Cradle of Saturn

Cradle of Saturn

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by James P. Hogan

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Among the Saturnian moons, farsighted individuals, working without help or permission from any government, have established a colony. They call themselves the Kronians, after the Greek name for Saturn. Operating without the hidebound restrictions of bureaucratic Earth, the colony is a magnet, attracting the best and



Among the Saturnian moons, farsighted individuals, working without help or permission from any government, have established a colony. They call themselves the Kronians, after the Greek name for Saturn. Operating without the hidebound restrictions of bureaucratic Earth, the colony is a magnet, attracting the best and brightest of the home world, and has been making important new discoveries. But one of their claims — that they have found proof that the Solar System has undergone repeated cataclysms, and as recently as a few thousand years ago — flies in the face of the reigning dogma, and is under attack by the scientific establishment.
Then the planet Jupiter emits a white-hot protoplanet as large as the Earth, which is hurtling sunwards like a gigantic comet that will obliterate civilization....

Editorial Reviews

...there's no denying [Hogan's] ability to tell a story....The reader who felt that films such as Deep Impact, Armageddon and When Worlds Collide were for wimps might want to jump on this one.
Mysterious Galaxy
A hell of a lot of fun...enjoy the ride!
Melinda Helfer
Fans of extinction even theory should not miss the reprint of Cradle of Saturn. James Hogan weaves together a miscellany of seemingly unrelated curiosities to form an outrageous but thoroughly fascinating theory about our planet, the rise of humanity and a startling fate to come when an eruption from Jupiter hurls a planet-sized object on a near-collision course with Earth. Although a little slow-startling, this intriguing speculation rolls into high gear as the future becomes a scorching reality.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of Bug Park now offers an action-cum-romance-cum-disaster novel-cum-movie, with no tackiness. Some time in the future, when the world is not overrun with machines but machines keep everything running, science has stagnated at the pinnacle of its power. Landen Keene, of Earth, is a nuclear engineer struggling to push science out of its rut and to radically change the establishment's way of thinking. Some of his closest colleagues are people he has never met. They are Kronians, citizens of habitats orbiting Saturn's moons. The original Kronians left Earth a generation before to create a society where science is free of bureaucracy and where one's worth is based on how hard one works. After an Earth-sized asteroid is ejected from Jupiter, Keene and the Kronians present evidence that Venus, a troublingly youthful planet, is also an offshoot of Jupiter. The Terran establishment closes ranks and protects its stable solar system dogma. But as the asteroid's course shifts and it begins heading directly for Earth, panic settles in and Keene must decide whether to abandon his new love and escape to Saturn. The action throughout is dense, with no sentence wasted. Hogan's clearly explained scientific hypothesis presents intriguing questions, and his characters are real and likable. Though the sparse detailing renders the settings less than vivid, the suspenseful plot will keep readers strapped in for the ride. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Churning science fiction disaster yarn involving dinosaurs, the moons of Saturn, the Anthropic Principle, and Emmanuel Velikovsky's theories (though Hogan never mentions him) about the origin of Venus: from the author of Bug Park (1997), etc. The moons of Saturn have been colonized by the scientifically gifted Kronians, who've developed a revolutionary moneyless socioeconomic system. Meanwhile, planet Jupiter has undergone an astounding (and theoretically impossible) convulsion, ejecting a huge incandescent comet, Athena, which presently is whizzing through the inner solar system. Earth engineering genius Landen Keene, having developed his own revolutionary space vehicle, has been cooperating with the visiting Kronians. At an upcoming scientific conference, the Kronians will present compelling evidence of widespread and frequent catastrophes in the solar system, requiring all humans to cooperate in establishing colonies on other worlds as quickly as possible, to ensure the survival of the species. According to the Kronians (and many Earth scientists), Venus originated as a comet ejected from Jupiter as recently as 1500 B.C. But the scientific and military orthodox, seeing their privileges and funding threatened, spurred by the hostile Professor Herbert Voler, unite to reject the Kronians' evidence. The Kronians also found Earth artifacts on Saturn's moon Rhea, a report even Keene has trouble swallowing—unless Earth was once a moon of Saturn! Then, as predicted by the Kronians, Athena alters course to head toward Earth. Stimulating and provocative where Hogan stirs up facts and speculations, elsewhere bumping along with boilerplate post-disaster heroics: another erraticouting for this always-unpredictable author.

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Chapter One

Almost twenty years before, as a nineteen-year-old engineering student at college, Landen Keene had astounded drivers on the interstate near the campus by overtaking them with ease in a 1959 Nash Rambler body fixed to a reinforced chassis on racing suspension, mounting an L88 Corvette engine. He had also more than impressed the two state troopers who handed him a ticket, but they were unable to cite his handiwork on a single safety violation. One of them had even indicated interest if Keene ever found himself of a mind to sell. "Keep at it, kid," he had told Keene. "One day you'll make a damned good engineer—supposin' you live long enough, of course, that is."

    These days, it seemed, things worked the other way around. Outdated engineering camouflaged in futuristic-looking shells was hyped as a wonder of the age, the best that taxpayers' money could buy. Keene sat in the cramped crew compartment of the NIFTV—pronounced "Nifteev," standing for Nuclear Indigenously Fueled Test Vehicle—wedged comfortably into the seat at the Engineer's station by the mild quarter-g of sustained thrust cutting the craft across freefall orbits, and stared at the image on the main screen. It showed the elongated body, flaring into a delta tail-wing with tip-fins, of the spaceplane riding twenty-five miles ahead off the port lower bow, closing slowly as the NIFTV overhauled it. Officially, it was designated an "Advanced Propulsion Unit." Its white lines were illuminated in direct light from the Sun showing above the silhouette of Earth, revealing the insignia of both the U.S. Air Force Space Commandand United Nations Global Defense Force. (Exactly what the entire globe was to be defended from had never been spelled out.) The NIFTV, by contrast, with its framework of struts and ties holding together an assemblage of test engine and auxiliary motors, external tanks, and crew module, was ungainly and ugly. The APU looked sleek on the covers of glossy promotional government brochures and was pleasing to bureaucrats. The NIFTV was a creature of engineers—a space workhorse, born of pragmatism and utility.

    Ricardo's voice came over the circuit from the Ccom station—Communications and Computing. "We've got a beam from them now. I'm windowing onto the main screen, copying you, Warren."

    "Gotcha." Warren Fassner, research project leader at Amspace Corporation's Propulsion Division and coordinator of the current mission, acknowledged from the control room at Space Dock, at that moment orbiting twelve thousand miles away above the far side of Earth. "It looks like you guys are on stage. Make it a good one. We're getting the hookups." To avoid giving somebody officious somewhere an opportunity to interfere, Keene had persuaded the public relations people at Amspace to hold until the last moment before slipping word of the mission to the networks. Since it was something new and sounded exciting, the networks were interested.

    A helmeted head and shoulders showing a gray flight suit with Space Command insignia appeared in a one-eighth window at the top right of the screen. "This is Commander Voaks from USAFSC APU to approaching craft U-ASC-16R. You are entering a restricted zone posted as reserved for official Space Command operations. Identify yourself and announce your intentions."

    Joe answered from the Pilot station, squeezed centrally behind the other two, which were angled inward to face the bulkhead carrying the screens. "Captain Elms from U-ASC-16R acknowledging APU. We are a private research vehicle owned and operated by the Amspace Corporation."

    "We are about to commence a high-acceleration test. For your own safety, my orders are to warn you off-limits."

    "We're paralleling you outside the posted limit. Just taking a ringside seat. Don't mind us. Let's get on with the show."

    Ricardo cut in again: "We've got another incoming—military priority band prefix."

    "This is General Burgess, Space Command Ground Control Center, and I demand to speak to—"

    Joe shook his head in the background behind Keene's console. "We're gonna be too busy here for this. I'm throwing this one to you, Warren."

    "Sure, switch him through. We'll handle it," Fassner said from the Space Dock. It had been expected. Ricardo clicked entries in a table on one of his auxiliary screens, and the irate general was consigned off to a string of comsat links around the planet.

    "APU to Amspace 16R. You have been warned in accordance with regulatory requirements. Be advised that your continued proximity to this operation will not be taken as indicative of a desirably cooperative attitude. Negative consequences may result. This is APU, out." The window vanished.

    "Negative consequences, guys," Keene repeated. "That's it—it's all over for us. They'll find some bug in our parking lot that needs to be protected now. Close down the head office."

    "Where do they get those guys?" Ricardo asked as he scanned his displays and made adjustments. "I mean, do they have to be programmed to talk like that? ..." His voice trailed off, and he leaned forward. "Okay, this is it. We're registering their exhaust plume on thermal: preboost profile." As Ricardo spoke, the APU's image sprouted a tail of white heat, growing rapidly to extend several times the length of the vessel.

    "Full burn," Joe's voice confirmed. "We're looking at about, aw ... two gee initial. Downrange radar is tracking." The Air Force spaceplane was accelerating away, commencing its test. While Joe continued reading off time checks and numbers, Keene rechecked his own panel to make sure all the NIFTV's systems were ready, then turned his eyes again to the image shrinking and foreshortening on the main screen. Advanced propulsion, he thought to himself scornfully. Pure hydrogen and whatever they called the latest oxidizer, it was still chemicals. NASA, circa 1960s, repackaged in an Air Force suit, its adequacy a giveaway of what it was intended for: a high-altitude police cruiser to patrol the envisaged one-world state. NIFTV had the potential to bring the Solar System into Earth's backyard, but the powers that Earth's destiny depended on weren't interested. If the day ever arrived when their one-world order looked like becoming a reality, that, Keene vowed, would be when he'd leave it all and go out to join the Kronians. But with enterprises like Amspace still able to find backers, there was hope yet.

    Fassner, having evidently passed the general on to someone else, reappeared on the beam from Space Dock. "Okay, that's looking good now. Let's go after 'em."

    "On standby at Fire-Ready," Keene confirmed.

    "Go, engine. Take it up to eighty," Joe ordered.

    Keene initiated the start-up and felt himself being squashed back in his seat as he increased reactant flow to bring the NIFTV quickly up to eighty percent power. Lead gloves encased his hands. He felt his cheeks and lips weighed back over his facial bones, baring his teeth. Smaller screens on the bulkhead in front of him showed deformed parodies of the faces of Ricardo and Joe.

    "Lateral thrusters on. Pulsing to commence roll now," Joe grated, his mouth barely moving.

    "APU ahead low, declination twenty-seven degrees and increasing," Ricardo reported. "We're twelve-point-two miles off the axis and holding. Course projection is clear."

    It was a stunt to get the world's attention. The news channels had publicized that the Defense Department would be testing a new propulsion system designed for low-orbit maneuvering and announced it as a breakthrough. While the spaceplane was now in its maximum acceleration phase, the NIFTV was not only overtaking it but tracing a spiral twenty-plus miles in diameter about its course—literally running rings around it. A comm beam latched on again to deliver another tirade. Ricardo looked questioningly at Joe; Joe made a tossing-away motion with his head; Ricardo grinned and switched the call over the detour link to Control.

    "Yeaaah!" Keene whooped, smacking the armrests of his seat. "Was that a bird? Was it a plane? No, it was us, guys. Hey, look at that thing. It's like a dead duck in the water out there."

    "Eat our dust, General," Ricardo sang.

    The APU went into a slow curve. Joe altered thrust parameters and stayed with it easily. He ran an eye over the monitors and gave a satisfied nod. "Okay," he said to the others. "Take her up to full burn. Now let's show them what we can really do."

    As the NIFTV accelerated along its continuing spiral course, a white haze of more distant light appeared along the top edge of the screen, moving slowly down to blot out the starfield background. It grew until it became part of a vast band extending off the screen on both sides, losing the APU spaceplane in its brilliance as it became a background to it.

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Cradle of Saturn 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Draconigena More than 1 year ago
As with every James P. Hogan book I have read, he does an excellent job combining real science (even if his conclusions often oppose academia) with conjecture (in this case, heavy on Velikovsky theories) and drama with good character development. This book should satisfy all those readers who believe that academia (mainstream science) has not sufficiently answered, or is hiding the truth about, how Earth really got to be what it is today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some stories, while contrived, pique our interest because they're based on actual events. Others, while even further removed from reality, are equally intriguing because of their clever use of fact. This one challenges even the facts you thought were so certain, and yet seems even closer to reality because of it. Maybe it's my own familiarity with the works on which this piece rests, but I almost got the sense I was reading a retelling of actual events, not a work of fiction. It stirred me. I couldn't put it down. I looked forward to getting back to it whenever I did have to put it down. Try a book that will make you want to buy a telescope and start reading history books like you never read them before.