As Earth's ability to support human life begins to diminish at an alarming rate, the Global Space Agency is formed with a single mandate: protect humanity from extinction by colonizing the solar system as quickly as possible. Venus, being almost the same mass as Earth, is chosen over Mars as humanity's first permanent steppingstone into the universe.
Arik Ockley is part of the first generation to be born and raised off-Earth. After a puzzling accident, Arik wakes up to find that his wife is almost three months pregnant. Since the colony's environmental systems cannot safely support any increases in population, Arik immediately resumes his work on AP, or artificial photosynthesis, in order to save the life of his unborn child.
Arik's new and frantic research uncovers startling truths about the planet, and about the distorted reality the founders of the colony have constructed for Arik's entire generation. Everything Arik has ever known is called into question, and he must figure out the right path for himself, his wife, and his unborn daughter.
Farmer One (novella)
In an economically depressed and politically dysfunctional United States, the long-defunct National Aeronautics and Space Administration is reestablished in a desperate attempt to channel the patriotism and optimism of the previous century's Soviet Space Race. But this time, the nation to beat is China, and the goal is Mars.
Far behind steady advances in Chinese aerospace engineering and even lunar colonization, a team of American scientists, engineers, and astronauts struggles to integrate decades-old technologies, untested prototypes, and some very out-of-the-box thinking to give their nation a shot at one of the most important achievements in human history. Nothing goes as planned while pursuing what appears to be the impossible, but the ultimate surprise lies in the mission's conclusion.
This quirky and intelligent novella by Christian Cantrell is both humorous and unpredictable as it explores an unfamiliar, but not entirely unimaginable, post-superpower United States.
The Epoch Index (novella)
Quinn Mitchell is a nine-to-five spy. She's a data analyst for the CIA during the day, and a suburban wife and mother on evenings and weekends. After a series of personal struggles and professional failures, Quinn hopes to find redemption in her newest assignment: a series of bizarre assassinations where victims are found with three-digit numbers tattooed, burned, or carved into their flesh. As Quinn pursues the killer across the globe — always one body behind — their lives become entangled in ways neither of them can predict.
This novella by Christian Cantrell takes place in a world bordering on unprecedented change: as oil-based economies shift to hydrogen, the majority of wealth is redistributed across the globe; as aging nuclear arsenals are replaced with even more menacing threats, terrorists try to seize opportunities to tip the balance of power; and as humans become increasingly dependent on machines, massive indexes of information accumulate which can reveal almost anything about anyone to those who know how to use them.
The Epoch Index is a story about a world changing faster than humanity can adapt to it — a world which may require us to redefine what it means to be a hero.
Anansi Island (short story)
A quiet and remote wildlife refuge, Anansi Island was the perfect place for Laurel to escape her past. But throughout the island's history, its isolation also made it the perfect place to hide things the world was never meant to see.
As Laurel finds herself entangled in the island's newest and most bizarre chapter, she must not only solve its mysteries, but also survive long enough to pass them on.
This short story by Christian Cantrell mixes science fiction and horror with endearing and enigmatic characters who can only solve the mysteries of Anansi Island by facing their worst fears.
Human Legacy Project (short story)
The goal of the Human Legacy Project is to give everyone who wants it the chance to live forever. Immortality is not achieved physically, the project teaches, but through our influence on future generations.
But as the political and economic environment changes throughout the world, the HLP takes many different forms, from a well-funded and charitable non-profit to a splintered terrorist organization driven underground by increasingly totalitarian governments. It isn't until the HLP's final phase is reached that the original vision of the founder is revealed, proving to be far bigger and more profound than anyone had imagined.
This short story by Christian Cantrell is a critical and sobering analysis of many different aspects of human nature, from close personal relationships to mankind's ultimate contribution to the universe. It is best described as a compact but epic tragedy.
Venom is a story of improbabilities. Gabriel Kane goes from a struggling architect to one of the most powerful men in the world; Armonía Solorsano — a young Hispanic girl who grew up in a dilapidated suburban McMansion-turned-tenement — invents one of the most important and influential pieces of technology in history; a non-profit organization goes from a charity to a decentralized domestic terrorist group; and the greatest democracy in the world finds itself falling into the ever-tightening grip of a dictator.
As five people come together with the shared goal of changing the world, they discover that their approaches are fundamentally and irreconcilably at odds. Their partnership becomes a bitter political and high-tech rivalry from which only one of them can emerge.
This novella by Christian Cantrell portrays an intersection of politics and technology which is both extremely relevant, and frighteningly feasible.
Brainbox (short story)
When the Earth begins cooling unexpectedly, humanity is left with only a few degrees of habitable latitude along the planet's equator. After establishing themselves as the three remaining powers in the world, the Americans, Chinese, and Russians eventually turn on each other in hopes of securing the last of the Earth's resources for themselves.
In an attempt to break the decades-long stalemate, the American military turns to Miguel dos Santos — a brilliant Brazilian roboticist — for help in creating the ASRA, or Autonomous Self Replicating Asset. The secret to the ASRAs is their neurological processors, also known as the brainbox, which enables the machines to "combine the logic and reasoning of a computer with the desperation and hate of the human soul." But as Miguel reluctantly carries out his orders, it becomes clear that he has other plans for what remains of humanity.
This short story by Christian Cantrell is both a technological and psychological thriller which unfolds across a landscape as exotic and unpredictable as it is dystopian and barren.