Mike Scantlebury - Science Fiction
 
   

Alien Incursions

by
Mike Hamer

SYNOPSIS

It is not too far in the future.
The richest people in the whole of the settled Solar System are the handful of families that own most of the shipping and live around the asteroid belt. Now old man Stattenoutenlou has decided to retire, and is breaking the normal cloak of secrecy that surrounds his clan in order to introduce his heir, Conrad, to the masses. He sends to Mars base and invites a single video interviewer to visit. The job falls to our protagonist, Peter Colwhon, an ambitious young man, anxious to improve himself and forget his sordid umpbringing amid the poverty of the mines of Phobos. He arrives and sets to work, but is constantly hampered in his task by the web of security surrounding the family, and the temperament of the scion himself - rude, overbearing and moody.

Peter relaxes in his time off by visiting the 'sin-traps' of the base, provided by the families to keep the exploited workers and spacers happy and jaded. He meets a pleasant girl, Canna, who at first seems content to share his pleasures with him, but who later reveals a sinister secret. He also finds Deke and his friends - argumentative spacers - who supply him with information that could be explosive: it all centres on the behaviour of the families during the recent war, the last Alien Incursion, for Deke believes they came close to selling out the human race, merely to turn a profit.

In their reaction, it soon becomes clear that Stattenoutenlou and the others are not as magnanimous as they seem, and Peter is caught in the life-and-death struggle between them and the people they employ, especially those who may have found out too much about their business. But all this is complicated by the attitude of the Inner Worlds, the old civilisation, who have their own agents on the Belt and are using Peter's mission as the excuse they need to re-assert their power and break the stranglehold of the shipping families. Peter tries to establish contact with them by taking up with the mysterious Dard, a fascinating black dancer from one of the most seedy nightclubs, but whether she can help him is dependant on how long she can live.

At the same time, Peter finds, as he assembles his report, that he can't rely on the video companies - powerful moulders of public opinion - who have already been given some of the information he has so painfully accumulated, but have their own reasons for suppressing it. Finally, he has to cope with the more mundane pressure of the smuggling fraternity, (specialists in supplying tarmar oil to the Old Worlders), who make their profit exploiting the spacers, and aren't above murder and torture of their own in order to keep in business.

In the end, of course, the jigsaw of human interests is completely over-balanced by the real problem: the Aliens. It seems that the Alien Incursion might not have been the first, and contact could have been established years before - to someone's profit; worse, it might not have been the last, which means the so-called 'War' is not yet over. Indeed, it certainly stopped for a while, but nobody was sure that human beings had won. Nobody but the families.

But the most frightening question of all, and the one that it is given to Peter to answer, is: what happened to the Aliens, and where are they now? Once he solves that, he only has to escape the several bands of asssins that are closing in around him, to complete his assignment, finish his report and escape with his life.


"Sex and sorcery out there in the universe, creating new opportunities for an ambitious young man"

 

Read the first chapter of the novel

'Krumhorn' cover

 
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