Read Jupiter's Reef Online

Authors: Karl Kofoed

Tags: #Science Fiction, #SF, #scifi, #Jupiter, #Planets, #space, #intergalactic, #Io, #Space exploration, #Adventure

Jupiter's Reef

Table of Contents

JUPITER’S REEF

Karl Kofoed

JUPITER’S REEF

Karl Kofoed

Alex Rose was a miner on Jupiter's sulfur moon Io. But it wasn't the job that attracted him, nor the money. The Great Red Spot on the giant planet had been calling to Alex all his life, and he knew in his heart that something beneath its swirling clouds was alive and waiting to be discovered. Even if it cost Alex everything, he was determined to find it. So begins the first chapter of the fantastic travels of Alex, his unique and beautiful companion Mary Seventeen, and his crew, aboard a shuttle called Diver.

This action-filled TRILOGY is the first science fiction series by artist Karl Kofoed, who is best known for his lavishly illustrated documentary-styled Galactic Geographic series which appeared in Heavy Metal magazine. Like his illustrated work, Jupiter's Reef presents the reader with a palpable sense of a world that is as alien to humans as it is full of wonder and surprises. It is sure to be enjoyed by readers both young and old who enjoy stories of exploration, romance, danger and intrigue.

JUPITER'S REEF

© Karl Kofoed 2011

Cover © Karl Kofoed 2011

The right of Karl Kofoed to be identified as the author has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

ISBNs:

Paperback : 978-1-927086-24-7

EPUB: 978-1-927086-25-4

MOBI: 978-1-927086-26-1

PDF: 978-1-927086-27-8

Electronic Version by Baen Books

www.baen.com

eISBN: 978-1-62579-237-2

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s consent in any form other than this current form and without a similar condition being imposed upon a subsequent purchaser.

Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and co-incidental

About the Author:

Karl Kofoed is a graphic artist with over 40 years of commercial advertising and promotional graphic design experience. He started his career after graduation in 1966 from the Philadelphia College of Art (majoring in illustration/minoring in photography) as a technical illustrator for the aerospace industry, then as an art director and scenic designer for two television stations WHYY TV12 & WKBSTV.

He has worked for NW Ayer Direct in New York designing DM material for AT&T, Citicorp, and other major clients. In Philadelphia he was a product designer for Studio One Posters, where he designed what was to become the best selling poster of all time, the treed kitten of “Hang in There Baby, Friday’s Coming.” He worked for North American Publishing as a promotional art director for 13 trade magazines and has done recruitment advertising for two Philadelphia agencies.

Today, as owner of Kofoed Design, he specializes in photo retouching and restoration.

Karl’s other career is that of a science fiction illustrator and writer. He is well known to the East Coast SF community and has done scores of book covers and interior illustrations for magazines like Analog and Asimov’s SF magazine.

Karl is perhaps best known for his lavishly illustrated Galactic Geographic feature which has appeared in Heavy Metal magazine in two incarnations. It began in 1978 and ran for two years, then resumed in

1998 and continued until 2008. His pieces feature diverse and imaginative views of living alien worlds and a distinctive documentary style, which have set Karl’s work apart from others in his field. Karl has always regarded the Galactic Geographic material as a single work of art, and using his computer he single-handedly designed, wrote, illustrated, and produced the Galactic Geographic Annual 3003, which he describes as a nature magazine from the future.

Published by Chrysalis/Paper Tiger Books in 2003, it is still available.

Two of his novels have been published by BeWrite Books in the UK, Deep Ice and JOKO; and he has several more books waiting in the wings including a science fiction trilogy.

Karl and his wife Janet, a popular jewelry designer, live in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania; a suburb of Philadelphia. They each have a daughter named Lisa, from previous marriages.

Acknowledgments:

For Janet, my primary editor and inspiration.

To my mother, Dorothy, who encouraged me to write and to my daughters Lisa Thompson and Lisa Prato.

My deep appreciation and thanks also to author Hal Clement (Harry Stubbs) who helped me develop the idea for this book and was my primary science advisor; to Bob Walters, Daniel and Dani Hoy, Raymond Ridenour, Paul Barnett, Charley Parker, my cousin Peter, to my sister Kathryn who supported me all my life, to all my friends in the Science Fiction community; and to my father, Donald Kofoed, an educator who taught me that science is a never-ending path of discovery and that imagination raises the questions science seeks to answer.

Part 1

1
“I used to think I was a luckless dinger,” said Alex Rose. “Everything’s going our way, Mary. Now I wonder if there’s any such thing as luck.”

Mary Seventeen had already strapped herself into the co-pilot’s seat. She and Alex waited for MarsCorp OPs to authorize their takeoff from Cydonia Base. “Isn’t that something you say
after
we take off?”

“Oops,” said Alex. “Shouldn’t tempt fate, eh?”

He looked around at
Diver
’s cabin. Everything was functioning perfectly, their provisions were topped off and they were fully fueled for Trans-Earth injection. If the authorization came through, it meant that the ship was really theirs.

“This is our home, now, Mary, my love.” he said, sounding a bit distant. “Whatever happens is fine. I have you and everything I wanted right here.”

“Even Jupiter’s Reef,” added Mary.

“It belongs to no one,” said Alex.

“Some would say that since you discovered it, you can claim it,” said Mary with a smile. She shifted in her chair, trying to find a more comfortable position under the criss-crossed seatbelts. “Jeeps, what’s holding things up?”

As if on cue Cydonia Base radioed their ship. “
Diver
... YOUR LOG NUMBER IS 6...25...98, DO YOU COPY?”

“Six ... twenty five ... ninety eight ... copy,” said Alex with a grin.

“BETTER MAKE IT QUICK, ROSE,” said Cydonia traffic control.

Alex’s smile broadened and he looked deep into Mary’s eyes. “I know now that you can read my thoughts,” he whispered. “... but for some reason it doesn’t bother me.”

“I know,” said Mary with a giggle.

“Just light the way, Cydonia,” said Alex. He pushed a button on the side of the console in front of him and two connected view-screens snapped into place, covering
Diver
’s large cockpit windows. “How’re the outside winds?”

“DUST STORM’S CLEARED OUT ... PRETTY MUCH. WE STILL HAVE GUSTS OF A HUNDRED PLUS SHOWING UP HERE AND THERE ON THE DPR. TAKE HER SLOW,
Diver
.”

When the screens came down, Mary noticed a slight change in the outside view, but it still amazed her how crisp and detailed a picture the computer had created.

In front of
Diver
, huge metal doors shifted position slightly then pulled apart with an explosive hiss that could be heard through the hull of the ship.

“Welcome to Mars,” muttered Alex. “No air ... no water. Same as it ever was.”

Diver
came to life. They felt the sudden weight drop as the Null-Gee system started up and the ship lifted from its mooring nest. Then, in a smooth, liquid motion, it moved into the bore of the two kilometer long mass driver tunnel.

Like a bullet locked in the breech of a huge gun, their ship fell into the grip of the giant clamp that would guide them through the tunnel. A warning bell sounded, followed by the ship’s computer voice. “LAUNCHING IN FIVE SECONDS.”

“This isn’t fun,” said Mary through clenched teeth. “I must have done it a dozen times but ...”

Her words were cut off as
Diver
’s engines came on and the MD thrust them down the tunnel.

Despite his apprehension, only elation filled Alex’s mind. It wasn’t theory any more. The Professor who had betrayed them to MarsCorp had more than made amends. He had given Alex and Mary their freedom and, more importantly, legitimacy in the eyes of MarsCorp.

Alex grinned like a fool as he watched the ribbed structure of the mass driver tunnel whiz by them at dizzying speeds. He saw a point of light dead ahead, and before he realized that it was the mouth of the tunnel, they were launched into the blue-black Martian sky.

The Null-Gee system kept acceleration effects to a minimum, but both Alex and Mary briefly lost consciousness. Seconds later, Alex awoke as
Diver
shot past the ten kilometer altitude mark and continued to accelerate.

Alex looked over at Mary. She was waking up.

“That felt rougher than I remember,” she said. Her blue-gray eyes blinked sleepily. “I must be getting older.”

Alex smiled. “Not that I can see, my love.” He remembered the first time he’d seen Mary at the Patera Commons’ Third Rock Cafe on Io, Jupiter’s innermost moon. He wondered then why a woman so perfectly beautiful would single him out of a crowd of IoCorp managers. After all, to them he was only a gasser; the local term for gas mine laborers.

But Alex was much more than that. And Mary knew it from the first.

She was looking at him as he entered the bar, and although she was talking to a boorish and dominating IoCorp manager who demanded her full attention, she never took her eyes off Alex.

And it was the same with Alex. They had always been drawn together like magnets.

“I was thinking of the first time I met you in that bar on Io,” said Alex.

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