When a NASA satellite discovers an astonishingly rare unearthly object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory -- a victory with profound implications for NASA policy and the impending presidential election. To verify the authenticity of the... read more
Intelligence Analyst Rachel Sexton is in her mid-thirties, is single, and works for the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office). Her father, Senator Sedgewick Sexton, is a presidential candidate who is more popular than incumbent President of the United States Zachary Herney. The President sends... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Intelligence Analyst Rachel Sexton is in her mid-thirties, is single, and works for the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office). Her father, Senator Sedgewick Sexton, is a presidential candidate who is more popular than incumbent President of the United States Zachary Herney. The President sends her to the Arctic as part of a team of experts to confirm and authenticate findings made by NASA deep within the Milne Ice Shelf. NASA's new Polar Orbiting Density Scanner (PODS), part of the Earth Observation System (EOS), a collection of satellites monitoring the globe for signs of large-scale change, has found an extremely dense spot in the Milne Ice Shelf. At this spot NASA discovers a very dense meteorite. In it are insect fossils very similar to, but not the same as, species on earth. NASA claims this as proof of extraterrestrial life.
The find is something NASA needs in the light of recent failures. Senator Sexton uses these failures as an example of government overspending to further his campaign; he wants to abolish NASA and direct the funding toward public schools instead. In order to ensure that the discovery is not tarnished by the reputation that NASA has developed, the President sends four leading civilian scientists (Michael Tolland, a famous oceanographer and TV personality; Corky Marlinson, a brilliant but eccentric astrophysicist; Norah Mangor, a prickly glaciologist and Wailee Ming, a palaeontologist) to the Arctic to verify the meteorite's authenticity.
A Delta Force team is also observing the discovery, monitoring the NASA staff for an unknown commander. Ming observes an irregularity within the pit from which the meteorite was extracted. He reaches into the water to obtain a sample and falls in due to an attack by microbots operated by the Delta Force team. He soon drowns to the bottom of the pit.
When Tolland sees the irregularity, he shares it with Corky Marlinson and Rachel Sexton. They report it to Mangor, who confirms that there is sea water in what should be a closed area with only freshwater. The four go outside to scan the ice from a distance. The scan shows Ming's body in the water and a column of frozen sea ice beneath the meteorite where it was drilled up into the glacier. Upon discovering this, the four are attacked by the Delta Force team, leaving Norah Mangor dead. Sexton, Tolland and Marlinson escape and are picked up by the Navy submarine USS Charlotte. The Delta Force team believes them to be dead, leaving the scientists a chance to tell the President's advisor and Rachel's boss at the NRO about their discovery, and the subsequent attack. Rachel's boss, NRO director William Pickering, has them airlifted from the sub to a chopper which escorts them away from the meteorite discovery site.
Eventually, the Senator Sexton's true motive for wanting to abolish NASA is revealed to be his work for the interests of private corporations from the Space Frontier Foundation, who wish to profit off of space exploration in the event that NASA is dismantled. Rachel is unaware of this, and believes that the President and NASA are part of the conspiracy to kill them. If so, their motive would be to cover up evidence that the meteorite is fake and solely designed to gain support for the incumbent President in the upcoming election. Aboard Tolland's ship off the New Jersey coast, where the Delta Force arrives via helicopter to kill them, Rachel sends a fax message to her father asking for help.
Sexton, Tolland, and Marlinson work together to kill the Delta Force squad in self-defense. Rachel is surprised to see Pickering emerging from the helicopter, revealing that he is the commander of the Delta Force squad. He tells Rachel about her father's true motivations for becoming President, and that he (Pickering) masterminded the fake meteorite to hurt Senator Sexton's campaign, protecting the American people in his eyes. When the President sent the civilian team to verify the authenticity of the meteorite, Pickering realized that they would discover his plot and that they needed to be eliminated at all costs. Rachel attempts to reason with Pickering, saying that murder is not a justifiable way of solving the problem. Pickering, however, says that he is "sacrificing a few to save many", and that he will finish the job personally. Pickering shoots at the three with an machine gun, but they manage to get off of the ship. The helicopter slides off the ship into the sea, sinking to the bottom. The intense heat at the bottom ignites the Hellfire Missiles still on the helicopter, tearing the existent magma plume at the bottom of the sea, creating a water vortex. The ship is sucked in by the vortex, and Pickering is implied to have been killed in the wreck.
Senator Sexton then reads the fax message his daughter sent him to the public, possibly incriminating the President and NASA. However, the truth eventually comes to light about Senator Sexton's ulterior motives and Pickering's meteorite plot, securing Zachary Herney a second term as President.
By the end of the story, Michael and Rachel have developed a romantic relationship.
“What he lacks in tact, he more than makes up for in random bits of totally useless knowledge about our universe .”
“Keeping information from the director of the NRO was like keeping Vatican secrets from the Pope. The standing joke in the intelligence community was that if William Pickering didn't know about it,it hadn't happened.”
“When in doubt just spit it out! The old Yankee proverb embodies...”
“Marjorie Tench had been blessed with all the brains of a supercomputer - and the warmth of one too.”
“Life is filled with difficult decisions, and the winners are the one who make them.”Senator Sexton
“The cavernous main chamber of NASA's habisphere would have been a strange sight anywhere on earth, but the fact that it existed on the Arctic ice shelf made it that much more difficult for Rachel Sexton to assimilate”-
““Hiya, hiya, this is the Goya,” the voice announced. “We’re sorry nobody’s here right now, but we’ve all been abducted by very large lice! Actually, we’ve taken temporary shore leave to celebrate Mike’s huge night. Gosh, are we proud! You can leave your name and number, and maybe we’ll be back tomorrow when we’re sober. Ciao! Go, ET!””Michael Tolland’s crew member,the onboard joker.
““Diversitas is considered the marine biologist’s version of Napster. We call it LOBSTER—Lonely Oceanic Biologists Sharing Totally Eccentric Research.””Michael Tolland
“Although this great office had enjoyed many nicknames over the years—the Loo, Dick’s Den, the Clinton Bedroom—Herney’s favorite was “the Lobster Trap.””President Zachary Herney thought when he entered the Oval Office.
The Law of Parsimony, she thought. Her NRO instructors had driven it into her subconscious. When multiple explanations exist, the simplest is usually correct.Highlighted by 16 Kindle customers
Contents Acknowledgments Author’s Note PrologueHighlighted by 12 Kindle customers
“Panspermia is the theory that life was seeded here from another planet.”Highlighted by 9 Kindle customers
“Yeah,” Tolland shouted back. “Polar bears actually give the Arctic its name. Arktos is Greek for bear.” Terrific. Rachel gazed nervously into the dark. “Antarctica has no polar bears,” Tolland said. “So they call it Anti-arktos.”Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
Remove all assumptions, she told herself, forcing herself to reorganize her thoughts. Reestablish the chain of substantiation.Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
katabatic wind,” the driver yelled. “Get used to it!” He explained that this area had a permanent offshore gale called theHighlighted by 4 Kindle customers
Toulos Restaurant, adjacent to Capitol Hill, boasts a politically incorrect menu of babyHighlighted by 3 Kindle customers
NRO Director William Pickering was diminutive, with pale skin, a forgettable face, a bald head, and hazel eyes, which despite having gazed upon the country’s deepest secrets, appeared as two shallow pools.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
“It’s…” Rachel stammered, almost unable to speak the word. “It’s…a bug! This meteorite contains the fossil of a bug!”Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
<These are not errors per se, but weak points in the plot.> Firstly, how could a meteor have planetary fossils on it? How did they get out into space,as claimed by the conspirator? Secondly, the 'extraterrestrial' life form in the fossil would have been identified eventually (by those who first discovered it on earth), blowing the lid off the lie. The claim would be uncovered sooner or later, making the plan implausible.
Response to the above from another reader:
Have you read this book? Apologies if I may seem blunt but everything mentioned above was explained clearly in the novel. However... something not explicitly explained, but is simple astrophysics, is that although the majority of meteorites come from asteroids and comets, there are some planetary meteorites in existance and these typically show unbalanced isotopes, and physiological characteristics resembling those mentioned in the book. It's not unreasonable to suggest that one of these planets may, at some point, have supported life. Meteorites which impact planets are capable of disrupting large amounts of planetary substrate on impact. Meteorites hitting planets can result in 'chunks' of said planet being exploded out into space which would explain how it got into space in the first place.
It is not necessarily true that the species would be discovered eventually. We only know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the species inhabiting our planet = especially in the great depths of the ocean.
We’re hiding the movie connections, books that influenced this book, books influenced by this book, books that cite this book and books cited by this book sections. If you would like to add content to them, you must first make them visible.