I’ve always been fascinated by black holes. I think it began when I was ten years old and watched the 1979 Disney film The Black Hole. The movie fueled my curiosity, and as a teenager I tore through black hole-related science fiction, from The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, to Hyperion by Dan Simmons, to Earth by David Brin.
The topic was as fascinating to me as it was to many others, spurring an abundance of books and short stories. Surprise, surprise, then, when I did some research and discovered that not a single book or film had ever covered the topic of the Earth encountering a primordial black hole. So, I decided to write Nomad, to fill that gap, but with a determined focus on making it scientifically accurate. – MATTHEW MATHER
Survivor testimony #GR12;
Name: Dario Holder;
Reported location: central Florida peninsula;
What do I see? (coughing) I’m staring out the window of a wrecked home on Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in Florida…but Sugarloaf Island would be a better name, and Florida is gone. Just gone, like we’ve been transported into some other (static)…waves sweeping over…(crying in background) What do I see? I see black water, endless dark skies, no day or night…gray snow is falling, a dirty blanket of it a foot deep between (static)…or at least it looks like snow. Only three of us left alive here, myself and two children, we have nothing to eat, no fresh water…freezing to death…help…for love of God, please…
Transmission ended in high ionization static.
Freq. 7350 kHz/LSB. Subject not reacquired.
“Big enough to what?”
“Destroy the entire solar system,” repeated Dr. Müller, a sixty-something, pot-bellied man with thick spectacles below a tangle of gray hair. “And the Earth with it.”
Ben Rollins stared at him in dumbfounded silence and rubbed his bleary eyes. “That’s what I thought you said.” He wiped his hands down his face to pinch the bridge of his nose between his forefingers, squeezing his eyes shut. Opening them, he brought his hands away from his face together, as if in prayer, and exhaled slowly.
“Are you serious? Is this a joke?”
“No joke. We need you, Ben.” Dr. Müller pointed at a chair.
Ben stared around the wood-paneled conference room he’d been unceremoniously dragged into at three in the morning. Familiar faces, many looking even more haggard than he felt, nodded at him. Ben did a quick inventory: five people he recognized as fellow astronomers, all of them exoplanet hunters like himself. He didn’t know the other dozen dark-suited shadows hanging near the edges of the room.
Taking a deep breath, Ben focused on Dr. Müller—his clothes rumpled, two-day-old stubble on his chin—behind the podium at the front of the room. What the hell was he doing here? And what did he say? We need you? Ben hadn’t seen, or even heard, from Müller in twenty years. He slumped into the seat, his mind still off-kilter.
“In 2014 we discovered that 70,000 years ago, Scholz’s star passed through our solar system,” Dr. Müller said, continuing his presentation. “We now know that other stars transit our solar neighborhood every few tens of million years, some close enough to disrupt the orbits of the planets.”
He paused to take a drink from a glass of water on the podium, his hand visibly shaking. “New data from NASA has uncovered that our solar system has been falling toward a massive object we previously mistook for dark matter in the nearby arm of the Milky Way. However, the anomaly is much closer than that.”
“What kind of mass?” someone asked.
“Perhaps tens of times larger than our Sun.”
“Have you been able to image it?”
Dr. Müller shook his head. “Thus far we are only detecting it through gravitational effects.”
“And how far? What path is it on?” Ben asked.
“That’s why I’ve asked you here.” Dr. Müller began pacing again. “I need to get access to your data; need you to assemble your teams.”
“But you must be certain enough to drag us out in the middle of the night,” Ben persisted. “What’s your best guess?”
Dr. Müller stopped to grip the podium and stared down at the plush red carpeting. “Our best guess…” He paused to emphasize the word, looking up to lock eyes with Ben. “…is that Nomad—”
“That’s what we’re calling it—whatever it is. It’s heading directly toward us at extremely high speed.” He enunciated each word clearly to make sure nothing was misunderstood. “We estimate it is now less than twenty billion kilometers away. At most, we have a year, perhaps only months until the anomaly reaches us.”
Ben stared into Dr. Müller’s eyes, and a tingling of dread shivered from his scalp to his fingertips. He’d expected some answer, perhaps on the order of centuries and light years.
But not in kilometers.
And not in months.
Matthew Mather’s new book, NOMAD, is released today. It is a science fiction–about an alien star entering our solar system–but based on months of background research work with astrophysicists at CERN, Keck Observatory, SETI and more. There is a link below to a blog posting about the science behind it.
The link to the book is here (it is on sale for launch day at 99 cents):
And here is a promotional video:
Here is a link to blog on science behind it:
Feel free to contact the author (contact details below) if you’d like more information, or would like to interview the author.