A Few Things Ill Considered

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor

Chapter 72 Table of Contents Chapter 74

Chapter 73

Sabotage, September 15, 2059

Anna was coming up on her fourth birthday when the rumblings of discontent from the Asian Union began to get louder. A mid-August snow in Japan had laid waste much of their fall crop. China was complaining about a loss of solar photovoltaic power.

Shortly after the Japanese snowstorm, Carillon admitted that there were some kinks in the system that needed to be worked out. The idea had been to keep the sunshields shading the northern hemisphere and have them switch dynamically between refract and reflect modes. That way the oceans could be cooled and the continents avoided. At least that was the theory.

The Asian Union demanded compensation from Carillon in a suit before the International Ecological Court. In an act of monumental callousness, the IEC scheduled a hearing for their next available slot — a year and a half ahead, in January of 2061.

The next week there was an unseasonal frost in China. On top of their perennial water problems, it meant the AU was going to have a hard time feeding their people this coming year. Again the spectre of famine arose.

The first of September was a Monday. I was walking to CCU and my padd started beeping. It was Rhamaposa. He was scheduling an immediate meeting.

I carried on to the University, cancelled my class because there was no time to do anything else, and headed for the MacDonald Building downtown. When I arrived, most of the seats were still empty. Rhamaposa, Barnes and Makeba were arguing vociferously, mostly about the IEC.

The first time there was a pause in the battle, I asked, “What’s going on?”

Rhamaposa stopped dead as if he were surprised to see me and said, “The AU has launched 16 missiles toward the sunshield.”

I couldn’t believe it. “They’re going to destroy it?”

“They have told Carillon they have three days to get their people away.”

“What can we do?”

“The Ecological Mandate had demanded a meeting and the AU has offered to talk…in February 2061.”

“How soon will the missiles arrive?”

“Four days.”

“Can they be stopped?”

“The missile defense systems are configured to stop missiles in the atmosphere, not away out in space.”

“I’m back to what can we do?”

“Not much. You’ll notice Tang and Yu are not here.” He nodded toward the empty seats across the table. “AU delegates throughout the EM have all been suddenly stricken by the flu.” More people were popping up around the table as we spoke. A lot of hurried whispering was going on.

“What does Carillon have to say?” I asked.

“They’re not saying anything right now. They have been raided by the ecocops.”

It occured to me that Jon had mentioned doing some work for Carillon. “Peter, can I talk to you after the meeting?” I asked.

I got a terse nod from him.

The argument between Barnes and Makeba about the effrontery and authority of the IEC resumed. This time Rhamaposa did not seem inclined to get between them. Anita Carruthers rolled her eyes.

I waited to slip a word in sideways and when it came, I said, “There is another matter to discuss.”

Makeba who had been about to let fly, slapped her hand down on the table. It didn’t quite work in the holographic context. Her hand disappeared, but we could hear the slap as her hand hit the table in Kinshasa. “What?” she demanded.

“Assuming the AU missiles destroy the sunshield, we are going to need another effective Solar Radiation Management technique.”

For a second there was dead silence.

“Thank you for mentioning that, Luc,” said Rhamaposa. “I am glad one of us has not lost track of the primary issue here.” He glared at Makeba and Barnes.

Peter Barnes sat back with a stiff smile and Makeba raised her hands in an expression of resignation.

Rhamaposa opened a database on the table between us. We could see what he was doing, but that’s all. He paged through the list. “I see we have a whole bunch of ‘Ineffectives’, several ‘Unknowns’ and a couple of ‘Incompletely Specifieds’ in the SRM list,” he said. “We have our work cut out for us. You know what to do.”

He paused for less than a second and added. “Meeting adjourned.”

His hologram winked out.

I was surprised. I had asked him to wait. I said my goodbyes as the other holgrams disappeared and turned to go.

Rhamaposa startled me by appearing in the seat beside me. “You wanted to talk.”

“Yes. I just wanted to let you know that my brother Jon has done some contract work for Carillon. Public relations, I think.”

Rhamaposa was nodding.

“I wanted to avoid any hint of conflict of interest.”

“I appreciate that, but I don’t think you have anything to worry about. It is difficult in the present corporate environment to avoid all contact. Just make sure it is declared and carry on.”

“Good. Okay. Thanks.”

“Is there anything else?”

The thought of Matt’s sunbugs crossed my mind, but I said, “No.”


Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information, see
A Gentle Introduction.

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The Deal.

Last modified December 30, 2013