Guide alternates between the present day and near future; but has its roots in the Late Pleistocene. For those who weren’t paying attention in class, this was when homo neanderthalis were still about, vying with homo sapiens for top evolutionary honours.
The story kicks off with Earth being watched by powerful Star Beings. One of their functions is to act as a kind of stellar cradle nurse…. Things are now ready for the next tweak to Earth’s biosphere. The tool they plan to use is an animite – a meteorite loaded with organic compounds and other things that make up the stuff of life. The payload is delivered by smashing it into the planet. Unfortunately the animite goes AWOL – this one happens to be sentient and has decided that being destroyed isn’t an attractive proposition.
In the present day, an American mission to a near earth object makes a remarkable discovery; it looks to have profound implications at a genetic level – they’ve unwittingly stumbled across the missing animite. To help in its research, a newly commissioned lab which uses accelerated time genotype modelling, is drafted in; the real purpose of this lab is to create virtual environments that accurately represent lost civilisations – but never mind that. These events are recorded in the diaries of Bahati, a lab researcher and Brent, her intelligence liaison.
Across the Atlantic, the French bring a secret research program into Uncertainty Theory to a close – the Americans lose a monitoring team before concluding they’ve little interest in it. Not long after this, the French propose a ban on prohibited technologies and announce contact with aliens from outer space. This causes pandemonium. In the ensuing chaos, the French send a team to ‘liberate’ from the Americans whatever was found on the near earth object. The remarkable discovery turns out to be a beautiful young woman. She is called Xeghita.
And then technologies in key industries begin to fail….
The year is 2060, forty years after mankind was first contacted by aliens. The West has since collapsed. All that’s left of the once mighty United States is the Petits États which huddles in the north-east corner of New England. A new power – the mandat culturel – now controls things, including access to advanced technology. Meanwhile degenerative mutations have reduced much of mankind to highly aggressive, sub-human brutes.
Most cities are abandoned as too dangerous but the business of money goes on – people (and aliens) get on with their lives. Triste is a hired gun. He works Former Urban Area One – the ruins of New York. His current mission is to reconnoitre a long lost research lab. A chance encounter with a ramshackle band of opportunists changes his life forever. He sends them packing, but meets Shoe.
Shoe has secrets. She is running from her family, Redmann’s. They have a secret that lets them live unmolested amongst the biological horrors of the ruined cities. But she can’t just confide in him; her family’s reach is long, so she tells him just enough. [SPOILER She is also fécunda; little known, seeming human, sexy yet highly aggressive. Normally Triste would be her mortal enemy but he represents a way to stay out of sight. End of spoiler] Only she knows the score, and the risk.
They find the lab and look it over. Shoe discovers the diaries of Bahati and Brent which link the lab to the genetic storm ripping through mankind. She keeps this secret from Triste, fearing it will bring out their differences and make them enemies. They reach out to each other.
In the dead ruins of Manhattan they encounter a group of pensitelae – aliens with a penchant for mischief. These plan to record the spectacle and tragedy of humanity, with real life participants. Triste’s normal ordnance is effective against the sub-human brutes that infest the former urban areas but is of little use against the pensitelae. He does however possess high yield explosives which he uses; thus really pissing those aliens off.
The repercussions are severe. The mandat culturel place restrictions on his gun license. He flees the East Coast but in the desolation of Des Moines is taken. The dire fate planned for him is hijacked by Xeghita. She hasn’t aged and has an eye for virile young men. [SPOILER A connection between her and the degenerative mutations is established. It also becomes clear that a Star Being has been nudging events. End of spoiler]
For the most part, the narration in Guide is direct. However, questions are explored such as: How would those outside the law live in a post-apocalyptic world? What of the abandoned and the lost? What if evolutionary theory was wrong? What if the progress of science and technology could be regulated? Could we be manipulated by beings of vast power? If so, how would this be achieved?
Darwinism is contrasted with ideas of God (the reader isn’t forced to a conclusion on this). The alien intelligences in Guide (if challenged) would be forced to admit to not having a definite answer on the matter; yet like us, they are perfectly capable of leaving such questions unresolved and getting on with their own affairs. For those with a taste for philosophy, there are twists in Aristotle’s Theory of Forms and Plato’s Simile of the Sun. Some use is made of Latin and Greek in naming alien species etc; other names are just plain made up. The currency of fiction is ideas.
A cosmogony to explain the connection between Star Beings and animites is as follows: When the universe was created, an order of beings was destroyed. Their remains contain the seeds of life and litters the spaces between stars and galaxies. Such objects introduced to planetary biospheres will trigger a riot of mutational change. There are different orders of alien intelligence. Few space-faring aliens are aware of the immensely powerful entities known as Star Beings or the central role they play.
About the Author
My mother’s family were Estonian farmers and my father was a cobbler. As a young adult (ex- Burnley Grammar School) I read enough SF / Fantasy to sink a comic book shop. I read comic books too. Having taken so much from the genre, I think it’s about time I put something back.
I launched and ran a competition for Creative Writers on My Telegraph which is an online writing group and I attend local writing groups. I live in and around Burnley, Lancashire, UK; have four children, three dogs and two cats, and began writing in 2009.
In a parallel life, I am a CIMA qualified accountant.
Works in progress
Brant, A Fantasy
Short story collection
The following appears under my TP Archie byline.
Ice Made and other stories (self published)
Selections from Ice Made and other stories are on Kindle as:
– Ice Made
– An Empty Bucket
– Master of the Universe
My author blog is at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7034256.T_P_Archie
and my general blog at http://my.telegraph.co.uk/archietp/