The Black Hole Author:Alan Dean Foster Based on the Disney film. The 5 people aboard the deep-space life-search ship Palomino had considered themselves lucky to be part of the expedition--Captain Dan Holland and his 1st officer Charles Pizer because of the professional challenge, the significance of such a mission...Alex Durant and Kate McCrae because they were scientists embarking o... more »n humanity's ultimate quest...and Harry Booth, a journalist, because it might have been the story of a lifetime.
Unfortunately, after 18 months of extensive exploration, they had drawn a blank. There wasn't a single alien civilization to be found in that sector of the galaxy; not a vertebrae; nothing higher than a few inconsequential microbes and some peculiar chemical reactions on scattered worlds. The Palomino was heading home now, and only 1 member of the expedition remained untouched by a sense of failure.
Vincent, the ship's robot, had never been programmed to register or express disappointment. He was however, superbly equipped to deal with the more practical concerns of interstellar exploration--and it was one of those concerns which caused him to issue a general call that brought his human companions to the ship's command center.
There, on a viewscreen that displayed stars and other phenomena in gravity-wave schematics, a dark oval shape surrounded by tightly bunched lines was plainly visible. The lines resembled those on a topographic map, except that they represented increasingly powerful regions of gravitational force.
Nothing the figures supplied by the Palomino's computer, Pizer let out a low whistle, and Vincent responded solemnly, "Yes, sir. That is the most powerful black hole I have ever encountered."
The robot then turned on the ship's holographier, transforming the black oval's image into a 3-dimensional cosmic drama. In addition to the material being drawn from the surface of a doomed sun nearby, asteroids, meteors and nebulaic gases were being sucked into that vast gravity well, emitting tremendous bursts of X-rays and gamma rays as they vanished. The ship's company watched in awe--until Vincent interrupted to inform them he had picked up something of still greater interest.
It was an unmoving object with a remarkably regular silhouette...an enormous spaceship of unknown origin! The observers on the Palomino were exhilarated; their long search had finally borne fruit, and they were eager to learn more about a mystery ship that could remain stable so close to a black hole.
They never considered that some mysteries are better left unsolved.« less