Orion: A Novel

Orion: A Novel

by Ben Bova

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Orion: A Novel by Ben Bova

John O'Ryan is not a god...not exactly. He is an eternal warrior destined to combat the Dark Lord through all time for dominion of the Earth. Follow him, servant of a great race, as he battles his enemy down the halls of time, from the caves of our ancestors to the final confrontation under the hammer of nuclear annihilation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429932097
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 04/01/2011
Series: Orion , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 405,296
File size: 426 KB

About the Author

Born in Philadelphia, Ben Bova worked as a newspaper reporter, a technical editor for Project Vanguard (the first American satellite program), and a science writer and marketing manager for Avco Everett Research Laboratory, before being appointed editor of Analog, one of the leading science fiction magazines, in 1971. After leaving Analog in 1978, he continued his editorial work in science fiction, serving as fiction editor of Omni for several years and editing a number of anthologies and lines of books, including the "Ben Bova Presents" series for Tor. He has won science fiction's Hugo Award for Best Editor six times.

A published SF author from the late 1950s onward, Bova is one of the field's leading writers of "hard SF," science fiction based on plausible science and engineering. Among his dozens of novels are Millennium, The Kinsman Saga, Colony, Orion, Peacekeepers, Privateers, and the Voyagers series. Much of his recent work, including Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, The Precipice, and The Rock Rats, falls into the continuity he calls "The Grand Tour," a large-scale saga of the near-future exploration and development of our solar system.

A President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in 2001 Dr. Bova was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife, the well-known literary agent Barbara Bova.

Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction’s Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova’s writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.

Read an Excerpt


By Ben Bova

Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

Copyright © 1984 Ben Bova
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-3209-7


I am not superhuman.

I do have abilities that are far beyond those of any normal man's, but I am just as human and mortal as anyone on Earth.

The core of my abilities is apparently in the structure of my nervous system. I can take completely conscious control of my entire body. I can direct my will along the chain of synapses instantly to make any part of my body do exactly what I wish it to do.

Last year I learned to play the piano in two hours. My teacher, a mild, gray little man, absolutely refused to believe that I had never touched a keyboard before that day. Earlier this year I stunned a Tae Kwan Do master by learning in less than a week everything he had absorbed in a lifetime of unceasing work. He tried to be humble and polite about it, but it was clear that he was furious with me and deeply ashamed of himself for being so. I left his class.

My powers are growing. I have always been able to control my heartbeat and breathing. I thought everyone could until I began reading about yogis and their "mystical" abilities. For me, their tricks are child's play.

Two months ago I found myself sitting in a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. I tend to be a solitary man, so I often take my lunch hour lateenough to avoid the noisy crowds. It was after 3:00 p.m. and the restaurant was almost empty. A few couples were sitting at scattered tables, speaking in hushed tones. A middle-aged pair of tourists were studying the French menu warily, suspicious of food they had never heard of before. A couple of secret lovers sat well toward the rear, holding hands furtively, glancing up toward the door every few seconds. One young woman sat alone, not far from my own table near the front of the restaurant. She was beautiful, with dark hair curling at her shoulders and the strong, classic facial features that marked her as a photographer's model.

She happened to glance in my direction, and her calm, intelligent eyes penetrated to my soul. Her eyes were large, gray as a polar sea, and seemed to hold all the knowledge of the world. Suddenly I realized that I was not merely a solitary man; I was a lonely man. Like a love-struck puppy, I wanted desperately to go over to her table and introduce myself.

But her gaze shifted to the door. I turned to see a man enter, a strikingly handsome, gold-maned man of that indeterminate age between thirty and fifty. He stood by the door for a moment, then went to the bar up by the curtained plate glass window and took a stool. Even though he was wearing a conservative gray business suit, he looked more like a movie idol or an ancient Greek god than a Manhattan executive who was getting an early start on the cocktail hour.

My gray-eyed beauty stared at him, as if unable to pull herself free of his spell. There was an aura about him, a golden radiance. The air almost seemed to glow where he was sitting. Deep inside me, a long-buried memory began to nag at me. I felt that I knew him, that I had met him long ago. But I could not remember where or when or under what circumstances.

I looked back at the young woman. With a visible effort, she tore her gaze away from the golden man and looked toward me. The corners of her lips curled upward slightly in a smile that might have been an invitation. But the door opened again and she looked away from me once more.

Another man entered the restaurant and went directly to the bar, sitting around its curve so that his back faced the curtained window. If the first man was a golden angel, this one had the look of a midnight netherworld about him. His face was heavy and grim; his muscular body bulged his clothing. His hair was jet black and his eyes burned angrily under heavy, bushy brows. Even his voice seemed heavy and dark with fury when he ordered a brandy.

I finished my coffee and decided to ask for my check, then stop at the model's table on my way out. I started to look for my waiter among the four of them loafing by the kitchen doors in the rear of the restaurant, conversing in a mixture of French and Italian. That is what saved me.

A bald little man in a black coat popped out of the kitchen's swinging door and tossed a black egg-shaped object the length of the restaurant. A hand grenade.

I saw it all as if it were happening in slow motion. I realize now that my reflexes must have suddenly gone into overdrive, operating at a fantastically fast rate. I saw the man ducking back inside the kitchen, the waiters stiffening with surprise, the couples at the other tables still talking, not realizing that death was a second or two away. The young beauty a few tables away from me had her back to the grenade, but the bartender stared straight at it as it clunked on the carpet and rolled lumpily along to within five feet of me.

I shouted a warning and leaped across the intervening tables to knock the young model out of the way of the blast. We thudded to the floor, me on top of her. The clatter of dishes and glassware was lost in the roar of the explosion. The room flashed and thundered. It shook. Then—smoke, screams, the heat of flames, the acrid smell of the explosive.

I got to my feet unharmed. Her table was splintered and the wall behind us shredded by shrapnel. Smoke filled the room. I got to my knees and saw that the young woman was unconscious. There was a gash on her forehead, but she seemed otherwise unharmed. I turned and saw through the smoke the other people in the restaurant mangled and bleeding, sprawled on the floor, slumped against the walls. Some were moaning. A woman sobbed.

I took the young model in my arms and carried her out to the sidewalk. Then I went back in and brought out another couple. As I stretched them out on the pavement among the shards of glass from the blown-out window, the police and firemen began to arrive, sirens shrieking. An ambulance was right behind them. I stood aside and let the professionals take over.

There was no sign of either of the two men who had been sitting at the bar. Both the golden one and the dark man seemed to have disappeared the instant the grenade went off. They were gone by the time I had pulled myself up off the floor. The bartender had been cut in half by the blast. His two customers had vanished.

As the firemen extinguished the smoldering blaze, the police laid out four dead bodies on the sidewalk and covered them with blankets. The medics were treating the wounded. They lifted the model, still unconscious, onto a stretcher. More ambulances arrived, and a crowd gathered around the scene, buzzing.

"Goddamned I.R.A.," grumbled one of the cops.

"Cheez, they're tossin' bombs around here, too, now?"

"Coulda been the Puerto Ricans," another cop suggested, his voice weary, exasperated.

"Or the Serbo-Croatians. They set that bomb off in the Statue of Liberty, remember?"

They questioned me for several minutes, then turned me over to the medics for a quick checkup at the back of one of the ambulances.

"You're lucky, mister," said the white-jacketed medic. "You didn't even get your hair mussed."

Lucky. I felt numb, as if my whole body had been immersed in a thick enveloping fog. I could see and move and breathe and think. But I could not feel. I wanted to be angry, or grief-stricken, or even frightened. But I was as calm as a stupid cow, staring at the world with placid eyes. I thought about the young woman who was being taken off to a hospital. What made me try to save her? Who was responsible for the bombing? Were they trying to kill her? Or one of the men at the bar?

Or me?

Two TV vans had arrived by now, and the news reporters were speaking to the police captain in charge of the scene while their crews unlimbered their mini-cameras. One of the reporters, a sharpfaced woman with a penetratingly nasal voice, interviewed me for a few minutes. I responded to her questions automatically, my mind dull and slow.

Once the police let me leave, I pushed my way through the milling crowd that had been drawn by the excitement and walked the three blocks back to my office. I told no one about the explosion. I went straight to my private cubicle and shut the door.

As evening fell, I was still sitting at my desk—wondering why the grenade had been thrown and how I had escaped being killed by it. Which led me to wondering why I have such physical abilities and whether those two strangers who disappeared from the bar had the same powers. I thought again about the young woman. Closing my eyes, I recalled from my memory the image of the ambulance that had taken her away. St. Mercy Hospital was printed along its side paneling. A quick check with my desktop computer gave me the hospital's address. I got up from my desk and left the office, the lights turning off automatically behind me.


It wasn't until I pushed through the revolving door of St. Mercy's main entrance that I realized I had no idea of the name of the woman I had come to see. And as I stood there in the middle of the frenetic, crowded, bustling lobby, I saw the foolishness of asking any of the harried-looking receptionists for help. For a few moments I was at a loss; then I spotted a uniformed policeman.

Step by step I went from one police officer to another, asking for information about the people brought in from the bombing earlier that day. I told them I was from the restaurant's insurance company. Only one of the policemen, a burly black man with a handsome mustache, eyed me suspiciously and asked for identification. I showed him my group insurance card; he barely glanced at it, but it looked official enough to satisfy him. Perhaps my air of utter confidence also helped to convince him.

In less than a half-hour I entered a ward that contained sixteen beds, half of them empty. The nurse in charge led me to the bed where the young model lay, eyes closed, a flesh-toned plastic bandage taped to her forehead.

"Only a few minutes," the nurse whispered to me.

I nodded.

"Miss Promachos," the nurse called softly, leaning over the bed. "You have a visitor."

The young woman's eyes opened. Those lustrous gray eyes that seemed as deep as eternity.

"Only a few minutes," the nurse repeated. Then she walked away, her soft-soled shoes squeaking on the tiled floor.

"You ... you're the one who saved me, in the restaurant."

I could feel my heart throbbing wildly, and I made no effort to slow it. "Are you all right?" I asked.

"Yes, thanks to you. Only this cut on my forehead; they said I won't need plastic surgery, it won't leave a scar."

"That's good."

Her lips curled upward slightly. "And a few bruises on my body and legs from being knocked down."

"Oh. I'm sorry ..."

She laughed. "Don't be! If you hadn't knocked me over ..." The laughter faded. Her lovely face grew serious.

I stepped closer to the bed. "I'm glad you weren't hurt seriously. I ... I don't even know your name."

"Aretha," she said. "Call me Aretha." Her voice was a low, soft purr, totally feminine without being high-pitched or shrill.

She didn't ask me my name, but instead looked at me with a gaze that seemed perfectly calm, yet expectant, as if she were waiting for me to tell her something. Something important. I began to feel uneasy, confused.

"You don't know who I am, do you?" she asked.

My mouth felt dry. "Should I know?"

"You don't remember?"

Remember what? I wanted to ask her. Instead, I merely shook my head.

She reached out and took my hand. Her fingers felt cool and calming on my skin. "It's all right," she said. "I'll help you. That's why I'm here."

"To help me?" My mind was whirling now. What did she mean?

"Do you remember the two men who were sitting at the bar this afternoon?"

"The golden one ..." His image was burning in my memory.

"And the other. The dark one." Aretha's face was somber now. "You remember the other one?"


"But you don't remember who they are, do you?"

"Should I?"

"You must," she said, gripping my hand tightly. "It is imperative."

"But I don't know who they are. I never saw them before today."

She let her head sink back on the pillows. "You have seen them. We both have. But you can't remember any of it."

I heard the squeak-squeak of the nurse's footsteps approaching. "This is all very confusing," I said to Aretha. "Why was the restaurant bombed? Who's behind it all?"

"That's not important. I'm here to help you recall your mission. What happened this afternoon is trivial."

"Trivial? Four people were killed!"

The nurse's hissing whisper cut through our conversation, "That's all, sir. She needs her rest."

"But ..."

"She needs her rest!"

Aretha smiled at me. "It's all right. You can come back tomorrow. I'll tell you about it then."

Reluctantly, I bade her good-bye and left the hospital.

As I walked slowly through the hospital's busy maze of corridors, I paid no attention to the people rushing along beside me. Their individual tales of grief and pain were as far from me as the most distant star. My mind was boiling, seething, from the tantalizing scraps of information that Aretha had given me.

She knew me! We had met before. I should have remembered her, and the two men who had been at the bar. But my memory was as blank as a darkened, empty computer screen.

By the time I was walking down the front stairs of St. Mercy's, looking up the street for a taxi, I decided not to go home. Instead, I gave the cabbie the address of my office building—where my personnel record was on file.

The externals are easy. My name is John G. O'Ryan. That had always made me feel slightly uneasy, as though it wasn't the proper name for me, not my real name at all. John O'Ryan. It didn't feel right. I am the chief of marketing research for Continental Electronics Corporation, a multinational firm that manufactures lasers and other high-technology equipment. My personnel file, as I searched through it on my desktop computer, said that I was thirty-six years old, but I've always felt younger....


I tried to remember back to my thirtieth birthday and found with a shock that I could not. My thirty-third birthday was clear in my mind: that was the night I had spent with Adrienna, the boss' private secretary. It was a memorable occasion. Adrienna was transferred to the company's London office a few weeks later, and ever since then I seem to have spent all my time with the computers and my work. I tried to recall Adrienna's face and could not. Nothing came to my mind except the hazy recollection of dark hair, a strong, lithe body, and lustrous gray eyes.

Beyond my thirty-third birthday my mind was a blank. I frowned in concentration so hard that my jaw muscles started to ache, but I still could not remember anything more than three years back. No knowledge of who my parents were. No memories of childhood. I did not even have any friends outside the small circle of acquaintances here at the office.

Cold sweat broke out all over my body. Who am I? Why am I?

I sat in my little office for hours as evening deepened into darkness, alone in my quiet, climate-controlled, chrome-and-leather cubicle, behind my sleek desk of Brazilian mahogany, and stared at my own personnel file on the desktop computer screen. There was not very much in it. Names. Dates. Schools. None of them made sense to me or touched the faintest wisp of memory.

I looked up at the polished chrome mirror on the wall across from my desk. John G. O'Ryan looked back at me: a stranger with thick, dark hair, an undistinguished face that had a slightly Mediterranean cast to it (why the O'Ryan, then?), just under six feet tall, with a trim build dressed in an executive's uniform of dark blue three-piece suit, off-white shirt and carefully knotted maroon tie.

The personnel file said that I had been a good athlete at school. I still felt strong and solid. But totally "average." I could fade into a crowd and become invisible quite easily.

Who am I? I could not escape the feeling that I had been put here, placed into this life, only three years ago by some power or agency that had wiped clean all memory of my earlier life.

I realized that I had to find out who, or what, had put me here. And Aretha was the key to my past; she knew, and she wanted me to know. My heart was pounding now, my breath fast, almost panting. I was feeling some emotion now, and for several minutes I reveled in it. But then, with a deliberate effort I lowered the adrenaline level in my blood, slowed my heartbeat and breathing rate.


Excerpted from Orion by Ben Bova. Copyright © 1984 Ben Bova. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
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.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Copyright Page,

What People are Saying About This

Isaac Asimov

"Never-stop action and mind-bending concepts combined to make Orion absolutely unforgettable....Ben Bova brings it to intense life on a canvas spread over time and space."

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Orion 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Map: Result1: map Result2: bios Result3: main area Result4: alphas dens Result5-10: other dens Result11: hunting ground Rules: 1: if a pup imprints you must wait until you get attacheed or another wolf attaches to it 2: no killing pups 3:no hyneana only wolves or cyote 4: no speacial powers 5:obey alpha 6: pups can not be abandoned for more than an hour 7: if ou dont flow these rules ou will be banned for a day third atempt will be a week and so on and so forth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Topnotch read. Even those not initiated imto si fi will enjoy the trip through time and evolution this book takes you on. Enjoy. I sure did. (Minimal editing gaffs for a change.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an amazing series. Orion is fast paced action within an amazing tale. Read this book!