The Omega Projectby Steve Alten
On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth's long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and
On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth's long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and before they embark Eisenbraun is the odd man out, put into cold sleep against his will….
When Robert wakes, he finds the ship deserted and not functional. He escapes to the surface of an Earth terribly changed. The plan has gone horribly wrong, but as he adapts to a hostile environment, he realizes that there is still a way to accomplish what his mission had set out to achieve. But he also discovers that he faces a new adversary of the most unlikely sort. For now, his own survival and that of the woman whose love has sustained him in his darkest hours depend on the defeat of a technological colossus partly of his own making. Confronting a foe that knows him almost as well as he knows himself, he faces the prospect of depending on resources that he has reason to believe will be available on one particular night of a full moon, a night foretold by a mysterious unseen ally to be a pivotal moment for the fate of the earth. The game has changed, and Earth's future depends on him and him alone.
The Omega Project is yet another edge-of-your-seat thriller by bestselling author, Steve Alten, leaving readers looking for more.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
“With the storytelling sensibilities of Crichton and Cussler, Alten sure knows how to write a thriller.” Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author on Domain
“An eye-bugging, white-knuckle flight of a book that hurtles along with the velocity of an asteroid from the ancient world to the twenty-first century on an unforgettable doomsday mission.” Rocky Mountain News on Domain
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Read an Excerpt
Strong and healthy, who thinks of sickness until it strikes like lightning?
Preoccupied with the world, who thinks of death until it arrives like thunder?
—SUTTA NIPATA II, discourse collections of the Buddha, fifth century B.C.
MARCH 12, 2022
I didn’t know much about guns. The one I’d been gripping in my sweaty palm held four bullets in its clip and one in the chamber—same as it had when I’d removed it from the corpse I’d come across two weeks ago. It was rare these days to find a dead body that hasn’t been skinned and stripped of its meat. Thankfully, I’d never been forced to consume human flesh, which was why I was here … out in the woods, hoping to shoot a deer before the last deer was taken, before the last of my supplies ran out and hunger drove me either to cannibalism, suicide, or starvation.
I’d arrived in the woods before dawn, having ridden all night on my motorcycle. No lights needed, thanks to my night-vision glasses, no sound since the bike was powered solely by batteries. I’d been staked out in this blind for the better part of eight hours. Sweat continued to pour down my face and soak my camouflage clothing, and the bugs were relentless, but I’d chosen this spot because it was only twenty paces from the creek, offering me a clear shot at anything or anyone that ventured by. Truth be told, I’d never shot anything more lethal than a BB gun, but desperate times required desperate measures.
When I was younger, my father had taken me camping with the Cub Scouts. The closest we’d come to hunting game was roasting marshmallows. A real hunter wouldn’t have been hunting deer with a handgun. A real hunter probably wouldn’t have had ant bites all over his ankles or mosquito bites on his arms, and he wouldn’t have been so scared.
I wasn’t scared of the woods. I was scared of being lost in the woods, unable to find my way back to the main road and the brush where I’d hidden the bike. Mostly, I was scared about what else might be in the woods hunting the deer hunters.
I called them the “SS”—sociopathic survivors. Rapists, murderers, cannibals—the SS were soulless beings hell-bent on enjoying their final fleeting moments on Earth. I’d never seen them in action, but I’d seen the forensic evidence of their depravity and it terrified me.
The last bullet in my gun’s chamber was reserved for my brain should those pack animals hunt me down.
The SS were bottom-feeders before the Die-Off, which is why they’d survived. They lived off the grid. Same for the fortress farmers, bunker clans, conspiracy theorists, and other whack-jobs who could read the tea leaves and had known the world’s oil reserves were running out.
Note to any future generations listening to these audio tapes: The powers-that-be knew the world’s oil reserves peaked in 2005; in fact, they knew how things would end as far back as the 1970s when Jimmy Carter was in office. And still the assholes did nothing.
My father had known, which is why he left his tenured position at the University of Virginia and moved us to a small rural community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. No Internet connection, no cable TV. We went from being a normal modern-day household to twenty-first century pioneers, gradually inching our way off the grid. None of us was thrilled; my mother had contemplated divorce, my younger sisters labeled Dad the new Unabomber and threatened to run away from home. As for me, if my father had told me a flood was coming then I would have been outside with him building an ark.
It had been shortly after the first mushroom cloud bloomed over Tehran that my father explained his motives. “Robbie, life is a test, and humanity is about to face a big one. Unfortunately, when it comes to facing the unthinkable, most people prefer to remain in denial. You saw the movie Titanic, right? When the ship hit that iceberg, some passengers headed for the lifeboats, while the majority of people were so convinced the ship couldn’t sink they either stayed in bed or went back to the bar to have another drink. When you get older you’ll learn two hard facts: You can’t save people who don’t want to be saved; and preferring to remain ignorant when faced with a catastrophe demonstrates a lack of intelligence.”
Dad could have added human ego to the equation.
I’d grown up in a world of bank bailouts, recessions, unemployment, collapsing economies, and endless wars; my country embattled in a perversion of democracy where corporations had been granted the same rights as citizens. Corruption overruled any sense of justice, the radicalization of the political system preventing the few true representatives of the suddenly impoverished masses from enacting solutions that could have reversed the eventual collapse of society. As my father said, “Human ego created these problems, and human ego will drive us over the cliff. The world would be better off if a computer ran everything.”
Computers.… The next computer I own will be implanted in my skull.
A sound! My heart skipped a beat. It was an animal, approaching the creek from the thicket to my left.
Quietly, I wiped fresh sweat beads from my already moist brow and palms, shifting my body weight to aim the pistol, my eyes focused on the clearing. It was a deer, a young male, maybe eighty pounds, as anxious and as thirsty as yours truly. My hand trembled as he glanced in my direction, my body shook as he turned, offering me a clean shot at his flank.
I hesitated, drawing a breath, suddenly fearful of the gunshot and who might hear it …
The buck collapsed upon its forelegs in silence, the arrow having appeared seemingly from out of nowhere, its tip passing cleanly through the startled animal’s spine and out its chest cavity.
Leaving my makeshift hunting blind, I approached the dying beast. The angle of the arrow’s entry indicated the archer had shot from the trees.
“Touch the venison and you’ll die where you stand.”
I turned slowly, my heart racing as she emerged from the forest like an erotic female warrior from a Luis Royo painting. Her ebony hair flowed nearly down to her waist in a curly tangle camouflaged in twigs and leaves, every inch of her flesh concealed in green and brown paint or beneath a skintight matching bodysuit. Ten paces away and I could smell her scent—a heavy animal musk. She looked about my age. The quiver was strapped to her thigh, the muscles of her upper body taut as she aimed the graphite bow’s arrow at my heart.
I was as stunned as I was smitten. “The deer’s yours. Take it.”
“I intend to. Drop the piece.”
“The what? Oh, the gun. Seriously, you can have it. I doubt I could even shoot the damn thing straight.” I lowered the weapon, placed it on the ground, and backed away. “What’s your name?”
“Shut up.” Quivering the arrow, she grabbed the gun, expertly ejecting the clip to check the chamber. Reassembling the weapon, she shoved it into a satchel concealed around her waist, hoisted the dead deer over her shoulders, and was gone.
Alone again, I waited thirty seconds, then followed her through the dense brush, losing her trail within minutes.
Who was she? Was she alone? Part of a group? Her attitude suggested otherwise. My guess? When the lights went out and the grocery store shelves were rendered bare, she had fled to the mountains—or more likely her family were mountain folk. Whatever the case, she was everything I was not; ruthless, cunning … a hunter who showed no mercy.
And yet she had spared me.
Well, dork-wad, you did give her the gun. Practically curtsied as you laid it on the ground.
I paused again to listen to the forest; heard nothing.
By her scent, I knew she lived in the woods, probably a cave. Heading for higher ground, I followed a path of ferns and moss-covered rocks that emptied into a clearing of tall weeds.
To my left, the Blue Ridge Mountains caressed the setting sun between its peaks and valley. With darkness a mere ninety minutes away, I had to choose—the woman or sanctuary?
It had been twenty months since I’d carried on a conversation with another living person. I might be an introvert by nature, but listening day and night to the voice in my head had been maddening, leading to the creation of these recorded journal entries. But seeing her … she was a thunderbolt, a goddess. I knew I had to find her, even if it meant risking an encounter with the SS.
Pausing at the edge of a clearing, I retrieved water and an apple from my knapsack, consumed a quick snack, buried the evidence, and continued my trek up the mountain.
After three hundred feet the woods began anew. The shadows of pine trees were closing in, dusk coming fast. For half an hour I wandered through a maze of trees, until the night was upon me and I accepted the fact I was hopelessly lost.
Hearing men’s voices, I quickly hid.
There were a dozen of them, more in the cave.
The dogs had found the woman’s lair, its small entrance concealed by brush. I figured now they would stake out the area, waiting for her to return.
I smelled her as she moved through the shadows to join me behind the bushes. I felt the gun press firmly against the left side of my ribcage. “I need a place that’s safe.”
“Get me back to the main road.”
* * *
The motorcycle was hidden in a ravine behind mile marker thirty-six. Six months ago, I had replaced the engine and fuel tank with an electric motor and rechargeable truck battery, rendering it fast yet whisper quiet. We waited another hour before heading south, my night-vision visor illuminating any nocturnal predators that might venture near the highway.
My family’s suburban neighborhood had long since been abandoned. Our house stood alone among burnt-out foundations on a cul-de-sac. I had cleared the surrounding terrain to expose anyone who approached. Every window was bricked up, the house and matching eight-foot wall that surrounded the backyard’s concealed acreage painted to appear like charred cinder.
The lawn was covered in sheets of metal—hundreds of car trunks and engine hoods, planted flat into the grass and welded into a giant jigsaw puzzle. Climbing off the motorcycle, I instructed the beautiful huntress to follow precisely in my footsteps, my night-vision glasses revealing a preset path that turned and twisted to tall shrubs that camouflaged a subterranean side entrance. Once we were inside the house, I bolted the steel door behind the woman, shocking her by turning on the lights.
“You have electricity? How?”
“While other people were searching for food and water, I was busy collecting car batteries and solar panels.”
“And car hoods. What’s that all about?”
“Security. Step onto my property and you get zapped with ten thousand volts of electricity. By the way, my name’s Eisenbraun, Robert Eisenbraun. Most people used to call me Ike.”
“Andria Saxon.” Dropping the deer carcass on the floor, she roamed the house, taking inventory. “Air-conditioning … a working refrigerator and stove—pretty impressive, Eisenbrain. What else do you have here?”
“A running shower and soap for starters. And it’s Eisenbraun.”
“Tell you what, I’ll handle the brawn, you handle the brains and maybe we’ll manage to survive this mess.”
Copyright © 2013 by Alten Entertainment of Boca Raton, Inc.
Meet the Author
STEVE ALTEN is the best-selling author of the Meg series, including Meg: Hell's Aquarium. A native of Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor's degree from Penn State, a Masters from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate from Temple University. He is the founder and director of Adopt-An-Author, a free nationwide teen reading program used in the thousands of secondary school classrooms across the country to excite reluctant readers.
Steve Alten is the best-selling author of the Meg series, including Meg: Hell’s Aquarium. A native of Philadelphia, he earned a Bachelor’s degree from Penn State, a Masters from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate from Temple University. He is the founder and director of Adopt-An-Author, a free nationwide teen reading program used in thousands of secondary school classrooms across the country to excite reluctant readers.
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I have been reading Mr. Alten's books from the beginning. Love his style and ability to tell a story, except for The Omega Project. I just did not enjoy the story....I feel the idea was great, but the execution of the story left me frustrated and confused.
Seems like it was written by a teenager looking for a movie deal. Im a big SF fan, but this book is a candidate for Mystery Science 3000. Giving up on page 137/350. Where can i get my 10 bucks back?
Poorly written, childish characters and inconsistent butchering of basic physics. Fantasy is fine if that's the intent but to tie into present day as sci-fi for me makes it painful to read.
If you enjoy reading about communists' dream of computer aided mind controlled utopia, quotes by such men as Stalin and Obama and ridiculous far-fetched evolution drivel than this is the book for you. But, if you believe in the freedom of choice, individuality, the dangers of communism, and resent being beaten over the head regarding the dangers of mankind to planet Earth then this book will only serve to piss you off and scare you knowing that there are people who actually believe in such absurdity.
Alten's best in a long line of great reads. Fast paced and thrilling with enough plot twists to keep you guessing the entire ride. Mixing science fiction and science fact so seamlessly you are filled with a need to research for yourself to find out what is real today and what is a prediction of what may come. The characters are deep and believable enough that you can't help to empathize with them. A strong blend of 2001:A Space Odyssey with H.G. Wells "The Time Machine". An instant classic which ranks right up there with these works of Sci-Fi legend. A must read.
I can barely put into words the pure joy and entertainment I got out of this novel!
I’ve been a fan of Steve Alten for a number of years, since I first read MEG, probably in 2005 or so. None of his succeeding books have evoked quite the terror and sheer creepiness that one did but all have had certain qualities that keep me coming back for more and The Omega Project has kept up the tradition. A few elements of this book bothered me somewhat, especially the lack of worldbuilding regarding the Great Die-off and the quick jump from one story arc to another. In fact, there may be too many ideas so that none seem to be fully explored but I still enjoyed the overall concept. In particular, I’m always won over by man’s insertion into a world so vastly different from ours and Robert’s finding himself on an Earth of the very distant future was quite engaging. However, I have to say the overdone preachiness left me cold and had me skipping pages. I can’t claim to be a hard-core science fiction reader since I find some of it inaccessible because of an overabundance of scientific fact and/or theory that I don’t want or understand well or because it’s too heavy on the military theme. I like the kind that just offers a cracking good story with well-crafted character and plot development and strong worldbuilding. With some reservations, particularly regarding worldbuilding, moralizing and pacing, The Omega Project misses the mark a bit but is still enjoyable. I’ll be interested in seeing where Mr. Alten turns his attention next.
Just too wired!
Steve Alten has written another SciFi classic! This story has large scale characters, settings, themes and story telli ng! Heroes such as Robert Ike Eisenbraun who must traverse the world of the future after being frozen for 12 million years. (Or is he merely dreaming?) He is guided by ABE, a computer chip in his brain giving Ike instant access to valuable information. He is helped by Oscar, a land dwelling cephalopod of the future. They must battle tsunami waves, steep climbs, futuristic reptiles, the AI super computer GOLEM, transhuman hybrids and st rrange creatures to survive and set the world back to normal. We are taken from post Great Die Off earth to fro zen Antarctica to the Oceanus Submersable Sphere to future earthnwith giant redwood forests and beach front shores pounded by massive tidal waves. Themes of love, hate, revenge, forgiveness, loyalty and sacrifice are intergral parts of the story. I highly recommend reading this book, then immeadiately reading it again!
Well worth the read. Best book ive read all year
Steve Alten in his new book, “The Omega Project” published by Forge Books introduces us to Robert Eisenbraun . From the back cover: On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth’s long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and before they embark Eisenbraun is the odd man out, put into cold sleep against his will…. When Robert wakes, he finds the ship deserted and not functional. He escapes to the surface of an Earth terribly changed. The plan has gone horribly wrong, but as he adapts to a hostile environment, he realizes that there is still a way to accomplish what his mission had set out to achieve. But he also discovers that he faces a new adversary of the most unlikely sort. For now, his own survival and that of the woman whose love has sustained him in his darkest hours depend on the defeat of a technological colossus partly of his own making. Confronting a foe that knows him almost as well as he knows himself, he faces the prospect of depending on resources that he has reason to believe will be available on one particular night of a full moon, a night foretold by a mysterious unseen ally to be a pivotal moment for the fate of the earth. The game has changed, and Earth’s future depends on him and him alone. Back in the Sixties Author D. F. Jones gave us a trilogy about a supercomputer that took over the world called, “Colossus”. The late Michael Crichton wrote books about science that no matter the safeguards something went terribly wrong. Now Steve Alten gives us a story about the future that combines the two. In the future the Earth is in terrible shape to the point where we have to mine on the moon of Jupiter. This was decided by Eisenbraun’s computer creation, GOLEM. So the future astronauts go into training. When Eisenbraun comes out of deep freeze the world is in worse trouble and only he can save it. Okay, “The Omega Project” is a very exciting thriller that is well written. It has twists and turns that will keep you guessing. It is science fiction mixed with espionage. What I didn’t like was the language and the sex. If it were a movie it would be “R” rated. For me this detracts seriously from the book. If this is not a problem for you then you will like this book a lot. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Partners In Crime. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Steve Alten writes science fiction based in facts,thus making this a possible truth in the next fifty to one hundred years. The blend of the global warming, and human relationships,mixed with the possible solution is just a thrilling page turner, could not put this book down!!! Definitely a MUST READ!!!!!!
I can't wait to get this!!!!!!