Scientists have discovered that there is something orbiting the Sun at 180 degrees to the earth’s orbit, in other words, directly behind the sun and therefore always invisible to all scientific instruments. Satellites are sent out to discover what is there, but they do not return. A manned flight using the “Toroid-1” space station is sent off but it too does not return. Before it disappears behind the sun however, it reports seeing a blue planet where the mystery mass is calculated to be. A rescue mission is organised using the “Toroid-2” space station with three fighter jets on board.
When Toroid-1 reaches the planet, which they call Antipodus, they send their small transporter plane in close to take photographs, but unfortunately this is attacked by strange birds, and it crash lands on the planet. These birds go on to damage the space station which kills one crew member and prevents the sole survivor from returning to earth.
The survivors of the plane crash discover first of all that they can breathe the air, secondly that they have no way to get off the planet’s surface, and finally their radio does not work. They have landed on an earth like planet, but with no human beings; a planet with a whole host of plants, animals, insects, and birds. They are driven from their crashed plane by a tribe of Neanderthals that live like Stone Age people nearby, so are left to survive in this wild place with simply the clothes they are wearing. Meanwhile, the rescue ship Toroid-2 is blown off course by a meteor storm. One of the meteors strikes the ship which knocks the captain unconscious and sends him slightly mad, so the rather cautious second in command takes charge of the ship. When they come into orbit the planet the strange birds, that damaged the transporter plane from Toroid-1, attack again. The fighter pilots manage to fight off the attack but any thought of getting near the planet is abandoned. They discover that these birds fly out into space to feed on insects which have been pulled into space from Earth, and trail round our orbit round the sun. These birds hold their breath when they fly out into space, and propel themselves using huge electric sparks which also become fearsome weapons.
The substitute captain of Toroid-2 decides to couple up Toroid-1 with Toroid-2 and head for home, assuming that the survivors of the plane crash are dead. The survivors on the planet meanwhile manage to get back to their crashed plane and get the radio working on ‘receive’ only. They realise they are going to be left behind, so in a desperate attempt to signal the spaceship they set fire to a forest.
The climax of the story is their dramatic rescue.
Scientists have calculated that there is something directly behind the sun, orbiting at the same speed as the Earth and therefore always invisible to all scientific instruments. Satellites are sent out to discover what is there, but they do not return. A manned flight is sent off but it too does not return. But before it disappears behind the sun, the crew reports seeing a blue planet where the mystery mass is calculated to be. A rescue mission is organised with three fighter jets on board. This is the story of the rescue.
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About the Author
I was born in Newport, South Wales in 1951. My junior school was very traditional with iron bound desks and the ever present threat of being wacked by a ruler on the back of the legs, then my senior school was a complete contrast. It was one of the first ever comprehensive schools in the UK. Boys and girls mixed together, seven or eight classes in each year ranging from the ‘grammar stream’ down to ‘remedial’. From there I went on to university, graduating at Bath with an honours degree in engineering in 1973. I worked as an engineer, mostly as a designer, for the next 10 years, and then moved over to computer sales. I now run my own business, working from home selling IT security technology to medium and large sized businesses. My hobbies have included sailing, scuba diving, and amateur dramatics, plus I was a school governor for over twelve years. I am married and have two children, and two grandsons.