Through the Black Hole (U-Ventures)

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9781442434264: Through the Black Hole (U-Ventures)

Turn the pages of this spaced-out sci-fi adventure and choose your fate!

U-Ventures®: Edward Packard’s classics, revised and expanded for today’s readers! The best in interactive adventure fiction—challenging, stimulating, and tremendous good fun! Also at the App Store on iTunes.

In Through the Black Hole, you’re in command of the most advanced spaceship in the galaxy on the wildest mission in history—trying to make it through a black hole. Why? Because beyond the black hole may lie a whole new universe. Some scientists say it can’t be done. They say you’ll be compressed into nothingness by tremendous gravity. They say that there are no other universes where humans could survive. They may be right. But what if they’re wrong?

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About the Author:

Edward Packard invented the classic Choose Your Own Adventure series. He wrote more than fifty books in the series, and, in conjunction with Expanded Apps, Inc., he published U-Ventures––adaptations of the Choose Your Own Adventure books revised and designed for the iTunes App Store. A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, he splits his time between Long Island and Colorado. Visit him online at EdwardPackard.com.

Drew Willis is an art director and illustrator working in New York City. Visit him at DrewWillis.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Through the Black Hole
You’ve never felt so excited. You just graduated from Space Academy, and you’re waiting outside the office of Dr. Andre Bartok, Director of Interstellar Exploration. In a few moments you’ll receive your first assignment in space.

You’ve hardly settled into your chair when an assistant says, “Dr. Bartok will see you now.”

The thin, balding director looks up from his computer as you enter the room.

“Come in—I’ve been expecting you.” He smiles for a moment, then gestures for you to take a seat on the other side of his long, crescent-shaped desk. You glance around the luxurious room. A huge montage of the Canopus star system lines one wall. Opposite it is a holographic display screen.

Through the window behind the director’s desk you can see the new Athena spaceship parked on the tarmac. You hold your breath as you watch Dr. Bartok scanning your file. It seems like forever before he looks up from his screen.

“You’ve had a brilliant record at the academy,” he says, “and I want to send you on a mission of great importance. I’m going to give you a chance to pilot the Athena.”

You practically fall out of your chair when you hear this. Most of your experience has been in simulators and on training cruises. Yet the Athena is the most advanced spaceship in the fleet. It has unbelievable speed and maneuvering capability.



“Well,” Dr. Bartok says, “are you interested?”

“Interested? I sure am. I can hardly believe it. I would have thought you’d want an older, more experienced astronaut for such a mission.”

“You’re right. I would,” he says with a laugh. Then his face becomes serious. “The reason you have been selected is because you are young. This mission requires long periods of hibernation and two major time dislocations. Our tests show that only someone about your age can withstand the stress involved. If we were to put you into suspended animation when you were ten years older, you might never wake up.”

“I understand,” you say, though you’re beginning to feel a little nervous. “Just what is this mission about, Dr. Bartok? Is it what I’ve heard rumors of—the first probe of the Pleiades star system?”

The director types a code into his computer.

The room darkens slightly, and a projection of the Milky Way galaxy appears on the holographic screen.

“We have in mind a more important, more daring mission than that,” he says. “Nothing less than a trip to another universe. We want to send the Athena through MX-12, a black hole near the center of our galaxy.”

You sit dumbstruck, thinking of what you learned about black holes at the academy. You know that there are places where matter is squeezed together—where gravity is so great that not even light can escape it, which is why, if you were close enough to see one, it would look absolutely black.

That’s frightening enough, but what’s worse is that everything that enters a black hole keeps falling until it reaches a point where its entire mass is compressed into nonexistence!

Some scientists have argued that all this mass can’t completely disappear—that it has to go somewhere. They believe that in black holes there may be “wormholes” leading to another place, and that astronauts knowing the parameters of a wormhole could navigate through one and survive.

“Excuse me, Dr. Bartok,” you say. “Wouldn’t tidal forces rip a spaceship to neutrons before it even reached the wormhole?”

The director glances at a document coming out of his printer.

“That’s the general rule,” he says, “but if the black hole is rotating, and is big enough, it’s theoretically possible to get through.”

Those words “theoretically possible” bother you. No theory is valid until it’s been tested. And no human—not even a supercomputer—knows what happens in a black hole. You’re not eager to stake your life on a mere prediction.

Dr. Bartok must see the doubt in your face, because he says, “Of course, you don’t have to go on this mission. I wouldn’t have called you in except that on your questionnaire you said you were ready for anything. There is another option. We’re also going to send the Athena’s sister ship, the Nimrod, to the edge of the black hole. It will act as a rescue ship and observer. Of course, I must warn you, even going to the edge of a black hole is dangerous. So if you prefer, I’ll assign you to the transport service, where you’ll be as safe as if you stayed in bed all day.”

You don’t feel like risking your life getting anywhere near a black hole, but going into the transport service and spending ten years or so carrying iridium crystals back from Vega-9, or something like that, would be hugely boring. There’s no doubt in your mind about what to say:



“I’ll accept the assignment, sir.”

Dr. Bartok gets up and comes around to shake your hand. “I’m delighted,” he says.

“Now, do you choose to go on the observer ship, the Nimrod, or are you willing to go on the Athena and try to make it through the black hole?”



Go on the Athena, click here.

Go on the Nimrod, click here.

 

“I’d rather go on the Athena,” you answer.

Dr. Bartok nods vigorously. “Excellent—I wish I could go with you. If you make it, you may see things that could never be observed on Earth, or even in our galaxy—things that are literally out of this universe. And I have something to tell you that may relieve your anxiety.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“This is top secret, so not a word about it.”

“Of course, sir. You can count on me.”

Dr. Bartok walks behind you and closes the door to his office.

“Only a few people know about this,” he says. “The Athena is equipped with an antigravity generator, the first ever to be deployed. Don’t try to use it except to escape from the pull of a black hole. There wouldn’t be enough gravitational resistance against it. Another thing: It can be operated only once before being recharged back on Earth, so use it only as a last resort.”

“Certainly, sir. I hope we don’t need it. But another problem is that I’ve had no training with it.”

“You won’t need any. All you have to do is remember the emergency code—3.1415. This is top secret, of course. You are forbidden to write it down. You must remember it.”



“Right—3.1415. I won’t forget it, sir.”

“I’m sure you won’t, but I must tell you one more thing. The antigravity generator should work when used in the right circumstances, but we can’t guarantee that something won’t go wrong.”

“What would happen then?”

Dr. Bartok frowns and lowers his voice: “Everything in your spaceship—every part of your body—would fly apart at nearly the speed of light.”

“Not a pretty thought, sir.”

“I’m afraid not. Now on to a cheerier topic. I’m sure you’ll want to know who your copilot will be—Nick Torrey.”

What a break—Nick is one of your best friends! “I’m very excited,” you say.

You’re not only excited, you’re scared. If things don’t go well, even with an antigravity generator you could end up as trillions of neutrons crushed in the middle of the black hole.



Continue here.

 

Cape Canaveral—Three Weeks Later

The Athena is on the launching pad. You and your copilot, Nick Torrey, are strapped into your positions in the command station.

You’ve been checked out on the antigravity generator. Your Mark VII celestial computer has passed all tests.

The whole world is tuned to its video screens, watching as the countdown proceeds.

Many have praised your mission as being the most important in history, though some have said that it’s a waste of money and will be a waste of your life, too—that no one, ever, can survive a trip through the black hole.

They may be right. But it’s too late to change your mind now. A green light flashes on your instrument panel. Final countdown: four, three, two, one . . .



Click here.



Deep Space—180 Months Later

You and Nick have just awakened from hibernation. The computer didn’t disturb you until the Athena was only a few billion miles from the black hole.

Nick is bent over a view screen. He looks over at you.

“Hey, you overslept,” he says. “I’ve been up for five minutes.”

You laugh politely, swing out of your bunk, and ask the computer for a scan of celestial objects within ten light-years. You know you should be looking for the wormhole parameters—the key that will allow you to pass through the black hole and enter another universe—but you’re fixated on data the computer is feeding you.

“Nick, check screen four!” you say. “A terra planet, one almost exactly like early Earth. Its sun is a class G star only two billion years old.”

Nick lets out a noise as if he’s cheering at a football game.

“This is what NASA has been spending a fortune looking for!”

“Yeah,” you agree. “It could be the backup planet we’ll need when the sun heats up.”

Nick’s cheering is replaced by a groan. “We missed the wormhole parameters!”

“Ow. That hurts. My fault,” you say. “It will be hard to find the wormhole without them.”

“Shall we scratch the black hole mission and inspect the terra planet?” Nick asks.

“Can’t. It would violate our orders,” you say. At the same time, you’re thinking that this would be the wisest thing to do.



Break off the black hole mission and head for the terra planet, continue here.

Continue on to the black hole, click here.

 

This terra planet is what every Earth scientist has been hoping to find, a place so like our own planet that humans could settle there.

Scientists are aware that the sun is gradually heating up. This is not the cause of global warming, which has to do with Earth’s retaining more of the heat it receives from the sun because of carbon dioxide buildup. The sun itself is heating up as it burns faster. Someday Earth will be too hot for living creatures, no matter what is done about carbon emissions. Long before then, earthlings must find a sister planet that they can colonize. There are billions of planets in our galaxy, but very, very, very few that are like Earth.

It’s with this thought in mind that you set course for Terra, the name traditionally given to Earth-like planets. In your opinion, finding a “twin Earth” is more important than trying to get through a black hole.

Within hours good news comes from your computer. Terra’s sun is an orange-yellow star with an estimated life of over twelve billion years. The planet’s orbit around it is such that it will get approximately the right amount of heat and light for five billion years after Earth becomes uninhabitable!

Terra grows steadily larger in your field of view. Your computer’s mapping program shows that it’s 65 percent covered by oceans, about the same as Earth. Cloud cover approximates that on Earth. Atmosphere is similar too, except that oxygen content at sea level is what you’d find at an altitude of about six thousand feet on Earth, thinner than at sea level but easy to acclimate to.

A big question is, Does life exist on Terra, and if so, what’s it like? You’ve detected blue-green areas on the planet’s continents, but nothing resembling the great rain forests that are still prominent features of Earth, though many of them have been destroyed.

To find out if there is life on Terra, you’ll have to set the Athena down on its surface.

You order the computer to prepare for landing but get back some bad news: If you use fuel to land on Terra and take off again, you won’t have enough to get back to Earth.

From a scientific standpoint your work would still be extremely valuable: You’d be able to radio data to Earth that might save humans from extinction!

Nick tells you that he is willing to land even though it means never getting off the planet again. You’re not so sure. The stakes are enormous for humankind, but it’s a huge sacrifice to make—committing to spend your life on another planet.

As you’re mulling this, an interesting thought occurs to you. You might be able to use the antigravity generator to get off Terra’s surface. If it works, you’ll have more than enough fuel to get back to Earth.



Land on Terra, click here.

Collect what data you can and set course for Earth, click here.

 

The Athena passes smoothly through Terra’s atmosphere. Your eyes are fixed on the surface, hoping to see signs of plant or animal life.

“There’s no pollution,” Nick says. “Everything looks clean and fresh. But so far I don’t see anything that’s alive.”

While Nick is talking, you are concentrating on finding a place to land. A few minutes later you set the Athena down on a high bluff overlooking a harbor.

You and Nick step out on the bare rock plain. You don’t see any signs of life, but the water, clouds, and sky remind you of Earth, except for the slight orange hue caused by the color of Terra’s sun. The air smells sweet and clean, though it’s a little thin. Air temperature is what you’d expect on a pleasant summer day.

You send out a robot to collect and analyze soil, water, and air samples. It returns half an hour later, and the computer analyzes its findings: Terra is rich in microscopic plant and animal forms with chemistry similar to that found on Earth!

This is great news. It means you’ll be able to collect and process enough food. Even though life has not developed here as much as on Earth, you are confident that Terra will sustain a large human population.



Computer analysis shows that Terra is similar to what Earth was like five hundred million years ago, well before the advent of dinosaurs. The largest animals here are probably not much bigger than ants, but if evolution follows a pattern similar to that experienced on Earth, in a few hundred million years Terra will be rich in large-scale animal and plant life. Trees will likely grow higher than on Earth because Terra’s gravity is about 20 percent less.

You’re quite sure that some creatures that evolve here will swim, some will fly, and some may even think the way humans do. Some may look like animals you’ve seen in the zoo.

It’s exciting thinking about how life on Terra will develop, but you’re feeling depressed. Terra may be Earth-like, but it’s not Earth. You don’t want to live here. You want to go home!

The computer made it clear that the Athena couldn’t use fuel to get back into space and still have enough to reach Earth.

You can think of only one possible way to escape, and that’s to use the antigravity generator.



Type in the computer code for the antigravity generator, click here.

Resign yourself to staying on Terra, click here.

 

You remember Dr. Bartok’s warning not to use the antigravity generator except to escape from a black hole. Instead of enabli...

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Book Description Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Drew Willis (illustrator). Paperback. 160 pages. Dimensions: 7.6in. x 5.1in. x 0.5in.Turn the pages of this spaced-out sci-fi adventure and choose your fate!U-Ventures: Edward Packards classics, revised and expanded for todays readers! The best in interactive adventure fictionchallenging, stimulating, and tremendous good fun! Also at the App Store on iTunes. In Through the Black Hole, youre in command of the most advanced spaceship in the galaxy on the wildest mission in historytrying to make it through a black hole. Why Because beyond the black hole may lie a whole new universe. Some scientists say it cant be done. They say youll be compressed into nothingness by tremendous gravity. They say that there are no other universes where humans could survive. They may be right. But what if theyre wrong This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781442434264

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