Eric Hoffer Book Awards
First Place for Commercial Fiction & Short List for Grand Prize
Visionary and satiric. Two astronomers discover an asteroid: Death is possible–will it hit? Strong doses of romance, science, religion and sex . . . with some ballet thrown in for good measure.
Two astronomers discover an asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth.
Harris Mitchel and Diana Muse are old friends and scientific rivals, but when they jointly discover a new asteroid, which they name Baby, their lives are upended for good. Harris’s wife Jennifer is growing increasingly frustrated with his dedication to work over marriage. A fundamentalist minister with money troubles hopes to boost his ministry by taking public exception to Mitchel’s advocacy of science as a new frontier and a new inspiration – and a conservative radio personality is stoking the fight for his audience’s amusement. A New Age community views Mitchel as a new prophet. But the stakes are higher than any of them realize, since Baby appears to be on a collision course with Earth. Can Harris and Diana manage to save the world as well as their own personal lives?
The Darkest Side of Saturn manages to play with the religion-science divide in a truly thought-
provoking and entertaining fashion. Mitchel’s inspired and dramatic view of science and discovery as the meaning and purpose of human existence is shown not only from his perspective, but refracted through the viewpoints of others, whether Diana’s intelligent pragmatism, the cynical what’s-in-it-for-me attitude of politicians and administrators, the angry fundamentalist reaction of the Rev. Farnsworth, or the mystical, but somewhat scatterbrained, devotion of his New Age true believers. The writing is both poetically lyrical and driven, full of energy and force, especially when the topic is either science or sex. Rapier-sharp verbal fencing and a snarky, witty sense of humor brighten the book. The romance is feisty, vigorous, and sensual, with electricity vividly present from the beginning of the novel. The ending offers a fascinating perspective on the whole, combining both scientific awe and mystical philosophy in
a new and intriguing way.
The Darkest Side of Saturn is a mischievous, playful, and intelligent look at human consciousness, science, religion, inspiration and truth.
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Endorsements & Editorial Reviews
“A fusion of fanaticism and hard science, the visionary and the profane … Can stand with James Blish’s A CASE OF CONSCIENCE or Walter Miller’s CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ.”
—Barry N. Malzberg, Winner of John W Campbell Memorial Award, finalist for Hugo, Theodore Sturgeon, and Nebula Awards
“Extraordinarily well-crafted and deeply thought-provoking … nothing short of a science fiction tour de force … Readers who think they know where the novel is going are in for a jaw-dropping, unforgettable literary experience! … An instant classic.”
“A mischievous, playful, and intelligent look at human consciousness, science, religion, inspiration and truth.”
“Taylor presents a world teetering on the brink of the blackness of nothing and the lightness of life.”
—Foreword Clarion Reviews
“The story of man’s obsession with space, alternate realities and doomsday prophecies….Expansive brilliance … A wild ride … mind-boggling at the end.”
See Paul Goat Allen’s Ten must-read self-published science fiction novels
USA Best Book Awards
In the beginning, in our cradle of creation, the world was without form. Nothing existed except the potential to exist. There was no matter. There was no space for matter to occupy. This state existed for an immeasurable time because there was not even a place for time in the nursery of future universes.
Suddenly there was a quantum vacuum fluctuation—never mind that a vacuum implies there’s nothing to fluctuate. In the first infinitesimal interval was born time, space, and matter. We embarked on the first task of our new baby universe, which was to begin a long cruise of expansion to push back the frontier of nothingness.
Commensurate with the Many-worlds interpretation of the quantum mechanical theory that was to become fashionable many eons hence, our baby universe immediately began dividing into infinitely many sister universes, invisible to each other but nevertheless real and weaving almost parallel but slightly diverging courses through meta-time. One of these—minutely altered from ours—was to become the home of the Author. In that universe, as in ours, there was vast light, whiter than white. Matter followed space followed matter, inextricably linked. A chaotic soup of naked particles and the coordinate manifold in which it boiled expanded pell-mell into the future.
Never mind the Author’s universe! In ours—nearly four hundred thousand years later—the fireball of expansion cooled and faded as electrons, protons, and neutrons ended long courtship rituals and settled into blissful married life as nuclear families of simple atoms of hydrogen, helium, and a tiny smattering of heavier elements. The fireball ended, the universe became lucid, and the leftover background radiation—radio, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x- and gamma-ray—began a long unimpeded stretch into the wavelengths we would eventually hear as interstellar fuzz in our microwave receivers. A hundred million years later the first stars condensed from collapsing clouds of hydrogen, and after that, galaxies were born, seeded with black holes and condensing themselves into swirls of stars.
In one of these galaxies—nine billion years after the beginning—an unremarkable cloud of gas and dust enriched with heavier elements recycled from the supernova ghosts of ancestor stars began the slow contraction that ended in the formation of a new yellow star. The leftover dust and gas formed a great disk about this star, then condensed into numerous large and small bodies. Collisions ensued, large against large, small against small, and all gradations between, and in the interval of only a few tens of millions of years most of the matter in this stellar system had consolidated itself into a few large behemoths called planets.
Most of the remaining dust and gas of the system vanished, disbursed into interstellar space, blown away by the radiative push of the new star. Most of the smallest bodies in the interstices of the system also vanished, eaten by their planetary cousins.
But remnants of these small bodies—these leftover crumbs of creation and collision—continued to wander throughout the system. One of these, B, of modest size and carbonaceous composition, circulated initially in a simple orbit in the outer part of a great grinding field of small bodies between the fourth and fifth planets. After a few hundred million years, bobbing like a cork in gravitational tides and surfs, dinged and dented by encounters with its neighbors, B passed close to the fifth planet, and its orbit altered to include approaches to the fourth. In the course of the next few billion years it suffered more tiny gravitational encounters with both the fifth and fourth planets until eventually a somewhat larger nudge brought B into the range of the third, our cradle endlessly orbiting.
Meanwhile, our organization had begun on this planet. Meanwhile, we had become conscious, which is to say we had discovered ourselves and the universe about us. But we had not yet seen this modest particle.
Curiously this mote, B, did not exist in our Author’s universe—which in many other aspects remained identical to ours. In our universe, however, B was real. In our universe, finally, at this third planet—after one thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven revolutions about the central star since the arbitrarily defined birth of a significant religious figure—B arrived within the perceptive purview of the planet’s inhabitants.