Mars: Genesis 2.0 [Brief preview #1 and link to book trailer]

Earth had not stood a chance. Careful tracking of the known asteroids and comets had accurately predicted some close calls from sizable rocks over the past several decades, and yielded some spectacular natural fireworks alongside some notable devastation at least twice in recent memory over the skies of modern Russia and of the former Soviet Union from lesser meteors that, without ever striking the ground, still managed to make their presence known as they exploded in the atmosphere, releasing energy equivalent to hundreds of Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. But none of the previous devastation wreaked on a defenseless planet by sizeable asteroids in the past, including the one that erased the dinosaurs from the Earth and paved the way for the eventual ascent of homo sapiens, could compare to the 113-mile diameter spherical asteroid that struck the Earth on Sunday, July 19, 2020 in Tierra del Fuego, at the Southern-most tip of South America. The resulting devastation was complete. Within weeks, nearly all life on the face of the Earth was extinguished as the force of the primary explosion and the dozens of smaller impact zones from fragments of the asteroid that broke apart from the heat of entry. These secondary strikes ranged over a wide swath of the globe as far as Australia, while numerous fragments exploded in the atmosphere before ever touching the ground. Within weeks of the impact, the devastation wrought by out of control fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and the sudden melting of a significant portion of the South Pole’s icecap foretold of the eventual extinction of all life on Earth. There had been notice, of course—666 days of it, to be precise, a number that fueled an endless stream of debate, devotion, and gave birth to more than a few doomsday cults. Armageddon was duly delivered on time by a massive asteroid carrying the number of the beast. Pluto may have been demoted to a planetoid, but the ancient god of the underworld got the last laugh and the benefit of the bargain as he received six plus billion new souls from a once verdant world bludgeoned into a massive extinction event by an errant rock. The nearly two years of warning were insufficient to avert disaster. Earth simply did not have the technology to destroy or deflect a 113-mile-wide planetoid moving towards it at an orbital velocity of 20 kilometers per second on a previously undiscovered elliptical orbit around the sun that took it into the Kuiper belt beyond Neptune’s orbit. It might have been kinder had humanity been spared the precise date and modality of its demise. But there was no way to hide the truth once it became apparent, and no way to spare the aftermath of that truth or the lawlessness that resulted from the communal despair of people given a death sentence without hope of reprieve. Suffice it to say that humanity’s last two years were not on balance proud ones for a species performing its swan song. If this was, as some claimed, God’s wrath visited upon an unrepentant creation that had learned little from the lessons of the great flood, humanity certainly gave little evidence of being undeserving of the punishment in the months leading to the end. [End on preview]     At present, I have a call for auditions from voice talent/producers through ACX to release the book as an audiobook through the Audible/Amazon partnership. In the meantime, anyone interested in previewing a very rough cold read of my interpretation of the shortest story in this collection, “Justice”, can hear the YouTube book trailer with my reading of the complete story here.

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