The stars in the view screen started to gradually ascend and new ones appeared from below as the ship rotated on its axis. They were followed by the crescent top of a planet as it came into view. The ship was far enough away for the planet to eventually be centred in the screen with its single moon partially obscured behind it. The light from the system’s star was coming from behind them and catching the great bulk and its satellite, sending a dumpy figure-of-eight iridescent glow out into the space beyond.
From this distance the planet looked to be mostly shrouded in grey and dark clouds that undulated along in rolling carpets, covering most of the surface. The occasional breaks in the atmosphere revealed a dark, murky, orangey brown, but it was hard to tell with the starlight playing across it all and the clouds dancing over the gaps almost as soon as they opened up.
‘Where is this?’ said Raif. It was spectacular seeing it like this, he could grant them that. But he already suspected it to be just another dull, lifeless planet on the surface, like all the others in the Universe, barring Earth, the one place he wasn’t currently allowed to spend his time.
‘This planet’s designation is 785.115432 delta,’ replied the robotic voice of Hughie.
‘You try thinking of names for planets when there’s a million million to go at,’ said Terry. ‘Let’s go down and take a look. Hughie, take us in.’
The ship accelerated towards the planet at a great speed. Although there was no need for trajectory calculations and approach vectors, the simulation at least attempted to replicate a plausible landing, bringing the ship into the calculated gravitational pull and then gradually dropping altitude to pull it into a descending orbit. The craft even bumped and shuddered along as it entered the exosphere to add to the illusion.
They breached the grey cloud carpet and for a few minutes could see only blue sparks and condensation.
‘Why did you choose this place?’ Raif called over to Cinder, shouting over the simulated roar of engines.
‘You’ll see!’ she hollered back, keeping her eyes on the view screen. ‘Anytime... now!’
Title: The Great Connection: Worlds in Waiting
Author: Garry Abbott
Genre: Science Fiction
Following an unfortunate incident involving a delivery drone, a fishing net, and a very tall tree; Raif Masters finds himself forced by his overprotective alpha parents to spend his last school holiday exploring extraterrestrial worlds in ‘The Great Connection’: a real-time simulation of the observable universe, rendered into virtual reality home entertainment.
But Raif, a “child of three”, is not alone. Terry, bound to the service of the Masters family, is looking forward to a very early retirement after one last summer looking after his young charge.
Together they meet Cinder, a fellow simunaught who is seeking a crew to share a secret discovery from the other side of the galaxy that could change the life of the Masters, and the future of the Earth, forever.
But are some discoveries best left unconnected?
Garry Abbott is a science fiction author from Staffordshire in the UK where he lives with his wife and two cats.
Garry has published the short story collection ‘The Dimension Scales and Other Stories’, and his first full length space opera novel: ‘The Great Connection: Worlds in Waiting’. He is currently working on his third title, a sci-fi comedy, working title: ‘Transported’.
As well as writing science fiction, Garry has regularly contributed topical comedy sketches for the BBC and produced scripts for community arts productions and performances.
Garry’s influences include Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin and Dennis Potter.
Amazon.co.uk Author Page
Amazon.com Author Page