Monday, February 13, 2012

Eon 1 - Greg Bear

"Gods and extraterrestrials. Still, she managed to nap.

When she awoke, she saw the Stone briefly as the OTV swung around for its docking maneuver. It looked much like the pictures she had seen many times before published in newspapers and magazines -- bean-shaped, about a third as wide in the middle as it was long, heavily cratered between the smoothly artificial excavated bands. Ninety-one kilometers in diameter at its widest, two hundred ninety-two kilometers long. Rock and nickel and iron and not nearly as simple as that.

"Approaching south polar axis," the blond said, leaning around in her chair to look back at Vasquez. "A little briefing, in case they haven't told you already. Blind leading the blind, honey." She glanced meaningfully at her shipmates. "First, some facts and figures important to mere navigators. Note that the Stone is rotating on its long axis. That's nothing surprising -- everyone knows that. But it's rotating once every seven minutes or so--"

"Every six point eight two four minutes," James or Jack corrected.

"That means," the blond continued, unfazed, "that anything loose on the outer surface will fly away at a pretty good clip, so we can't dock there. We have to go through the pole."

"There's stuff inside?" Patricia asked.

"Quite a lot of stuff, if they're keeping everything -- and everyone -- we've been bringing up in the past few years," James or Jack said.

"The Stone's albedo matches any of a number of siliceous asteroids. Apparently, that's what it was at one time. Here's the south pole now," Rita said.

In the middle of the large polar crater was an indentation -- judging from the scale of the Stone itself, quite tiny, no more than a kilometer deep and three or four kilometers wide.

The Stone's rotation was easily discernible. As the OTV matched course with the Stone, then began its approach along the axis, the crater enlarged and showed even more detail. With hardly any surprise at all, Patricia realized the floor was marked by shallow hexagons, like a beehive.

At the center of the indentation was a circular black spot about a hundred meters across. A hole. An entrance. It loomed larger and larger but lost none of its intense blackness."

4.5 out of 5