Futuristic Science Fiction, 310 pages
Cover art by Pat Evans
Blurb: Aficionados of science fiction will find this novel intriguing. In particular, those of you who thrive on the intricacies of engineering solutions to tricky unearthly problems will have a field day. Right from the start the reader is treated to a nearly catastrophic accident when a Mars mission crew and their spaceship are accidentally shrunk to a twentieth of their original size. What a challenge! More so, when Mike, the project Director, decides to keep the shrinkage a big secret, not just from the public, but from the crew. This generates terrific conflict for Mike and the few in the know as well as interesting technical problems to be overcome. .
It was hard, dangerous, back-breaking work to survey the interior of the Rover. At times Tom felt like giving up, but his will to live kept him going. In about two weeks, they finished the job.
“There is enough cable on the Rover to connect the solar panels to the BCam,” reported Tom, “but I’m still thinking about making a gun or asking for Barbara’s poison. The job is hopeless. The clips and the screws holding the cables are too big and heavy. We cannot loosen them with our tools. In addition, we do not have the muscle.”
“Can you use the buggy?” Fred asked.
“It could drag the cable, but it’s not strong enough to rip it out.”
“Shit, can you take off enough cable to hook up the BCam if we are practically touching the Rover?” queried Jeff.
“I doubt we can remove even one clip,” Tom concluded.
“Can we take some cable off the BCam temporarily to make the connection and put it back?” Mario asked.
“I don’t know, but I’ll check. If we could find it in the command module, I think I can remove some cables, but with the rest of the ship, I’m afraid we’ll have the same problems.”
“I have a stupid idea,” Barbara started. “Can we use the laser cannon to cut some of the clips?”
“If my recollection is correct, the cannon was designed to operate in space,” Jeff explained. “We developed it to cut up the Russian satellites in case of a war. I think it would be like slicing an angel food cake with dynamite.”
“Not necessarily,” Tom interrupted. “I can take a relay off Barbara’s autoclave and install an extra choker to the aperture control. If it works, we can cut up the Rover as if it were actually angel food cake. How about the stowage; can we take the solar panels?”
“We cannot take all the solar panels, we have room for only about two thirds of them,” Fred replied.
“If the laser cannon works out as a cutter, we could dismantle a few units from the fringes, and take only the core,” Tom said.
“It was a hard day,” Barbara said. “By captain’s orders, stop working and start again first light tomorrow morning.”
“Anyone interested in a game of bridge?” Mario asked.
~ * ~
Mike returned from Goose Bay and found Betsy gone. Unperturbed, he phoned the DA’s office.
“This is Mike Carnavon…can I speak to Betsy?”
“Just a minute, sir,” came the reply, followed by a few clicks.
“Mike, this is Al Lander, what do you know of Betsy?”
“What do you mean?” Mike asked. He recognized the voice of the district attorney.
“I don’t understand.”
“Anyway, she was arraigned yesterday, posted the bond and promptly disappeared. Where did you stash her?”
“I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Why was she arraigned?”
“Obviously, she didn’t tell you. We charged Betsy with prostitution and abuse of official powers.”
“Well, the cops have plenty of evidence and we are sure to get a conviction.”
“This is ridiculous, but I’ll check around and see where she could have gone. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Do that, Mr. Carnavon,” the DA said and hung up.
Mike was puzzled and called his CIA contact.
“This is Carnavon, can I speak with Hastings?”
“Can you give me the password of the day, sir?”