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Jordan typed the request to veer off their assigned flight
path to air traffic control, using one of the three cockpit
keyboards. UAL 58 REQUEST 100 NAUTICAL MILES TO THE LEFT FOR
As the captain, Brian Wendt, lifted the hand-microphone to his
mouth and transmitted over the PA, "Ladies and gentlemen,
fasten your seatbelts," Jordan scrutinized the radar screen.
Other than the bright, multicolored blob, periodic sweeps of
green speckles showed a storm-free sky, an ideal night to fly
over the Pacific.
A chime announced the incoming message from ATC: clearance to
skirt the storm. The captain turned a knob connected to the
autopilot, banking the 747, while Jordan lowered the lighting
in the cockpit and peered into the night.
One good peek outside is worth a thousand sweeps of the radar.
That was an old saying among pilots of the modern era. And it
was usually right. Far below, tiny puffs of clouds glowed in
the light of a quarter moon. Below the clouds, the sea was
smooth. No lightning flashed on the horizon. Nor did Jordan
see any towering cumulous clouds to backup the radar's
warning. Yet, on the odd chance the thunderstorm was too far
away to be seen or was obscured by wispy cirrus clouds,
standard operating procedures dictated that they circumvent
it. Common sense, too. And whatever common sense Jordan wasn't
born with, she'd learned. Sometimes the hard way.
For eight years, she'd been flying around the world, and
through more bad weather than she cared to remember. Even
one-million-pound jumbo jets couldn't risk flying through
thunderstorms. She knew-she'd read the post-accident reports
of those who'd tried. There was no faster way to end up as a
smoking hole than to think you could out fly Mother Nature.
Hail punched holes in hulls and snuffed out engines; lightning
knocked out electrical and communication systems; extreme
turbulence wrenched off wings. Jordan preferred her life to be
A lot less.
She had enough on her plate as a single mom who juggled flying
for a living with raising a six-year-old. Flying paid the
bills. But every heartbeat, every breath, every cell in her
body was devoted to her daughter Roberta, affectionately known
as Boo. That wasn't to say that at thirty-two, Jordan wasn't
proud of her accomplishments-graduating flight school, getting
hired by the airlines, making sure she was good at what she
did-but existing as one of the many anonymous cogs in United
Airlines' global transportation wheel was fine with her.
Unlike her retired fighter pilot father or her fire chief
older brother, she didn't go looking for action. Dull as it
sounded, glory was not her goal. Maybe the limelight might
have appealed to her, once. But these days, her idea of
adventure was braving the Saturday afternoon checkout lines at
A ripple of turbulence dragged her attention back at the
radar. The glowing oval was in the same relative position.
"That's weird." She leaned forward. "We turned left. The storm
cell should have shifted to the right. But, look, it's still
off the nose."
"It's a radar problem," Brian surmised.
"I'll write it up when we get to San Fran."
Then the airplane rolled abruptly to the left. "So much for
blaming the equipment." Choppy air meant the storm was real.
"Seat the flight attendants," the captain ordered.
Jordan made the announcement. "Flight attendants take your
seats." Brian slowed the big airliner from the faster speed
used for cruise to what was recommended to penetrate
turbulence. Jordan turned on the ignition, lighting a
continuous fire in the engines, insurance against all four
huge turbofans flaming out should they plow into heavy rain or
"Tell ATC we need-" Brian calculated the distance and
direction they'd need to skirt the rapidly intensifying storm.
"Eighty more to the left."
Jordan busied herself doing what he'd asked. The bright oval
shape had increased in size and clarity. But something had
covered the slice of moon, making it impossible to see if
something was actually outside, in front of the airplane.
According to the radar, there was clear air to either side of
the storm, which would allow the luxury of a wide girth as
they went past.
A chime sounded. Jordan answered the incoming call and passed
along the message to the captain. "ATC says-yes. We can
Again, they went through the routine of circumventing the
storm. But the crisp-edged ovoid mirrored their evasive
maneuvers, almost as if it didn't want to let them pass by. A
crazy thought. Yet, a flicker of unease prickled inside
Jordan, a whisper of apprehension. It was that first hint of
inner acknowledgement that something wasn't going right, that
a situation might not pan out as planned.
Jordan could almost hear Boo's husky little voice, could feel
her skinny arms in a death grip around her neck. You'll come
home, right, Mommy?
Jordan winced, pressing her lips together. Her husband Craig
died five years ago. But she was lucky to have parents nearby
who were happy to watch Roberta several times a month when
Jordan worked. Roberta loved staying with her grandparents.
Never once had she needed reassurance that her mother would
return for her. Stranger still was that Roberta had balked at
this trip, a mere overnight to Hawaii. Had her daughter sensed
that something might go wrong?
Jordan's spine tingled. Before 9-11, an airline job was
fraught with the usual risks: bad weather, mechanical
malfunctions, and air traffic control errors. Now, she fought
on the frontlines in the war on terror-whether she wanted to
or not. She'd never wanted to be a soldier, or a hero. But it
seemed that sometimes life had different ideas.
"I promise," she had whispered into Boo's hair.
Jaw tight, Jordan scrutinized the sky ahead. She almost missed
it, at first. Black against black, looming in front of the
plane, was an oval of the same relative shape as the storm
depicted on the radar screen. It didn't look anything like a
thunderstorm. It appeared ... solid. "Is that an aircraft?" "An
aircraft?" Brian peered into the night. "What kind of
aircraft?" "I have no clue. I don't see any lights. Or wings."
And it looked larger than their 747. Much larger.
It was deathly quiet. The moon winked out of view. The black
shadow loomed. Jordan felt like a field mouse in the shadow of
a hungry hawk.
"Do you read United Five-Eight?" she transmitted on the radio.
"Do you have us in sight?" Slowly, her hand fell away from the
microphone button. "I don't think they can hear us. I don't
know, Brian; I don't think anyone can hear us."
Promise, Mommy? Jordan gave her head a quick shake and tried
to block thoughts of her little girl.
The object rushed out of the darkness. St. Elmo's fire
slithered along the oval's smooth edges. Framed in blue-white
streamers of electricity, the object yawned open like a
nightmarish Venus Flytrap. At five-hundred knots, they hurtled
toward its shadowy maw. Jordan's thoughts bogged down in
disbelief. Whatever was out there, they were going to hit head
on. Death would be instant.
"I can't turn away," the captain yelled, banking the airplane
hard to the left. Several blinding flashes of light filled the
cockpit. "Here we go."
No! The primal urge to survive exploded inside her. She didn't
think. She reacted. Her hands shot out. Her boots hit the
rudder pedals. But she barely had time to brace herself before
the shadow engulfed the airplane and swallowed them whole.
* * *
"Terrain, terrain!" The 747's ground proximity warning system
protested loudly. "Pull up-whoop whoop-pull up!" urged the
Convulsively, Brian's hand shoved the throttles forward, as he
was trained to do. Jordan's gaze jerked to the radar
altimeter. God. The computer was right: they were only a few
feet above the ground-and getting lower. Impossible. Just
seconds ago, they were at thirty-three thousand feet!
But they were alive, still alive.
"Max power," she shouted, backing up her captain. Her hand
pressed against his, pushing the throttles as far as they
Think. Think. She swerved her attention to the two main
altimeters that read pressure altitude, not absolute altitude
like the radar altimeter did. She'd hoped to gain insight as
to what was happening to their aircraft. No dice. The
altimeters were headed in opposite directions.
One hundred thousand feet and climbing, read one. The other
instrument was on its way down to sea level. Damn it. The
airplane was as confused as its pilots were.
The 747's computer announced a set of altitude call-outs in
feet issued only when the aircraft was landing: "Fifty
... thirty ... ten." There was a grating noise. Then a sharp
deceleration threw her forward against her shoulder straps.
The engines stopped running. The silence was thick.
Her breaths hissed in and out. She peered around the dim
cockpit, tried to find something that made sense. Without
engine generators to make electricity, standby power had taken
over, powered by the aircraft's battery. All but the most
essential electrical equipment was dead. The silence magnified
the thunder of something huge slamming behind them.
The booming thud reverberated through her teeth and jaw. Was
it a bomb?
The entire aircraft plunged into darkness. Not even starlight
seeped into the now oppressively black cockpit. The battery,
their last remaining power source, had been snuffed out, too.
The glow-in-the-dark face of Brian's watch blazed like a full
moon. Fixating on the light, she listened to the muffled
sounds of passengers screaming from beyond the closed cockpit
It was dark. Silent. The people were terrified.
Understandably. But without electricity, she had no PA, and no
way to communicate with them from the cockpit.
Jordan and the captain dug their flashlights out of their
flight bags that they kept next to their seats. Without the
engines running, the airplane should have been plunging toward
the ocean, losing air pressure at a rapid, eardrum-wrenching
rate. But it wasn't. In fact, the airplane was so motionless
that it felt like they were parked at the gate.
Jordan glanced around uneasily, trying to work moisture into
her mouth. "It feels like we landed."
"Where?" the captain snapped. "The Pacific? We're not a
hundred percent airtight- where's the water?"
"Okay. No water. But we're not flying, either. Or at least I
don't think we are. And if we're not flying, then where are
Jordan and the captain swerved their flashlights out the
forward window. His indrawn breath echoed hers as the faint
glow from their flashlights illuminated the area in front of
them. But it wasn't the ocean. Or the nighttime sky. What
surrounded the 747 looked like a ribbed, concave ... wall.
"We're inside something."
The captain made a sudden, strangled noise. His shaking hand
flew to his neck and he fumbled with his tie.
"Brian! What's wrong?"
He tried to talk. Couldn't. His flushed face deepened in
color. Then the hand at his collar became a twitching claw as
his entire body stiffened. Was he convulsing?
She threw off her shoulder harnesses and jumped out of her
seat. With her fingers, she pressed firmly against the
captain's neck. No pulse.
The thunder of what had to be multiple fists pounded on the
cockpit door. Darkness prevented her from seeing out the
peephole. And the newly installed external video monitors were
as dead as the engines. Outside the door might be hijackers
who'd hurt or kill the incapacitated captain.
What's closer-the stun gun or the ax?
The ax was within arm's reach, but she was trained in firing
the Taser, a super-powered stun gun capable of delivering a
50,000-volt blast from twenty feet away. Whipping the gun from
its holster on the cockpit sidewall, she disarmed the safety
switch. "Who's there!" she shouted, the weapon clutched in her
"It's me, Ben. And Ann and Natalie!" the chief purser yelled.
Jordan lifted the heavy metal bar blocking the door. Then she
pulled open the door, stepped back and took aim. Three flight
attendants lurched into the cockpit.
"It's just us," Ben gasped, his dark eyes slewing from the red
laser on the stun gun to the slumped-over captain.
She could tell that first on their minds had been to find out
what happened to the airplane. Their shocked expressions
reflected their change in focus. He has no pulse-we need the
"Natalie-go." The purser dispatched one of the two women for
the emergency medical kit. The Automated External
Defibrillator, or AED, could restart a heart, even after
sudden death from a heart attack.
Jordan shoved the Taser into its holster. "Help me get him out
of here." She raised the armrest on the captain's seat and
shifted his legs away from her and the center of the cockpit.
Then she lifted a lever, sending the seat as far backward as
it would go. Ben pulled Brian free of the seat and dragged the
unconscious man out of the cockpit, where there was little
room on the floor, through the open cockpit door, and into
upper deck business class.
In the dark, Ben laid him in the center of the carpeted aisle.
The passengers fell silent at the sight of their captain
illuminated by the beams of several flashlights, lying prone
and blue-lipped on the floor. As they edged closer, Jordan saw
the terror etched on their shadowy faces.
"Stand back!" ordered Ann, the other flight attendant who had
come upstairs with Ben. She was short and somewhat plump, with
a round, sweet face and Asian features-Korean, she'd told
Jordan-but she could bark orders like a drill sergeant. "We
need room! Stand back!"
There were thirty or so passengers on the upper deck. Jordan
asked, "Is anyone here a medical doctor or nurse?"
The replies were all negative. Ann met Jordan's gaze. Her eyes
broadcasted fear, but her voice was steady and calm. Like
Jordan, she was calling on her extensive training to keep cool
in the midst of chaos. "I'll go downstairs and find one," she
"Good. Are there enough seats down there to reseat these
"I think so."
"Then bring them with you."
Ann nodded. Jordan addressed the onlookers. "Go downstairs
with Ann. You'll be in a better position to stay updated if we
need to make announcements to the whole group."
As Ann herded her charges down the staircase to the main
cabin, Jordan crouched by the captain's side. Ben had already
Natalie returned to the upper deck. Like a salmon trying to
swim upstream, Natalie pushed her way up the aisle past the
passengers. In her arms was a case containing the
Urgently, Jordan told her, "He's still not breathing."
Ben tore open Brian's shirt and yanked his undershirt over his
head. Natalie readied the defibrillator. The AED led the woman
through the series of verbal prompts, telling her what to do.
They gave the captain one shock. His body arched; spittle
leaked from the corner of his mouth.
"Come on, come on, Brian. Fight!" Jordan clenched her teeth.
Brian's heart didn't restart. Natalie raised the paddles.
"The unit says we can try again."
"Do it!" They were running out of time. Jordan's stomach
clenched. Sweat trickled down one temple. Every second that
ticked by stole precious oxygen from the captain's brain and
increased the risk that he'd be permanently damaged by the
attack, if not killed outright.
Natalie placed the paddles against Brian's chest. Again, a
shock blew through the captain's chest cavity. Come on, come
on, Jordan prayed silently.
Ann herded a man and woman down the aisle. "We've got
doctors!" she shouted. "Two of them!"
Breathlessly, the two doctors introduced themselves. An
internist and a pediatrician. They dropped to their knees and
dug through the open emergency medical kit supplied by the
airline, while Ben and Natalie brought them up to date with
what they had and hadn't tried to resuscitate the captain.
Jordan stood, wiping her arm across her forehead. She couldn't
let the captain's condition distract her from the safety of
the rest of the crew and the passengers. The leadership role
wasn't one she desired, or felt comfortable in, but here she
was, in charge of almost three hundred passengers-a population
greater than many small towns-plus a crew of eighteen flight
Excerpted from Contact
by Susan Grant
Copyright © 2002 by Susan Grant.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 6, 2013
Posted July 23, 2013
I really enjoy Ms. Grants writing style, and Contact was wonderfully exciting. The romance was sweet. The kidnapped humans worked together to extricate themselves from their alien captors. Contact is a feel good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2013
Posted December 16, 2012
One of my favorite books of all time. Susan Grant nails the thrill, suspense, romance and world building. A real page-turner!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2012
Posted March 25, 2011
I love Susan Grant. She has a way of making me sit on the edge of my seat, wishing I could read faster just to see what happens. I really enjoyed this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2003
I whole-heartedly recommend Susan Grant's wonderful s/f romance, CONTACT, but with a warning-- don't do as I did and start reading it in the evening, unless you're prepared to stay up all night. This book sucked me in from the very first exciting paragraphs when a 747 jumbo jet is hijacked in a most unusual manner, through a wonderful romance and thrilling ending--I literally could not put it down. The characters are beautifully drawn, the plot intriguing and the surprises enough to keep you glued to the pages. Definitely a keeper. I'm a new Susan Grant fan--had only read her wonderful novella in the anthology, The Only One, which I loved--but I've already got four of her other books in my TBR stack. I'm hooked!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2002
Susan Grant has created a wonderfully thought provoking and exciting adventure for us. CONTACT is a bit more serious than her other books, but rich in detail, language, and suspense. As always with all her books, completely entertaining. Kao, our hero (I completely adore this one), is somber, dark, scarred, and a loyal-to-the-bone warrior. I alternated between wanting to cuddle him, pinch his tush, smack him once or twice, but then tell him a joke to hear him laugh. Hey Kao, this Alien and a parrot walk into a bar... The man (or is he?) is like my favorite tasty candy: hard on the outside, but worth the effort to get the tender, dreamy inside. Addictive, sensual. Jordon, our lovely heroine, is just the right woman to show Kao all the simple pleasures in life he has been missing. She¿s warm, loving, intelligent, courageous -- even though she doesn¿t think so -- and very determined in a way only a woman can be. The secondary characters are just as interesting... let¿s see, like Homeland Security Agent Mel Lee. She¿s just a laugh riot. ;) So for you frequent flyers, next time you¿re on a night flight, open you window shade and look out at the stars and that inky black sky, think about CONTACT and let your imagination run wild. Don¿t worry, the Alliance will be watching.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2002
United Airlines First Officer Jordan Cady never dreamt that flight 58 might be her last¿on Earth, that is. When the plane is apparently swallowed in mid flight, the first thought that goes through Jordan¿s, the Captains, and other crewmembers mind is a highjacking. Flashes of 9/11 and terrorist cross all of their minds, bringing instantaneous safety precautions to the forefront. The fear of what they¿re facing, and then the reality of facing what can only be aliens, brings about the death of the Captain of flight 58, immediately throwing Jordan in to the lead role. She takes up the reins beautifully, determined to find out what exactly is going on, and what she, her crew, and passengers can do to save themselves. When the aliens try to breach the aircraft, Jordan, with the help of her crew and some passenger¿s fight in the only way open to them¿resulting in injury to some, and eventually the capture of the alien who appears to be in charge. Answers are what Jordan is after¿not harming anyone. Kao Vantaar-Moray has been traveling with his adopted father, Commander-elite Ilya Moray; on his ship The Savior, recuperating after returning from being a POW in the war with the Talagars. The Savior is a perimeter patrol ship, created to patrol and protect the borders. Kao is scarred both physically and mentally from his POW experience, and after being stripped of his military rank and honor, is still floundering for what he¿s meant to do now. So his father, Commander Moray, puts him in charge of the `refugees¿ they¿ve rescued from Earths apparent destruction. Kao is determined to do an incredible job, garnering his father back the utmost respect he¿d lost when Kao disgraced him. What Kao doesn¿t plan on is finding the appointed Captain Cady a courageous, incredible woman who draws him despite the language barrier that exists. She¿s determined to fight for her people¿s protection, no matter what the odds. He¿s immediately attracted, and drawn to this strong woman, whom he senses has struggles of her own going on inside. He¿s drawn to the refugees as a whole¿his senses and emotions come alive watching them experience their new beginnings in what they¿ve dubbed `New Earth¿. Jordan is a heroine who is struggling with the apparent loss of her child, and while she¿s grieving inside, she struggles to hide her own emotions and put her crew and passengers first and foremost. She finds herself feeling guilty for being drawn to Kao, and even for experiencing almost happy feelings with him when her daughter, Boo, is dead. Sue Grant has captured the essence of grief and perseverance that many of us know is real life. We feel the emotions¿from joy to despair¿that Jordan feels on her quest to find out the truth, and we fall in love with the tall, dark, Kao¿who¿s just learning what love is himself¿right along with her. Throwing in some twists and turns that will surprise, and even anger you for Kao, Ms. Grant has delivered 110%. Sue Grant has chosen to start this story off with some moving moments that bring back memories of 9/11 vividly¿and she does it in such a way that it makes you feel proud and chilled all at the same time. Ms. Grants experience as an airline pilot herself shines through, and she does the genre proud. This was an incredibly, not to be missed trip through unknown worlds¿her words are so vivid they paint a clear picture, to the point I almost forgot I was reading fiction. For romance lovers and sci fi lovers alike¿we¿ve struck gold! Contact is pure gilded fiction!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
United Airlines Flight 58 is making its normal run from Honolulu to San Francisco when the plane's blip suddenly vanishes from the traffic control radar system. The follow-up search proves worthless since no wreckage, debris, or bodies are found. The government concludes that the Pacific swallowed up the entire crashed jet. The family of flight crew First Officer Jordan Cady mourns their loss except for her daughter Boo who believes her mother still lives somewhere in air. The Alliance starship ¿Savior¿ patrols their territory perimeter on alert for Talagar invaders. Savior ¿swallowed¿ the 747, but not before a global catastrophe occurred. The starship commander dispatches his adopted son, Kào Vantaar-Morey, to meet with the plane¿s survivors. The commander hopes that interfacing with the frightened earthlings will lift Kào spirits from being a Talagar POW for two years and having suffered the worst defeat in the Alliance's war with the Talagar Empire. Though she feels he abducted her and he believes they rescued her, Kào and Jordan begin to fall in love. However, neither knows the truth that will soon test their loyalties to their respective people. CONTACT is a superb military science fiction romance loaded with action that will persuade the reader that a real interstellar war is ongoing. Talk about star-crossed romances, the attraction between the vulnerable lead duet is smoothly facilitated though his demons and her mourning for Boo should have hindered their love from growing. Still Ms. Grant provides a strong tale that cross genre fans will rank as a star fleet commander. Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2002
**A Perfect 10** Susan Grant's splendid visual imagery, natural dialogue and superb characterization combine to make the impossible not only possible, but plausible in her latest book, CONTACT. The mental and emotional turmoil Jordan and Kao endure will wring your emotions and touch your heart. Keep a box of tissues handy. Trust me. Even those who never cry over books will find themselves teary-eyed. I don't believe in alien life on other planets, but I enjoy sci-fi romance. In fact, my all time favorite book is WARRIOR'S WOMAN by Johanna Lindsey. As much as I love that book, however, it's just fantasy. CONTACT affected me in a way I never expected, for while I read it, it WAS real. Things I accepted as absolute truth before I began reading melted away, just as they did for the passengers of United 58. Ms Grant displays wisdom by not allowing the passengers to presume alien abduction. Instead, they believe themselves victims of a terrorist hijacking, a much more believable scenario. Only later do they realize the truth, yet even then they do not passively accept their fate. They are Americans and struggle to hold onto as much of their way of life as possible, which is what I would expect. Some readers may not like the fact that a number of passengers wanted a male leader, rather than Jordan, feeling it sexist. But I applaud the author for not following the politically correct path. Yes, it was sexist of those members to prefer a male over a female, but in that same scenario I'd have wanted a strong male too, if available. Sue me. I don't think it showed a lack of respect for Jordan. On the contrary, they respected her a great deal. Still, it's normal to seek comfort and need security when life turns upside down, and their desire for a strong, male leader was simply an attempt to gain that extra feeling of security. Wrong? Maybe. But entirely human. I haven't written much about the poignant romance, delved into the complex motivations that drive Jordan and Kao, the painful conflicts between them, or the destructive forces that threaten all they hold dear, and those alone would make this book a keeper. However, it's Ms Grant's ability to place the reader into the story as if a participant, rather than just an observer, and to make one accept the possibility, even if only for a moment, that will leave you breathless. For a story that will make you feel, make you think, make you believe, don't miss CONTACT.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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