by Jonathan Vos Post
Poem Summarizes, One Quatrain per Chapter, Novella by Jonathan V. Post & Dr. Christine Carmichael


Quarrel with one's wife? Interstellar space
is not the best place, not at all, not at all.
Earth-like worlds are very rare. Face to face
with vacuum's very awkward in free-fall.


Caltech in twenty-thirtyone, sunlight
fell on flowerbeds. The Feynman Drive
flung humans into interstellar night,
jumped us somewhere, but how will we survive?


Structures -- signals? -- seen in infrared;
Pulsars we steer by are in disarray.
Three hundred million light years, we're not dead,
yet are no longer in the Milky Way.


Strange patterns call in multiples of primes:
3-D television, alien?
We've asked "are we alone?" so many times...
creatures at the docking port want to come in.


Extraterrestrials, triple bulging eyes
stare into ours. 7-fingered hand.
They learn our language quickly, they are wise
but ask us questions we can't understand.


Stealthy spacecraft made of hydrogen ice
leads us. These three-legged kangaroo
take us on a tour of paradise,
invade our ship, and kidnap half the crew.


Our DNA has two strands, theirs has three.
Now they suspect some vast conspirator
created us. But why? They disagree
and sow the seeds of interstellar war.


Down to a quasi-crystal world, attack
one faction's archives, read them, where's my mate?
Regroup and seize the spaceport, rocket back
to orbit, move on, we were just too late.


Trapped on a steamy world of giant rings,
a meteor strikes. Catastrophe!
On a deserted island branch-like things
grab my ankle -- a man-eating tree.


Commander makes the rescue just in time.
Chaos is the key to inorganity.
At last we solve the secrets of the "Prime."
The cosmos has opened to humanity.

4 Aug 91

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