Richter 10

Richter 10

by Arthur C. Clarke, Mike McQuay

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Political and environmental disasters come crashing down in this earthquake sci-fi thriller co-written by the authors of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Memories.
When he was seven years old, Lewis Crane survived the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994—but his parents did not. Haunted by the tragedy, Crane has dedicated his life to protecting humanity from similar disasters. Now he is a Nobel Prize–winning earthquake scientist who perfected equipment sensitive enough to predict an earthquake strike down to the minute. And he wants to go further.
Crane has formed an organization to explore the idea of stopping earthquakes entirely by fusing the Earth’s tectonic plates together. But what effect will this have on the earth? And as political unrest causes tremors of another kind, can Crane’s audacious plan stop another major earthquake due to hit the United States?
Co-written by Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick Award–winning author Mike McQuay, the “two formidable SF talents converge splendidly in this disaster thriller, which offers sleek action-adventure writing, world-class tumult and a coherent near-future based on sound yet innovative social and scientific speculation” (Publishers Weekly).

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780795325786
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Publication date: 11/30/2012
Series: Arthur C. Clarke Collection
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 446
Sales rank: 179,297
File size: 471 KB

About the Author

One of the most influential science fiction writers of the 20th and 21st century, Arthur C. Clarke is the author of over 100 novels, novellas, and short story collections that laid the groundwork for the science fiction genre. Combining scientific knowledge and visionary literary aptitude, Clarke's work explored the implications of major scientific discoveries in astonishingly inventive and mystical settings.

Clarke's short stories and novels have won numerous Hugo and Nebula Awards, have been translated into more than 30 languages, and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several of his books, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: Odyssey II, have been adapted into films that still stand as classic examples of the genre. Without a doubt, Arthur C. Clarke's is one of the most important voices in contemporary science fiction literature.

Date of Birth:

December 16, 1917

Date of Death:

March 19, 2008

Place of Birth:

Minehead, Somerset, England

Place of Death:

Sri Lanka


1948, King's College, London, first-class honors in Physics and Mathematics

Read an Excerpt




Slivers of first light poked through the crack around the flap of the tent, and Dan Newcombe, stretched out on his cot and naked except for his shoes and his wrist pad, tried even harder to stop the numbers. They'd been scrolling through his brain for forty-eight hours, keeping him awake and growing edgier by the minute.

Close by, someone began to pound a vent into the ground. The numbers in Newcombe's head shattered with the harsh metallic clank of each blow, re-formed before the next strike of the mallet, shattered again ... until he couldn't tolerate it for another second and jerked to a sitting position, plugging his ears with his index fingers. No good; he couldn't keep that sound out and the numbers were still running through his head. Worse, another person was starting on a vent, pounding out of rhythm with the first.

Newcombe got up, walked to his workstation, and turned on the lantern; it barely lit the two chart tables covered with electronic gear, and he glanced at the faceted, jewel-like knob on its top. Dull green. The damned lantern needed recharge. And he needed light, lots of it, now. In a world of lies, he was getting ready to bet his life on the truth. And truth demanded light. He hated lies, which meant he hated the way Lewis Crane did business. But even Crane had to appreciate the truth on some level, because he, too, was betting his life, along with the lives of at least a hundred others, maybe even thousands of others, on Newcombe's calculations. Crane always thought big.

Newcombe picked up the lantern, carried it to the tent flap, and stuck it out. Immediately pulling it back inside, he blinked at the blinding light it gave off. When he'd adjusted the brightness, he placed it back on the chart table and noted with satisfaction that every corner and fold of the tent was fully lighted, especially the herky-jerky little lines of the seismos. Those lines were a language to him, a language he could interpret like no other human being alive. He trusted seismos. Unlike people, they were dependable, always truthful. They treated every man, woman, and child the same, never changing their readings because of the skin color or gender or age of the reader.

He juiced the computers to a floating holo of seventeen seismograms hanging in the air before him in alternating bands of blue and red; their little white cursors registered the beating heart of the planet.

Heavy seismic activity was crying out on all seventeen graphs, which meant that everything ringing this section of the Pacific Plate was in turmoil. He could sense it right through the floating lines. He knew Crane, wherever he was, could sense it, too — only Crane didn't need any instruments, just his uncanny instincts ... and that dangling left arm of his.

Today could be the day.

Newcombe activated Memory with the lightest touch on the key pad, and the graphs replayed the history of the last eighteen hours. His eyes widened at the sight of perfectly aligned seismic peaks in five places on all seventeen screens. Foreshocks.

He tapped Crane's icon on his wristpad and asked loudly, "Where the hell are you?"

"Good morning, Doctor," Crane said warmly, his voice coming through Newcombe's aural implant in dulcet tones. "Fine day for an earthquake. Perhaps you should join us for it. I'm down at the mines."

"I'll be there in a little while," Newcombe said, tapping off the pad, disgusted that Crane could sound so hearty, happy even, at such a moment.

He stared at the graphs, back now to current readings and still screaming turmoil.

"And I thought the Moon had set."

Astonished, Newcombe whirled toward the sound of the droll, sexy voice of the only woman who'd ever challenged his mind, heart, and body at the same time.

"Lanie!" he exclaimed.

"In the flesh, lover," Elena King said, smiling broadly, her sunblock-coated lips gleaming.

Even wrapped head-to-toe to protect herself from the sunshine, she looked appealing and provocative. And despite the opaque goggles covering her eyes, he could tell she was eyeing his nakedness with a mixture of desire and humor. Newcombe felt almost giddy and rushed across the tent to her.

"Oh, Lanie," he said, dragging her against his body for a long, intense hug. He gently thrust her to arm's length for a quick inspection, removed her floppy hat and tossed it over his shoulder, then pushed her goggles up like a headband behind which her thick, wavy black hair cascaded down her back. Looking into the hazel eyes that had entranced him for years, he slowly pulled her close again and lowered his head for a lingering kiss.

Savoring her lips, Newcombe realized he'd like nothing better than to lose himself in this woman. But there were the seismos. There were the numbers. And this could be the day. Reluctantly, he broke off the kiss, murmuring, "How did I get so lucky? What brought you here?"

"You don't know?" Lanie asked incredulously, freeing herself from his embrace and taking a couple of steps back. "Your buddy Crane didn't tell you he hired me last night?"

Now it was Newcombe's turn to be incredulous. "Hired you?"

"Yes! Hired me! And ordered me to get my butt down here right away."

His gut clenching with fear for Lanie and with rage at Crane for putting her in danger, he snapped, "Your transport still on the island?"

"How should I know?" She frowned. "More to the point, what the hell's wrong with you suddenly?"

He darted to the foot of his cot and snatched up his Chinese peasant pants. "What's wrong with me?" He stepped into the pants and yanked the drawstring tight around his waist, then located his work shirt. "What's wrong with me?" he repeated, louder, while thrusting his arm through a khaki sleeve. "Nothing's wrong with me." He pointed at the holos. "That's what's wrong. This island's about to crack up ... fracture into little pieces!"

"Hardly a secret, friend. Everybody, everywhere is talking about it." She grinned. "You trying to tell me you don't want me?" She'd scarcely had time to blink, when she was in his arms again, being kissed hard and fast.

"That should answer your question. I want you anywhere I can get you, Lanie — except here." He pulled her goggles over her eyes and rested his hands lightly on her shoulders. "We're going to get you away from this damned island fast!" He turned back to the end of the camp table, rummaging in the clutter there for his goggles.

"I guess you didn't hear what I said." She caught the hat he'd found on the table and tossed to her. "As of last night I work at this godforsaken place, just like you do. I'm part of the team doing field work until it's time to go back to the Foundation where I will work right alongside you, lover boy." She shook her head. "I don't get it. Crane told me you recommended me for the imager's job."

"A couple of weeks ago he asked if I knew any good synnoetic imagers. Of course I mentioned you, but he never said a word to me about hiring you, much less bringing you here. If I'd known that he —" "Stop right there. I'm a professional and an adult, Dan, in case you've forgotten. We're talking about my decisions, my work, my life —"

He rounded on her. "You don't have the slightest idea what you've got yourself into by coming to Sado. Crane calls this operation Mobile One. Everyone else calls it Deathville. Our leader's nutty as a fruitcake, if you didn't guess, and he's surrounded himself with other nuts ... crackpots, university rejects, oddballs and screwballs."

"Some would say they're creative, and eclectic, and brilliant. Misunderstood, maybe, but talented and smart — like Crane himself."

He snorted, turning back to the camp table. "Yeah, sure." He found his goggles and put them on, then marched over to take her hat from her hands and jam it on her head. He grabbed her by the hand and ducked with her through the flap. They emerged into the still, wet air of the tent city with its ubiquitous cold mud, or Crane's Crud as it was termed by insiders.

Excitement jangled in the very air of the camp, packed with disaster aid workers, grad students, newsies in steadicam helmets, visiting dignitaries, and local hires. All were wrapped like mummies against the sunshine. Newcombe's Africk heritage provided him with enough melanin to protect against the deadly UV rays of the sun, about the only advantage a black man had in this world as far as he could tell.

A cart carrying coffee and rice cakes wheeled by, splashing mud. Newcombe stopped the operator and took a cup, adding a big spoonful of dorph. He drank greedily, the hard edge of his anger at Crane blunting immediately. He sighed, glad to have his spiking, dangerous emotions even out. Now he could think, try to understand why Crane had chosen to bring Lanie to Sado. Maybe, in his own way, Crane was trying to improve Newcombe's attitudes and morale, which had eroded seriously this past year they'd worked together. It was the relentless carnival atmosphere Crane created at his Foundation in the mountains just beyond LA and in these field situations that most disturbed Newcombe, but he could hardly expect the Big Man to understand that. Leave it to Crane also not to understand human nature and believe he was doing a good thing for Newcombe by bringing his lover to the most dangerous spot on planet Earth.

"It's so ... so colorful," Lanie said. "Vibrant really. The primary blues and the reds of the tents. ..." She looked at the cerulean sky, adding, "And the colors of all those hot air balloons and helos up there."

"That how you got here, by helo?" he asked, pushing through a cadre of Red Cross volunteers to stare at the source of the clanking that had annoyed him earlier — grad students pounding interlocking titanium poles deep into the ground.

"A news helo," she amended, her voice as edgy now as Newcombe's. The camp dogs began to bay fearfully, and she raised her voice to be heard over them. "Crane has people coming from all over, because of the 'five signs.' What are they?"

He scarcely heard her question. His attention was fixed on the students who were starting to insert long brushlike antennae into the poles sunk into the ground. "This your stuff?"

"Yes. The brushes are electronic cilia to measure the most minute electromagnetic vibrations in the smallest of particles. Crane wants to understand how the decomposed matter of dirt feels and how water feels and how rocks feel."

"Yeah ... I've heard it all before," Newcombe said, turning to face her, anonymous now beneath hat and goggles. "Look, Lanie, I told you Crane's a nutjob. He's got these crazy notions about becoming part of the planet's 'life experience,' whatever the hell that is." He swept his arm to take in the long line of poles leading up to the computer control shack mounted on fat, spring-loaded beams. "This is all just so much nonsense."

"'Nonsense' like this is what makes up my career, doctor," she said, cold. "The Crane Foundation finances your dreams. It can finance mine, too."

"My dreams are realistic!"

"And you can go straight to hell." She turned and walked away.

"All right ... all right," he said, sloshing through the mud to catch up with her. He spun her around by the arm. "I apologize. Can I start over?"

"Maybe," she said, with the barest hint of a smile playing on her lips. "You didn't answer my question. What are the five signs that have everyone so worked up?"

"I'll show you," he said, "and then I'm getting you out of here."

Lanie didn't bother to protest. She was staying, and that was that. Just then a small electric truck pulled silently into the confusion near the computer center, tires spraying mud. A cage full of chickens was on its flatbed. Burt Hill, one of Crane's staff, according to the badge he wore high on the shoulder of his garish shirt, stuck his heavily bearded face through the window space. "Hey, Doc Dan!" he called. "Get a load of this." He forked his thumb at the flatbed.

People immediately crowded around, cams rolling, the tension palpable. Newcombe pushed his way through to Burt, who'd climbed out of the truck, sunblock shining off his cheeks, the only part of him not covered by hair or clothing. The chickens were throwing themselves at the cage, trying desperately to escape. Wings flapped and feathers flew amidst fierce cackling.

"The animals know, don't they?" Lanie said, standing at Newcombe's side.

"Yeah, they know." He looked back at Burt. "I need your vehicle."

"It's yours. What else?"

"Let the chickens go," Newcombe said, climbing into the control seat. Lanie hurried around to get in the other side.

Hill moved to the cage and opened it to an explosion of feathers, as the birds flapped and squawked out of the truck and into the startled onlookers who scattered quickly.

"And Burt," Newcombe called through the window space, "get things under control here. Don't let anyone wander outside of the designated safe zones. We lose a newsperson and the whole thing was for nothing."

"Gotcha, Doc," Hill said as Newcombe opened the engine's focus and turned the truck around. "Stay in the shade!"

"What does Burt Hill do around here?" Lanie asked, annoyed that Dan hadn't introduced her.

"He's Crane's ramrod, security chief, majordomo ... whatever. Crane and the Foundation couldn't get along without him."

"And where did Crane find this gem?"

Newcombe laughed. "You're not going to believe this. Crane picked Burt out of a group of patients in a mental institution. Told the head shrink he needed a good paranoid schizophrenic in his organization. They're very detail oriented, you know, and extremely security conscious."

"You're making this up."

He smiled. "Ask Crane. That's the story he told me. Whatever's the truth, Crane is closer to Burt than anybody else on his staff."

Mud spewing around its wheels, the truck sped out of Mobile One, as Newcombe added programming to head it toward the mines. Despite the dorph, he was keyed up now — and hating himself for getting excited about the disaster to come. Dammit, he wasn't one bit better than Crane, jolly old Crane. The truck bumped onto a dirt road that cut through a vast field of goldenrod whose beauty made Newcombe feel even more disgusted with himself. If his calculations were right, and he was damned sure they were, then all of this — the throbbing green foliage and vibrant yellow flowers, the ancient swaying trees in the distance, the people on this island — would be so much primal matter within hours. He slumped in the seat, chin on chest, wishing he'd put a second heaping spoonful of dorph in his coffee.

"Am I supposed to keep my mouth shut," Lanie suddenly said, "or am I allowed to ask how you've been the last six months?"

He straightened, glancing sheepishly at her. "I'm sorry I've been out of touch. Things have been ... intense back in LA."

"I translate that to mean you've been trying to get me out of your system."

"I care too much," he blurted. "I don't like that kind of weakness in myself."

"Okay, and I guess I translate that to mean you've avoided me because you can't control me."

He grimaced. It was the truth. "You wouldn't move out to the mountain with me. And don't start giving me your 'career' routine."

"Fair enough," she said, settling back in her seat and taking in the countryside. "What's the line on this island? It seems uninhabited."

"Not by a long shot," Newcombe said slowly, "although there aren't a whole lot of people here." He pointed toward a far-off peak. "That's Mount Kimpoku, where the Buddhist priest Nichiren lived in a hut; he foresaw the Kamikaze, the 'divine wind,' which destroyed Kubla Khan's fleet. There's also an exile palace someplace, but I haven't seen it. Too busy. Most of the island's population lives in a fishing village east of our tent city. It's called Aikawa, and there's an adjacent tourist compound with a theater company, demon drummers, the usual. The Aikawans liked us at first, mainly because we brought jobs. Now they hate us."

"Hate you?"

The truck turned onto a dirt roadway leading down from the plain into a cypress and bamboo forest. An old-fashioned jeep passed them going the other way, the driver beeping and waving as his passengers, all camheads, gaped.

"You'd better start getting it through your head what you've bought into," Newcombe said. "Crane is the prophet of destruction, my love. For four weeks he's been telling the world that Sado Island is going to be destroyed by an earthquake. After a while, the people who live here began to get the notion that he was bad luck and was ruining what little tourist business they had. They've been asking us to leave for days. It's gotten nasty."

Lanie thought about that, shaking her head. "I don't understand. Why aren't they glad to be warned?" "Can you really expect people to up and leave their homes, their jobs? And where are they supposed to go to wait it out — if there's anything left to wait for after it's over?" He directed the truck into a large clearing filled with helos and surface vehicles. "The damned government isn't convinced this disaster is going to happen, so it won't relocate them. These simple people can't do much ... except hate the messenger. Since quake prediction isn't an exact science —"


Excerpted from "Richter 10"
by .
Copyright © 2012 RosettaBooks, LLC..
Excerpted by permission of RosettaBooks.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Book One: Thirty Years Later,
Chapter 1: The Namazu,
Chapter 2: Eruptions,
Chapter 3: The Great Rift, The Pacific Ocean,
Chapter 4: Geomorphological Processes,
Chapter 5: Fade-Away,
Chapter 6: Pangaea,
Chapter 7: Big Bangs,
Chapter 8: Chaos Theory,
Chapter 9: Sound Waves,
Book Two,
Chapter 10: The Failed Rift,
Chapter 11: The Wager,
Chapter 12: Continental Drift,
Chapter 13: Mercalli XII,
Book Three,
Chapter 14: Aftershocks,
Chapter 15: Endings/Beginnings,
Chapter 16: Compressional Strains,
Chapter 17: The Salton Trough,
Chapter 18: Hidden Faults,
Chapter 19: Danse Macabre,
Chapter 20: Shimanigashi,
Chapter 21: Firestorm,
Chapter 22: Richter Ten,
Author's Note,

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