I spent a good portion of this weekend filling out online forms to have my science fiction ebook, The Shadows of the Multiverse, promoted during its Free on Kindle days. Starting on Friday, 10/26/2012, and running through 10/30/2012, this novel will be free. Now I did really well on my promotion of The Deep Dark Well, giving away 3,800 copies and since selling over four hundred. The promotion for The Hunger, my Anti-twilight Vampire Novel, did not do nearly as well, garnering 1,100+ giveaways and selling twelve books after. I believe that Twilight is actually hurting the sales of these kind of books, either by being found wanting by those who love sparkly vampires, or thought to be the same by those trying to avoid those books. It’s still out there though, and any sale is a good sale. The Shadows of the Multiverse is a different kind of science fiction tale, incorporating quantum physics and string theory into the background. Using the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment, in which nothing is said to be real until a sentient mind actually observes it (and I guess the cat doesn’t count) I thought about the possibility that some minds might be better at fixing reality than others. And a really strong quantum brain might actually be able to change reality despite the influence of lesser minds. I realize this might fall into the realm of fantasy or mysticism, but still, the idea seemed very cool to one who, as a child, watched Charlie X make people disappear in the original Star Trek.
Except for this little foray into mysticism, and the invention of the gates which transported ships across the Universe, the setting of the novel is pure hard physics. Lasers, antimatter, negative matter, all proven or at least hypothesized constructs. No force fields beside electromagnetic fields that we know exist. Ships move by sending mass in the other direction, though in a manner that makes our modern rockets look downright primitive. And thrusting has an effect of piling up gee forces on the passengers. A ship can thrust at ten gees, but the crew is going to catch hell. I really wondered if this would be a book that readers would like, or if it would be too far out there, both in the use of quantum physics and string theory and in the use of real world physics for space travel and battles. But several people who have read both books and praised The Deep Dark Well have said that this book is better. That is music to a writer’s ears. Both that one of his books was very good, and that the next book he wrote was even better. I’ll leave it to my readers to decide which is the better book. It’s just important to me that they are both considered good tales by the people who read them. So grab your free copy when it becomes available on Friday 10/26/2012, and remember to write a review when you finish. And now for an excerpt from the first appearance of the creatures.
Howard walked toward the door while the large negative matter gun was moved backwards on its frictionless rollers. Sarana continued to talk behind him, wrapping up her interview segment while a trio of holovid recorders caught the scene at the door from three different angles. Turner knew that they were joined by a multitude of sensory probes held by many of those present. Looking for any anomaly, any information that might be of interest.
“Go ahead and attach the opener,” he ordered. Men moved to obey, rolling the stout looking framework toward the door. Once in place they drove the laser bolts into the hard stone-alloy, holding the framework tightly to the wall. Armatures were swung out to the door while great suction cups were attached to the super strong material. As soon as the cups were pressed tightly to the door pumps evacuated what little air remained, forming a tight seal. Nothing else would connect. Not glues. Not electromagnetic forces. Not any kind of bolt.
“Crank her,” yelled Turner over the excited speech around him. The armatures began to move back, pulling at the door through the suction cups. At first nothing happened as the armatures, made of the strongest alloys known to human science, actually began to bend slightly. Turner was afraid the suction cups would pull free and he would have to rethink the project, finding another way to get through.
A loud cheer echoed through the chamber as the door began to shift, to swing outward slowly under the pressure of the pull. A centimeter at a time, as if it had a will of its own and was resisting its opening, the door moved. Turner studied his team as much as he studied the door. Good people all, they stayed at their instruments, recording every event as the vault was opened for the first time in millions of years.
With a last groan the door swung open. Turner swore under his breath as he took in the thickness of the material. Over four meters of that marvelous substance. If they could crack its secret alone they would all be rich beyond the dreams of the wealthiest mega-businesses in the Universe. The door continued to swing open, revealing a pit of total darkness that not even his light amplification augments could penetrate.
A couple of his crew moved forward with powerful laser flashes, shining the bright beams into the darkness. They might as well have flung matches into space for all the good it did. The darkness stood, undispelled, in violation of any physical laws Turner had ever heard of.
“Is there anything blocking the way?” he asked Smothers, who was monitoring the panel showing the accumulation of all the instruments aimed at the void.
“Nothing that I can monitor,” said the technician. “Nothing at all. Nothing on radar, ladar or hyperwave. It’s like the chamber doesn’t exist.”
“We’re getting an energy spike,” said one of the other techs. “Off the scale.”
In front of them the blackness of the void began to ripple, as if something on the other side was trying to push through. Weapons appeared in the hands of several of the crew. Howard had hired them for their toughness and ability to survive as much as for their archeological skills. Most had fought their way out of other sites, through aborigines or the hostile parties of other races.
A glowing tentacle thrust through the darkness, questing around as it felt its way. The crew started inching back, out of reach of the limb. A man raised his weapon to fire, a particle beam rifle from the look of it. Turner raised his hand to stop him as he shook his head. It had not shown hostile intent and he was damned if it would be his party that started a war with a race forty million years in the supposed grave.
“What the hell is that?” yelled Sanara Nakamura. Howard turned as the shadows began to materialize in the room, bringing feelings of terror with them. Nakamura screamed as one quickly engulfed her. A scream that turned into a croak as her body began to shrivel within the grasp of the creature. A desiccated corpse fell from the shadow as it moved on to the next target.
Turner backed toward the void as more of his people became victims of the unknown manifestations. Screams rang through the chamber along with the phuts and hisses of projectile weapons and particle beams. Weapons that did nothing to the things. Didn’t even slow them an instant, before they grabbed the weapon wielders and ended their lives. The shadows were growing more substantial with each kill and soon there was only one living human in the chamber.
Turner pressed his back against the black field, his mind reeling in terror as he tried to find some way out of the room. The tentacles continued to move about, almost cartoon like in the way they ended in midair. They quested about as if they knew he was there but couldn’t locate him for some reason.
Dr. Howard Turner frantically looked for a way out, a way past the creatures. He could find none. They quivered a moment as if confused, then all turned in his direction as if they had finally located him. They had him hemmed in and were tightening the circle slowly, as if they wanted to savor this last death. Howard pushed his back against the barrier with all his strength but it wouldn’t yield. His panicked mind forced him to try and put some more space between his life force and their ravenous appetite. Even if that space was measured in centimeters. He started as his back touched something soft, something moving. And he remembered the different local tentacle that had come through the void.
Without warning the appendage grasped him in a grip that was both secure and gentle. Through some connection he realized that this creature meant him no harm, and he did not fight it as it pulled him back into the darkness. There was an instant of resistance and then he was through, into another world, another dimension of existence. His poor monkey’s mind, only a couple of million years removed from the trees of home, could not grasp the world that was before him. Unconsciousness closed the world off from him in merciful blackness.