Plot

Beyond the limits of known space there lies an empire where the Septains rule. Ganga, a creature that looks despicable to humankind operates his little sub-empire on his own planet he calls Gangora. Ganga the Septain collects intellectual artifacts - a sort of interplanetary hobby. Supported by the mineral riches of his planet, he buys, steals, and cunningly inherits that which interests him most.

Ganga ineffectively tries to steal the secret of temporal travel form a pair of foolish Fargasoids. Having failed he turns his attention to the perfect android. Without morals or even common decency, Ganga covets all he surveys until an Earthling known as Johnling Peterson visits him.

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Excerpt from Sideways Time : How I Discovered The Universe

After consulting the computer for directions and consuming the last of the rations, Pete and Davina set out for the ocean. The climate seemed friendly, with a nice median temperature of around 20°C or 70°F. Though the sky looked a peculiar shade of orange it was otherwise a nice day. The ocean lay about a kilometre west of their crash site. With plastic bucket in one hand and Davina’s arm in the other, Pete set out for the coast.

“What do you think we’ll find when we get there?” Dave asked.

“Water, I hope.”

“What do you mean, hope?”

“Well what if it turns out to be sulphuric acid or something we can’t use?”

Davina stopped walking, jerking Pete around to face her, and said, “Just what do you mean by that statement?”

“Well, it could be very high in chemicals. Look at the rest of this place, it’s a mineral heaven. The ocean could be H2SO4.”

“Oh dear, then what?”

Pete laughed. “Doesn’t matter. If it’s acid we just have to be careful not to spill any on ourselves. The synthesizer will still extract the H2O from it and the sulphur can be used for other stuff.”

She slumped her shoulders and breathed out noisily. “I thought you were going to say we’d die or something.”

“Nah. The synthesizer will make it into potable water for us.”

“What’s potable?”

“Just means we’ll be able to drink it.”

“Phew!” she exclaimed and started walking again.

“Relax,” Pete said. “Would I let you down? Have I ever let you down?”

A little over an hour later the two youngsters reached the cliff tops overlooking the ocean. An amazing vista of the muddy-looking water stretched out to the horizon where the dirty brown sea met the dark orange sky. It looked as though the cliffs went on forever in a southerly direction, but toward the north they curved into a bay, in the centre of which seemed to be a low section.

Pete pointed. “Look. If we skirt the crystal forest there’s a spot that might let us get down to the beach. Sure don’t want to climb down the cliffs.”

Still hand in hand and light of heart, the two explorers worked their way along the craggy cliffs until they spotted the path that descended all the way to the yellow and green sands. The beach ran downhill for a couple of hundred metres and met the water at a wet purple strip.

“Why is everything such strange colours?” Dave asked and began running toward the water.

“Don’t go in the water,” Pete yelled and followed. “I’ll have to test it. We don’t know what’s in there.”

“Like monsters?” she said, stopping abruptly.

“No. Like acid or ammonia. I think the odd colours are caused by chemical distribution. Copper is green, iron is red, lead is black and so on. But when they are in a chemical broth they change colour. Look at it from this angle – the water is beginning to take on a blue hue. I would guess the reflected sun in the chemical-laden, airborne dust gives the water its muddy colour.”

“Why do you think the trees are … are, well whatever they are?”

Pete plopped down on the sand 3 metres from the strange-smelling ocean. “When you were a kid, did you ever grow a crystal garden?”

Dave chuckled. “No, what is it?” She sat beside him, eyes wide and eager to learn.

“Well, if you make a soup of sodium silicate and potassium silicate and drop chemical crystals in it, a very funny thing happens.”

“Like what?”

“The crystals will grow like trees and plants, but that only happens in the soup. It won’t happen in the air.”

She looked into his eyes. “Are you trying to tell me something I don’t really want to hear?”

Pete nodded. “It might sound funny, but I think that the ocean here is a chemical soup. And I think high tide is enough to cover the forest, and if so, that’s why this place is a chemical garden.”

“Why is that bad?”

Pete breathed out with a snort. “We can’t swim in that stuff.” He rose to his feet and walked to the water’s edge. Dipping a finger in, he waited a moment and then tasted it. “Gees!” he exclaimed. “It doesn’t taste like salt but it’s not fresh, either. I just hope it doesn’t have arsenic in it.”

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Sideways Time : How I Discovered The Universe: by Wentworth M Johnson

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Plot Excerpt from Sideways Time : How I Discovered The Universe Buy Sideways Time kindle paperback at Amazon Read Chapter One Through The Apple Store, Happisburgh High-jinks and more

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