Title SAVING PALUDIS
Author Clayton Graham
Genre Science Fiction
Finalist in the Readers’ Favorite 2018 International Book Awards. Winner Top Shelf Awards 2020 Book Excellence Awards Finalist At the very edge of mankind’s cosmic reach, a small planet threatens Earth with extinction… Stefan Lattanzis never expected his planet to become a battlefield, nor Earth for that matter. But when scientists from Paludis share a technological breakthrough with the mother planet, peace swiftly turns into deadly conflict. The downtrodden alien population, mistreated for centuries, seizes its chance, and a desperate human cult has a sinister agenda of its own. To save his precious home world, Stefan must team with two strangers, a botanist and a mysterious seer. They must trust in each other to prevent the newly emerged forces from destroying Paludis, and forging a dystopia from which they could never return. But how will they defeat the might of Earth? Saving Paludis is an electrifying sci-fi thrill-ride. If you like futuristic technology, alien political intrigue, and high-octane, paranormal action, then you’ll love this incredible interstellar adventure! Saving Paludis is a wonderfully intelligent, creative and superbly written book. Quite often I struggle with the ‘world building’ element that accompanies this genre. But not in this case. The author is clearly highly skilled in bringing alien races, otherworldly technology and distant planets to life with such clarity that the reader cannot fail to be impressed. Lynne Barnes: Barnsey’s Books This is a thought-provoking book on many levels, who has intrinsic rights, what makes one superior over another, who really has control? There is a lot to ponder in this well-conceived and exciting story. Highly recommend. Vine Voice
Muskluna, full of crevices and canyons, also boasted smooth, swollen mountain ranges that rose and fell roundly, running into each other like huge sand ripples left by a restless tide. Devoid of atmosphere, the moon performed a similar duty to Earth’s solitary satellite: illuminating the nocturnal behaviour of mankind and providing a stimulus to waxing poets, both native and human. Save for the grasping hand of man, Muskluna was entirely lifeless.
A ring of ancient mine-workings surrounded the equatorial regions, all long since depleted, and the moon was of little use any more other than as a staging post to more exotic worlds.
Paludis hung in a black sky, a green orb against a velvet heaven. Michelle Sanson thought the planet appeared tantalisingly close, a little larger and more overpowering than Earth seen from its nearest neighbour. The Paludis sun was high in the sky and would remain there for some time.
Michelle concentrated on steering the four-wheeler through a crimson valley littered with man-sized boulders. Beside her, Simon Sangster squinted at a map through the darkened visor of his helmet. A sudden wave of light from behind signalled the launch of an interstellar—bound, no doubt, for a more habitable place. They were eighty kilometres west of Del-Shangi, just a tenth of their journey completed. The surrounding terrain scared them both to death.
Back at the staging post the intrepid pair had posed as eccentric academics, nostalgic hunters of the Paludis moon’s pioneer era, looking for a final fling among the relics of the past. Perhaps they would eventually produce a film. Sangster had to admire Michelle’s nerve. Hiring suits had been easy and they had used false names − a married couple killed in an orbitcraft accident. There was no doubt in Sangster’s mind that Michelle would have come alone if he had refused her overtures. Nothing, it appeared, would stop her now. Even the officials had succumbed to her Martian charm and not queried the difference in their ages; Martian women often espoused younger men.
They swept on. Canyon walls reflected red, and Michelle could not eliminate the irrational thought that a wild creature might suddenly leap out across their path.
Every two hours they stopped to look at the map and exchange places. Hours passed. Checking the satellite compass, they moved on. They should be almost there.
Michelle started to have doubts about the authenticity of George Andrew’s map. She cast a glance at Sangster and saw he was worried. Then something glinted through a temporary gap in the undulating hills. She grabbed his arm and pointed. “See? Through there,” she cried. They were her first words for a long time.
Minutes later they mounted a rise and there it was before them − a scattering of white buildings, open cuts and even abandoned vehicles. The vehicles puzzled Michelle, until she realised that the transport costs of moving such heavy equipment would probably outweigh the price of replacements. No doubt they had served their purpose. They scudded down to the plain and Michelle slewed the four-wheeler to a halt beside a small hemispherical shell, obviously designed for pressure, and turned off the engine.
They left their transport and nervously approached the building. There was a small airlock set half a metre above the ground. Sangster inspected its mechanism. “Manual override,” he whispered, as if expecting to be overheard by the hemisphere’s occupants. He turned the wheel and the circular door unsealed and swung open.
Sangster squeezed through and repeated the operation on the inner door. Light met him as he entered, emanating from a large window on the opposite side. Michelle joined him and stood entranced. Suddenly, she grabbed his hand.
“Home,” Michelle breathed as she tentatively looked around. There would be no atmosphere, of course, no power at all. The shell was empty save for four bunks stacked to one side. She moved towards them and, in the low gravity, managed to swing one down to the floor. A brief explosion of dust rose, then eventually settled. She moved gracefully to the bed and slowly reclined on its grubby covers. Simon watched her and laughed nervously. She beckoned him over and they made clumsy love, as best they could, through their suits. Afterwards, they checked their suit reserves and slept for two hours.
On awakening, the cogs of Michelle’s mind, refreshed by the brief sleep, churned into the future. They would need expensive equipment to make this place work: oxygen reserves, preserved food and water, a videonews receiver, power to run it, return transport; lots of things. It would be what they would make it. A home for a hundred silent years or more. She wept at the thought.
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As a youngster growing up in the cobbled streets of Stockport, UK, Clayton Graham read a lot of science fiction. He loved the ‘old-school’ masters such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham. As he left those formative years behind, he penned short stories when he could find a rare quiet moment amidst life’s usual distractions.
He settled in Victoria, Australia, in 1982. A retired aerospace engineer who worked in structural design and research, Clayton has always had an interest in science fiction and where it places humankind within a universe we are only just starting to understand.
Clayton loves animals, including well behaved pets, and all the natural world, and is a member of Australian Geographic.
Combining future science with the paranormal is his passion. Milijun, his first novel, was published in 2016. Second novel, Saving Paludis, was published in 2018. They are light years from each other, but share the future adventures of mankind in an expansive universe as a common theme.
The sequel to Milijun, entitled Amidst Alien Stars was released on December 1 2019. The third in series Alien Whispers: Conflict and Communion will be released in late 2022.
In between novels Clayton has published short story collections Silently in the Night and Looking for Life where, among many other adventures, you can sympathize with a doomed husband, connect with an altruistic robot, explore an isolated Scottish isle and touch down on a far-flung asteroid.
He hopes you can share the journeys.
Social Media Links
You can follow Clayton on Twitter @CGrahamSciFi
His Facebook author page is at: https://www.facebook.com/claytongrahamauthor/