Mission to New Earth: a novella
By Diane Burton
Genre: science fiction romance
Release date: August 31, 2016
Length: 88 pages (25k words)
Would you go on a one-way trip to explore a new planet? Would you do it to save humankind?
In 2172, Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of volcanic winter—the timeline changes.
With eight years of training crammed into four, Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch. But are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.
While the majority of Mission to New Earth takes place on Titan, Saturn’s moon (the launch platform) and the rest on the new planet, which they named Serenity—my shoutout to Firefly—the astronaut teams are aware of what’s going on back on Earth. And the news isn’t good. So far, they’ve had earthquakes, tsunamis, and now a potential supervolcano. Could it get any worse? Oh, yeah, the super-size passenger starships aren’t ready yet. Sara’s team and/or the other two teams had better find a new home. Quick.
Back home, the United Earth Nations government is preparing underground bunkers for Earth’s inhabitants to ride out the next calamities. Caves and mines are ready-made shelters. Think about all the natural caves in the U.S., Canada, and the rest of the world. They would have to be modified, of course. Sealed entrances to keep out ash from a supervolcano or floods from tsunamis. Ventilation would need to be upgraded, roadways enhanced, sanitation facilities added. But the main work of hollowing out underground bunkers is already there.
In the story, there’s a brief mention of the salt mines under Detroit. Yes, indeedy, salt mines 1200 feet under Detroit and suburbs, even going under the Detroit River into Windsor, Ontario. Although I grew up in the Detroit area, I never imagined over 1500 acres and over 100 miles of roads underneath my feet.
This cutaway diagram shows the Detroit River with the Detroit skyline in the background.
In its heyday, the mines produced over 8,000 tons of rock salt a month. Over time, operations stopped and started. Since 1998, the mines don’t produce table salt. Instead, road de-icing salt, a necessity for Michigan winters.
If you look carefully, you can see a miner in the middle surrounded by bags of salt.
In the 1940s and ’50s, schoolchildren toured the mines. When my husband was in college, he went on a tour of the mines. He said this picture is what he saw.
A plus for anyone living in the salt mines, besides the cool temperature, is no rats or cockroaches. Nothing for them to eat. With people living there, that might change.
Until I researched for this story, I didn’t know that the Great Lakes rest on the largest salt deposit in the world, estimated at over 71 trillion tons of unmined salt. Imagine if they expanded the tunnels to accommodate more people.
Having learned all this, I started asking myself questions. What about the people who had to live down there? Or in any cave or mine? Talk about close quarters. Little or no privacy. How did the government determine who gets in first? What about those who are claustrophobic? Once settled in, what did people do? Sit around or would they have jobs? What if someone didn’t want to go? Would the authorities force them? What could go wrong?
As I thought about all those questions, I got ideas for more stories. Isn’t that what writer do? Think what if . . .
About the Author:
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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