At 01:47:18, on Tuesday, 2 April 2126, Doctor Carla Tuttle, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England, observed a powerful energy surge beyond Saturn’s orbit. The surge created a flare bright enough to be seen from earth with the naked eye.
Shortly thereafter, a 15-year-old girl, working the 80-meter HAM band in Denver, began to hear a strange, unintelligible words, repeated over and over, on what should have been a code-only channel.
Within hours what was happening seemed obvious. A gigantic spacecraft, some 2.5 kilometers in length, and 300 meters in beam, had emerged from nowhere into earth’s solar system. Worldwide, the military went on high alert, as it soon became obvious that, whatever this was, it was heading for earth at an impossible speed and, more significantly, slowing down.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Sir Charles Vickers was understandably nervous. The Russian President was hearing talk of invasion from his military. Captain Charles Sebastian, RN, commander of the Sagan Space Platform, was even more nervous, as the huge alien ship was now parked alongside, with ominously-shaped capsules approaching his command. And, in the United States, the official line was that the whole thing was a British hoax, despite the ship being so big it could be seen from the ground.
Things got even more interesting when the alien ship’s captain, along with two crew members, decided to visit the space platform. With tiny, advanced computers handling the translation, the captain corrected Sebastian’s mistaken impression. The ship was not an alien craft. It was from earth, returning from almost 87,000 years in the past. No, there was no interest in conquering the planet, but the crew would like to come down and visit their home planet before continuing on their explorations. And there were a few open positions, should anyone wish to join the crew.
Only the United States seems not to notice. So far as President Will Gordon and his government were concerned, no one could have returned from 87,000 years in the past, because everyone knew that the universe was only about 6,000 years old. It’s a different United States, one the religious right had finally been able to bring about, where having an abortion brings the death penalty, blasphemy is punishable by prison, and all Jews have been shipped to Israel (which, annoyingly, still hasn’t brought about the Second Coming). It’s a United States where a former evangelist has been in the White House for 29 years, and atheists are illegal. A United States where a remote section of Wyoming never appears on aerial imaging sites, and people who speak out against the established order sometimes seemed to just disappear.
The goal is to raise $10,000 toward the publication of Returning in print, digital, and audiobook formats. This covers several different expenses, including commissioning a final cover (the one on this page is a mockup), book layout, advertising, and paying the audiobook narrator. It also, to be honest, will keep the author in groceries and a place to live while he finishes the book. Writing, acting, and narrating audiobooks just doesn’t pay all that well, and there aren’t a lot of jobs for retired people.
What do you get out of it if you contribute? Perks range from a “thank you” postcards, to tee-shirts, digital or printed copies of the finished book, getting your name in a special acknowledgement section of the book (and on this page), and, for no more than ten major contributors, specially printed, leather-bound copies of the book, personally inscribed by the author.