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Book 1 The First Journey

Book 2 Alien Hunt

Earth to Centauri – The First Journey (Book 1)

The year is 2095. Voyager 1, launched in 1977 with its golden record, has been found by someone. They’ve sent a signal back to Earth. With a newly constructed faster than light spaceship ‘Antariksh’, Captain Anara reaches the source of the signal, the nearest star to Earth – Proxima Centauri.

Her crew includes novices such as Lt. Manisha, and seasoned professionals, including Commander Ryan. But before she can even meet with the aliens, Anara must clear obstacles on her own ship, including a recalcitrant Artificial Intelligence and inexplicable radiation, which threatens the safety of the mission.

The implications of what they find on planet Proxima B will resonate far beyond this first journey exposing Earth to dangers on an unimaginable scale. And then Captain Anara finds out that there was a secret buried aboard Voyager 1 by its creators.

Earth to Centauri – Book 2 Alien Hunt

The year is 2118. The first journey from Earth into interstellar space has been successful, but the explosive secret carried aboard the probe Voyager 1 will have grave consequences.

As Captain Anara and her crew return to Earth aboard their spaceship, Antariksh, civil war breaks out in the world they have just left behind. A cryptic message warns her of the dispatch of mercenaries to Earth. Their mission – unknown but deadly. She may have just days to prevent the outbreak of an interstellar war which would bring unimaginable carnage to Earth.

Her crew and the National Investigation Agency, engage in the greatest undercover search for the mercenaries in the streets of the megacity. As they race against time to uncover the plot, a traitor is unmasked, and Anara herself comes under suspicion. She must use every ounce of her resourcefulness to protect thirty million people and one unique, innocent life.

Immerse yourself in an edge of the seat techno-thriller on a realistic future Earth and geek out on the technology just a few decades away from today.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KUMAR L

Biography

Kumar is a passionate tech enthusiast and social media newbie. He loves travelling and is fluent in seven Indian languages. His engineering background and love of science fiction helps him bring technology alive in his books. Earth to Centauri is Kumar’s first book. It is easy to read and understand, and is suitable for a wide range of age groups.

Earth to Centauri, as well as the second book in the series, Alien Hunt, where the action takes place in Mumbai, are both based on themes of adventure, thrill and drama, with a positive outlook at what the future may hold for humanity.

Earth to Centauri is also available in Hindi as Dharti Se Sitaron Tak Pehli Yatra – Proxima ka Rahasya.

A third book in the series, Black Hole: Oblivion is currently in the research stage.

WHAT READERS SAY

A sci-fi thriller is what I used to ignore before and then I tried few more but I didn’t find any of it interesting unless my eyes got struck on a beautiful cover. Earth to Centauri by Author Kumar will take you to the heights of the scientific world and make you imagine a real world of 2095. More than the cover of the book, I fell in love with the plot which the Author has shown with a very hard effort. This book speaks about a journey started in the 90’s and with different Protagonists, a team including Lt.Manisha, commando Ryan and the captain Anara. If you are searching for something real and within the limits of reality then this book has the perfect story.

Tushar Jain

Goodreads

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am looking forward to subsequent books which seem very likely to follow on. For one thing, it was refreshing to read of a genuinely multi-ethnic crew, rather than representatives of a single nation. In this case the ship – the Antariksh – was designed in and launched from India, with an assorted crew.

RA

Amazon

This is stylish sci-fi story with a first contact theme. The spaceship Antariksh travels to Proxima Centauri to investigate the source of a mysterious signal. The spaceship environment and the technology is richly described and convincing. A good mystery develops for the crew to uncover. However, the journey to Proxima Centauri is less eventful in terms of action/adventure or danger to the crew. I didn’t like how the first half of the book hopped back and forth between current time and a past episode, although I did come to realise how the past influenced the current. Characters are well described and the potential for inter-crew relationship/conflicts is indicated for future books. Otherwise, a good story unfolds that sets the scene for future adventures for the crew of the starship Antariksh.

GB

Amazon

Earth to Centauri is largely set in the early 22nd century, and follows the journey of Earth’s first spaceship capable of crewed interstellar flight. There are also a number of flashbacks to various stages of the thirty-year period while the journey is planned and the ship built.

RA

Amazon

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Earth to Centauri – The First Journey (Book 1)

Earth to Centauri – The First Journey

First Two Chapters

Prologue

2087

Somewhere beyond the solar system

A total of 110 years had passed since it had been launched. Travelling at 60,000 km per hour, it had moved 60 billion kilometers through space – fulfilling its mission. Its power source was exhausted and all instruments were powered down; it had been drifting around aimlessly for more than 70 years. As it was no longer able to send or receive signals, it was completely cut off from its home. Deep in interstellar space, with only gases and comet-forming icy particles to keep it company, it was all alone in the black vastness.
However, someone was watching it, tracking its irregular movements, checking to see if it posed a threat. This small object intrigued the finders. To them it looked like a message in a bottle.
The object was taken on board and the ship turned back to where it came from…

The present day, 2117

2.2 LY from Earth

The lights in the dome came on and slowly brightened, encompassing the sleep capsules. As always, Anara was awake immediately. It was never pleasant to wake up after eight hours of forced sleep, but after many weeks of following the Jump cycles, she was becoming accustomed to it.

Around her, the crew started to stir within their capsules, opening transparent hatches and climbing out. Some murmurs and chatter could be heard, but generally people wandered off to their quarters to prepare for their shifts.

Anara’s second in command came over to her capsule. Commander Ryan looked fresh – as if he had just stepped out of his dressing room. But then again, he never looked stressed. His background in theoretical physics and military strategy was the product of a highly disciplined mind.

“Good morning, Captain! Slept well?” That is what he usually said after every Jump, even though sleep was not really an option, but rather a forced condition in the dome.
She smiled back at her first officer. “Just a little stiff, Ryan. Ops?” Anara asked as they exited the dome. It was not a question really, but really a part of their usual routine. It took a few minutes to reach Ops. They entered together and found Lieutenant Manisha at the control station. This was the only station still operating within its protective cocoon during The Jump and was mostly manned by the young Flight Lieutenant. It was her domain and her performance ensured she’d earned it. An engineering graduate of only 25 years, she had earned her rank in the Indian Air Force.

She looked up from the console as the Captain entered the Ops centre. “Morning, Captain! Ops normal. Report at your station, she called out.”
“Thanks, Lieutenant. Location?”
“Captain, we’re 2.2 LY from Earth and the last Jump carried us as expected. Currently in cruise phase – velocity 0.01 c. We’ll be holding this speed while The Jump reactor recharges.”
Anara acknowledged the information. She walked with Ryan to their respective stations. Her station was in the middle of the room and Ryan’s was next to her. She called up the display that materialized in front of her. A complex set of numbers and charts popped up on her screen. One chart indicated the position of her ship, Antariksh, relative to Earth and to their destination. The second chart was the status of key on-board systems, starting with the power plant. Everything glowed green and the stats were mostly in the optimum zone. The numbers on non-essential power use troubled her a bit. Even though the readings were not significant, nevertheless she sent a note to her engineering head to verify the same.

“Hey, Narada!” she greeted the Artificial Intelligence on board. Its name was a legend: just like the mythological Narada, the ship’s AI was connected to all systems and communications. It literally knew everything and, if not contained by its integrity program, it could cause a whole lot of trouble for some people.
After the anxiety caused by the EU providing rights to artificial life forms back in the early 21st century, it had been deemed necessary to limit what Narada could do on the ship, even while it was regarded as sentient. That was the design approved by the ethics committee and Anara was fine with it.

“Hello, Captain Anara. An update on the crew’s health has been sent to you. No reason to worry but Doctor Khan would like to run some more tests on space radiation exposure on one of the crew members. The list has been sent to you for approval.”
“Thanks, Narada. Compose a status message to Indian Space Command and transmit it.” She took a final look at her displays and decided that her ship could fly a little further without her being in the Captain’s seat. “All good, Ryan. Care to join me for a meal?”
“Sure. Just let me confirm the fuel reserves.” His fingers hovered over the control pad and commands were input. “Done. The roster’s set and on track. Manisha’s reliever will be here shortly. I think I’ve earned the meal now. Let’s go.”

They left the room and went downstairs to the cafeteria on the second level. It was good to be able to stretch their legs after being confined in the cylinders for so long. They passed other crewmembers in the hallway who were now starting their own shifts. Antariksh was slowly coming alive with the sound of human activity.
The ship was 150 meters long and had three levels. Level 1 at the top was the control section with ops in the front. The medical bay, engineering, observation and navigation systems took up most of the rear. Level 2 housed the crew quarters, communal areas, cafeteria and the dome. It could easily accommodate a hundred people, though the current number of crewmembers was fifty-five. Level 3 housed the power plant, standby generators, battery banks, solar power banks, anti-matter storage, utilities and escape pods.
Antariksh was the second deep space exploration vessel after Akash. While Akash never made it past the heliopause, its design had helped to make the next generation of space transports more robust, reliable and fast.
Launched in the year 2096, it had taken fifteen years to build and another five years to test. Though Faster Than Light or FTL speeds had been made possible by 2085, sustaining the same for extended periods of time with humans on board had required scientists to come up with path-breaking applications of quantum mechanics. Even then, managing the power requirements with a combination of fusion reactions and controlled anti-matter explosions had taken almost a decade to become a reality. To keep people out of the time dilation experienced during FTL, the dome had been constructed to enable a mix of suspended animation and isolation from all external references. It was almost akin to a cocoon or a bubble.
As they went down to the dining room, Anara could not help but feel pride in her role of commanding the first manned flight in interstellar space. This was strengthened by the fact that her country had entered the twenty-second century full of power and hope – being a beacon for the rest of the world. The international crew on board had been an added bonus. She smiled at the memory of the thousands of people who had applied to become a crewmember on the ship and how she had the privilege of handpicking every member of the crew.
The weight of the responsibility for their mission sobered her up. She was responsible for the lives of fifty-four people deep into space. Light years from Earth, the farthest humankind had ever gone before. Their mission was to prove without doubt that humans were not alone in the Universe.

22 Years ago, 2095

Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, Pune

The anomalous signals had been coming through since the New Year, but most SETI listening sites had ignored them, just because they did not monitor that particular bandwidth. However, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near the megacity of Mumbai-Pune was incidentally on the correct frequency. But here, again, the signals were initially treated as routine interference.
The search for extraterrestrial signals was more than 150 years old and over time the study of such signals had become a mere routine, most getting stored for later study. Despite numerous false alarms, nothing concrete had been discovered to date.

What was different this time was the signals that were being repeated. It took a few hours for the signal to be downloaded, verified and catalogued. When they repeated again, the system flagged it off and it was only then that the night shift grad student noticed the pattern.
It was late the following night when the guards found her running across the campus to the Director’s office, alongside the head of her own department.
They burst into the Director’s room and told him the news just as he was about to leave. His stature at GMRT did not give him the opportunity to be able to jump for joy at this piece of information and he had to be content in punching the air several times. The thought of going home was now forgotten as he poured over the data.
He flagged a message to the Director of Indian Space Command. In matters of such importance GMRT usually deferred to the ISC headed by Director Srinivas.
Director Srinivas’s reaction was a bit more staid. He pulled out his best team of analysts and put them on the job together with the team from GMRT.
The finding was classified ‘Top Secret’ immediately and, the bureaucracy notwithstanding; the news reached the PMO within a day. In his characteristic way, the Prime Minister decided this was to be run by scientists and not civil servants. He personally put Srini in charge of the whole project and made Dr. Aryan second in command.
********
The ISC team had taken over the entire signal analysis block at GMRT having unceremoniously evicted the inhabitants. Four days had passed since the signal had been received and it was time to bring everything together to decide what the next step would be.
“Morning, Director,” Doctor Aryan greeted. “We’ve completed our first cut analysis of the signal. Surprisingly, it was easy once we put together the repetitions in a sequence.”
“So, what’d you find?”
“It’s in Morse code, dots and dashes,” replied Dr. Aryan with a deadpan expression while smiling inwardly. He knew exactly what would follow.

“You mean it’s a rogue,” sighed Srini, his excitement suddenly wearing off. Rogue signals were Earth-generated signals sometimes captured in the giant radio telescopes by accident. There had been plenty of those across the world.
“No, Sir. I mean it’s Morse code, but it’s definitely extra-terrestrial. Its frequency would never be caught by our telescopes if it were transmitted from Earth,” stated Dr. Aryan, still holding on to his flat expression.
“You don’t say, Aryan! That’s outstanding! And what’s in the signal?”
“It’s a SOS.”
“Are you serious, Doctor? You are telling me that we finally have a signal from outer space and it’s in Morse code that went out of use over a hundred years ago? And that it signals ‘S.O.S’?” Srini exclaimed in surprise.

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