. L o ng , n asty g ash e s
had b een rip ped th ro ug h th e w ate r ta n ks; I th o ug ht I
co uld s e e r im es o f ic e g lit te rin g a lo ng t h e ir r a g ged edg es
in t h e f a in t s ta rlig ht.
T he n I sa w th e �ic ke rs of la se r to rc h e s. Robo tic
s c a ve ng ers w ere a lr e ad y s ta rtin g t o t a ke t h e s h ip a p art.
F lo atin g t h e re in w eig htle ssn e ss, m y e ye s m iste d up a s

I a p pro ach e d th e s h ip . I h ad h ate d be ing o n it , bu t I g ot
te ary -e ye d ju st th e s a m e. I k n o w it w as s tu p id, bu t th at’s
w hat h ap pene d , s o h e lp m e.
I d id n’t g o to th e p od . T he re w as n o th in g th e re th at I
w an te d , e sp ecia lly no t m y cru d dy o ld sp ace su it. N o,
in ste ad I w ork e d m y w ay a lo ng th e c le ats se t in to th e
sp he ric al ta n ks, h an d o ve r g lo ve d han d , to g et to th e
h e art o f th e sh ip , w he re th e fu sio n re acto r a n d p ow er
g ene ra to r w ere h o use d .
A nd F o rty -n iner’s C PU .
“H ey, w hatta ry a d oin ’ th e re ?” O ne o f th e fe w h um an s
d ire ctin g th e s c a ve ng er ro b ots h o lle re d at m e, s o lo ud I
th o ug ht m y h e lm et e arp ho ne s w ould m elt do wn.
“I’m r e tr ie vin g t h e c o m pute r’s h ard dr ive,” I s a id.
“Y o u g ot p erm issio n?”
“I w as th e c re w . I w an t th e h ard co re . It ’s n o t w orth
a n yth in g t o y o u, is it ?”
“W e a in ’t s u p pose d t o le t p eo p le p ic k o ve r t h e bo ne s,”
h e s a id . B ut h is t o ne w as lo wer, n o t s o be llig ere nt.
“ It ’ll only t a ke a c o up le o f m inute s,” I s a id. “ I d on’t w an t
an yth in g e ls e; y o u c a n h ave a ll th e r e st.”
“ D am n rig ht w e c a n . C om pan y p aid good mone y fo r
th is s c ra p p ile .”
I n o d ded in sid e m y h e lm et a n d went t h ro ug h t h e o p en
hatc h th at le d d ow n to J R K�� N ’s h e art. A nd b ra in . It o nly
to ok m e a fe w m inute s to pry op en th e CPU an d
d is co nne ct th e h ard d riv e. I s lip ped th e p alm -sized meta l

ob lo ng in to a p ouch o n th e th ig h o f m y s u it, th e n g ot o ut.
I d id n’t lo ok b ack . W hat t h o se s c a ve ng ers w ere c h o p pin g
up w as ju st a lo t o f m eta l an d pla stic . I h ad Fo rty -n iner
w ith m e.
T he co rp ora tio n ne ve r assig ne d me to a w ate rbo t
ag ain . S om eb od y in t h e fr o nt o � ce m ust’v e t a ke n a g ood
lo ok a t m y p ers o nne l d ossie r a n d � g ure d I h ad to o m uch
e d uca tio n to b e stu ck in a d um b job like th at. I do n’t
k n o w , m ayb e D onah o o h ad so m eth in g to do w ith . H e
w ould n’t a d m it t o it , a n d I d id n’t p re ss h im a bo ut it .
A nyw ay, w he n I � n ally g ot b ack t o V esta , t h e y a ssig ne d
m e to a d esk jo b. O ve r th e y e ars I w ork e d my w ay u p to
c h ie f o f lo gis tic s a n d e ve ntu ally g ot tr a n sfe rre d ba ck to
S ele ne C ity, on th e m oon. I’ll be able to ta ke early
r e tir e m ent s o on a n d g et m arrie d an d s ta rt a f a m ily .
Fo rty -n iner’s b een w ith m e a ll th at tim e. N ot th at I ta lk
to h im e ve ry d ay. B ut it ’s g oo d to k n o w th at h e ’s th e re
a n d I c a n e ase o � th e s tr e sse s o f th e jo b or w hate ve r by
h avin g a n ic e, lo ng c h at w ith h im .
One o f t h e se d ays, I’ll eve n b eat h im a t c h e ss.

IN TR O DU CTIO N T O
“S A M A ND T H E F LY IN G
D U TC HM AN”
Sam G unn h as b een w ith m e f o r a lo ng t im e.
B ack whe n I was ed itin g A na lo g Scie nce
F ic tio n/S cie nce F a ct m ag azin e, I g ot a lit tle g erm o f a n
id ea fo r a s to ry . I b ounce d it o � s e ve ra l o f t h e m ag azin e’s
r e g ula r c o ntr ib uto rs , b ut n o ne o f t h e m t o ok m e u p o n t h e
in vit a tio n.
S till, th e id ea p ecke d a w ay a t m y im ag in atio n. W he n I
le ft A na lo g an d t o ok u p w rit in g f u ll tim e, I t a ck le d th e ide a
myse lf.
T he re su lt w as th e � rs t s to ry a bo ut S am G unn. T o da y,
h alf a lif etim e la te r, S am h as a p peare d in a co up le o f
d oze n o f m y s h o rt � ctio n w ork s. S am is fu n. S am is lik e a

bro th e r to m e, a lth o ug h w e a re v e ry dis sim ilar in lo oks,
a ttit u d es, a n d c a p ab ilit ies.
E ve ry n o w a n d t h e n, S am t a p s m e o n m y m eta p hysic al
sh o uld er a n d t e lls m e h e h as a n e w a dv entu re t o r e la te .
H ere ’s t h e la te st o ne .

SA M A ND T H E F LY IN G
D U TC HM AN
I u sh e re d h e r in to S am ’s o � ce a n d h e lp ed he r o ut o f th e
b ulk y d ark c o at s h e w as w earin g. A s s o o n a s s h e le t th e
h o od fa ll back o � h e r fa ce , I da mne d ne ar dr op ped th e
co at. I re co g niz e d h e r. W ho c o uld fo rg et h e r? S he w as
e xq uis ite , s o s tu nnin gly b eau tif u l th at e ve n ir re p re ssible
S am G unn w as str u ck sp eech le ss. M ore b eau tif u l th an
a n y w om an I h ad e ve r s e en.
B ut h au nte d .
It w as m ore th an h e r b ig , s o ulfu l eye s. M ore th an th e
alm ost fr ig hte ne d w ay s h e h ad of g la ncin g a ll aro und as
sh e e nte re d S am ’s o � ce , a s if e xp ectin g s o m eo ne t o le ap
o ut of hid ing at he r. She lo oke d tr a gic , lo ve ly an d
d oom ed a n d t r a g ic .

“M r. G un n, I n e ed y o ur h e lp ,” s h e s a id to S am . T ho se
w ere t h e � rs t w ord s s h e s p oke , e ve n be fo re s h e t o ok t h e
ch air th at I w as h o ld ing fo r h e r. H er v o ic e w as lik e th e
sig h o f a b re eze in a m idnig ht f o re st.
S am w as s ta n d in g b ehin d h is d esk , o n t h e h idde n lit tle
p la tfo rm b ack th e re th at m ake s h im lo ok ta lle r th an h is
re al �� � c e ntim ete rs . A s I s a id , e ve n S am w as s p eech le ss.
L e ath e r-t ong ue d , cla tte r-m outh e d Sam Gunn sim ply
sto od a n d s ta re d a t h e r in s tu p e�e d aw e.
T he n he fo und his vo ic e. “A nyth in g,” he sa id in a
ch o ke d w his per. “ I’d d o a n yth in g f o r y o u.”
D esp ite th e fa ct th at S am w as g ettin g m arrie d in ju st
th re e w eeks’ tim e, it w as o b vio us th at h e ’d tu m ble d he ad
o ve r h e els fo r A m an d a C unnin gham th e m inute h e s a w
h e r. In sta n tly . S am G unn w as a lw ays fa llin g in lo ve , e ve n
m ore o ft e n th an h e m ad e fo rtu ne s o f m one y a n d lo st
th e m a g ain . B ut th is tim e it lo oke d as if h e ’d re ally be en
str u ck b y t h e t h und erb olt.
If s h e w ere n’t s o b eau tif u l, s o tr o ub le d, s e ein g th e tw o
of th e m to g eth e r w ould have be en alm ost lu dic ro us.
A m an d a Cunnin gham lo oke d like a Gre ek godde ss,
e xc e p t th at h e r s h o uld er-le ng th h air w as ra dia nt g olde n
blo nd . S he w ore a m od est k n e e -le ng th s h e ath o f de licate
p in k t h at c o uld n’t h id e t h e c u rv e s o f h e r a m ple bo dy. A nd
th o se eye s! The y w ere brig ht ch in a blu e, bu t de ep ,
te rrib ly t r o ub le d, u nb eara b ly s a d.
A nd t h e re w as S am : s tu b by a s a w orn o ld pencil, w ith a
b ris tle o f re d h air a n d h is g ap -t ooth e d mouth h an g in g
op en. S am h ad th e k in d o f e le ctr ic ity in h im th at m ade it

alm ost im possib le f o r h im t o s ta n d s till fo r m ore t h an t h ir ty
s e co nd s at a tim e. Ye t he sto od gap in g at A m an d a
C unnin gham , a s to ng ue -t ie d a s a te enag er o n h is � rs t
d ate .
A nd m e. C om pare d to S am I’m a ru g ged, o utdo ors y
ty p e o f g uy. O f c o urs e , I w ear lif ts in m y bo ots a n d a
tu m my tin gle r th at h e lp s k e ep m y g ut � a t. W om en h ave
to ld m e th at m y fa ce is k in d o f c u te in a c h e ru b ic s o rt o f
w ay, a n d I b elie ve t h e m — until I lo ok in t h e m irro r a n d s e e
th e p ouch y e ye s a n d th e tr im bla ck b eard th at c o ve rs m y
re ce d in g c h in . W hat d id it m att e r? A m an d a C unnin gham
d id n’t eve n gla nce at m e; he r atte ntio n w as fo cu se d
co m ple te ly o n S am .
It w as r e ally c o m ical. Y e t I w asn ’t la ug hin g.
S am ju st s ta re d a t h e r, t r a n s� xe d. B ew itch e d. I w as s till
h o ld ing o ne o f th e le ath e r-c ove re d ch air s fo r h e r. S he s a t
d ow n w ith o ut lo okin g a t it , a s if s h e w ere a ccu sto m ed to
th e re b ein g a c h air w he re ve r s h e c h o se t o s it .
“Y o u m ust und ers ta n d , M r. G unn,” sh e sa id so ft ly .
“W hat I a sk is v e ry d an g ero us .  .  .”
S till sta n d in g a t h is d esk in fr o nt o f h is h ig h-ba cke d
sw ivel ch air, h is e ye s n e ve r le avin g h e rs , S am w ave d one
h an d a s if t o s c o � a t t h e t h o ug ht o f da ng er.
“ It in vo lv es � yin g o ut t o t h e b elt,” s h e c o ntin ue d.
“A nyw he re ,” S am s a id . “ F o r y o u.”
“ T o � n d m y h usb an d .”
T hat b ro ke t h e s p ell. D e�n ite ly .

Sam ’s c o m pan y w as S . G un n E nte rp ris es, Un lim ite d.
H e w as in vo lv ed in a lo t o f d i� ere nt o p era tio ns, in clu din g
hau lin g fr e ig ht betw een th e earth an d moon, an d
tr a n sp ortin g e q uip m ent o ut to th e a ste ro id belt. H e w as
a ls o d ic ke rin g t o b uild a g am blin g c a sin o a n d h o te l o n t h e
m oon, b ut t h at’s a n o th e r s to ry .
“T o �n d yo ur husb an d ?” Sam ask e d he r, his fa ce
sa g gin g w ith d is ap poin tm ent.
“ M y ex-h usb an d ,” sa id Am an d a Cunnin gham . “W e
were d iv orc e d s e ve ra l y e ars a g o.”
“ O h.” S am b rig hte ne d .
“M y c u rre nt h usb an d is M artin H um phrie s,” s h e w ent
o n, h e r v o ic e s in kin g lo wer.
“ O h,” S am re p eate d , p lo ppin g do wn in to h is c h air lik e
a man sh o t in th e he art. “A m an d a Cunnin gham
H um phrie s.”
“ Y e s,” s h e s a id .
“The M artin H um phrie s? ”
“Y e s,” s h e r e p eate d , a lm ost w his perin g it .
M rs . M artin H um phrie s. I’d se en p ic tu re s o f he r, o f
co urs e , a n d v id s o n th e s o cie ty n e ts . I’d eve n g lim pse d
he r in p ers o n o nce , a cro ss a b allr oom c ro w de d with th e
ve ry w ealth ie st o f t h e w ealth y. E ve n in t h e m ids t o f a ll th at
g lit te r an d o p ule nce , sh e had glo wed like a be au tif u l
p rin ce ss in a ca ve fu ll of tr o lls . M artin H um phrie s w as
to w in g h e r a ro und th e p arty lik e a n O lym pic tr o p hy. I
p op ped m y m ono cle an d alm ost fo rg ot th e pho ny
G erm an a cce nt I’d b een u sin g a ll eve nin g. T hat w as a

co up le o f y e ars a g o, w he n I’d be en w ork in g th e s o cie ty
c ir cu it se llin g sh are s of no nexis te nt tr it iu m m ines. O n
M ars , y e t. T he r ic he r t h e y a re , t h e e asie r t h e y bit e.
M artin H um phrie s w as p ro b ably th e ric he st p ers o n in
th e s o la r s y ste m , fo und er a n d c h ie f o f H um phrie s S pace
S yste m s, a n d w ell-k no w n t o be a p rim e S O B. I’d ne ve r t r y
to s c a m h im . If h e b it o n m y ba it, it c o uld be fa ta l. S o
th a t’s w hy s h e lo oks s o m iserable , I th o ug ht. M arrie d to
h im . I f e lt s o rry f o r A m an d a C un nin gham H um phrie s.
B ut so rry o r no t, th is co uld be th e br eak I’d be en
w aitin g f o r. A m an d a C unnin gham H um phrie s w as t h e w ife
o f t h e r ic he st s u m bitch in t h e s o la r s y ste m . S he c o uld b uy
an yth in g s h e w an te d , in clu din g S am ’s w ho le ra m sh ack le
co m pan y, w hic h w as t e ete rin g o n t h e br ink o f ba nkru p tc y.
A s u su al. Y e t s h e w as a sk in g S am fo r h e lp , lik e a la dy in
d is tr e ss. S he w as s c a re d .
“M artin H um phrie s,” S am r e p eate d.
S he no d ded w ord le ssly . S he ce rta in ly did no t lo ok
hap py a b out b ein g m arrie d t o M artin H um phrie s.
S am s w allo wed v is ib ly, h is A da m’s a p ple bo bbin g u p
an d d ow n tw ice. T he n h e g ot h is fe et a g ain a n d s a id, a s
b rig htly a s h e c o uld m an ag e, “ W hy do n’t w e dis cu ss th is
o ve r lu nch ?”
S am ’s o � ce in th o se d ays w as o n th e L-� habit at
B eeth o ve n . Fu nny nam e fo r a sp ace str u ctu re th at
h o use d s o m e � ft y t h o usa n d p eo p le , I k n o w . It w as bu ilt by
a co nso rtiu m of Am eric an , Euro p ean , Russia n, an d
Ja p an e se c o rp ora tio ns. T he o nly n am e th e y c o uld a g re e
o n w as B eeth o ve n’s , th an ks to th e fa ct th at th e h e ad of

Ya m ag ata C orp . h ad a lw ays w an te d to be a s y m pho ny
o rc h e str a c o nd ucto r.
T o h is c re d it, S am ’s o � ce w as n o t g ra n d o r im posin g.
H e s a id h e d id n’t w an t t o w aste h is m one y o n fu rn itu re o r
re al esta te . N ot th at h e h ad a n y m one y to w aste , a t th e
tim e. T he s u ite w as c o m pact, ta ste fu lly de co ra te d, w ith
w all sc re ens th at sh o w ed id yllic sc e ne s o f w oods a n d
w ate rfa lls . S am h ad a s o rt o f p ic tu re g alle ry o n th e w all
b ehin d h is d esk , S . G unn w ith th e g re at a n d p ow erfu l
�g ure s o f th e d ay— most o f w ho m w ere o ut to s u e h im , if
n o t h ave h im m urd ere d — plu s s e ve ra l p ho to s o f S am w ith
va rio us b eau tie s in r e ve alin g a ttir e .
I, a s h is s p ecia l co nsu lta n t a n d adv isor, s a t o � to o ne
sid e o f h is te ak-a nd -c hro m e de sk , w he re I c o uld s w ivel
fr o m S am t o h is v is ito r a n d b ack a g ain .
Am an d a H um phrie s s h o ok h e r lo ve ly h e ad. “ I c a n ’t g o
out to lu nch w ith y o u, M r. G unn. I s h o uld n’t b e s e e n in
p ub lic w ith y o u.”
B efo re Sam co uld re act to th at, sh e adde d, “It ’s
n o th in g p ers o nal. It ’s ju st  .  .  . I do n’t w an t m y h usb an d to
k n o w t h at I’v e t u rn e d t o y o u.”
U nd ete rre d , S am put on a lo pside d grin an d sa id,
“W ell, w e c o uld h ave lu nch s e nt in h e re .” H e tu rn e d to
m e. “ G ar, w hy d on’t y o u r u stle u s u p s o m e g ru b?”
I m ad e a s m ile a t h is s u d den w este rn fo lk sin ess. S am
w as a c o n m an , a n d e ve ry b od y k n e w it . T hat m ade it a ll
th e e asie r f o r m e t o c o n h im . I’m a s c a m a rtis t, m yse lf, p a r
exc e lle nce , a n d it a in ’t b ra g gin g if y o u c a n do it . S till, I’d
b een v e ry ro und ab out in a p p ro ach in g S am . C onnin g a

co n m an t a ke s s o m e � n e sse , le t m e t e ll yo u.
A bout a y e ar a g o, I ta lk ed m yse lf in to a jo b with th e
H ono ra b le J ill Mye rs , fo rm er U S se nato r a n d A m eric an
re p re se nta tiv e on th e In te rn atio nal Court of Ju stic e.
Ju d ge M ye rs w as a n o ld , o ld fr ie nd o f S am ’s , d atin g b ack
to th e early days w he n th e y’d both be en astr o nau ts
w ork in g f o r t h e o ld N ASA .
I h ad p asse d m yse lf o � to M ye rs ’s p eo p le a s G arre t G .
Garris on III, t h e p ennile ss s o n o f o ne o f t h e o lde st f a m ilie s
in T e xa s. I h ad d octo re d u p a b io gra p hy a n d a d oze n o r
so p ho ny n e w s m ed ia r e p orts . W ith ju st a bit o f m one y in
th e r ig ht h an d s, w he n M ye rs ’s p eo p le c h e cke d me o ut in
th e va rio us w eb ne ts , th e re w as eno ug h in pla ce to
c o nvin ce th e m th at I w as p oo r b ut b rig ht, ta le nte d, a n d
h o ne st.
T hre e o ut o f fo ur a in ’t b ad . I w as c e rta in ly p oor, br ight,
a n d t a le nte d .
Jill Mye rs w an te d to m arry S am . W hy, I’ll ne ve r � g ure
o ut. Sam w as— is!— a phila nde rin g, w om an iz in g, sk ir t-
c h asin g b und le o f te sto ste ro ne w ho fa lls in lo ve th e w ay
P avlo v’s d og s s a liv ate d w he n th e y h e ard a be ll rin g. B ut
Jill Mye rs w an te d to m arry th e lit tle s c o undr el, a n d S am
h ad e ve n p ro p ose d to h e r— once h e ra n o ut o f a ll th e
o th e r so urc e s o f fu nd in g th at h e co uld th in k o f. Did I
mentio n th at J u d ge M ye rs c o m es fr o m o ld mone y? S he
d oes: t h e k in d o f N ew E ng la nd fa m ily t h at s till has t h e � rs t
n ic ke l th e y m ad e in t h e m ola ss e s-f or-r um -for-s lave s t r a de
b ack in p re co lo nia l d ays.
A nyw ay, I h ad s w eet-t alk ed m y w ay in to Ju dge M ye rs ’s

co n�d ence (a n d w ork e d d am ne d hard fo r h e r, t o o, I m ight
ad d). S o w he n t h e y s e t a d ate f o r t h e w eddin g, s h e a sk e d
m e t o jo in S am ’s s ta � a n d k e e p a n e ye o n h im . S he didn ’t
w an t h im t o d is ap pear a n d le ave h e r s ta n d in g a t t h e a lta r.
S am to ok m e in w ith o ut a q ualm , g ave m e th e tit le o f
sp ecia l co nsu lta n t a n d a d vis or to th e C EO , a n d p ut m e in
th e o � ce n ext to h is . H e kn e w I w as Ju stic e M ye rs ’s
e nfo rc e r, b ut it d id n’t s e em t o bo th e r h im a bit .
Sam an d I g ot alo ng b eau tif u lly , lik e kin dre d so uls ,
re ally . O nce I to ld h im th e lo ng , sa d (a n d to ta lly fa ls e)
sto ry o f m y lif e, h e t o ok t o m e lik e a big br oth e r.
“ G ar,” h e t o ld m e m ore t h an o nce , “ w e’r e t w o o f a k in d.
A lw ays t r y in g t o g et o ut f r o m u nd er t h e big g uys.”
I a g re ed f e rv e ntly .
I’v e b ee n a g rif te r a ll m y lif e, e ve r s in ce I s w ee t-t alk ed
S is te r A gonis ta in to o ve rlo okin g th e fa ct th at s h e c a u g ht
m e c h e atin g o n th e y e ar-e nd e xa m s in s ix th g ra de . It w as
a n e at s c a m f o r a n e le ve n-y ear-o ld: I le t h e r c a tc h m e, I le t
he r th in k sh e had sc a re d me onto th e path of
rig hte o usn e ss, a n d s h e w as s o h ap py a bo ut it th at s h e
ne ve r t u m ble d t o t h e f a ct t h at I h ad so ld an sw er s h e ets t o
h alf t h e k id s in t h e s c h o ol.
A nyw ay, lif e w as a lw ays k in d of ro ug h-a nd -t um ble fo r
m e. Y o u h it it b ig h e re , a n d th e n ext tim e y o u b are ly g et
o ut w ith th e h id e o n y o ur b ack . I h ad been a t it lo ng
e no ug h s o t h at b y n o w I w as s lo win g do wn, g ettin g a lit tle
tir e d , lo okin g fo r th e o ne b ig sc o re th at w ould le t m e
wra p it a ll up a n d liv e t h e r e st o f m y lif e in ill-g otte n e ase . I
k n e w S am G unn w as th e c o n m an ’s c o n m an : th e lit tle

ro g ue h ad m ad e m ore fo rtu n e s th an th e N ew Y o rk S to ck
E xc h an g e— an d lo st th e m ju st a s q uic kly a s h e c o uld g o
ch asin g a ft e r s o m e n e w r a in bo w. I � g ure d th at if I c o zie d
up re al clo se to S am , I c o uld s n atc h h is n ext p ot o f g old
b efo re h e h ad a c h an ce t o p is s it a w ay.
S o w he n J u d ge M ye rs a sk e d m e to k e ep a n e ye o n
S am , I w ent o ut to th e B eeth o ve n h ab ita t th at s a m e d ay,
a le rt a n d r e ad y f o r m y b ig c h an ce t o n ail th e la st a n d be st
sc o re .
A m and a C unnin gha m H um phrie s m ight ju st be th at
o pportu nity , I r e aliz ed .
S o n o w I’m b rin gin g a t r a y o f lu nch in f o r S am a n d M rs .
H um phrie s, se ttin g it a ll out o n S am ’s d esk w hile th e y
ch at, a n d th e n re tr e atin g to m y o w n lit tle o � ce s o th e y
ca n t a lk in p riv acy.
P riv acy, h ah ! I s lip ped th e a co ustic a m pli� er o ut o f m y
desk d ra w er a n d s tu ck it o n t h e w all th at m y o � ce s h are d
w ith S am ’s . O nce I h ad w orm ed th e e arp lu g in , I c o uld
h e ar e ve ry th in g t h e y s a id .
W hic h w asn ’t a ll th at m uch . M rs . H um phrie s w as v e ry
g uard ed a b out it a ll.
“I h ave a c o d ed v id eo c h ip t h at I w an t y o u t o de liver t o
m y e x-h usb an d ,” s h e t o ld S am .
“O ka y,” h e s a id , “ b ut y o u c o uld have a c o urie r s e rv ic e
m ake t h e d eliv ery , e ve n o ut t o t h e be lt. I do n’t s e e w hy— ”
“M y e x-h usb an d is L a rs F u ch s.”
B in go! I d on’t k n o w h o w S am r e acte d to t h at n e w s, bu t
I n e arly ju m ped o ut o f m y c h air to tu rn a s o m ers a u lt. H er

�rs t h usb an d w as L a rs F u ch s! Fu ch s th e p irate . F u ch s th e
re ne g ad e. F u ch s a n d H um phrie s h ad fo ug ht a m inor w ar
o ut th e re in th e b elt a fe w y e ars e arlie r. It h ad end ed
w he n Hum phrie s’s m erc e narie s had �n ally ca p tu re d
Fu ch s, a n d t h e R ock R ats o f C ere s h ad exile d him f o r lif e.
Fo r y e ars n o w F u ch s h ad w an d ere d th ro ug h th e be lt,
a n e xile e kin g o ut a liv ing a s a m iner, a R ock R at. M akin g
a le gend o f h im se lf. A h o m ele ss w an d ere r. T he Fly ing
Dutc h m an o f t h e a ste ro id b elt.
It m ust h ave b een r ig ht a ft e r h e w as e xile d, I g ue sse d,
th at Am an d a Cunnin gham had divorc e d Fuch s an d
m arrie d h is b itte r r iv al, H um phrie s. I la te r fo und out th at I
w as rig ht. T hat’s e xa ctly w hat h ad hap pene d. B ut w ith a
tw ist. S he d iv orc e d F u ch s a n d m arrie d Hum phrie s o n th e
co nd itio n t h at H um phrie s w ould sto p t r y in g t o t r a ck Fu ch s
d ow n a n d h ave h im k ille d. E xile w as p unis hm ent e no ug h,
sh e c o nvin ce d H um phrie s. B ut th e p ric e fo r th at te nd er
m erc y w as he r bod y. Fro m th e hau nte d look of he r,
m ayb e t h e p ric e in clu ded h e r s o ul.
N ow s h e w an te d to s e nd a m essa g e to h e r e x. W hy?
W hat w as in th e m essa g e? H um phrie s w ould p ay a s m all
fo rtu ne to �n d out. N o, I decid ed; he ’d pay a la rg e
fo rtu ne . T o m e.
M rs . H um phrie s d id n’t h ave a ll th at m uch m ore t o s a y a n d
sh e le ft th e o � ce im med ia te ly a ft e r th e y � n is he d th e ir
lu nch , b und le d o nce m ore in to th at s h ap ele ss bla ck c o at
w ith it s h o od p ulle d u p t o h id e h e r f a ce .
I b ounce d b ack in to S am ’s o � ce . H e w as s it tin g ba ck
in his ch air, th e exp re ssio n on his fa ce so m ew he re

betw een e xa lte d a n d t e rri� ed.
“S he n e ed s m y h e lp ,” S am m urm ure d, a s if ta lk in g in
h is s le ep .
“O ur h e lp ,” I c o rre cte d .
S am blin ke d , sh o ok him se lf, an d sa t up ere ct. H e
no d ded a n d g rin ne d a t m e. “ I k n e w I c o uld c o unt o n y o u,
G ar.”
T he n I r e m em bere d t h at I w as s u p pose d to be w ork in g
fo r J u d ge M ye rs .
“H e’s g oin g o ut to th e b elt?” Ju dge M ye rs ’s ch e stn ut-
b ro w n e ye s s n ap ped a t m e. “A nd y o u’r e le ttin g h im do
it ?”
S om e peo p le ca lle d Jill Mye rs pla in , or eve n
unattr a ctiv e (b ehin d h e r b ack , o f co urs e ), bu t I a lw ays
th o ug ht o f h e r as kin d o f cu te . In a w ay, sh e lo oke d
alm ost lik e S am ’s s is te r m ight: h e r fa ce w as ro und as a
p ie , w ith a s tu b by lit tle n o se a n d a s p rin klin g o f fr e ck le s.
H er h air w as lig ht b ro w n a n d s tr a ig ht a s c a n be ; s h e k e p t
it in a s h o rt, n o -n onse nse b ob a n d re fu se d to le t s ty lis ts
fa n cy it u p f o r h e r.
H er im ag e in m y d esk s c re en c le arly s h o w ed, th o ug h,
th at s h e w as a n g ry . N ot a t S am . A t m e.
“G arris on, I s e nt y o u to k e ep th at lit tle s o -a nd -s o o n
tr a ck fo r o ur w ed din g, a n d n o w y o u’r e g oin g o ut to th e
b elt w ith h im ?”
“It ’ll only b e fo r a fe w d ays,” I s a id. T ru th fu lly , t h at’s a ll I
exp ecte d a t t h at p oin t.

Her a n g er a b ate d a s k o sh ; s u sp ic io n r e p la ce d it.
“W hat’s t h is a ll ab out, G ar? ”
If I to ld h e r th at S am h ad g one b onke rs o ve r A m an d a
H um phrie s, s h e ’d b e u p a t B eeth o ve n o n t h e n ext s h uttle ,
so I t e m poriz ed a lit tle .
“H e’s lo okin g in to a ne w bu sin ess op portu nity at
C ere s. It s h o uld o nly t a ke a f e w da ys.”
F u sio n to rc h sh ip s co uld zip out to th e be lt at a
co nsta n t a cce le ra tio n. T he y c o st a n a rm a n d t w o le gs, bu t
Sam w as in h is s p are n o e xp ense s m ode , a n d I a g re ed
w ith h im . W e c o uld z ip o ut t o t h e be lt in fo ur da ys, de liver
th e m essa g e, a n d b e h o m e a g ain in t im e f o r t h e w eddin g.
W e’d e ve n h a ve a d ay o r s o t o s p ar e , I t h o ug ht.
O ne th in g a b out J u d ge M ye rs : s h e c o uld n’t s ta y a n g ry
fo r m ore th an a fe w m inute s at a tim e. B ut fr o m th e
exp re ssio n o n h e r f a ce , s h e r e m ain ed hig hly s u sp ic io us.
“I w an t a c a ll fr o m y o u e ve ry d ay, G ar,” sh e sa id. “I
k n o w y o u c a n ’t k e ep S am o n a le ash ; n o bo dy c a n . B ut I
w an t t o k n o w w he re y o u a re a n d w hat y o u’r e do ing.”
“ Y e s, m a’a m . O f c o urs e .”
“ E ve ry d ay.”
“ R ig ht.”
E asie r s a id t h an d one .
S am r e nte d a t o rc h s h ip , t h e s m alle st h e c o uld � n d, ju st a
s e t o f fu sio n e ng in es a n d p ro p ella nt ta n ks w ith a c re w
p od atta ch e d . It was ca lle d Ach e rn a r , an d its
a cco m mod atio ns w ere re ally Sparta n . Sam pilo te d it

him se lf.
“T hat’s w hy I k e ep m y a str o nau t’s q uali� ca tio ns u p to
d ate w ith th e ch ic ke nsh it IA A,” he to ld me, w ith a
m isch ie vo us w in k. “ N o s e nse s p end in g m one y o n a p ilo t
whe n I c a n � y t h e se b ird s m yse lf.”
F o r fo ur d ays w e r a ce d o ut to C ere s, a cce le ra tin g a t a
h alf g ee m ost o f t h e t im e, t h e n d ece le ra tin g a t a g ee-a nd -
a-h alf. S am w an te d t o g o e ve n f a ste r, bu t t h e IA A w ould n’t
a p pro ve h is o rig inal pla n, a n d he h ad no c h o ic e. If h e
d id n’t fo llo w th e ir � ig ht p la n, th e IA A c o ntr o lle rs a t C ere s
w ould im pound A ch e rn a r a n d s e nd u s b ack t o E arth fo r a
d is cip lin ary h e arin g.
S o S am s tu ck t o t h e ir r u le s, f u ssin g a n d � d getin g e ve ry
c e ntim ete r of th e w ay. H e hate d bure au cra cie s an d
b ure au cra ts . H e e sp ecia lly lo ath e d be ing fo rc e d to do
th in gs t h e ir w ay in ste ad o f h is o w n.
T he t r ip out w as le ss t h an lu xu rio us, le t m e t e ll yo u. B ut
th e d ece le ra tio n w as a b so lu te a g ony fo r m e; I fe lt a s if I
w eig he d a b out a to n a n d I w as sc a re d eve n to tr y to
s ta n d u p .
S am to ok th e str a in ch e erfu lly . “Do ub le str e ng th
jo ck str a p , G ar,” h e to ld m e, g rin nin g. “ T hat’s th e s e cre t o f
m y s u cce ss.”
I s ta ye d s e ate d a s m uch a s p ossible . I e ve n s le pt in t h e
co p ilo t’s re clin ab le c h air, w ishin g th at th e s h ip h ad be en
p rim itiv e eno ug h to in clu de a re lie f tu b e am ong its
e q uip m ent � xtu re s.
P eo p le w ho d on’t k n o w a n y b ette r th in k th at th e R ock

Rats o ut in th e b elt a re a bu nch o f ro ug h-a nd -t um ble ,
cru sty , hard -� ste d pro sp ecto rs an d m iners . W ell, su re ,
th e re a re s o m e lik e th at, b ut m ost o f th e R ock R ats a re
u niv ers it y e d uca te d e ng in eers a n d te ch nic ia ns. A ft e r a ll,
th e y w ork w ith sp ace cra ft a n d te le op era te d mach in ery
o ut a t th e fr o ntie r o f h um an c iv iliz atio n. T he y’r e o ut th e re
in t h e d ark , c o ld , m ostly e m pty a ste ro id be lt, o n t h e ir o w n,
th e n e are st h e lp u su ally s o fa r a w ay th at it ’s u se le ss to
th e m . T he y d on’t u se m ule s a n d s h o ve ls , a n d th e y do n’t
h ave b arro om b ra w ls o r s h o oto uts .
M ost n ig hts , t h at is .
Sam ’s �rs t sto p aft e r we do cke d at th e habit at
C hry sa lis was t h e b ar.
T he C hry sa lis hab ita t, b y t h e w ay, w as s o m eth in g lik e a
c ir cu la r, r o ta tin g ju nkya rd . T he R ock R ats h ad built it o ve r
th e ye ars by puttin g use d or aba nd one d sp ace cra ft
t o g eth e r, ho okin g th e m up lik e a tin ke rto y m erry -g o-
ro und a n d s p in nin g th e w ho le c o ntr a p tio n to p ro du ce a n
a rti� cia l gra vit y in sid e. It w as b ette r th an liv ing in C ere s
itse lf, w ith it s m inusc u le g ra vit y a n d th e c o nsta n t h aze o f
d ust th at y o u s tir re d u p w ith e ve ry m ove y o u m ade . T he
e arlie st R ock R ats a ctu ally did live in sid e C ere s. T hat’s
w hy t h e y b uilt t h e r a m sh ack le Chry sa lis as q uic kly a s t h e y
co uld .
I w orrie d a b out h ard ra d ia tio n, bu t S am to ld me th e
h ab ita t had su p erc o nd uctin g sh ie ldin g, th e sa m e as
sp ace cra ft u se .
“Y o u’r e a s s a fe a s y o u’d b e o n E arth ,” S am a ssu re d
m e. “ J u st a b out.”

It w as t h e ju st a bout th at s c a re d m e.
“W hy a re w e g oin g to th e b ar? ” I a sk e d, s tr idin g a lo ng
b esid e him dow n th e hab it a t’s ce ntr a l co rrido r. W ell,
m ayb e ce ntr a l co rrid or is an o ve rs ta te m ent. W e w ere
w alk in g dow n th e m ain passa g ew ay of one of th e
sp ace cra ft s th at m ad e up C hry sa lis . U p ah e ad w as a
hatc h th at c o nne cte d to th e n ext s p ace cra ft c o m pone nt.
A nd s o o n. W e c o uld w alk a c o m ple te c ir cle a n d c o m e
back to th e a ir lo ck w he re A ch e rn a r w as d ocke d , if w e’d
w an te d t o .
“G onna m eet t h e m ayo r,” s a id S am .
The m ayo r?
W ell, a n yw ay, w e g o s tr a ig ht t o t h e ba r. I h ad exp ecte d
a k in d o f r o ug h p la ce , m ayb e lik e a b ik er jo int. In ste ad th e
p la ce lo oke d lik e a s o p his tic ate d co ck ta il lo ung e.
It w as c a lle d t h e C ry sta l P ala ce , a n d it w as a s q uie t a n d
su b due d a s o ne o f t h o se h ig h-c lass w ate rin g h o le s in O ld
M an h atta n . Soft lightin g, plu sh , fa u x-le ath e r wall
co ve rin gs, m ute d M oza rt c o m ing th ro ug h th e sp eake rs
s e t in th e o ve rh e ad . It w as m ida ft e rn o o n, a n d th e re w ere
o nly a b out a d oze n p eo p le in th e p la ce , a fe w a t th e ba r,
t h e re st in h ig h-b acke d b ooth s th at g ave th e m p le nty o f
p riv acy.
S am s a u nte re d u p to th e b ar a n d p erc h e d on o ne o f
th e s w ivelin g s to ols . H e s p un a ro und a fe w tim es, ta kin g
in t h e lo ca l sc e ne ry . T he o nly w om an in t h e p la ce w as t h e
h um an b arte nd er, a n d sh e w asn ’t m uch b ette r lo okin g
th an t h e r o b ots t h at t r u nd le d dr inks o ut t o t h e g uys in t h e
b ooth s.

“W hat’s fe r y e w ?” s h e a sk e d . S he lo oke d lik e s h e w as
in to w eig ht lif tin g. T he g ra y s w eats h ir t s h e w as w earin g
had t h e s le eve s c u t o �; p le nty o f m usc le in h e r a rm s. T he
exp re ssio n on he r sq uaris h fa ce was no -n onse nse ,
unsm ilin g.
“W est T e nne sse e,” s a id S am . “ R ig ht? ”
T he b arte nd er lo oke d s u rp ris ed. “ H unts v ille , ’B am a.”
“ H eart o f th e Te nne sse e V alle y,” S am sa id. “I co m e
fr o m t h e b lu eg ra ss c o untr y , m yse lf.”
W hic h w as a co m ple te lie . S am w as bo rn in e ith e r
N eva d a or Pennsy lv an ia , acco rdin g to w hic h of his
d ossie rs y o u r e ad . O r m ayb e L u zo n, in t h e P hilip pin es.
W ell, in le ss th an s ix m inute s, S am h ad th e b arte nd er
la ug hin g a n d tr a d in g re d ne ck jo ke s w ith h im . H er n am e
was B elin da. I ju st s a t b esid e h im a n d w atc h e d th e m aste r
at w ork . H e c o uld c h arm t h e d evil out o f h e ll, S am c o uld .
Sam o rd ere d Te nne sse e co rn m ash fo r bo th o f u s.
W hile h e c h atte d u p th e b arte nde r, th o ug h, I n o tic ed th at
th e p la ce w as e m pty in g o ut. T he th re e g uys a t th e b ar
g ot u p a n d le ft � rs t, o ne b y o ne . T he n, o ut o f th e c o rn e r
o f m y e ye , I s a w th e g uys in th e bo oth s h e adin g fo r th e
d oor. N o b ig ru sh , b ut w ith in a fe w m inute s th e y h ad all
w alk ed o ut. O n t ip to es.
I s a id n o th in g, b ut s o on e no ug h S am r e aliz ed we w ere
a lo ne .
“W hat hap pene d ?” he ask e d Belin da. “W e ch ase d
eve ry b od y o ut? ”
S he sh o ok he r he ad . “R ock Rats worry abo ut

str a n g ers . T he y p ro b’ly t h in k y o u’r e m aybe a t a x a sse sso r
or a s a fe ty in sp ecto r f r o m t h e IA A.”
S am la ug he d . “M e? F ro m th e IA A? H ell, n o . I’m S am
G unn. M ayb e y o u’v e h e ard o f m e?”
“N o! S am G unn? Y o u c o uld n’t be !”
“ T hat’s m e,” S am s a id , w ith h is H uck le be rry Fin n g rin .
“Y o u w ere th e �rs t g uy o ut he re in th e be lt,” sa id
B elin da, r e al a d m iratio n g lo win g in h e r e ye s.
“Y e p . C ap tu re d a n ic ke l/ir o n a ste ro id an d to w ed he r
b ack t o E arth ’s o rb it.”
“ P itts b urg h. I h e ard ab out it. To ok yo u a co up le o f
ye ars , d id n’t it ?”
S am n o d ded . H e w as e njo yin g t h e a du latio n.
“T hat w as a lo ng tim e a g o,” B elin da s a id. “I th o ug ht
yo u’d b e a lo t o ld er.”
“ I a m .”
S he la ug he d , a h e arty ro ar th at m ade th e g la sse s o n
th e b ack b ar r a ttle . “ R eju ve t h e ra p y, r ig ht? ”
“W hy n o t? ”
J u st th e n, a re d -h air e d m oun ta in s tr o de in to th e ba r.
O ne o f t h e b ig gest m en I’v e e ve r s e en. H e didn ’t lo ok fa t,
e ith e r: ju st b ig , w ith a s h ag gy m an e o f b ric k-r e d hair a n d a
s h ag gie r b eard t o m atc h .
H e w alk ed r ig ht u p t o u s.
“Y o u’r e S am G unn.” It w asn ’t a q ue stio n.
“R ig ht,” sa id S am . S w ivelin g to w ard me, h e adde d,

“A nd t h is y o ung f e llo w h e re is G arre t G . G arris on III.”
“ T he th ir d , h uh?” th e re d he ad hu� ed at m e. “W hat
h ap pene d t o t h e � rs t t w o?”
“H ung f o r s te alin ’ h o rs e s,” I lie d, p utt in g o n m y t h ic ke st
W ild W est a cce nt.
B elin da la ug he d a t t h at. T he r e dh ead sim ply h u� ed.
“Y o u’r e G eo rg e A m bro se , r ig ht? ” S am a sk e d.
“B ig G eo rg e, t h at’s m e.”
“ T he m ayo r o f t h is f a ir c o m mun ity,” S am a dde d.
“T he y e le cte d m e th ’ fo okin ’ c h ie f,” B ig G eo rg e s a id,
a lm ost bellig ere ntly . “N ow , w hatta ya w an t to se e m e
ab out? ”
“A bout L a rs F u ch s.”
G eo rg e’s e ye s w ent c o ld a n d n arro w . B elin da ba cke d
aw ay fr o m u s a n d w ent d ow n t h e ba r, s u d de nly bu sy w ith
th e g la ssw are .
“W hat a b out L a rs F u ch s? ” G eo rg e a sk e d.
“I w an t t o m eet h im . I’v e g ot a b usin ess p ro p osit io n fo r
him .”
G eo rg e fo ld ed his beefy arm s acro ss his m assiv e
ch e st. “F u ch s is an exile . H asn ’t be en an yw he re n e ar
C ere s fo r d og ’s ye ars . H ell, th is fo okin ’ h abit at w asn ’t
e ve n � n is he d w he n w e to sse d ’im o ut. W e w ere s till livin’
dow n in sid e t h ’ r o ck .”
S am re ste d his elb ow s on th e ba r an d sm ile d
dis arm ingly at B ig G eo rg e. “W ell, I’v e got a bu sin ess

pro p osit io n f o r F u ch s a n d I n e e d to t a lk t o h im .”
“ W hat k in d o f a b usin ess p ro p osit io n?”
W ith a perfe ctly str a ig ht fa ce Sam an sw ere d, “I’m
t h in kin g o f s ta rtin g a to uris t s e rv ic e h e re in th e be lt. Y o u
kn o w , v is it C ere s, s e e a m ining o p era tio n a t w ork o n o ne
o f th e a ste ro id s, g o o ut in a s u it a n d c h ip s o m e g old or
d ia m ond s t o b rin g b ack h o m e. T hat k in d o f t h in g.”
G eo rg e sa id no th in g, but I co uld se e th e w he els
tu rn in g b ehin d t h at w ild r e d m an e o f h is .
“It c o uld m ean a n in �u x o f m one y fo r y o ur p eo p le ,”
S am w ent o n, in h is b est s n ake -o il sp ie l. “ A h o te l he re in
o rb it aro und C ere s, ric h to uris ts �o odin g in . Lo ts of
m one y.”
G eo rg e unb ent his arm s, bu t he still re m ain ed
sta n d in g. “ W hat’s a ll th is g ot t o do w ith Fu ch s? ”
“S hip load s fu ll of ric h to uris ts m ight m ake a te m ptin g
ta rg et f o r a p irate .”
“ B ulls hit.”
“ Y o u d on’t t h in k h e ’d a tta ck t o ur s h ip s? ”
“L a rs w ould n’t d o th at. H e’s n o t a fo okin ’ p irate . N ot in
th at s e nse , a n yw ay.”
“ I’d ra th e r h e ar th at fr o m h im ,” S am s a id. “ In fa ct, I’v e
g ot to h ave h is p ers o nal assu ra n ce be fo re m y ba cke rs
w ill inve st in t h e s c h e m e.”
G eo rg e sta re d at Sam fo r a lo ng m om ent, de ep
su sp ic io n w rit te n cle arly on his fa ce . “N obo dy kn o w s
whe re L a rs is ,” h e s a id a t la st. “ Y o u m ight a s w ell go b ack

ho m e. N ob od y h e re ’s g onna g iv e y o u a n y h e lp .”
W e le ft t h e b ar w ith B ig G eo rg e g lo werin g a t o ur ba ck s s o
h ard , I c o uld f e el th e h e at. F o llo win g t h e m ap s o n t h e w all
sc re ens in th e passa g ew ays, w e fo und th e adjo ining
ro om s t h at I h ad b ooke d f o r u s.
“N ow w hat? ” I a sk e d S am a s I u np acke d my t r a ve l ba g.
“N ow w e w ait.”
S am h ad s im ply t o sse d h is b ag o n t h e b ed of h is r o om
an d b arg ed th ro ug h th e c o nne ctin g do or in to m ine. W e
had p acke d fo r o nly a th re e-da y s ta y a t C ere s, a lth o ug h
w e h ad m ore g ear s to w ed in Ach e rn a r . S om eth in g h a d t o
h a ppen p re tty q uic k , I t h o ug ht.
“ W ait f o r w hat? ” I a sk e d .
“D eve lo pm ents .”
I p ut m y c a re fu lly fo ld ed c lo th e s in a d ra w er, h ung m y
extr a p air o f w rin kle -p ro of s la ck s in th e c lo se t, a n d s e t u p
m y to ile tr ie s in th e lava to ry . Sam made him se lf
co m fo rta b le in th e ro om ’s o nly c h air, a re clin er de sig ne d
to lo ok lik e a n a str o nau t’s c o uch . H e c ra n ke d it d ow n s o
fa r, I t h o ug ht h e w as g oin g t o t a ke a n ap .
S ittin g o n th e b ed , I to ld h im , “S am , I’v e g ot to c a ll
Ju d ge M ye rs .”
“ G o r ig ht a h e ad ,” h e s a id .
“W hat s h o uld I t e ll he r? ”
“T e ll he r w e’ll be b ack in t im e f o r t h e w eddin g.”
I d oub te d t h at.

Tw o d ays p asse d w ith o ut a w ord fr o m a n yo ne . S am e ve n
tr ie d to d ate B elin da, h e w as g ettin g s o d esp era te , b ut
sh e w ould n’t h ave a n yth in g t o do w ith h im .
“T he y a ll kn o w F u ch s,” S am s a id to m e. “ T he y lik e h im
an d t h e y’r e p ro te ctin g h im .”
I t w as c o m mon k n o w le dge th at H um phrie s h ad sw orn
to k ill Fu ch s, b ut A m an d a h ad m arrie d Hum phrie s o n th e
co nd itio n th at h e le ft F u ch s a lo ne . E ve ry bo dy in C ere s,
fr o m B elin da th e b arm aid to th e la st R ock R at, th o ug ht
th at w e w ere w ork in g fo r H um phrie s, tr y in g to � n d Fu ch s
an d m urd er him . O r at le ast lo ca te him , so one of
H um phrie s’s h ir e d k ille rs c o uld kn o ck h im o �. Fu ch s w as
o ut th e re in th e b elt so m ew he re , c ru is in g th ro ug h th at
d ark e m ptin ess lik e s o m e F ly in g Du tc h m an , a lo ne , ta kin g
a s tr a n g ely m easu re d k in d o f v e ng ean ce o n u nm an ne d
H um phrie s s h ip s.
I h ad o th e r � sh t o f r y , t h o ug h. I w an te d to � n d out w hat
w as on th e ch ip th at Am an d a had giv en Sam . H er
m essa g e to h e r e x-h usb an d . W hat did sh e w an t to te ll
him ? F u ch s w as a th o rn in H um phrie s’s s ide ; m aybe o nly
a s m all th o rn , b ut h e d re w b lo od, n o ne th e le ss. H um phrie s
would p ay a fo rtu ne fo r th at m essa g e, a n d I in te nd ed to
s e ll it t o h im .
But I h ad t o g et it a w ay f r o m S am � rs t.
J u d ge M ye rs w as n o t h ap py w ith m y e q uiv oca tin g r e p orts
to h e r. D e�n ite ly n o t h ap py.
T he re ’s n o w ay to h ave a c o nve rs a tio n in re al tim e
betw een Cere s an d Earth ; th e dis ta n ce make s it
im possib le. It ta ke s n e arly h alf a n h o ur fo r a m essa g e to

cro ss o ne -w ay, e ve n w he n th e tw o bo die s a re a t th e ir
clo se st. S o I s e nt re p orts to Ju dge M ye rs a n d — usu ally
w ith in a n h o ur— I’d g et a r e sp onse f r o m h e r.
A ft e r m y � rs t re p ort, s h e h ad a w ry g rin o n h e r fa ce
w he n s h e c a lle d b ack . “ G arris on, I k n o w it ’s a bo ut a s e asy
to k e ep S am in lin e a s n ailin g ta p io ca to a w all in z e ro G .
But a ll th e p la ns fo r th e w ed din g a re s e t, it ’s g oin g to be
th e b ig gest s o cia l eve nt o f th e y e ar. Y o u’v e g ot to m ake
su re t h at h e ’s h e re . I’m d ep end in g o n y o u, G arris on.”
A day late r, he r sm ile had disap peare d. “T he
w ed din g’s o nly a w eek fr o m n o w , G arris on,” sh e sa id
a ft e r m y s e co nd c a ll to h e r. “ I w an t th at lit tle s c o undr el at
th e a lta r!”
T hir d c a ll, th e n ext d ay: “ I d on’t c a re w hat h e ’s do ing!
G et h im b ack h e re ! N ow !”
T hat’s w he n S am c a m e u p w ith h is br ight ide a.
“P ack up yo ur dud s, G ar,” he an no unce d brig htly .
“W e’r e g oin g t o t a ke a lit tle s p in a ro und th e be lt.”
I w as to o s u rp ris ed to a sk q ue stio ns. In le ss th an a n
h o ur, w e w ere b ack in Ach e rn a r a n d h e ad in g o ut fr o m
C ere s. S am h ad a lr e ad y � le d a � ig ht p la n w ith th e IA A
co ntr o lle rs . A s fa r as th e y w ere co nce rn e d, S am w as
g oin g to vis it th re e sp eci� c a ste ro ids , w hic h m ight be
u se d a s t o uris t s to p s if a n d w he n h e s ta rte d his o p era tio n
in t h e b elt. O f c o urs e , I k n e w t h at o nce w e c le are d Cere s,
th e re w as n o o ne a n d n o th in g th at c o uld h o ld him to th at
p la n.
“W hat a re w e d oin g?” I a sk e d, s it tin g in th e rig ht-h an d

se at o f t h e c o ck p it. “ W he re a re w e g oin g?”
“T o m eet F u ch s,” s a id S am .
“Y o u’v e m ad e c o nta ct w ith h im ?”
“N op e,” S am r e p lie d, g rin nin g a s if h e k n e w s o m eth in g
no b od y e ls e k n e w . “ B ut I’m w illin g to be t s o m eb od y h as.
M ayb e B ig G eo rg e. F u ch s s a ve d his lif e o nce ; did yo u
kn o w t h at? ”
“B ut h o w — ?”
“It ’s s im ple ,” S am a n sw ere d be fo re I c o uld � n is h th e
q ue stio n. “ W e le t it b e k n o w n th at w e w an t to s e e Fu ch s.
E ve ry b od y s a ys th e y d on’t k n o w w he re h e is . W e g o o ut
in to t h e b elt, a w ay f r o m e ve ry th in g, in clu din g s n o o p s w ho
m ight r a t o ut F u ch s t o M artin H um phrie s. S om ebo dy fr o m
C hry sa lis ca lls Fu ch s an d te lls him abo ut us. Fu ch s
in te rc e p ts our sh ip to se e w hat I w an t. I giv e him
A m an d a’s m essa g e c h ip . Q ED .”
I t m ad e a ce rta in am ount of se nse . B ut I had my
doub ts .
“W hat if F u ch s ju st b la sts u s? ”
“N ot h is s ty le . H e’s o nly a tta cke d unm an ne d sh ip s.”
“ H e w ipe d o ut a n H SS b ase o n V esta , d idn ’t h e? K ille d
doze ns.”
“ T hat w as d urin g t h e w ar b etw een h im a n d H um phrie s.
A ncie nt h is to ry . H e h asn ’t a tta cke d a c re w ed sh ip s in ce
h e ’s b een e xile d.”
“ B ut s u p pose — ”
The c o m munic atio ns c o nso le p in ged.

“H ah !” S am g lo ate d . “ T he re h e is n o w .”
B ut th e im ag e th at to ok fo rm o n th e co m m sc re en
w asn ’t L a rs F u ch s’s f a ce . It w as Jill Mye rs .
S he w as b eam ing a s m ile th at c o uld ’v e lit u p S ele ne
C ity fo r a m onth . “ S am , I’v e g ot a m arv e lo us ide a. I k n o w
yo u’r e w ra p ped u p in s o m e k in d o f m yste rio us m issio n
out th e re in th e b elt, a n d th e w eddin g’s o nly a fe w da ys
o �, s o  .  .  .”
S he h e sit a te d , lik e so m eb ody a bo ut to sp rin g a big
su rp ris e. “S o in ste ad o f y o u c o m ing ba ck E arth side fo r
th e w ed din g, I’m b rin gin g th e w eddin g o ut to y o u! A ll th e
g ue sts an d eve ry th in g. In fa ct, I’m on th e to rc h sh ip
S ta te nd aam rig ht n o w ! W e b re ak E arth o rb it in a bo ut a n
h o ur. I’ll s e e y o u in � ve d ays, S am , a n d w e c a n be m arrie d
just a s w e p la nne d !”
T o sa y Sam w as su rp ris ed w ould be lik e sa yin g
Nap ole on w as d is tu rb ed b y W ate rlo o. O r M cK enzie w as
in co nve nie nce d w he n his sp ace cra ft cra sh e d into th e
Lu nar A pennin es. O r— well, y o u g et t h e ide a.
S am lo oke d stu nne d , as if he ’d been pole -a xe d
b etw een th e e ye s. H e ju st s lu m ped in th e p ilo t’s c h air,
d aze d , h is e ye s u nfo cu se d f o r s e ve ra l m inute s.
“S he c a n ’t c o m e o ut h e re ,” h e m utt e re d at la st.
“ S he ’s a lr e ad y o n h e r w ay,” I s a id.
“B ut s h e ’ll ru in e ve ry th in g. If s h e c o m es ba rg in g o ut
h e re , F u ch s’ll ne ve r c o m e w ith in a lig hty e ar a n d a h alf o f
us.”
“ H ow ’r e y o u g oin g t o s to p h e r? ”

Sam th o ug ht a b out th at fo r a ll of a h alf s e co nd . “ I c a n ’t
s to p h e r. B ut I d on’t h ave to m ake it e asy fo r h e r to � n d
m e.”
“ W hat d o y o u m ean?”
“R un s ile nt, r u n d eep .” W ith d eft � n g er, S am tu rn e d o�
th e s h ip ’s t r a ck in g b eaco n a n d te le m etr y t r a n sm itte r.
“ S am ! T he c o ntr o lle rs a t C ere s w ill th in k w e’v e be en
d estr o ye d !”
H e grin ne d w icke d ly . “L e t ’e m . If th e y do n’t kn o w
w he re w e a re , t h e y c a n ’t p oin t Jill at u s.”
“ B ut F u ch s w on’t k n o w w he re w e a re .”
“ O h, y e s, h e w ill, ” S am in sis te d. “ S om ebo dy a t C ere s
has alr e ad y giv en him our �ig ht pla n. Big Geo rg e,
p ro b ab ly .”
“ S am ,” I s a id p atie ntly , “y o u � le d th at � ig ht p la n w ith
th e IA A. T he y’ll te ll Ju d ge M ye rs . S he ’ll co m e o ut lo okin g
fo r y o u.”
“ Y e ah , b ut s h e ’ll be s e ve ra l days b ehin d. B y th at tim e
th e IA A c o ntr o lle rs ’ll te ll he r w e’v e dis ap peare d. S he ’ll go
ho m e a n d w eep f o r m e.”
“ O r s ta rt s e arc h in g f o r y o ur r e m ain s.”
H e s h o t m e a n a n no ye d g la nce . “A nyw ay, w e’ll meet
w ith F u ch s b efo re s h e g ets h e re , m ost lik ely .”
“ Y o u h o p e.”
H is g rin w ob ble d a lit tle .
I th o ug ht th e m ost lik ely sc e nario w as th at Fu ch s

would ig no re u s a n d J u d ge M ye rs w ould s e arc h fo r u s,
h o p in g th at S am ’s d is ap peara n ce d idn ’t m ean h e w as
d ead . O nce s h e f o und u s, I � g ure d, s h e ’d kill Sam h e rs e lf.
It w as e erie , o ut th e re in th e b elt. F la tla nd ers b ack o n
Earth t h in k t h at t h e a ste ro id b elt is a d an g ero us r e g io n, a -
ch o ck w ith bould ers , so cro w de d th at yo u have to
m an e uve r lik e a k id in a c o m pute r g am e to a vo id gettin g
sm ash e d .
A ctu ally , it’s em pty . D ark an d co ld an d fo ur tim es
fa rth e r fr o m th e su n th an th e earth is . M ost of th e
aste ro id s a re th e s iz e o f d ust � a ke s. T he v a lu able o ne s,
m ayb e a fe w m ete rs to a k ilo mete r o r s o a cro ss, a re s o
fe w a n d fa r b etw een th at y o u h ave to h unt fo r th e m . Y o u
ca n c ru is e t h ro ug h t h e b elt b lin dfo lde d, a n d y o ur c h an ce s
o f g ettin g h it e ve n b y a p eb ble -s ized ’r o id are p re tty c lo se
to n il.
O f c o urs e , a p eb ble c o uld s h atte r y o ur s h ip if it h its
yo u w ith e no ug h v e lo cit y.
S o w e w ere r u nnin g s ile nt, b ut fo llo win g th e � ig ht p la n
Sam h ad r e g is te re d w ith th e IA A. W e g ot to th e � rs t r o ck
S am h ad s c h e d ule d a n d lo ite re d aro und it fo r h alf a d ay.
N o sig n o f F u ch s. If h e w as a n yw he re n e arby , h e w as
ru nnin g a s s ile ntly a s w e w ere .
“H e’s g otta b e s o m ew he re a ro und he re ,” S am s a id as
w e b ro ke o rb it a n d h e ad ed fo r th e n ext a ste ro id on h is
lis t. “ H e’s g otta b e.”
I c o uld te ll th at S am w as fe elin g J u d ge M ye rs ’s e ag er
b re ath o n t h e b ack o f h is n e ck .

Me, I h ad a d i� ere nt p ro b le m . I w an te d to g et th at
m essa g e c h ip a w ay fr o m S am lo ng e no ug h to se nd a
c o p y o f it t o M artin H um phrie s. W ith a s u ita ble r e q ue st f o r
co m pensa tio n, o f c o urs e . F ifty m illio n w ould d o n ic ely , I
th o ug ht. A h und re d m il w ould be e ve n be tte r.
B ut h o w t o g et t h e c h ip o ut o f S am ’s p ocke t? H e k e p t it
o n h is p ers o n a ll th e t im e; e ve n s le pt w ith it .
S o it � o ore d m e w he n, a s w e w ere e atin g br eakfa st in
A ch e rn a r ’s c ra m ped lit tle g alle y o n o ur t h ir d day o ut, S am
�sh e d th e � n g ern ail-s ized c h ip o ut o f h is br east p ocke t
an d h an d ed it t o m e.
“G ar,” he sa id so le m nly , “I w an t yo u to hide th is
so m ep la ce w he re no b od y c a n � n d it , n o t e ve n m e.”
I w as s ta g gere d . “ W hy .  .  .  ? ”
“J u st a p re ca u tio n,” h e s a id , h is f a ce m ore s e rio us t h an
I’d e ve r s e en it b efo re . “W he n Fu ch s s h o w s u p , th in gs
m ight g et r o ug h. I d on’t w an t t o k n o w w he re t h e c h ip is .”
“ B ut t h e w ho le p oin t o f t h is � ig ht is t o de liver it t o h im .”
H e n o d d ed w arily . “ Y e ah , H um phrie s m ust k n o w w e’r e
lo okin g fo r F u ch s. H e’s g ot IA A p eo p le o n h is p ayro ll.
H ell, h alf t h e p eo p le in C ere s m ight be w illin g t o r a t o n u s.
M one y ta lk s, p al. H um phrie s m ight n o t k n o w w hy w e’r e
lo okin g f o r F u ch s, b ut h e k n o w s w e’r e t r y in g t o � n d h im .”
“ H um phrie s w an ts to � n d F u ch s to o,” I s a id. “ A nd k ill
h im , n o m atte r w hat h e p ro m ised his w ife .”
“ D am ne d r ig ht. I w ould n’t b e s u rp ris ed if h e h as a s h ip
ta ilin g u s.”

“I h ave n’t s e en a n yth in g o n t h e r a da r p lo t.”
“ S o w hat? A s te alth s h ip c o uld avo id ra da r. B ut n o t th e
h air o n t h e b ack o f m y n e ck .”
“ Y o u t h in k w e’r e b ein g f o llo wed? ”
“I’m s u re o f it .”
B y th e s e ve n s in ne rs o f C in cin nat i , I th o ug ht. T his is
s ta rtin g to lo ok lik e a c la ss r e unio n! W e’r e jin kin g a ro und
in th e b elt, lo okin g fo r F u ch s. Ju dge M ye rs is o n h e r w ay,
w ith a co m ple te w ed din g p arty . A nd no w S am th in ks
th e re ’s a n H SS s te alth s h ip lu rk in g o ut th e re s o m ew he re ,
w aitin g f o r u s t o � n d F u ch s s o t h e y c a n p ounce o n h im .
But a ll th at p ale d in to in sig ni� ca n ce fo r m e a s I s ta re d
d ow n a t th e tin y c h ip S am h ad pla ce d in th e p alm o f m y
han d .
I h ad it in m y g ra sp ! N ow th e tr ic k w as to co nta ct
H um phrie s w ith o ut le ttin g S am k n o w o f it .
I c o uld n’t s le ep th at n ig ht. W e w ere a p pro ach in g th e
se co nd a ste ro id o n S am ’s it in era ry o n a de ad-r ecko nin g
tr a je cto ry . N o activ e sig nals goin g out fr o m th e sh ip
exc e p t f o r t h e s h o rt-r an g e c o llis ion a vo ida nce r a da r. W e’d
t a ke up a park in g orb it aro und th e unnam ed ro ck
m idm orn in g t o m orro w .
I w aite d u ntil m y e ye s w ere a d ap te d to t h e da rk n e ss o f
th e s le ep in g c o m partm ent, th e n p eeke d dow n o ve r th e
e d ge o f m y b unk t o s e e if S am w as r e ally a sle ep . H e w as
o n h is sid e, fa ce to th e b ulk he ad, h is le gs p ulle d up
slig htly in a so rt o f fe ta l posit io n. B re ath in g de ep a n d
re g ula r.

He’s a sle ep , I to ld m yse lf. A s q uie tly a s a w ra ith , I
slip ped o ut o f m y b unk a n d t ip to ed in m y b are fe et t o t h e
co ck p it, ca re fu lly sh uttin g th e h atc h e s o f th e sle ep in g
co m partm ent a n d th e g alle y, s o th e re ’d be n o n o is e to
w ake n S am .
I’m p re tty g ood a t d ecry p tin g m essa g es. It ’s a u se fu l
ta le nt fo r a co n m an , an d I had sp ent lo ng ho urs at
co m pute rs d urin g m y o ne a n d only ja il str e tc h t o le arn t h e
tr ic ks o f t h e t r a d e.
O f co urs e , I co uld ju st o�er th e ch ip fo r sa le to
H um phrie s w ith o ut kn o w in g w hat w as o n it . H e’d pay
h an d so m ely f o r a m essa g e t h at h is w ife w an te d to g iv e t o
L a rs F u ch s.
B ut if I k n e w t h e c o nte nts o f t h e m essa g e, I r e aso ne d, I
c o uld m ost lik ely d oub le o r t r ip le t h e p ric e. S o I s ta rte d to
w ork o n d ecry p tin g it . H ow h a rd co uld it b e? I ask e d
m yse lf a s I s lip ped t h e c h ip in to t h e s h ip ’s m ain c o m pute r.
S he pro b ab ly did th e enco din g he rs e lf, no t tr u stin g
an yb od y aro und he r. S he ’d be en an astr o nau t in he r
earlie r ye ars , I kn e w , but no t partic ula rly a co m pute r
fr e ak. S ho uld b e e asy.
It w asn ’t . It to ok a ll nig ht, a n d I s till didn ’t g et a ll th e
w ay th ro ug h th e tr a p d oors a n d blin d a lle ys sh e ’d bu ilt
into h e r m essa g e. S m art w om an , I re aliz ed, m y re sp ect
fo r A m an d a C unnin gham H um phrie s n o tc h in g u p w ith
e ve ry b ead o f s w eat I o oze d .
A t la st t h e h ash t h at h ad b een � llin g t h e c e ntr a l sc re en
o n t h e c o ck p it c o ntr o l p an e l c le are d aw ay, r e p la ce d by a n
im ag e o f h e r f a ce .

That fa ce . I ju st s ta re d a t h e r. S he w as s o b eau tif u l, s o
sa d a n d v u ln era b le . It b ro ug ht a lu m p to m y th ro at. I’v e
se en b eau tif u l w om en, p le nty o f th e m , a n d be dde d more
th an m y s h are . B ut g azin g a t A m an d a’s fa ce , th e re in th e
q uie t h um o f th e d im med c o ck p it, I fe lt s o m eth in g m ore
th an d esir e , m ore t h an a n im al h ung er.
C ould it b e lo ve ? I s h o ok m y h e ad like a m an w ho ’s
ju st b een k n o cke d d ow n b y a p unch . D on’t b e a n id iot! I
s n arle d a t m yse lf. Y o u’v e b een h a ng in g a ro und S am to o
lo ng , y o u’r e b eco m ing a r o m an tic jac kas s ju st lik e he is .
Lo ve h a s n o th in g to d o w ith th is . T hat b eau tif u l fac e is
g oin g to e a rn y o u m illio ns , I to ld m yse lf, a s s o on a s y o u
d ecry p t t h is m essa ge o f h e rs .
A nd th e n I s m elle d th e fr a g ra n ce o f c o �ee br ew in g.
S am w as in th e g alle y, rig ht b ehin d th e c lo se d hatc h o f
th e c o ck p it, c la tte rin g d is he s a n d s ilv erw are . In a w eird
w ay, I fe lt a lm ost r e lie ve d . Q uic kly , I p op ped th e c h ip o ut
o f th e c o m pute r a n d s lip ped it in to th e w ais tba nd o f th e
und ers h o rts I w as w earin g.
Ju st in tim e. S am p ush e d th e h atc h o p en a n d h an d ed
m e a s te am ing m ug o f c o �ee.
“Y o u’r e u p e arly ,” h e s a id w ith a g ro g gy s m ile .
“C ould n’t sle ep ,” I a n sw ere d tr u th fu lly . T hat’s w he re
th e t r u th e nd ed . “ I’v e b een t r y in g t o t h in k o f w he re I c o uld
sta sh t h e c h ip .”
H e n o d ded a n d s c ra tc h e d a t h is w iry, to usle d re d hair.
“F in d a g ood s p ot, G ar. I th in k w e’r e g oin g to h ave p le nty
o f � re w ork s b efo re t h is jo b is � n is he d. ”

Tru e r w ord s, a s t h e y s a y, w ere n e ve r s p oke n.
T he th re e a ste ro id s S am h ad ch o se n w ere s a m ple s o f
th e t h re e d i� ere nt t y p es o f ’r o id s in t h e b elt. T he � rs t o ne
h ad b een a ro ck y ty p e. It lo oke d like a lu m py p ota to ,
p ock m ark e d w ith c ra te rle ts fr o m th e im pacts o f s m alle r
ro ck s. T he o ne w e w ere a p pro ach in g w as a c h o nd rit ic
ty p e, a lo ose c o lle ctio n o f p rim eva l pebble s th at ba re ly
he ld it se lf t o g eth e r. S am c a lle d it a b e anb ag .
H e w as s a vin g th e b est o ne fo r la st. T he th ir d an d la st
a ste ro id o n S am ’s lis t w as a m eta llic b eau ty , th e o ne th at
so m e La tin Am eric an sc u lp tr e ss had ca rv e d into a
m onum enta l his to ry o f h e r N ativ e A m eric an p eo p le ; s h e
ca lle d it T he R em em bere r . S am h ad b een in vo lv ed in t h at,
y e ars a g o, I k n e w . H e h ad s h acke d up w ith t h e s c u lp tr e ss
fo r a w hile . J u st lik e S am .
As we ap pro ach e d th e be an b ag , our co llis ion-
avo id an ce r a d ar s ta rte d g oin g c ra zy.
“It ’s su rro und ed by sm alle r ch unks of ro ck ,” Sam
m utte re d , s tu d yin g t h e s c re en.
Fro m th e c o p ilo t’s c h air, I c o uld s e e th e m ain bo dy o f
th e a ste ro id th ro ug h th e c o ck p it w in dow . It lo oke d hazy,
in dis tin ct, m ore lik e a p u� o f s m oke t h an a s o lid obje ct.
“ If w e’r e g oin g to o rb it th at c lo ud o f p ebble s,” I s a id,
“it ’d b ette r b e a t a g ood d is ta n ce fr o m it . O th e rw ise, w e’ll
g et d in ged u p p re tty h e avily .”
S am n o d ded a n d ta p ped in th e c o m man d s fo r a n o rbit
th at lo op ed a r e sp ectfu l d is ta n ce f r o m t h e be an b ag .
“H ow lo ng a re w e g oin g t o h an g a ro und he re ?” I a sk e d

him .
He m ad e a s m all sh ru g . “G iv e it a d ay o r tw o. T he n
w e’ll he ad o � f o r T he R em em b ere r .”
“ S am , yo ur w ed din g is in tw o days.” S pea kin g of
re m em berin g , I t h o ug ht.
H e g ave m e a lo psid ed g rin . “Jill’ s s m art e no ug h to
� g ure it out. W e’ll get m arrie d at T he Rem em bere r .
O uts id e, in s u its, w ith th e s c u lp tu re fo r a b ackg ro und. It ’ll
m ake t e rri� c p ub lic ity f o r m y t o uris t s e rv ic e.”
I fe lt m y e ye b ro w s g o u p . “Y o u’r e re ally th in kin g o f
sta rtin g t o uris t r u ns o ut h e re t o t h e be lt?”
“S ure . W hy n o t? ”
“I t h o ug ht t h at w as ju st y o ur c o ve r s to ry .”
“ It w as,” h e a d m itte d . “ B ut t h e m ore I t h in k a bo ut it , t h e
m ore s e nse it m ake s.”
“ W ho ’s g oin g t o p ay t h e f a re f o r c o m ing a ll th e w ay o ut
h e re , ju st t o s e e a f e w r o ck s? ”
“G ar, y o u ju st d on’t u nd ers ta n d h o w bu sin ess w ork s,
d o y o u?”
“B ut— ”
“H ow d id s p ace t o uris m s ta rt, in t h e � rs t p la ce ?” B efo re
I c o uld e ve n s ta rt th in kin g a bo ut a n a n sw er, h e w ent o n,
“W ith a f e w b ore d r ic h g uys p ayin g m illio ns f o r a f e w d ays
in o rb it.”
“ N ot m uch o f a m ark e t,” I s a id .
He w ag g le d a � n g er a t m e. “N ot a t � rs t, bu t it g ot

peo p le in te re ste d . T he p ub lic ity w as im porta n t. W ith in a
fe w y e ars , th e re w as e no ug h o f a de man d s o th at a re al
to uris t in dustr y t o ok o �. S m all, a t � rs t, bu t it g re w .”
I re ca lle d, “Y o u sta rte d a h o ne ym oon h o te l in E arth
o rb it b ack t h e n, d id n’t y o u?”
H is fa ce clo ud ed . “It went unde r. Most of th e
h o ne ym oone rs got sp ace sic k th e ir �rs t da y in
weig htle ssn e ss. H orrib le p ub lic ity. I w ent br oke .”
“ A nd s o ld it t o R ock le dge In d ustr ie s, r ig ht? ”
H e g ot e ve n m ore s o m ber. “ Y e ah , r ig ht.”
R ock le dge m ad e a s u cce ss o f th e o rbit al ho te l aft e r
b uyin g Sam out, m ain ly beca u se th e y’d deve lo ped a
med ic atio n fo r s p ace s ic kn e ss. T he fa cilit y is s till th e re in
lo w Earth orb it, part ho te l, part m use um . S am w as a
pio ne er, a ll rig ht. A n o rn am ent t o h is p ro fe ssio n, a s f a r a s I
w as c o nce rn e d . B ut t h at’s a n o th e r s to ry .
“A nd n o w y o u th in k y o u c a n m ake a to uris t lin e to th e
b elt p ay o � ?”
B efo re he co uld an sw er, th re e th in gs hap pene d
vir tu ally s im ulta n e o usly . T he n avig atio n c o m pute r c h im ed
an d an n o unce d , “P ark in g orbit esta blis he d. ” At th at
in sta n t w e fe lt a s lig ht lu rc h . S pace cra ft s d on’t lu rc h , n o t
unle ss s o m eth in g b ad h as h ap pene d to th e m , lik e h ittin g
a r o ck o r g ettin g y o ur a ir tig ht h ull punctu re d.
S ure eno ug h, th e m ain te nan ce pro g ra m sa n g out,
“ M ain th ru ste r dis ab le d. Rep air fa cilit ies urg ently
r e q uir e d .”
B efo re w e c o uld d o m ore th an lo ok a t e ach o th e r, o ur

mouth s h an g in g o p en, a f o urth t h in g h ap pene d.
T he co m m sp eake r ru m ble d w ith a de ep , sn arlin g
vo ic e. “ W ho a re y o u a n d w hat a re y o u do ing h e re ?”
T he sc re en sh o w ed a dark , sc o w lin g fa ce : jo wly,
alm ost pu dgy, d ark h air p ulle d str a ig ht ba ck fr o m a br oad
fo re he ad , tin y, d eep -s et e ye s th at bu rn e d into yo u. A
vic io us sla sh o f a m outh tu rn e d do wn a n g rily . Ir rit a tio n
an d s u sp ic io n w rit te n a cro ss e ve ry lin e o f th at fa ce . H e
ra d ia te d pow er, str e ng th , an d th e co ld-blo ode d
ru th le ssn e ss o f a k ille r. L a rs F u ch s.
“A nsw er m e, o r m y n ext s h o t w ill blo w a w ay y o ur c re w
p od .”
I fe lt a n u rg ent n e ed to g o to th e b ath ro om . B ut S am
sta ye d c o ol a s a p ola r b ear.
“ T his is S am G unn. I’v e b een t r y in g t o � n d y o u, Fu ch s.”
“ W hy?”
“I h ave a m essa g e f o r y o u.”
“ F ro m H um phrie s? I’m n o t in te re ste d in h e arin g w hat
h e h as t o s a y.”
S am g la nce d a t m e, th e n s a id, “ T he m essa g e is fr o m
M rs . H um phrie s.”
I d id n’t th in k it w as p ossib le, b ut F u ch s’s fa ce w ent
h ard er s till. T he n, in a n e ve n m ean e r to ne , h e s a id, “ I’m
n o t in te re ste d in a n yth in g s h e h as t o s a y e ith e r.”
“ S he s e em ed v e ry a n xio us t o g et t h is m essa g e t o y o u,
sir ,” S am w he ed le d. “ S he h ir e d us t o c o m e a ll th e w ay o ut
to t h e b elt t o d eliv er it t o y o u p ers o nally .”

He fe ll sile nt. I c o uld fe el m y h e art th um pin g a g ain st
m y r ib s. T he n F u ch s s n arle d, “ It s e em s m ore lik ely to m e
th at y o u’r e b ait fo r a tr a p H um phrie s w an ts to s p rin g o n
m e. M y f o rm er w ife h asn ’t a n yth in g t o s a y t o m e.”
“ B ut— ”
“N o b uts ! I’m n o t g oin g to le t y o u s e t m e u p fo r a n
am bush .” I c o uld p ra ctic ally fe el th e s u sp ic io n in h is v o ic e,
his s c o w lin g fa ce . A nd s o m eth in g m ore . S om eth in g r e ally
u g ly . Hatr e d . Hatr e d fo r Hum phrie s an d eve ry th in g
asso cia te d w ith H um phrie s. In clu din g h is e x-w ife .
“I’m n o J u d as g oat,” S am s n arle d ba ck . I w as s u rp ris ed
at h o w in ce nse d h e s e em ed t o b e. Y o u c a n n e ve r t e ll w ith
S am , b ut h e s e em ed r e ally t e ed o�.
“I’m S am G unn, g od dam mit, n o t s o m e s n e akin g d eco y.
I d on’t ta ke o rd ers fr o m M artin H um phrie s o r a n yb ody
els e in th e w ho le tw irlin g so la r sy ste m , an d if yo u
th in k .  .  .”
W hile S am w as t a lk in g, I g la nce d at t h e s e arc h r a da r, t o
s e e if it h ad lo cke d o nto F u ch s’s s h ip . E ith e r h is s h ip w as
su p er s te alth y, o r it w as m uch fa rth e r a w ay th an I h ad
th o ug ht. H e m ust b e a d am ne d g ood s h o t w ith t h at las er ,
I r e aliz ed .
S am w as ja bberin g, c a jo lin g, ta lk in g a m ile a m inute ,
tr y in g to g et F u ch s to tr u st h im e no ug h to le t u s d eliv er
th e c h ip t o h im .
Fu ch s a n sw ere d , “ D on’t y o u th in k I k n o w th at th e c h ip
yo u’r e c a rry in g h as a h o m ing b eaco n bu ilt in to it ? I ta ke
th e c h ip an d a d oze n H um phrie s s h ip s c o m e a ft e r m e,

fo llo win g t h e s ig nal th e c h ip e m its.”
“ N o, it ’s n o t lik e th at a t a ll, ” S am p le ade d. “ S he w an ts
y o u t o s e e t h is m essa g e. S he w ould n’t t r y t o h arm y o u.”
“ S he a lr e ad y h as,” h e s n ap ped.
I b eg an to w ond er if m ayb e h e w asn ’t rig ht. W as s h e
w ork in g fo r h e r p re se nt h usb an d to tr a p h e r e x-h usb an d ?
H ad sh e tu rn e d ag ain st th e m an w ho se lif e sh e had
sa ve d ?
It c o uld n’t b e , I th o ug ht, re m em berin g h o w h au nte d,
ho w fr ig hte ne d s h e h ad lo oke d . S he c o uld n’t be a Ju das
to h im ; s h e h ad m arrie d H um phrie s to s a ve F u ch s’s lif e,
fr o m a ll th at I’d h e ard .
The n a w ors e th o ug ht p op ped into m y h e ad. If S am
giv es th e ch ip to Fu ch s, I’ll hav e no th in g to o�er
H um phrie s! A ll th a t m one y w ill �y o ut o f m y g ra sp !
I h ad tr ie d to c o p y th e c h ip , bu t it w ould n’t a llo w th e
sh ip ’s co m pute r to m ake a co p y. S ud de nly I w as on
Fu ch s’ s id e o f th e a rg um ent: D on’t ta ke th e c h ip ! D on’t
c o m e a n yw he re n e ar it !
F ate , a s t h e y s a y, in te rv e ne d .
The co m m sy ste m p in ged ag ain , an d su d de nly th e
sc re en sp lit . The oth e r half sh o w ed Judge M ye rs , all
sm ile s, o b vio usly in a c o m partm ent a bo ard a s p ace cra ft .
“ S am , we’r e he re !” sh e sa id brightly . “A t T he
R em em bere r . It w as so brillia nt of yo u to pic k th e
sc u lp tu re f o r o ur w ed din g c e re m ony!”
“ W ho t h e h e ll is t h at? ” F u ch s r o are d.

Fo r o nce in h is lif e, S am a ctu ally lo oke d em ba rra sse d.
“U m  .  .  . m y, u h , � a n cé e,” h e s tu m ble d. “ I’m s u p pose d to
b e g ettin g m arrie d in t w o d ays.”
T he e xp re ssio n o n F u ch s’ fa ce w as a lm ost co m ical.
H ere h e ’s th re ate nin g to b lo w u s in to a c lo ud o f io niz ed
g as a n d a ll of a s u d den, h e ’s g ot a n im patie nt b ride -to-be
on t h e s a m e c o m munic atio ns f r e q ue ncy.
“M arrie d?” h e b ello wed .
“It ’s a lo ng s to ry ,” s a id S am , r e d-c he eke d.
Fu ch s gla re d an d glo were d while Ju dge M ye rs ’s
r o und , fr e ck le d fa ce lo oke d p uzz le d. “S am ? W hy do n’t
y o u a n sw er? I k n o w w he re y o u a re . If y o u do n’t c o m e o ut
to The Rem em bere r , I’m goin g to brin g th e w ho le
w ed din g p arty t o y o u, m iniste r a n d bo ys’ c h o ir a n d a ll. ”
“I’m b usy, J ill, ” S am s a id .
“B oys’ c h o ir?” F u ch s r a n te d . “ M iniste r? ”
N ot e ve n S am c o uld c a rry o n t w o c o nve rs at ions a t t h e
sa m e t im e , I t h o ug ht. B ut I w as w ro ng .
“J ill, I’m in th e m iddle o f so m eth in g,” h e sa id, th e n
im med ia te ly s w itch e d t o F u ch s: “ I c a n ’t h an g a ro und he re ,
I’v e g ot t o g et t o m y w ed din g.”
“ W ho a re y o u t a lk in g t o ?” J u d ge M ye rs a sk e d.
“W hat w ed din g?” F u ch s d em an d ed. “ D o y o u m ean to
te ll m e y o u’r e g ettin g m arrie d out h e re in t h e be lt?”
“T hat’s e xa ctly w hat I m ean t o t e ll yo u,” S am r e p lie d to
h im .
“T e ll who?” Ju d ge M ye rs ask e d. “W hat’s goin g on,

Sam ?”
“B ah !” F u ch s s n ap ped . “ Y o u’r e c ra zy ! A ll of y o u!”
I sa w a �a sh o f lig ht o ut o f th e co rn e r o f m y e ye .
T hro ug h t h e c o ck p it’s fo rw ard w in dow , I w atc h e d a s m all,
stile tto -s lim s p ace cra ft s lo wly e m erg e fr o m th e c lo ud o f
p eb ble s s u rro und in g t h e a ste ro id, p la sm a e xh au st p uls in g
fr o m it s th ru ste r a n d a b lo od re d pencilbe am o f la se r lig ht
p ro b in g o ut a h e ad o f it .
F u ch s b ello wed , “I k n e w it !” a n d le t lo ose a s tr in g o f
cu rs e s t h at w ould m ake a n a n g el v o m it.
S am w as sw earin g to o. “T ho se so nso � itch e s! T he y
kn e w w e’d b e h e re , a n d th e y w ere ju st ly in g in w ait in
c a se F u ch s s h o w ed u p .”
“ I’ll get y o u f o r t h is , G unn!” F u ch s h o w le d.
“I d id n’t k n o w !” S am y e lle d b ack .
Ju d ge M ye rs lo oke d s o m ew he re be tw een p uzz le d an d
ala rm ed . “ S am , w hat’s h ap penin g? W hat’s g oin g o n?”
T he a m bush c ra ft w as ris in g o ut o f th e ru b ble c lo ud
th at su rro und ed th e aste ro id . I co uld se e Fu ch ’s sh ip
th ro ug h th e w in dow n o w b eca u se h e w as s h o otin g ba ck
a t th e a m bush e r, h is o w n re d pencilbe am o f a s p ottin g
lase r ligh tin g u p th e c lo ud o f p ebble s lik e a C hris tm as
o rn am ent.
“ W e’d b ette r g et o ut o f h e re , S am ,” I s u g geste d at th e
to p o f m y lu ng s.
“H ow ?” h e s n ap ped . “ F u ch s t o o k o ut t h e t h ru ste r.”
“ Y o u m ean w e’r e s tu ck h e re ?”

“S m ack in th e m iddle o f th e ir ba ttle ,” h e a n sw ere d,
no d din g. “A nd o ur o rb it’s ta kin g u s b etw een th e tw o o f
th e m .”
“ D o s o m eth in g!” I s c re am ed . “ T he y’r e bo th s h o otin g a t
u s!”
S am dove fo r th e hatc h . “G et in to yo ur su it, G ar.
Q uic k.”
I n e ve r s u ite d u p q uic ke r. B ut it s e e m ed to ta ke h o urs .
W ith o ur m ain th ru ste r s h o t a w ay, de ar o ld A ch e rn a r w as
lo cke d in to it s o rb it a ro und th e a ste ro id. F u ch s a n d th e
am bush e r w ere s lu ggin g it o ut, m an e uve rin g a n d � rin g a t
e ach o th e r w ith u s in th e m iddle . I d on’t th in k th e y w ere
d elib era te ly tr y in g to h it u s, b ut th e y w ere n’t g oin g o ut o f
th e ir w ay to a vo id u s e ith e r. W hile I w rig gle d into m y
sp ace su it a n d fu m ble d th ro ug h th e c h e cko ut p ro ce du re ,
A ch e rn a r lu rc h e d a n d q uiv ere d a g ain a n d ag ain .
“T he y’r e s lic ing u s to rib bons,” I s a id, tr y in g to k e ep
fr o m b ab blin g.
S am w as fu lly s u ite d u p ; ju st th e v is or o f h is h e lm et
w as o p en. “ Y o u g ot t h e c h ip o n y o u?”
F o r a n in sta n t I th o ug ht I’d le ft it in th e c o ck p it. I n e arly
p an ic ke d . T he n I r e m em bere d it w as s till in t h e w ais tba nd
o f m y s h o rts . A t le ast, I h o p ed it w as s till th e re .
“Y e ah ,” I s a id . “ I’v e g ot it .”
S am s n ap ped h is v is or c lo se d, th e n re ach e d ove r to
m e an d sla m med m ine sh ut. W ith a g lo ve d han d , he
m otio ne d f o r m e t o f o llo w h im t o t h e a ir lo ck .
“W e’r e g oin g o uts id e?” I s q ue ake d. I w as r e ally s c a re d.

A g uy c o uld g et k ille d!
“Y o u w an t t o s ta y h e re w hile t h e y t a ke p ots h o ts a t u s? ”
S am ’s v o ic e c ra ck le d in m y h e lm et e arp ho ne s.
“B ut w hy a re th e y s h o otin g a t u s? ” I a sk e d. A ctu ally , I
w as ta lk in g, b ab blin g r e ally , b eca u se if I d idn ’t , I p ro ba bly
would ’v e s ta rte d s c re ech in g lik e a de mente d ba bo on.
“F u ch s th in ks w e le d him in to a tr a p ,” Sam sa id,
p ush in g m e in to t h e a ir lo ck , “ a n d t h e ba sta rd who ’s t r y in g
to b ush w hack h im d oesn ’t w an t a n y liv ing w itn e sse s.”
H e s q ue eze d in to th e a ir lo ck w ith m e, c yc le d it, a n d
p ush e d m e t h ro ug h t h e o ute r h atc h w he n it o p ene d.
A ll of a su d den, I w as han g in g in em ptin ess. M y
sto m ach h e ave d ; m y e ye s b lu rre d. I m ean , th e re w as
n o th in g o ut th e re e xc e p t a z illio n s ta rs , b ut th e y w ere s o
fa r a w ay, a n d I w as f a llin g, I c o uld f e el it , f a llin g a ll th e w ay
to in �n ity. I th in k I s c re am ed. O r a t le ast g asp ed like a
d ro w nin g m an .
“It ’s o ka y, G ar,” S am s a id , “ I’v e g ot y o u.”
H e g ra sp ed m e b y th e w ris t a n d , u sin g th e je tp ack o n
his s u it’s b ack , to w ed m e a w ay fr o m th e riddle d hulk o f
A ch e rn a r . W e glid ed into th e clo ud of pebble s
su rro und in g t h e a ste ro id . I c o uld fe el th e m p in gin g o � m y
su it’s h ard s h e ll; o ne o f th e m b an g ed into m y v is or, b ut it
w as a fa ir ly g entle c o llis ion, n o da mag e— exc e p t to th e
b ack o f m y h e ad : I � in ch e d s o s h arp ly th at I w hacke d my
he ad ag ain st th e he lm et hard eno ug h to giv e m e a
co ncu ssio n, a lm ost, d esp ite t h e h e lm et’s p adde d inte rio r.
S am h unke re d u s d ow n in to th e lo ose p ile o f ru b ble

th at w as th e m ain b od y o f th e a ste ro id. “ S afe r h e re th an
in t h e s h ip ,” h e t o ld m e.
I b urro w ed in to th at b ean b ag a s d eep ly a s I co uld ,
sc o op in g o ut p eb ble s w ith bo th h an d s, dig gin g lik e a
te rri� ed g op he r o n sp eed . I w ould ’v e du g a ll th e w ay
b ack t o E arth if I c o uld h ave .
Fu ch s a n d t h e a m bush e r w ere s till dukin g it o ut, w ith a
s p are la se r b la st n o w an d th e n h ittin g A ch e rn a r a s it
sw ung slo wly a ro und th e ’r o id. T he sh ip lo oke d like a
sh am ble s, b ig g oug es to rn th ro ug h it s h ull, c h unks to rn
o � a n d s p in nin g la zily a lo ng side it s m ain s tr u ctu re .
T he y h ad n’t d estr o ye d th e r a d io , th o ug h. In m y h e lm et
earp ho ne s, I c o uld h e ar J u d ge M ye rs ’s v o ic e, h ars h w ith
sta tic :
“S am , if t h is is a n o th e r s c h e m e o f y o urs  .  .  .”
S am tr ie d to e xp la in to h e r w hat w as h ap penin g, bu t I
d on’t th in k h e g ot th ro ug h. S he k e p t a sk in g w hat w as
g oin g on an d th e n, aft e r a w hile , he r vo ic e cu t o�
alto g eth e r.
S am s a id to m e, “E ith e r s h e ’s s o re a t m e a n d s h e ’s
le avin g th e b elt, o r sh e ’s w orrie d abo ut m e a n d sh e ’s
c o m ing h e re t o s e e w hat’s h ap penin g.”
I ho p ed fo r th e la tte r, o f co urs e . O ur su its had air
re g ene ra to rs , I k n e w , b ut th e y w ere n’t re lia ble fo r m ore
th an tw enty -f our h o urs , a t b est. Fr om th e lo oks o f p oor
old Ach e rn a r , w e w ere goin g to ne ed re sc u in g, an d
d am ne d s o on t o o.
W e s till co uld n’t re ally s e e F u ch s’s s h ip , it w as e ith e r

to o fa r a w ay in th at d ark e m ptin ess, o r h e w as jin kin g
aro und to o m uch fo r u s to g et a v is ual �x o n h im . I s a w
�a sh e s of lig ht th at might have be en pu� s fr o m
m an e uve rin g t h ru ste rs , o r t h e y m ight h ave be en h its fr o m
th e o th e r g uy’s la se r. T he a m bu sh e r’s cra ft w as clo se
e no ug h fo r u s to m ake o ut, m ost o f th e tim e. H e w as
vi� ng an d sle win g th is w ay an d th at, bo bbin g an d
w eavin g lik e a p riz e�g hte r tr y in g to a vo id his o p pone nt’s
p unch e s.
B ut th e n th e stile tto �a re d in to su d de n br illia nce , a
�a sh s o b rig ht it h urt m y e ye s. I s q ue e ze d my e ye s s h ut
an d s a w t h e a ft e rim ag e b urn in g a g ain st m y c lo se d lids .
“G ot a pro p ella nt ta n k,” Sam sa id, m atte r-o f-f actly .
“F u ch s’ll clo se in f o r t h e k ill no w .”
I op ene d m y eye s ag ain . The stile tto w as de ep ly
g ash e d a lo ng it s re ar h alf, tu m blin g a n d s p in nin g o ut o f
co ntr o l. G ra d ually , it p ulle d it se lf o nto a n e ve n k e el, th e n
tu rn e d s lo wly a n d b eg an to h e ad aw ay fr o m th e a ste ro id.
I co uld se e ho t pla sm a str e am ing fr o m one th ru ste r
no zzle , t h e o th e r w as d ark a n d co ld.
“H e’s le ttin g him get aw ay,” Sam sa id, so undin g
su rp ris ed . “F u ch s is le ttin g h im lim p b ack to C ere s o r
w he re ve r h e c a m e f r o m .”
“ M ayb e F u ch s is to o b ad ly d am ag ed him se lf to c h ase
h im d ow n,” I s a id .
“M ayb e.” S am d id n’t s o und a t a ll su re o f t h at.
W e w aite d f o r a n o th e r h o ur, h ud dle d insid e o ur s u its in
t h e b ean b ag o f a n a ste ro id . Fin ally , S am s a id, “ L e t’s g et

back t o t h e s h ip a n d s e e w hat’s le ft o f h e r.”
T he re w asn ’t m uch . T he h ull had be en p unctu re d in
half a d oze n p la ce s. P ro p uls io n w as g one . L ife s u p port
s h o t. C om munic atio ns m arg in al.
W e c lu m ped to th e c o ck p it. It w as in ta tte rs ; th e m ain
w in dow w as s h o t o ut, a lo ng , u g ly s c a r fr o m a la se r bu rn
c u t rig ht a cro ss th e c o ntr o l pan e l. T he p ilo t’s c h air w as
rip ped t o o. It w as t o ug h t o s it in t h e bu lky s p ace su its, a n d
w e w ere in z e ro g ra vit y, to b oot. S am ju st h o ve re d a fe w
ce ntim ete rs a b ove h is c h air. I re aliz ed th at m y s to m ach
h ad c a lm ed d ow n. I h ad a d ju ste d to z e ro G . A ft e r w hat
w e h ad ju st b een th ro ug h, ze ro G se em ed do wnrig ht
co m fo rta b le .
“W e’ll have t o liv e in t h e s u its,” S am t o ld me.
“H ow lo ng c a n w e la st? ”
“T he re a re fo ur e xtr a a ir re g ene ra to rs in s to re s,” S am
sa id . “ If t h e y’r e n o t d am ag ed , w e c a n h o ld out f o r a n o th e r
fo rty -e ight, m ayb e s ix ty h o urs .”
“ T im e e no ug h fo r s o m eb od y to c o m e a n d g et u s,” I
s a id h o p efu lly .
I c o uld se e h is fr e ck le d fa ce b obbin g u p a n d d ow n
in sid e h is h e lm et. “ Y e p  .  .  . p ro vide d an yb ody ’s h e ard our
d is tr e ss c a ll. ”
The em erg ency ra d io beaco n se em ed to be
fu nctio nin g. I k e p t te llin g m yse lf w e’d be a ll rig ht. S am
se em ed t o f e el th at w ay; h e w as p osit iv ely c h e erfu l.
“Y o u re ally th in k w e’ll be o ka y?” I a sk e d him . “Y o u’r e
n o t ju st t r y in g t o k e ep m y h o p es u p?”

“W e’ll be � n e , G ar,” h e a n sw ere d. “ W e’ll pro ba bly s m ell
p re tty r ip e b y th e tim e w e c a n g et o ut o f th e se s u its, bu t
exc e p t f o r t h at, I d on’t s e e a n yth in g t o w orry a bo ut.”
T he n h e a d ded , “ E xc e p t .  .  .”
“ E xc e p t? ” I y e lp ed . “ E xc e p t w hat? ”
H e grin ne d wicke d ly . “E xc e p t th at I’ll miss th e
w ed din g.” H e m ad e a n e xa g g era te d sig h. “ T o o ba d.”
So w e liv ed in sid e t h e s u its fo r t h e n ext da y a n d a h alf.
It w asn ’t a ll th at b ad , e xc e p t w e c o uld n’t e at a n y s o lid
fo od . W ate r a n d fr u it ju ices, th at w as a ll we c o uld g et
th ro ug h th e fe ed er tu b e. I sta rte d to fe el lik e a H in du
asc e tic o n a h ung er s tr ik e.
W e tr ie d th e c o m m s y ste m , b ut it w as in te rm itte nt, a t
b est. T he e m erg ency b eaco n w as fa ith fu lly s e nd in g o ut
o ur d is tr e ss c a ll, o f c o urs e , w ith o ur p osit io n. It c o uld be
h e ard a ll th e w ay b ack to C ere s, I w as s u re . S om ebo dy
would c o m e fo r u s. N oth in g to w orry a bo ut. W e’ll get o ut
o f th is o ka y. S om ed ay w e’ll lo ok bac k o n th is an d lau gh.
O r m ayb e sh ud der. G ood th in g w e h ad to sta y in th e
su its; o th e rw ise, I w ould h ave g naw ed all my � n g ern ails
d ow n t o t h e w ris t.
A nd th e n th e earp ho ne s in m y he lm et su d de nly
b lu rte d t o lif e.
“S am ! D o y o u r e ad m e? W e c a n s e e y o ur c ra ft !” It w as
Ju d ge M ye rs . I w as so ove rjo ye d th at I w ould have
m arrie d h e r m yse lf.
H er sh ip w as clo se e no ug h so th at o ur su it ra dio s
co uld p ic k u p h e r t r a n sm issio n.

“W e’ll be t h e re in le ss t h an a n h o ur, S am ,” s h e s a id.
“G re at!” h e c a lle d b ack . “ B ut h o ld yo ur n o se w he n w e
sta rt p eelin g o ut o f t h e se s u its.”
J u d ge M ye rs la ug he d , a n d s h e a n d S am c h atte d aw ay
lik e a p air o f te enag ers . B ut th e n S am lo oke d up a t m e
an d w in ke d .
“J ill, I’m so rry th is h as m ess e d up th e w eddin g,” h e
sa id , m akin g his vo ic e husk y, sa d. “I kn o w yo u w ere
lo okin g f o rw ard t o — ”
“Y o u h ave n’t m esse d u p a th in g, S am ,” sh e re p lie d
brig htly . “ A ft e r w e’v e p ic ke d y o u u p — an d c le an e d yo u u p
— we’r e g oin g to g o b ack to The R em em bere r a n d h ave
th e c e re m ony a s p la nne d .”
S am ’s fo re he ad w rin kle d. “B ut have n’t yo ur gue sts
g one b ack h o m e? W hat a b out th e bo ys’ c h o ir? A nd th e
ca te re rs ? ”
S he la ug he d . “ T he g ue sts a re a ll still he re . A s fo r th e
e nte rta in m ent a n d th e c a te re rs , s o I’ll have to p ay th e m
fo r a fe w e xtr a d ays. H an g th e e xp ense , S am . T his is o ur
w ed din g w e’r e t a lk in g a b out! M one y is n o o bje ct.”
S am g ro an e d .
In a m atte r o f h o urs , w e w ere a bo ard Judge M ye rs ’
s h ip , P a rth ia , sh o w ere d , sh ave d , clo th e d , an d fe d,
he ad in g to The R em em bere r a n d S am ’s w ed din g. S am
w as lik e Je kyll an d H yd e: W hile h e a n d I w ere a lo ne
to g eth e r, h e w as m oro se a n d mum blin g, lik e a g uy a bo ut
to fa ce a � rin g s q uad in th e m orn in g. W he n Ju dge M ye rs
jo ined us fo r din ne r, th o ug h, Sam w as ch ip per an d

ch arm ing, te llin g jo ke s a n d s p in nin g ta ll ta le s a bo ut o ld
exp lo its. It w as q uite a p erfo rm an ce ; if S am e ve r g ot in to
a ctin g h e w ould w in a w ard s, I w as s u re .
A ft e r din ne r Sam an d Ju dg e Mye rs str o lle d o�
to g eth e r to h e r q uarte rs . I w ent ba ck to th e c o m partm ent
th e y h ad g iv en m e, lo cke d th e d oor, a n d to ok o ut th e
ch ip .
It w as e asie r t h is t im e, s in ce I r e m em be re d th e k e ys t o
th e encry p tio n. In le ss th an an ho ur I had Am an d a’s
h au ntin gly beau tif u l fa ce on th e dis pla y of my
co m partm ent’s c o m pute r. I w orm ed a p lu g in to m y e ar,
t a kin g n o c h an ce s th at so m ebo dy m ight e ave sdr op o n
m e.
T he v id eo w as fo cu se d tig htly o n h e r fa ce . F o r I d on’t
k n o w h o w lo ng , I ju st g aze d a t h e r, h ardly br eath in g. T he n
I s h o ok m yse lf o ut o f t h e t r a n ce a n d t o uch e d th e k e y t h at
w ould r u n h e r m essa g e.
“L a rs ,” sh e sa id so ft ly , alm ost w his perin g, as if sh e
w ere a fr a id s o m eb od y w ould o ve rh e ar h e r, “ I’m g oin g to
h ave a b ab y.”
H oly m oth e r in h e ave n! It ’s a g ood th in g w e didn ’t
d eliv er th is m essa g e to F u ch s. H e w ould ’v e p ro ba bly c u t
us in to lit tle p ie ce s a n d r o aste d t h e m o n a s p it.
A m an d a Cunnin gham H um phrie s w ent on, “M artin
w an ts a n o th e r s o n; h e a lr e ad y h as a � ve -y ear-o ld bo y by
a p re vio us w ife .”
S he h e sit a te d , lo oke d o ve r h e r s h o uld er. T he n, in a n
e ve n lo wer v o ic e , “ I w an t y o u t o k n o w , L a rs , t h at it w ill be

yo ur s o n th at I b ear, n o t h is . I’v e h ad myse lf im pla nte d
w ith o ne o f th e e m bry o s w e fr o ze a t S ele ne , ba ck be fo re
a ll th e se t r o ub le s s ta rte d .”
I f e lt m y ja w d ro p d ow n t o m y k n e e s.
“I lo ve y o u, L a rs ,” A m an d a s a id. “ I’v e a lw ays lo ve d yo u.
I m arrie d M artin b eca u se h e p ro m ised he ’d sto p tr y in g to
k ill yo u if I d id . I’ll have a s o n, a n d M artin w ill th in k it ’s h is ,
but it w ill be y o ur s o n, L a rs . Y o urs a n d m ine. I w an t y o u t o
k n o w t h at, d eare st. Y o ur s o n.”
H um phrie s w ould p ay a b illio n f o r t h at, I � g ure d.
A nd h e ’d h ave t h e b ab y A m an da w as c a rry in g a bo rte d.
M ayb e h e ’d k ill he r t o o.
“S o w hat a re y o u g oin g t o d o a bo ut it , G ar? ”
I w hir le d a ro und in m y c h air. S am w as s ta n d in g in th e
d oorw ay.
“I t h o ug ht I lo cke d — ”
“Y o u did . I unlo cke d it.” He ste p ped into my
co m partm ent a n d c a re fu lly s lid th e do or s h ut a g ain . “ S o,
G ar, w hat a re y o u g oin g t o d o?”
I p op ped t h e c h ip o ut o f t h e c o m pute r a n d h an d ed it t o
S am .
He re fu se d to ta ke it . “I re ad he r m essa g e th e � rs t
n ig ht o n o ur w ay to th e b elt,” S am s a id, s it tin g o n th e
e d ge o f m y b ed . “ I � g ure d y o u’d tr y to g et it o � m e, o ne
w ay o r a n o th e r.”
“ S o y o u g ave it t o m e.”
S am n o d ded g ra ve ly . “S o n o w yo u kn o w w hat h e r

messa g e is . T he q ue stio n is , w hat a re y o u g oin g to do
a b out it ?”
I o �ere d h im th e c h ip a g ain . “ T a ke it , S am . I d on’t w an t
it.”
“ It ’s w orth a lo t o f m one y, G ar.”
“ I d on’t w an t it !” I r e p eate d , a lit tle s tr o ng er.
S am re ach e d o ut a n d to ok th e c h ip fr o m m e. T he n,
“B ut yo u kn o w what sh e ’s do ing. Yo u co uld te ll
H um phrie s a b out it . H e’d p ay a lo t t o k n o w .”
I s ta rte d to re p ly , b ut to m y s u rp ris e I fo und th at I h ad
to s w allo w h ard b efo re I c o uld an y w ords o ut. “ I c o uld n’t
d o t h at t o h e r,” I s a id .
Sam lo oke d s q uare in to m y e ye s. “ Y o u c e rta in o f t h at? ”
I a lm ost la ug he d . “ W hat’s a f e w h undr ed millio n bu ck s?
I d on’t n e ed t h at k in d o f m one y.”
“ Y o u’r e c e rta in ?”
“Y e s, d am mit, I’m c e rta in !” I sn ap ped. It w asn ’t e asy
to ssin g a w ay a ll th at m one y, a n d S am w as sta rtin g to
ir rit a te m e.
“O ka y,” h e s a id , b re akin g in to th at lo pside d sm ile o f
his . “ I b elie ve y o u.”
S am g ot to h is fe et, h is rig ht � st c lo se d aro und th e
ch ip .
“W hat w ill yo u d o w ith it ?” I a sk e d.
“P op it o ut a n a ir lo ck . A fe w da ys in h ard UV s h o uld
d eg ra d e it s o b ad ly th at e ve n if s o m ebo dy fo und it in a ll

th is e m ptin ess, t h e y’d n e ve r b e a ble t o r e ad it.”
I g ot u p f r o m m y d esk c h air. “ I’ll go w ith y o u,” I s a id.
S o th e tw o o f u s m arc h e d d ow n to th e n e are st a ir lo ck
a n d g ot r id o f t h e c h ip . I h ad a s lig ht p an g w he n I r e aliz ed
ho w m uch m one y w e h ad ju st to sse d out in to s p ace , b ut
th e n I r e aliz ed I h ad s a ve d A m an d a’s lif e, m ost lik ely , a n d
ce rta in ly t h e lif e o f h e r b ab y. H ers a n d Fu ch s’s .
“F u ch s w ill ne ve r k n o w ,” S am s a id. “ I fe el kin d o f s o rry
fo r h im .”
“ I f e el so rry f o r h e r,” I s a id .
“Y e ah . M e t o o.”
A s w e w alk ed d ow n th e p ass a g ew ay ba ck to w ard my
co m partm ent, c u rio sit y g ot t h e be tte r o f m e.
“S am ,” I a sk e d , “ w hat if y o u w ere n’t s u re th at I’d ke e p
he r m essa g e to m yse lf? W hat if y o u th o ug ht I’d sn e ak o �
to H um phrie s a n d t e ll him w hat w as o n t h at c h ip ?”
H e g la nce d u p a t m e. “ I’v e n e ve r k ille d a m an ,” h e s a id
q uie tly , “ b ut I’d s u re s tu � y o u in to a lif ebo at a n d s e t y o u
ad rif t. W ith n o r a d io .”
I b lin ke d a t h im . H e w as d ead s e rio us.
“I w ould n’t la st lo ng ,” I s a id .
“P ro b ab ly n o t. Y o ur s h ip w ould dr ift t h ro ug h t h e be lt f o r
a lo ng tim e, th o ug h. Eo ns. Yo u’d be a re al Fly in g
Dutc h m an .”
“ I’m g la d y o u t r u st m e.”
“ I’m g la d I c a n tr u st y o u, G ar.” H e g ave m e a fu nny

look, th e n ad ded , “Y o u’r e in lo ve w ith h e r, to o, are n’t
y o u?”
It t o ok m e a f e w m om ents t o r e p ly , “ W ho w ould n’t be ?”
S o w e � e w t o The R em em bere r w ith J u d ge M ye rs a n d a ll
th e w ed din g g ue sts a n d th e m iniste r a n d bo ys’ c h o ir, th e
ca te re rs a n d a ll th e f o od a n d dr ink f o r a h ug e c e le br atio n.
S ix d i� ere nt n e w s n e ts w ere w aitin g fo r u s: th e w eddin g
was g oin g t o b e a m ajo r s to ry .
S am s n uck a w ay, o f c o urs e . H e d idn ’t m arry J ill Mye rs
a ft e r a ll. S he w as s o f u rio us t h at s h e  .  .  .
B ut t h at’s a n o th e r s to ry .

AFT E R W ORD : � � ��
One o f th e a ttr a ctio ns th at lu re s w rit e rs to ta ck le s c ie nce
� ctio n s to rie s, a s o p pose d to o th e r g enre s o f � ctio n, is
s c ie nce � ctio n’s c o nne ctio n w ith t h e r e al w orld.
W hat? I c a n h e ar y o u g asp in g. S to rie s a bo ut t h e dis ta n t
fu tu re o r th e r e m ote p ast h ave a c o nne ctio n w ith th e r e al
w orld ? A re n’t th e y fa n ta stic ta le s, w ish fu l� llm ents , or
d re am s ab out th e uto p ia s (a n d dy sto p ia s) th at our
d esc e nd an ts m ay e nco unte r?
S om e a re ju st th at, o f co urs e . B ut th e b est sc ie nce
� ctio n ta le s are lik e te le sc o p es th at sh o w us th e
p ossib ilit ies o f t h e f u tu re . P re d ic tio ns, w arn in gs, v is io ns o f
w hat m ight h ap pen to th e h um an ra ce in c o m ing y e ars .
O r c e ntu rie s. O r m ille nnia .
Fo r e xa m ple , c a st y o ur m ind b ack to th e y e ar �� � �. I

kn o w , th at’s in th e p ast, n o t th e fu tu re . B ut be ar w ith m e
fo r a f e w m om ents .
In �� � �, E uro p e w as a c o lle ctio n o f lo se rs . T he g re at
a n d w ealth y p ow ers o f th e w orld lay to th e E ast: th e
M uslim n atio ns o f T u rk e y, P ers ia , a n d s u ch ; fa ble d In dia ,
myste rio us a n d r e m ote C hin a.
E uro p e w as w he re th e lo se rs w ere s h o ve d. O ve r th e
ag es th e o rig inal Sto ne A ge in habit an ts o f E uro p e w ere
d ro w ne d in n e w co m ers fr o m th e E ast, w ho h ad be en
p ush e d aw ay fr o m th e w ealth an d kn o w le dg e o f th e
g re at e m pire s o f th e O rie nt u n til th e y ra n in to th e ba rrie r
of t h e A tla ntic O ce an a n d c o uld re tr e at n o f a rth e r.
L o se rs .
T he A tla ntic w as tr u ly a b arrie r in �� � �. E uro p ean s
ve ntu re d o ut o nto it s s to rm y s e as ju st a lit tle bit . A fe w o f
th e Vik in gs— bra ve an d desp era te fo r land — actu ally
cro sse d th e o ce an a n d e sta b lis he d co lo nie s in th e la nd s
th e y fo und o n th e o th e r s id e o f th e A tla ntic , bu t th e y to ld
no oth e rs ab out th e ir dis co ve rie s, an d th e ir co lo nie s
eve ntu ally w ith e re d .
S o th e Euro p ean s hud dle d in th e ir cro w de d land s,
b ic ke rin g a n d � g htin g w ith o ne a n o th e r, w hile th e ric h
an d p ow erfu l n atio ns t o t h e e ast p ro sp ere d.
U ntil �� � �.
The E uro p ean s le arn e d to b uild s h ip s th at c o uld c ro ss
th e A tla ntic s a fe ly . T he y s a ile d w est, h o p in g to re ach th e
fa b le d w ealth o f C hin a a n d In dia .
In ste ad , th e y fo und a N ew W orld. And bu ilt ne w

natio ns, n e w c iv iliz atio ns th at c h an g ed th e e ntir e w orld,
e ve ntu ally . C han g ed it f o r t h e be tte r.
T he g re ate st d is co ve ry th e y m ade w as th e re aliz atio n
th at th e y h ad n o n e ed fo r k in gs a n d h e re dit ary g entr y .
T he y co uld gove rn th e m se lv es. The y dis co ve re d
(in ve nte d ?) d em ocra cy.
W e a re th e in he rit o rs o f th at d is co ve ry . W e h ave be en
b orn in to a w orld th at is fa r r ic he r in w ealth a n d fr e edo m
th an a n y o f th e c iv iliz atio ns th at p re ce de d us, th an ks to
t h e tr e asu re s o f n e w re so urc e s a n d n e w fr e edo ms th at
o ur f o re b ears h ave d eve lo ped .
A nd to d ay, w e s ta n d o n th e e dg e o f a n e w s e a, ju st a s
d ark a n d d an g ero us a s th e A tla ntic o nce w as. A nd e ve n
m ore p ro m isin g. A n e w s e a th at be gin s a h undr ed mile s
ab ove y o ur h e ad .
The n e w s e a o f s p ace .
T his gene ra tio n of hum an kin d— our g ene ra tio n— has
an o p portu nity th at h as n o t be en o �ere d to h um an ity
sin ce �� � �. In m ere ly th e b rie f fo ra ys in to s p ace th at w e
have m ad e so fa r, w e h ave fo und tr e asu re s o f n atu ra l
re so urc e s larg e eno ug h to co m ple te ly tr a n sfo rm
c iv iliz atio n, to era se pove rty an d bu ild a ne w glo ba l
civ iliz atio n o f w ealth a n d f r e edo m.
A f e w b old a n d f a rs ig hte d h um an s h ave a lr e ady be gun
th is q ue st. T he y a re th e le ade rs o f h um an kin d’s n e w e ra
o f e xp an sio n, o utw ard t o t h e m oo n a n d M ars , t h e n f a rth e r
until we h ave r e ach e d a ll th e bo die s o f th e s o la r s y ste m .
And u ltim ate ly t o t h e s ta rs t h e m se lv es.

Our f u tu re is lim itle ss.
Y o u a in ’t s e en n o th in ’ y e t.
� � � � � � .  .  . � � � � � � �� �� ��� �
X