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by John E. Stith
Category: Science Fiction
Description: When aliens abduct New York City, carrying it into space inside a huge dome, the citizens trapped inside must find out why, what they can do to save themselves ... and to save the dozens of other cities which the aliens have stolen from other planets.
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 1993
eBookwise Release Date: March 2002
83 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [577 KB]
Reading time: 386-540 min.
"Manhattan Transfer proves once again that John E. Stith is the true successor to Arthur C. Clarke and Hal Clement as the modern master of the hard science novel."--Mike Resnick
"How can you possibly resist?... Superscience SF in the classic vein, fast-moving, heroic...loaded with sensawunda. You'll love it."--Analog
"Considerable ingenuity...Think of it as a visually spectacular movie...and a really outstanding, imaginative, and professional production staff and special effects crew working to bring off the big set-pieces and guarantee the thrills."--Locus
"Manhattan Transfer is filled with interesting ideas and a knockout climax! It is the type of novel that originally got me reading science fiction."--Kevin J. Anderson
"This is the kind of story that brought me to SF. Put a little fun back into your life and read Manhattan Transfer."--Science Fiction Chronicle
"Fascinating, intelligent account of people--some ordinary, some extraordinary--struggling to define and confront events that are beyond anything they have dared to imagine. One of the better surprise endings to come down the cosmos in light-years."--Chicago Tribune
Manhattan never sleeps. It doesn't even blink. By three in the morning, it was as close to lethargy as it ever gets, but that was still busier than a nursery full of hyperactive kids with megadoses of sugar and caffeine.
As something quite out of the ordinary began, Manhattan lay awake in the dark. * * * * Slightly past the orbit of Saturn, over forty degrees above the plane of the ecliptic, ionized particles of the solar wind encountered a disruption where none had existed before.
Space twisted. An artificial rotating singularity deformed the fabric of space, bending it in on itself until a black hole formed. Charged particles that would normally have sped directly through the region, instead began to move in arcs, most of which ended at the singularity. They accelerated as their paths curved tighter toward the gravitational lens, speeding faster and faster as they approached, and, during their final nanoseconds of existence outside the event horizon, spewing X-rays like tiny distress calls.
The event horizon bloomed to a diameter of several hundred kilometers before it stabilized. While the solar wind funneled into the region, an enormous black starship emerged from inside the event horizon. The starship, almost as black as the region of space it slid out of, absorbed radiation across the entire spectrum as it spun sedately. As the nearby singularity was switched off, the event horizon shrank until it vanished, and the only obstruction to the solar wind was the ship itself.
The huge squat disk-shaped ship sported octagonal rather than circular endplates. The disk was about ten kilometers tall, as thick as a small moon, and the octagonal endplates spanned over ten times that distance. The ship's spin slowed until it hung motionless in the dim starlight. The ship then began to pivot into the solar wind. The black ship kept adjusting its orientation until one octagonal surface pointed generally at the distant yellow G-type star. The precise alignment was at the small blue planet, third from the sun. Moments later, the enormous ship began to accelerate smoothly toward Earth. * * * * The whup-whup-whup from the chopper's blades rose in pitch and volume as the pilot pulled back on the collective, and the chopper rose a meter off the concrete at the edge of Manhattan. The six passengers were all secured, and the sounds in the pilot's headphones were positive, reassuring. He let the craft hover a moment on the ground-effect cushion as he readjusted his shoulder strap. As soon as he felt in control, he let the chopper continue its rise. Below him the circular markings of Manhattan's East 60th Street heliport began to shrink. As he rose, he let the chopper turn slowly, and he scanned the space over nearby building tops. When the chopper faced the East River and JFK International beyond, the pilot pushed on the cyclic stick and tilted the chopper slightly forward, still rising as the craft began to move toward the airport.
The pilot enjoyed the runs between Manhattan and JFK, particularly at times like now--the morning rush hour. This was one of the few jobs in flying where you could "drive" over the roads below in Queens. He took a lot of pleasure in passing slow-moving traffic on the Long Island Expressway, BQE, and Van Wyck, cruising right over the stalls and backed up sections, ignoring pileups and emergacharge trucks.
He reached cruising height just before the East River. Below was the Queensboro Bridge, doing its best to jam more people into Manhattan.
A sudden shadow was the first indication of trouble. Reflexes took over and he lost a little altitude just in case. If the passengers complained, he couldn't tell, because the headphones and the rotor roar would block anything up to a scream.
The helicopter pilot had just convinced himself there was no problem when a faint pencil of red light cut the grimy sky vertically in front of the windshell bubble. He jammed the stick and tried to veer away, but he had no time. The whine of the rotors suddenly changed pitch as the rotor blades hit the shaft of laser light. The chopper became a machine gun, firing severed pieces of rotor off to his left. In milliseconds, the slicing light had whittled every rotor down to half its original length, and then the chopper itself hit the beam. A band saw moving at the speed of light, the laser sliced the chopper right down the middle. The engine overhead exploded as the casing surrounding the whirling components split into pieces.
Shrapnel from the exploding engine perforated bodies of the pilot and passengers as the two halves of the chopper began their plunge to the East River. The pilot hadn't even had time to utter the one word traditionally heard as black box recordings terminate.