Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Sneak Peek: Freefall by Jana Williams

The Amalie Noether Chronicles, Book 1
by Jana Williams
YA Science Fiction
390 pages

The deep-space transport ship, the Vera Rubin, is light years from Earth when botanist Elle Silver begins to question the use of their space-travel drug, HCH.  Elle notices a growing number of her friends and  fellow colonists awaken from their 90-day sleep cycles exhibiting a variety of negative side-effects and she begins to believe the drug is the culprit.  Some of the effects are minor, dry eyes and lack of appetite. Other symptoms are a bigger concern on a tiny ship packed with colonists.  With each sleep cycle completed, more and more colonists awaken both confused and barely concealing a simmering rage - rage that could be a catastrophe on a ship as crowded as the Vera Rubin.  Elle needs proof, but she also needs a plan. If the drug that allows them to travel deep-space is at fault, what then?  Elle and her friends Ashok, Achebe and Jin-Hai are pressed to their limits to find a solution to their problem before the ship erupts into chaos... with light years left to travel.



Sand gently lifts off the surface of the deserted Champ de Mars at the behest of a rising wind. One faceted grain is followed by another and then another. Each tiny particle joins billions more, all having blown in across the heartland of France from Bardenas Reales in Spain. The sand drifts north along the plaza and is deposited at the base of the Eiffel Tower, already mired in a massive net- work of dunes.

Four hundred years ago, the Champ de Mars teemed with families celebrating Bastille Day with food baskets and tablecloths spread across its vast swath of green lawn and shade trees. Two hundred years ago, gravel walkways and paths replaced the withered brown lawn, and the shade trees survived only through extraordinary human persistence. In the mid-twenty-fourth century, the desert has engulfed Paris and the thought of keeping any portion of the Champ de Mars green has long been abandoned.

Four hundred years of desiccation has left the Eiffel Tower buried up to its knees and the plaza before it adrift in sand. There is no telling where the dunes will stop. The latticework supports of the Eiffel Tower have been scoured of paint and worn thin by the abrasive wind from the south. The tower has not toppled yet, but it leans dangerously after six hundred years on planet Earth.

The great deserts of the world—the Gobi, the Sahara, the Atacama, the Mohave and Bardenas Reales—have claimed the planet, smothering the once plentiful rivers. Even the elegant Seine, the heart of Paris, is no more.

The breeze on the Champ de Mars strengthens in the rising heat of the day. A sirocco surges forward and sweeps sand up, up, up, up into the air above the plaza. It hammers at the glass of a high patio door on the upper reaches of the Ecole Militaire at the other end of the plaza. Sand skitters across the portico in waves and slides, slippery and insistent, along the outside of a set of large glass doors.

Muted light from the large floor-to-ceiling window filters into a cavernous, nearly empty boardroom. The room is quiet except for the hammering of the sand, and the susurration of low voices at the far end. Near the patio doors, electric static erupts as a holographic image sputters into being in midair.

“Quiet, everyone. It’s starting,” a deep, commanding voice rumbles.

The voices fall silent. The crackling static charge blossoms into a harried-looking South Asian news anchor. His shirtsleeves are pushed up his forearms, as if he has been interrupted in some task. His voice is laden with the excitement of a breaking news story.

“The entire planet was caught off guard today when Earth-First hackers released a video feed of a secret rocket launch off Mars early this morning.”
The holographic image enlarges to include a video replay of the rocket launch behind the newsman. He continues. “Plans have been underway for quite some time to transport 150 colonists on a deep-space journey to a new planet in the Three Sisters star system.”

The rocket in the video lifts into the dark sky over Mars. The news anchor’s voice lowers dramatically. “It’s believed this video was accidentally captured by a Martian rover on a routine scientific mission on the surface of Mars.”

As the rocket disappears from sight, the newsman leans towards his audience and says in a confidential tone, “Insider sources say the launch of the colonists was ordered ahead of schedule to block an attempt by Earth-First vigilantes to hack the ship’s mainframe and hijack the rocket controls.” The anchorman pauses for effect. “There has been no comment from Mission Control or Earth-First.”

The hologram begins to fade to black, but the news- man’s voice continues for a moment longer during the fade-out.

“In other world news, Earth-First vigilantes rammed a Global Plankton Farms Mediterranean sea-farm. There are reports of massive damage to the human-grade food facility. Citizens in Athens, Rome, Madrid, and Paris have already begun hoarding food and water.”

Silence reigns in the boardroom for a moment after the holograph has disappeared. The sand battering insistently at the plate glass window is the only sound.

Again the commanding voice, laden with menace, shatters the silence.

“I want the person who released that video footage. Find him, gentlemen.”

And here she is...

Jana Williams is certain that fiction can change people’s lives - especially women and girls.  Her own life is testimony to that fact.  One of five daughters, she was raised by a single-mom who placed a high value on reading and storytelling.

The ability to read, coupled with a child’s innate curiosity about the world, and access to books to satisfy that curiosity can offer significant opportunity to a child. Like most writers Jana has bounced from job to job, absorbing stories, cultures and customs as she worked.  She has been a high-speed motion picture photographer, a VFX coordinator, worked in the film industry, and the publishing trade as a book seller - a publisher’s rep and now an author.

But her first love is reading…. and with each book of the Freefall trilogy sold Jana will donate funds to Literacy agencies around the world whose work is to bring the joy of reading to others.

Enjoy a good adventure story and help others learn to read at the same time !

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