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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reading List: Bargaining Position

Bussjaeger, Carl. Bargaining Position. Lyndeborough, NH: http://www.bussjaeger.us/, [2010] 2011.
In Net Assets (October 2002) the author chronicled the breakout of lovers of liberty from the Earth's gravity well by a variety of individual initiatives and their defeat of the forces of coercive government which wished to keep them in chains. In this sequel, set in the mid-21st century, the expansion into the solar system is entirely an economy of consensual actors, some ethical and some rogue, but all having escaped the shackles of the state, left to stew in its own stagnating juices on Earth.

The Hunters are an amorous couple who have spent the last decade on their prospecting ship, Improbable, staking claims in the asteroid belt and either working them or selling the larger ones to production companies. After a successful strike, they decide to take a working vacation exploring Jupiter's leading Trojan position. At this Lagrangian point the equilibrium between the gravity of Jupiter and the Sun creates a family of stable orbits around that point. The Trojan position can be thought of as an attractor toward which objects in similar orbits will approach and remain.

The Hunters figure that region, little-explored, might collect all kinds of interesting and potentially lucrative objects, and finance their expedition with a contract to produce a documentary about their voyage of exploration. What they discover exceeds anything they imagined to find: what appears to be an alien interstellar probe, disabled by an impact after arrival in the solar system, but with most of its systems and advanced technology intact.

This being not only an epochal discovery in human history, but valuable beyond the dreams of avarice, the Hunters set out to monetise the discovery, protect it against claim jumpers, and discover as much as they can to increase the value of what they've found to potential purchasers. What they discover makes the bargaining process even more complicated and with much higher stakes.

This is a tremendous story, and I can't go any further describing it without venturing into spoiler territory, which would desecrate this delightful novel. The book is available from the author's Web site as a free PDF download; use your favourite PDF reader application on your computer or mobile device to read it. As in common in self-published works, there are a number of copy-editing errors: I noted a total of 25 and I was reading for enjoyment, not doing a close-proof. None of them detract in any way from the story.

Posted at April 10, 2013 23:12