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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Science Fiction / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:310
  • eBook ISBN:9781624888878


by Louis Edward Alfeld

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Starseeds describes a scientific investigation of several tiny artifacts with very unusual attributes. The story is something that could actually happen tomorrow; it explores how a small group of real people would analyze and then cope with the unexpected proof of intelligence elsewhere in the galaxy. It is a character-driven mystery/thriller story of personal transformational discovery as well as the researchers attempt to solve a first-class scientific mystery. The story unfolds through the eyes and thoughts of four of the investigators. When Jake Calley, a geology PhD student, discovers two pellet-sized artifacts embedded in a soil sample, no one knows what to make of their unusual properties. That is until the US Air Force intervenes to investigate the pellets origin and function. Jake reluctantly joins his difficult mother, a brilliant scientific celebrity, and four scientists from a nanotech engineering lab to uncover the artifacts’ secrets. Quickly secluded by the military, the eight-member Project Starlight team races to unravel the amazing riddle from an ancient extra-terrestrial civilization. Rivalries, hidden agendas, emotional tension and, finally, desperation, drive the exciting search to its unexpected conclusion.
Based on hard science and reasonable assumptions, this story presents a realistic scenario that could conceivably occur tomorrow. It involves eight believable people, each with their strengths and weaknesses, whose lives are suddenly entwined in an effort to solve the mystery of a handful of tiny pellets. An intensive scientific investigation, undertaken under extreme time pressure and limited resources, eventually discovers that the pellets are messengers from the stars. The excitement of discovery, however, plays a secondary role to the intense emotional and intellectual interactions of the eight unique scientists. Jake Calley, the central figure, is a PhD student in extra-terrestrial geology. His mother, Joyce Calley, is a world-famous materials engineer and scientist who casts a long shadow over her only child. Another student, Katy Hawthorne, working on her doctorate in Evolutionary Biology, is drawn into the tensions between mother and son by her fortuitous help in discovering that Jake’s “pellets” are more than just contamination in one of his precious soil samples. At his mother’s suggestion, Jake and Katy show the tiny spheroids to Hans Beckmann, the president of a nano-engineering firm. Beckmann immediately realizes that the spheroids’ technology is beyond his firm’s capabilities and enlists three of his best employees to study the objects. Their initial findings reveal unknown properties. Sensing a potential threat to his company’s leading position in state-of-the-art nano engineering, Beckmann alerts the US Air Force. LtCol Rain (a double doc in physics and astronomy) investigates and agrees with Beckmann that the spheroids apparently represent an advanced technology, perhaps Chinese in origin. Rain brings the few people who have knowledge of the discovery together in a lab at Sandia National Laboratories. Over the course of two intensive weeks the investigative team makes many surprising discoveries, including the true nature of the spheroids: they are “seeds” from an extra-solar civilization, now long gone. But the most amazing discoveries are those the individuals make about themselves and about the others on the team. The conclusion offers an unexpected twist to the story, one that brings all of the disparate elements into place.
About the author
Louis Edward Alfeld is the retired founder and president of a US defense-oriented software engineering firm. His education includes a doctorate in engineering, a Harvard law degree, a masters from MIT, and undergraduate degrees in science and architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis. He enjoys craft beers, backpacking in remote mountains, and watercolor painting. Lou and his wife Debra divide their time between Maryland and New Zealand.