Maelstrom by J. Richard Jacobs


(J. Richard Jacobs)

Seeds of Memory



Book 2, Maelstrom, serves as a bridge between books 1 and 3 of the trilogy. It is short, barely a novella, and may be read as a stand-alone. This book provides filler information so that you, the reader, may understand what occurred to bring about the cultural and technological changes you will find in the third instalment, Book 3: Tapper Tom, Mooch, and the Traveler. The first book is solid science fiction based in fact and real possibility. The third book is an adventure, still science fiction, but based more in conjecture, fun and action.

In Book 1 of The Rain Trilogy, Storm Cloud Rising, the unthinkable came to light. There was no refuting that the comets and rocks were there. Many of them could be seen and tracked-but more could not, hiding behind sheaths of carbon black in a huge sky and, unless caught in the frantic radar and infrared sweeps after the first discovery, remaining invisible in the immense darkness of space. It is, after all, a huge sky and it takes some time to map all of it with the thoroughness required to "know" what is coming, where it is coming from and where it is going. Especially in a world where the infrastructure has crumbled, leaving no organized force to do the work of unveiling those clumps of ice, stone and metal hurtling toward the sun from all directions and at incredible speeds. Not everyone knew what that meant, but there were some, nesting in high, untouchable places and they were determined to keep it secret from an unsuspecting public; people whom they knew with some certainty and justification would panic and demand answers. Answers the pundits could not and would not answer. Their people would want protection. Protection that could not be offered. It could not even be lied into existence. But that's what all those governments were there for, right? To defend and protect their citizens from disaster?

The cosmic velocities of the incoming rain in many cases exceeded the norm; some of it charging in at close to seventy-one thousand meters per second. They originated somewhere out in the vast Oort Cloud and the outer Kuiper Belt that surround our solar system, though some may have come from elsewhere to start the chain of events.

The Oort Cloud-a cosmic bubble of primordial junk adrift in tenuous, lazy orbits, ominously awaiting an opportunity to move into the system. All it took was a gentle nudge sometime in the dim past and they came falling in. They had to be found, catalogued, their trajectories computed.

Escape? Impossible. At the least, a few of the big ones were bound to hit Earth. Simply the odds at work. Others would collide with some of the belt mines, Martian colonies and fragile out-stations. That was close to a given-you could bank on it. They raced past the dim outer limits of the solar system as if the Grim Reaper and all his kin were charging toward the sun in reckless abandon, swinging their scythes wildly this way and that as they straddled the backs of swift, all but invisible, black stallions. Mindless, merciless, blind destruction would be left in the wake of the approaching storm.

In Book Two of The Rain Trilogy: MAELSTROM we are confronted with what happens when Earth is attacked, beaten and torn apart by an inept, sadistic surgeon wielding a dull scalpel and a heavy hammer-her thin skin callously ripped apart and her viscera spilling out onto the surface in thick, superheated tendrils, glowing orange and white, then hardening into black rock as they cool. Clouds of dust and ash shrouding Earth, denying the little blue planet most of the life-giving light of the sun and its warmth. The Martian and lunar colonies will fare better if not directly struck-not enough atmosphere to disrupt over a long period.

Not all the people on Earth have had the good fortune of finding a hole to hide in. Actually, most didn't think of that possibility, they just ran helter-skelter toward the south where their sworn protectors had fled. Even though the Pope, his astronomers and their fellow scientists from Vatican City and other places around the globe, stepped boldly to the front and broadcast to the world what was going to happen in great, frightening detail. They suggested ways the people might find protection for themselves; how they could conceivably live through the coming heavenly holocaust to build a new world at the end of the onslaught. They told the people how the great powers, the governments of the world, made self-righteous decisions about who would survive and who would not in a sweeping global triage and how their elected or self-appointed officials had no intention and no means of protecting or defending their people, anyway. They revealed how these "protectors" plundered Earth's seed banks, the so-called Doomsday Vaults, and took all that was available into hiding with them somewhere in the south.

Now, those who didn't listen or paid no heed must bear the full fury of the storm-exposed. Will there be any survivors? Time will tell, but it does not look good for anyone-not even those who found or carved and blasted out holes deep underground in which they could hide from the rain and ride out the long winter to come. There were many who fled southward, blindly following their protectors in a vain hope that they would be given shelter. They all faced an uncertain future and an even less secure present. Around them there was a random, cosmic tossing of the dice going on and no one could say how long the bombardment would endure or the tenebrous, frigid, killing winter would last.

So, what will be left of the monuments to human achievement? Will any of them be useful, or will they all be nothing but wasted ruins, the twisted, shattered remains of cities near impact zones or those unscathed by direct attack but situated in the paths of advancing ice fields sliding relentlessly, scouring the ground beneath-or perched dangerously close to new volcanoes and shifting fault lines? Will any of our technology and social structure be in place after the influx subsides, or will we be reduced to total anarchy and plunged into the abyss of paleolithic savagery?