I’m currently working on the last couple of chapters of my new speculative fiction novel, which I call New Frontier. I’m expecting to be done sometime between the end of December to the end of January, barring unforseen circumstances of course.
The story originally started off with a prologue with the whole speech given by President Kennedy at Rice University in 1962 about all of our technological advances and how we’ve managed to come so far in such a short amount of time. I decided to cut that down, to the one paragraph everyone remembers him saying, which is:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency…”
I’m not going to reveal any spoilers from this particular sub-plot, because I plan on having a 2nd book in this to make a series to explain why what happens in the prologue happens the way it does.
After this, I begin with a what-if Ronald Reagan became President in 1976 instead of 1980? Well, he has the US continue with the Moon landings and eventually building a Base on the moon, and even declaring that we’ll have people on Mars before 1989.
The Soviets decide to one-up the Americans, and decide to build a starship that would leave the solar system. Their attitude is basically, why do we need to piddle around the Sol System when there’s other solar systems out there to be conquered. The 2nd book will explore what happens to the Soviet ship, which, of course, will be after the Americans eventually send their own ship in the 2nd novel.
There is a storyline that follows the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, but this time it ends in a completely different fashion. I have Osama bin Laden as a young apprentice to Khomeini, and he goes off on his own to form Al Qaeda (this is alternate history after all). In his first foray into terrorism, he makes a big statement that affects American politics in a big way. The US hunts him down and captures him (I was actually writing that when Osama was killed by the Seals, which de-railed my writing of this novel for a couple of weeks). He is taken care of in a way most ancient by people he hates.
In the meantime, we now have a base on the moon, a space station in orbit, and I re-write what happens with the Teacher in Space program by having Christa McAuliffe travel to the Moon to teach from there for a week. This time, the Challenger doesn’t blow up due to engineers discovering a problem, even though she’s not on that shuttle, and she gets to the Moon.
The US announces the team that will travel to Mars to establish a base there, and the Soviets use this opportunity to ask that two of their cosmonauts could go. The new POTUS tells the Soviet Premier no, as long as Eastern Europe was under the boot of communism. Weeks later, the Berlin Wall falls as does the Iron Curtain, and the US and USSR agree to let two cosmonauts go to Mars.
Terrorism raises its ugly head once again when the space station is attacked by remnants of Al Qaeda, and it also occurs to the Mars mission….
Near the end of the novel, colonists land on Mars, including Christa McAuliffe and her family. It’s the beginning of human colonization of the rest of the solar system.
At the end, the US and Russia announce a joint mission to explore the rest of the galaxy, and part of the mission is to find the missing Soviet starship, which will lead us back to what’s happening in the prologue when part of their mission goes awry.