About The Orion Plan

The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert

The U.S. Air Force’s Space Command is on high alert. Its radar stations have detected an object streaking toward Earth at phenomenal speed, more than 80,000 miles per hour.

To everyone’s relief, the object disintegrates in the upper atmosphere, twenty miles above New Jersey. The Air Force concludes it was simply a meteor, one of the millions of pieces of asteroidal debris that burn up in our planet’s atmosphere every day. But NASA scientist Sarah Pooley is suspicious. The object was traveling way too fast, and its path through the atmosphere didn’t resemble the trajectory of a typical meteor. It looked more like the final descent of a space probe.

Meanwhile, on a steep moonlit slope in Inwood Hill Park in New York City, a homeless alcoholic named Joe Graham is awakened by a loud, ground-shaking thump. Curious, he climbs the wooded hill and finds a smooth black sphere, about the size of a bowling ball, at the bottom of a shallow crater in the mud. Believing that it’s a malfunctioning satellite that fell to Earth, Joe plans to contact the authorities in the hope of collecting a reward. But the automated probe has already drilled into the ground and tapped into the Con Edison power lines below. Soon it injects microscopic devices into Joe’s bloodstream and starts to alter his biochemistry.

The Orion Plan is about the most realistic kind of alien invader: a compact, automated probe that’s small and light enough to travel across hundreds of light-years of interstellar space but still has all the tools needed to colonize a planet. With the help of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, the probe exploits the resources at its landing site in the park, using the available minerals and metals to build an underground network of alien machinery. And it exploits the available human resources as well, namely Joe and the other New Yorkers who stumble upon the probe. That unlucky group includes Emilio Martinez, a teenager gangbanger who’s sick of the gang life, and Dorothy Adams, a fiercely devout minister dying of cancer. They’re forced to assist and defend the probe as it spreads its devices across the city.

When the government proves slow to react, Sarah Pooley realizes she must lead the effort to stop the automated network from spreading. But she can’t succeed without neutralizing the probe’s human accomplices. They must learn how to fight the alien machinery before it becomes powerful enough to take over our planet.

For more information about the technologies described in the novel, as well as the star systems that might harbor alien civilizations, check out The Science Behind The Orion Plan.