Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tea Time Excerpt: Ocean of Storms

In wintertime snuggling up with a good book and a cup of tea is one of the great joys in life, so on Sunday's this winter we've been featuring excerpts to help you fin your next great read. Today we have an excerpt from Ocean of Storms by Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown. 

Here's the description of the book:

In the near future, political tensions between the US and China are at an all-time high. Then a catastrophic explosion on the moon leaves a vast gash on the lunar surface, and the massive electromagnetic pulse it unleashes obliterates Earth's electrical infrastructure. To plumb the depths of the newly created lunar fissure and excavate the source of the power surge, the feuding nations are forced to cooperate on a high-risk mission to return mankind to the moon. Now a diverse, highly skilled ensemble of astronauts - and a pair of maverick archaeologists plucked from the Peruvian jungle - will brave conspiracy on Earth and disaster in space to make a shocking discovery. 

Since this book will get your blood pumping, I chose Cinnamon Toast Black Tea to drink with the book. It has extra caffeine, but I don't think you'll need it. There is something about cinnamon toast that's comforting in an end of the world situation. 

And now here is our excerpt from Ocean of Storms.


December 22 
Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics 
La Jolla, California 
12:14 a.m.  

Max Shepherd knew few people who loved working the graveyard shift. But for him, working nights at the institute was about as plum a job as he could have wished for. Just a year into his doctoral program, he had landed a position as a research assistant to Dr. Elliot Seaborne, the noted seismologist currently heading up the Lunar Seismology Initiative. A NASA-sponsored project, the LSI was yet another component of the agency’s increasing desire to mount a return to the Moon.  
A new series of lunar missions had been in the planning stages since Shepherd had been in grammar school. But since NASA had scrapped its shuttle program back in 2011, the Moon had become the agency’s central focus. Yet despite all the talk about new missions, NASA still found itself in yearly battles with Congress over the costs of space exploration. Desperate for a way to convince Congress that manned spaceflight had not gone the way of the dinosaur, NASA was willing to listen to any theories that might generate some additional funding. That’s when Seaborne had approached the agency with the plans for the LSI. The hope was that by demonstrating the Moon’s geologic activity, they might be able to convince the politicians to set a firm date to mount another round of manned missions to Earth’s nearest neighbour. Surprisingly, some initial funding had been approved. On July 7, 2010, an unmanned probe, Stellaluna, had been launched to the moon. Once in orbit, it had sent several seismometers to the Moon’s surface, devices considerably more sophisticated than the ones placed there by the Apollo astronauts more than forty years earlier. Now all that was left was for them to do their thing. Which is where Max Shepherd came in.  
Pretty slow night up there, Shepherd thought as he glanced at Stellaluna’s telemetry. He began surfing through the channels on the lab’s thirty-six-inch flat-screen television. There wasn’t much on any of the twenty-four-hour news channels, just some footage from the recent congressional hearings on human cloning. Some major biotech company was apparently on the verge of a breakthrough, and the age-old debate had flared up again. After ten minutes of flipping, Max muted the sound and turned his attention to the lab’s radio antennas. He cranked the speakers, filling the room with the sounds of what was commonly called “cosmic debris,” the collected noise of millions of radio, TV, and cell phone signals trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. The sound was eerie, like someone turning a wet finger around the rim of a crystal glass, but Max loved it.  
Just as he was starting to relax, the seismic equipment monitoring Stellaluna’s probes sprang to life. Needles and gauges flicked with such intensity that he was certain he was looking at a massive impact. The Moon was continually being bombarded by meteorites, but whatever had stuck it tonight was a real whopper. Max scanned the readouts, searching for telltale signs. If this is a meteor impact, he thought, it’s a helluva big one. He reached for the desk phone and punched in Dr. Seaborne’s cell number.  
“Unless the Moon just exploded, I don’t care,” came the sleepy voice on the other end.  
“Sorry to bother you, Doctor,” said Max, “but I thought you’d want to see this.” 
Seaborne sat up in bed, struggling to wake himself. “What’ve you got?” 
“Something highly unusual. Massive seismic activity on an unheard-of-scale.” He tapped out a few keystrokes and emailed the data to Seaborne. “I’m sending you the numbers now.” 
There was a pause as Seaborne checked over what Max has just sent to his smartphone. “Impact,” he deduced. “It’s going to be.” 
“I thought so too,” Max said. “But it’s so damn big. It’s like—wait. I’ve got an e-mail coming in from Big Sky.” 
Max often kept in touch with the astronomers at Big Sky Observatory in Montana. Whatever he heard, he reasoned, they might be able to back up visually. 
“Um, Dr. Seaborne?” he said, hesitantly. “They’re saying that they’re picking up debris on the Moon.” 
“Debris? There it is—it has to be an impact.” 
“I agree, but they’re saying the ejecta pattern doesn’t match an impact.” Max paused, making sure he had read it right. “It’s almost as if—“ 
Before he could finish, a high-pitched tone tore through the phone lines, nearly striking them both stone deaf. Max yanked the phone away from his ears and dropped it, expecting the intensity of sound to diminish. He howled in shock and pain, but the sound was drowning out his own voice. It was everywhere—in the speakers, the TV, the stereo. It was even coming from the equipment that normally didn’t emit sound. The noise had a deep bass undercurrent that made Max think of a hive of angry bees. He could feel his bones vibrate from the sound. The experience was invasive, disorienting, and altogether awful. He crawled under a desk, praying that it would stop, or that he would die. The sound reached a fever pitch that seemed to resonate deep in Max’s brain before spiralling madly down to silence. Almost instantly, the discord was followed by a second wave. This one cascaded through Max with locomotive force and bringing forth a powerful sense of vertigo. The coffeepot exploded, spraying hot liquid everywhere. Every lightbulb overhead popped and burst. Even his MacBook cracked open. All at once, the windows of the lab blew inward. Max blinked, stunned. He meekly picked up the phone, listening to see if Dr. Seaborne was still there.  
For a terrible moment, Max felt as if he were the only person left alive on the planet. He peered out the shattered window at the Moon, wondering just what secrets she had to tell tonight.  

©2016 Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown, reposted with permission from 47North 

No comments:

Post a Comment