The closest planet to our Sun, Mercury is a rocky, barren, heat-scorched world. But there are those who hope to find wealth in its desolation.Saito Yamagata thinks Mercury's position will make it an ideal orbit point for satellites that could someday create enough power to propel starships into deep space. He hires Dante Alexios to bring his dreams to life. Astrobiologist Victor Molina thinks the water at Mercury's poles may harbor evidence of life, and hopes to achieve fame and glory by proving it. Bishop Elliot Danvers has been sent by the powerful Earth-based ""New Morality"" to keep close tabs on Molina's endeavors, which threaten to produce results contrary to fundamentalist teachings.Three of these men are blissfully unaware of their shared history and how it ties into one of mankind's greatest tragedies. Years before, visionary engineer Mance Bracknell made his own attempt to help man progress into space by building a ladder to the stars: a glistening tower stretching thousands of miles into the air, anchored by spans of steel to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. But technological endeavor was no match for human passions, and greed and jealousy provoked terrorists to an act of sabotage that resulted in the death of millions.There's no telling how many more will have to die before Mance has his revenge... At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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May 01, 2005
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Excerpt from Mercury by Ben Bova
BOOK I THE REALM OF FIRE
No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change: Thy pyramids built up with newer might To me are nothing novel, nothing strange; They are but dressings of a former sight.
Saito Yamagata had to squint against the Sun's overwhelming glare, even through the heavily tinted visor of his helmet.
"This is truly the realm of fire," he whispered to himself. "Small wonder our ancestors worshiped you, Daystar."
Despite his instinctive unease, Yamagata felt physically comfortable enough inside his thickly insulated spacesuit; its cooling system and the radiators that projected from its back like a pair of dark oblong wings seemed to be working adequately. Still, the nearness, the overpowering brightness, the sheer size of that seething, churning ball of roiling gases made his nerves flutter. It seemed to fill the sky. Yamagata could see streamers arching up from the Sun's curved limb into the blackness of space, huge bridges of million-degree plasma expanding and then pouring back down onto the blazing, searing surface of the photosphere.
He shuddered inside the cramped confines of his suit. Enough sight-seeing, he told himself. You have proven your courage and audacity for all the crew and your guests to see and remember. Get back inside the ship. Get to work. It is time to begin your third life.
Yamagata had come to Mercury to seek salvation. A strange route to blessedness, he thought. I must first pass through this fiery inferno, like a Catholic serving time in purgatory before attaining heaven. He tried to shrug philosophically, found that it was impossible in the suit, so instead he lifted his left arm with the help of the suit's miniaturized servomotors and studied the keyboard wrapped around his wrist until he felt certain that he knew which keys he must touch to activate and control his suit's propulsion unit. He could call for assistance, he knew, but the loss of face was too much to risk. Despite the lamas' earnest attempts to teach him humility, Yamagata still held to hispride. If I go sailing out into infinity, he told himself, then I can call for help. And blame a suit malfunction, he added, with a sly grin.
He was pleased, then, when he was able to turn himself to face Himawari, the big, slowly rotating fusion torch ship that had brought him and his two guests to Mercury, and actually began jetting toward it at a sedate pace. With something of a shock Yamagata realized this was the first time he had ever been in space. All those years of his first life, building the power satellites and getting rich, he had remained firmly on Earth. Then he had died of cancer, been frozen, and reborn. Most of his second life he had spent in the lamasery in the Himalayas. He had never gone into space. Not until now.
Time to begin my third life, he said to himself as he neared Himawari. Time to atone for the first two.
Time for the stars.