Lost in Space

Lost in Space

by Joan D. Vinge, Joan D. Vinge

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061059087
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/02/1998
Series: Lost in Space Series
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Joan Vinge has been described as "one of the reigning queens of science fiction" and is renowned for creating lyrical human dreams in fascinatingly complex future settings. She has won the Hugo for her novel The Snow Queen. Vinge is the author of the bestselling Return of the Jedi Storybook, World's End, and Psion. Kirkus called her novel Catspaw, "an engrossing and satisfying read." The Summer Queen, a sequel to The Snow Queen, was published in 1991. She is currently writing two novels set in the Bronze Age. Dreamfall, which Publisher's Weekly called a "richly detailed and suspenseful sequel to Catspaw," was on the Locus 1996 Recommended Reading List.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The music swelled—heroic, triumphant, full of violins—its sound too large to be contained inside such a tiny monitor; like the image of outer space incongruously downsized to fit a palm-wide vid screen.

Somber yet stirring, the voice-over intoned, "Since the dawn of history, men, and women have searched for a land of pIenty, where unlimited resources are available to all . . . "

The image on the screen became a windswept dream couple—a handsome, bearded man and a dark-haired, beautiful woman standing side by side. Their faces were as familiar to the boy as his own hand cradling the monitor—and yet at the same time they were total strangers. The sight of them always bothered and depressed him, no matter how often he saw it.

"This man, Professor John Robinson, inventor of the faster-than-light hyperdrive, will make that timeless dream a reality."

The stylized blue-and-gold ovals of the Jupiter Mission logo flashed on the screen, framing the couple with their three perfect children: a blond young woman, a dark-haired girl, and a towheaded boy. They all wore equally unnatural, digitally altered smiles.

"John Robinson and his family have been specially trained to make a ten-year journey across the galaxy in the world's most advanced spacecraft, the Jupiter . . . "

Abruptly they all winked out of existence, replaced by the dome of a towering launch apparatus gleaming in the early sun.

"The Robinson family will be the vanguard for generations of families to come. They will join our research colony on Alpha Prime. There they will become the first settlerson a world where unlimited food and water will be the birthright for all . . . "

The scene shifted to a satellite photo of a world that was clearly not Earth. "Alpha Prime will be a new Eden. A chance for mankind to spread its wings across the galaxy." A computer simulation swept the viewer down from orbit, giving the watching boy the eyes of a bird in flight, soaring over sun-dappled cropland rich with magnificent harvests. "What kind of future can our children look forward to?"

"A future in paradise . . . "

The boy blinked as the vision of a new Eden was swept aside by a new logo—a corporate logo this time—and the incongruous sight of a Coke bottle hurtling toward the stars.

"This mission sponsored by the U.S. Army and the Coca-Cola Corporation."

Will Robinson, the blond-haired youngest child of "heroic Professor John Robinson," screwed his imperfect ten-year-old's face into an expression of hopeless disgust. "'Coke,'" he mimicked, echoing the narrator's final words, "'saving the future for our children."' His free hand went to the pocket-sized computer resting in his palm. "Give me a break," he muttered, and activated a new program on his hacker's deck.

Peering out through the slats of the door, Will watched his mother morosely from his hiding place in the coat closet. Mom stood in the middle of the living room gesturing like a juggler, hand-signaling the movers what to take next as she simultaneously carried on a conversation with the pissed-off principal of his school. At least in his secret hiding place he was safe, for the moment, from the chaos that ruled his house and his life.

Maybe too safe . . . As he listened to the principal's voice rise, and saw the look on his mother's face, his hand moved to the keypad of his deck again.

"He hacked our main power grid to run his experiment," the principal was saying, waving her own hands. "The school was in chaos! We didn't even have lights."

The living room lights suddenly dimmed around her. The principal flickered too; she was only a holograph, an avatar of the real person. When her image solidified again, her virtual head had been grafted onto the iconic body of Arnold Schwarzenegger, his biceps rippling. She ranted on, oblivious to the sabotage.

Will contemplated his selection of other fantasy figures and grinned. "The changing shape of education . . . " he murmured, and set her head on the body of semi-emaciated supermodel Twiggy.

Outside in the living room, his mother laughed out loud. Will peered through the slats in time to see her look of chagrin as she realized the principal had no idea what was happening. Mom began to drift casually around the living room, surreptitiously glancing behind couches and into empty cabinets.

"This is no laughing matter, Professor Robinson," the principal said sharply. "Will is terribly gifted. His little time machines, though pure fancy, are the products of a truly brilliant mind."

Will frowned. Her body became an ape's. Just then his mother yanked open the closet door. Light poured into his cramped hideout, exposing his covert activities. Will grinned up at her.

Mom shook her head, her expression stalled between aggravation and laughter. "No more monkey business," Mom said, as sternly as she could manage through the unproductive urge to smile back at him.

Will shrugged, and fiddled with his deck. Out in the living room the principal was suddenly herself again, still droning on, utterly oblivious.

". . but the boy is starved for attention. I know your life is anything but normal right now, but was there no way his father could have attended the science fair?"

Will sighed, and his smile disappeared.

John Robinson stared out the window of his office in the elevated dome of Houston Space Command, and sighed. The view from the thirty-story structure of the Jupiter Mission launch platform was panoramic, letting him see the vast urban sprawl of the Houston-Austin-Dallas megatropolis extending beyond even the horizon under a dark, wet sky. Immense industrial air purifiers drifted high above, like the bizarre ships of an invading alien armada.

If he turned 180 degrees, he would see the same sight, where Houston-Austin-Dallas merged imperceptibly into its sister city beyond the Mexican border . . .

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews