A Gathering of Stars (The Mechanical Sky, Book 2) by Donald Moffitt

By Donald Moffitt

The formidable Sultan of Alpha Centauri can purely declare the illustrious name of Caliph if he makes a ritual pilgrimage to the holy urban of Mecca. This trip accomplished, he'll rule the full inhabitants of the higher Islamic universe. yet human wisdom has now not but been in a position to triumph over the numerous demanding situations provided through interplanetary shuttle. notwithstanding, the Sultan resourcefully enlists the aid of Abdul Hamid-Jones, a shrewdpermanent fugitive with a cost on his head and the legislation on his heels. Thrown into the bewildering international of the Sultan's schemes, Abdul gets a hasty advent to complicated physics and the much more complicated political intrigues of the Sultan's court docket. chargeable for the profitable execution of the Sultan's plan, Abdul slowly realizes with horror that the destiny of the whole sunlight process might be resting on his shoulders.

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But on Deimos, at least, one had the sensation that one was looking up at it, not in danger of plunging down into it at any moment. "Here it comes," the attache said. " Hamid-Jones strained his eyes and was rewarded by the sight of a glimmering mote at the exact center of the planet. Of course that was the only place it could be—at Mars's equator and di-rectly below, or rather "above," the tiny moon. Even the east-west and west-east mail satellites, which dropped their own skyhooks from orbits a little above, or below, synchronous or-bit, were constrained to an equatorial run.

The bucket would have to be large enough to form an umbrella for the ship, of course, and be cushioned by appropriately gargantuan shock absorbers. But aiming matter is even trickier than aiming laser light, particularly at interstellar distances. And then there's the problem of stopping. You can plan your trip well in advance, and first shoot off a stream of slower pellets that will be waiting to collide with the ship when it gets there. This removes any worries about palace revolutions back home.

If most quasars, as indicated by their extreme redshifts, were more than nine or ten billion light-years away in distance, then they also must be nine or ten billion years away in time, and therefore must belong to a past era of the universe. And, more devastat-ing, background radiation from the Big Bang was detected soon thereafter. The expansion of the universe had to be explained by a mechanism other than the continuous origin of matter. Fred Hoyle, Steady State's chief proponent, had to publicly eat crow.

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