Does the past really matter when you hold humanity’s future in your hands?
Welcome to one of the November 16th stops on the blog tour for Forever Human by Ian E Slatter with Silver Dagger Book Tours (schedule linked.) Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more spotlights, reviews, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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About the Book
Humanity’s Last Chance
by Ian E Slatter
Published 13 November 2023
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 179
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Does the past really matter when you hold humanity’s future in your hands?
With just days of its thousand year journey remaining, the starship Renaissance 3 is on course to deliver its precious cargo – the last living humans – to its new planetary home. But a message from beyond the grave challenges everything that pilot Maya has been taught about her kind, and threatens the future of the entire mission.
As life aboard the Renaissance descends into chaos, Maya soon finds herself facing the decision of a lifetime.
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Dr. Guy Ramsey took a deep breath of the chilled laboratory air as the door slid silently shut behind him. The air-conditioned coolness of the lab was a welcome relief after the savage heat of the ravaged planet outside, and he’d have happily just paused there for a while to cool down, but that wasn’t going to happen. He had no time to waste, and he started searching the long workbenches, trying to stay calm as he looked for what he needed.
It took him precious minutes he could ill afford, as he checked each of the partially-assembled carebots in turn, looking for the right one. There were, he knew, 200 of them, lined up in rows, waiting for their construction and programming to be completed before being transported up to the Lunar Centre for activation and installation on the Renaissance 3 starship. The fact that they all seemed to be impassively watching him as he scurried from one to the next wasn’t helping his nerves either. Even though he knew none of them were active they were creepy as hell.
Finally, he found the one he wanted. Carebot CF-97. He had no idea why that one, or more specifically the embryo it would be raising, had been selected. It wasn’t his job to know. It was his job to sneak into the lab before anyone else got there and to complete the upload – nothing else – but he trusted the rest of the Truth collective. If they had decided that CF-97 was the one, that was good enough for him.
He took the miniature data bar out of the concealed pocket that had enabled him to smuggle it into the high-security compound and connected it straight to the carebot’s input port. Now all he could do was wait.
As the upload began he thought, as he had many times before, how crazy it was that the entire existence of the human race now depended on this one project. Of course, humankind had left it too late to prevent Earth from passing the tipping point, despite the decades of warnings. Once they reached that point everything had gone rapidly downhill, the planet’s ecosystems had collapsed one by one, bringing starvation, migration, lawlessness, violence and death for billions of people, not to mention the multitude of other species that had become extinct. That had all been accompanied by the gradual collapse of global democracy, with the planet now controlled by a handful of mega-rich, all-powerful corporations, including the one that he ostensibly worked for, the one behind the Renaissance project.
The idea was simple in theory – if Earth is no longer inhabitable, humans must find another planet to colonise. That assumed, of course, that you could locate and reach a “Goldilocks” planet capable of sustaining life. It was a shame that as much effort hadn’t been put into saving the planet as had been in escaping it, but the scientist in him had to admit that the advances in knowledge and technology had been impressive. Who would have believed at the end of the 21st century that light-speed travel was possible? Necessity is the mother of invention, as someone had once said.
Even so, time was running out for the human race. Rival corporations’ projects had fallen by the wayside, and two previous attempts by the Renaissance project had failed too. It was lucky, in a way, that they’d both failed so soon into their 1,200-year missions. It gave the scientists and engineers another chance, one final chance, to get it right before life on Earth finally came to an end.
It showed how fragile mankind’s existence now was though. If the 200 frozen embryos that were going to be the only living passengers of Renaissance 3 didn’t make it, that was that, and even if they did reach their destination safely, who knew what awaited them. Would they find a way to survive on their new home, having only the basic equipment and tools that could be fitted onto to ship and the training they were set to receive once they were thawed and born by the very carebots he was stood amongst, 18 years out from their destination?
He checked the status display being sent to his arm implant by the data bar. 48%. Not even halfway yet. How much longer would it take? How much longer did he have? The Truth had taken steps to delay the other lab technicians, infiltrating the sprawling shanty town of protesters encircling the compound and sowing the seeds required to spark another violent attack on the object of their rage. That would inevitably lead to a temporary lockdown, with no-one allowed in or out of the site, but for how long? The project’s security forces had proven to be more than capable of dealing with trouble swiftly (and brutally), and even though the protesters’ numbers had swollen to hundreds of thousands over the last few years, the lockdown was unlikely to last more than a matter of minutes.
He checked the progress again. 71% now. Come on, come on! Surely someone would come in and catch him any minute now. He was well aware of what had happened to the last member of the Truth to be caught, and it wasn’t at all pleasant. How much longer? He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. Despite the coolness of the lab, he was still sweating as much as he had outside in the sun’s harsh rays. Maybe even more.
He checked again. 84%. This was unbearable. Why was it taking so long? He knew it was a huge file, but the upload shouldn’t take that long, should it? He glanced anxiously towards the door. Still no sign of anyone, but surely he didn’t have much longer.
91%. What was that? Instinctively he dropped to the ground, hoping he could somehow crawl out of sight and find an excuse to get back into that part of the lab later to retrieve the data bar before it was spotted. He waited, holding his breath, but no one came in. False alarm. How much longer would his luck hold though?
97%. Nearly there. 98%. He gasped. That was definitely someone approaching now. Surely he wasn’t going to get caught now. He was so close. 99%. The door started to open…
About the Author
I started writing for satirical news website Newsbiscuit before going on to help edit the site. I also wrote some comedy sketches for BBC radio and ITV, then published my first two books – non-fiction works about sport.
My first fiction books were three humorous middle-grade novels, one of which won a Purple Dragonfly award, and I am now focusing on writing science-fiction.
I live in Somerset in the UK with my wife, two children and two black cats.
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