Status Quo by Mark Rosendorf
Published by Penumbra Publishing in 2012
Paperback 215 pages
An outer space adventure by a motley crew of mixed ages and a cat, all curious about a hole beyond the moon’s orbit.
Reviewed by Geoff NelderWhen astronomer Gordon Maxwell discovers what appears to be a rift in space that is possibly a wormhole less than half a million miles from Earth, the authorities go to some trouble to deny knowledge of it to the general public and to discredit those people involved. One such is the narrator protagonist, student Alexander Copeland. The scene is set and the existing conflict is added to by the brutish military presence of Sergeant Reynolds, who bullies everyone.
Seven years later, while teaching a class, Alex is summoned to the Principal’s office where Reynolds, now a Colonel, recruits Alex and his cat to go on a mission through the wormhole. Alex reasons that the resurrection of the mission means something dramatic has happened. He’s right. Even though society is not permitted to know anything, a probe sent through the wormhole by Maxwell, has returned intact with a mysterious message. A problem for me is that Maxwell had sent a greeting to possible aliens the other side of the wormhole telling them exactly where Earth is – without consulting us. In my opinion it is pure folly to tell strangers where you live. They might decide you are worth enslaving, plundering and eating. Until we know better, a more cautious approach to contacting aliens is preferable. NASA is culpable in this folly by sending such an invitation to pillage us in 1972 with Pioneer 10 and later with Voyager.
The original astronomer, Maxwell, died a while after his project was cancelled and his daughter incarcerated in what we might call a hospital for the insane. She has been released for this new mission, along with Gilda a teenage brat (with redeeming qualities) and various other misfits the world wouldn’t miss if the mission didn’t return. This includes the cat and the military egoist, Reynolds. Never has such a crew been assembled, who have not received astronaut training and don’t even know how the toilet works or been tested for cat allergies. Poor Alex realizes something is seriously wrong here, and so does the reader. However, we continue because we are drawn into finding out about the wormhole and what’s on the other side, assuming the plucky crew are not disassembled, or if they are that they don’t reconstruct with each other’s body parts.
This story would appeal to teenagers: most of the characters are young, while the elderly (over 21) are quite crazy. There’s love interest, pets, a thirst for enquiry and an urge to prove the authorities wrong.
There are lines I wish I’d written such as: ‘I almost swallowed my Adam’s apple,’ and some that made me think out loud: ‘My tongue jumped to the back of my throat.’
I have to thank the author for making me investigate the true meaning of ‘outer space’. After 60 years of reading science fiction, I’ve always considered that phrase to relate to the volume of the universe beyond our solar system but in Status Quo – an apt title, by the way as the reader will discover although not ultimately – the phrase is used ubiquitously for anywhere above the Earth even before the Moon is reached. I found that the Karman line is 100 km above the Earth’s surface and defines ‘outer space’ such as that used by the 1979 Moon Treaty. I mentioned this in surprise to my wife, who already knew!
I will not spoil the ending, but if you enjoy a space adventure with aliens that are really alien – kudos to Mark Rosendorf for avoiding cliché there – and if you are not too worried about scientific accuracy, topped off with a satisfying finale, then this is the book for you.
The third edition of my humorous thriller, Escaping Reality is launched today from Adventure Books of Seattle. The story is inspired by the 1960s TV series THE FUGITIVE starring David Janssen only set in Northern England and Amsterdam. It is a humorous thriller as the fugitive often has to rely on his wit and sense of humour to overcome adversity.
THe first volume of my ARIA science fiction trilogy is soon to be joined by its sequel. The first is ARIA: Left Luggage. Blurb:
Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious. Imagine the ramifications: The passengers arrive home infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia. Some passengers just started work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station. All to shut in weeks. Ryder, in the UK, realizes what’s going on but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?
Jon Courtenay Grimwood – “Geoff Nelder inhabits Science Fiction the way other people inhabit their clothes.”
Robert J Sawyer calls ARIA a “fascinating project”.
“Geoff Nelder’s ARIA has the right stuff. He makes us ask the most important question in science fiction–the one about the true limits of personal responsibility.” – Brad Linaweaver.
“ARIA has an intriguing premise, and is written in a very accessible style.” – Mike Resnick.
Kindle – Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Left-Luggage-ebook/dp/B008RADGYC/
Paperback Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Left-Luggage-Volume-1/dp/1905091958/
Kindle – UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Left-Luggage-ebook/dp/B008RADGYC/
Paperback UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Left-Luggage-Geoff-Nelder/dp/1905091958/
Publisher’s website with more details and formats. http://www.ll-publications.com/leftluggage.html
Buy it quick before you run out of memory!