Читать онлайн "Lucifer's Hammer" автора Нивен Ларриё - RuLit - Страница 1

 
...
 
     


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 « »

Выбрать главу
Загрузка...

Lucifer’s Hammer

by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

To Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to walk on another world; to Michael Collins, who waited; and to those who died trying, Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, Ed White, Georgi Dobrovolsky, Viktor Patsayev, Nikolai Volkov, and all the others.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Excerpts from GIFFORD LECTURES, 1948 by Emil Brunner. Excerpt from a private speech by Robert Heinlein. Reprinted by permission.

Prom “Pure, Sweet, Culture” by Frank Garparik. Copyright @ 1977 by Frank Garparik. Used with permission of the author.

From How The World Will End by Daniel Cohen. Copyright 1973, McGraw-Hill. Used with permission of McGraw-Hill Book Co.

From The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. Copyright McGraw-Hill 1967. Used with permission of McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Excerpt from The Cosmic Connection by Carl Sagan. Copyright 1973 by Carl Sagan and Jerome Agel. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday Company, Inc.

Excerpts from The Coming Dark Age by Roberto Vacca, translated from the Italian by Dr. J. S. Whale. Translation Copyright 1973 by Doubleday Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Doubleday Company, Inc.

From Moons and Planets: An Introduction to Planetary Science by William Hartman. Copyright 1972, Wadsworth Publishing Co., Inc. Used with permission of Wadsworth Publishing Co., Inc.

Excerpts from Sovereignty by Bertrand de Jouvenal. Copyright 1957 by University of Chicago Press. Used with permission of University of Chicago Press.

From The Elements Rage by Frank W. Lane. Copyright 1965 by Chilton Book Co. Used with permission of Chilton Book Co.

Song “The Friggin Falcon” 1966 by Theodore R. Cogswell. All rights reserved, including the right of public performance for profit. Used by permission of the author and the author’s agent, Kirby McCauley.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

TIMOTHY HAMNER, amateur astronomer

ARTHUR CLAY JELLISON, United States Senator from California

MAUREEN JEEETSON, his daughter

HARVEY RANDALL, Producer-Director for NBS Television

MRS. LORETTA STEWART RANDALL

BARRY PRICE, Supervising Engineer, San Joaquin Nuclear Project

DOLORES MUNSON, Executive Secretary to Barry Price

EILEEN SUSAN HANCOCK, Assistant Manager for Corrigan’s Plumbing Supplies of Burbank

LEONILLA ALEXANDROVNA MALIK, M.D., physician and kosmonaut

MARK CZESCU, biker

GORDON VANCE, Bank President and neighbor to Harvey Randall

ANDY RANDALL, Harvey Randall’s son

CHARLIE BASCOMB, cameraman

MANUEL ARGUILEZ, sound technician

DR. CHARLES SHARPS, Planetary Scientist and Project Director, California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories

PENELOPE JOYCE WILSON, fashion designer

FRED LAUREN, convicted sex offender

COL. JOHN BAKER, USAF, astronaut

HARRY NEWCOMBE, letter carrier, US Postal Service

THE REVEREND HENRY ARMITAGE

DR. DAN FORRESTER, Member of technical staff, JPL

LT. COL. RICK DELANTY, USAF, astronaut

MRS. GLORIA DELANTY

BRIGADIER PIETER JAKOV, kosmonaut

FRANK STONER, biker

JOANNA MACPHERSON, Mark Czescu’s roommate

COLLEEN DARCY, bank teller

GENERAL THOMAS BAMBRIDGE, USAF, Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command

JOHN KIM, Press Secretary to the Mayor Of Los Angeles

THE HONORABLE BENTLEY ALLEN, Mayor of Los Angeles

ERIC LARSEN, Patrolman, Burbank PD

JOE HARRIS, Investigator, Burbank PD

COMET WARDENS, a Southern California religious group

MAJOR BENNET ROSTEN, USAF, Minuteman Squadron Commander

MRS. MARIE VANCE, wife of Gordon Vance

HARRY STIMMS, automobile dealer in Tujunga, California

CORPORAL ROGER GILLINGS, Army

SERGEANT THOMAS HOOKER, Army

MARTY ROBBINS, Tim Hamner’s assistant and caretaker

JASON GILLCUDDY, writer

HUGO BECK, owner of a commune in the foothills of the High Sierra

Prologue

Before the sun burned, before the planets formed, there were chaos and the comets.

Chaos was a local thickening in the interstellar medium. Its mass was great enough to attract itself, to hold itself, and it thickened further. Eddies formed. Particles of dust and frozen gas drifted together, and touched, and clung. Flakes formed, and then loose snowballs of frozen gases. Over the ages a whirlpool pattern developed, a fifth of a light-year across. The center contracted further. Local eddies, whirling frantically near the center of the storm, collapsed to form planets.

It formed as a cloud of snow, far from the whirlpool’s axis. Ices joined the swarm, but slowly, slowly, a few molecules at a time. Methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide; and sometimes denser objects struck it and embedded themselves, so that it held rocks, and iron. Now it was a single stable mass. Other ices formed, chemicals that could only be stable in the interstellar cold.

It was four miles across when the disaster came.

The end was sudden. In no more than fifty years, the wink of an eye in its lifetime, the whirlpool’s center collapsed. A new sun burned fearfully bright.

Myriads of comets flashed to vapor in that hellish flame Planets lost their atmospheres. A great wind of light pressure stripped an the loose gas and dust from the inner system and hurled it at the stars.

It hardly noticed. It was two hundred times as far from the sun as the newly formed planet Neptune. The new sun was no more than an uncommonly bright star, gradually dimming now.

Down in the maelstrom there was frantic activity. Gases boiled out of the rocks of the inner system. Complex chemicals developed in the seas of the third planet. Endless hurricanes boded across and within the gas-giant worlds. The inner worlds would never know calm.

The only real calm was at the edge of interstellar space, in the halo, where millions of thinly spread comets, each as far from its nearest brother as Earth is from Mars, cruise forever through the cold black vacuum. Here its endless quiet sleep could last for billions of years… but not forever. Nothing lasts forever.

1

THE ANVIL

Against boredom, even the gods themselves struggle in vain.

Nietzsche

January: The Portent

The bay-trees in our country are all wither’d And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven; The pale-faced moon looks bloody on the earth And lean-look’d prophets whisper fearful change. These signs forerun the death or fall of kings.
William Shakespeare, Richard II

The blue Mercedes turned into the big circular drive of the Beverly Hills mansion at precisely five after six. Julia Sutter was understandably startled. “Good God, George, it’s Tim! And dead on time.”

George Sutter joined her at the window. That was Tim’s car, yup. He grunted and turned back to the bar. His wife’s parties were always important events, so why, after weeks of careful engineering and orchestration, was she terrified that no one would show up? The psychosis was so common there ought to be a name for it.

Tim Hamner, though, and on time. That was strange. Tim’s money was third-generation. Old money, by Los Angeles standards, and Tim had a lot of it. He only came to parties when he wanted to.

     

 

2011 - 2018