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´╗┐Title: Lost in the Future
Author: Peterson, John Victor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lost in the Future" ***

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    _Did you ever wonder what might happen if mankind ever exceeded the
    speed of light? Here is a profound story based on that thought--a
    story which may well forecast one of the problems to be encountered
    in space travel._


 _by ... John Victor Peterson_

 They had discovered a new planet--but its people
 did not see them until after they had traveled on.

Albrecht and I went down in a shuttleship, leaving the stellatomic
orbited pole-to-pole two thousand miles above Alpha Centauri's second
planet. While we took an atmosphere-brushing approach which wouldn't
burn off the shuttle's skin, we went as swiftly as we could.

A week before we had completed man's first trip through hyperspace.
We were now making the first landing on an inhabited planet of
another sun. All the preliminary investigations had been made via
electronspectroscopes and electrontelescopes from the stellatomic.

We knew that the atmosphere was breathable and were reasonably certain
that the peoples of the world into whose atmosphere we were dropping
were at peace. We went unarmed, just the two of us; it might not be wise
to go in force.

We were silent, and I know that Harry Albrecht was as perplexed as I was
over the fact that our all-wave receivers failed to pick up any signs of
radio communication whatever. We had assumed that we would pick up
signals of some type as soon as we had passed down through the
unfamiliar planet's ionosphere.

The scattered arrangement of the towering cities appeared to call for
radio communications. The hundreds of atmosphere ships flashing along a
system of airways between the cities seemed to indicate the existence of
electronic navigational and landing aids. But perhaps the signals were
all tightly beamed; we would know when we came lower.

We dropped down into the airway levels, and still our receivers failed
to pick up a signal of any sort--not even a whisper of static. And
strangely, our radarscopes failed to record even a blip from their
atmosphere ships!

"I guess it's our equipment, Harry," I said. "It just doesn't seem to
function in this atmosphere. We'll have to put Edwards to work on it
when we go back upstairs."

We spotted an airport on the outskirts of a large city. The runways were
laid out with the precision of Earth's finest. I put our ship's nose
eastward on a runway and took it down fast through a lull in the
atmosphere ship traffic.

As we went down I saw tiny buildings spotted on the field which surely
housed electronic equipment, but our receivers remained silent.

I taxied the shuttle up to an unloading ramp before the airport's
terminal building and I killed the drive.

"Harry," I said, "if it weren't that their ships are so outlandishly
stubby and their buildings so outflung, we might well be on Earth!"

"I agree, Captain. Strange, though, that they're not mobbing us. They
couldn't take this delta-winged job for one of their ships!"

It _was_ strange.

I looked up at the observation ramp's occupants--people who except for
their bizarre dress might well be of Earth--and saw no curiosity in the
eyes that sometimes swept across our position.

"Be that as it may, Harry, we certainly should cause a stir in these
pressure suits. Let's go!"

We walked up to a dour-looking individual at a counter at the ramp's
end. Clearing my throat, I said rather inanely, "Hello!"--but what
_does_ one say to an extrasolarian?

I realized then that my voice seemed thunderous, that the only other
sounds came from a distance: the city's noise, the atmosphere ships'
engines on the horizon--

       *       *       *       *       *

The Centaurian ignored us.

I looked at the atmosphere ships in the clear blue sky, at the
Centaurians on the ramp who appeared to be conversing--and there was no
sound from those planes, no sound from the people!

"It's impossible," Harry said. "The atmosphere's nearly Earth-normal. It
should be--well, damn it, it _is_ as sound-conductive; _we're_ talking,
aren't we?"

I looked up at the Centaurians again. They were looking excitedly
westward. Some turned to companions. Mouths opened and closed to form
words we could not hear. Wide eyes lowered, following something I could
not see. Sick inside, I turned to Albrecht and read confirmation in his
drawn, blanched face.

"Captain," he said, "I suspected that we might find something like this
when we first came out of hyperspace and the big sleep. The recorders
showed we'd exceeded light-speed in normal space-time just after the
transition. Einstein theorized that time would not pass as swiftly to
those approaching light-speed. We could safely exceed that speed in
hyperspace but should never have done so in normal space-time. Beyond
light-speed time must conversely accelerate!

"These people haven't seen _us_ yet. They certainly just observed our
landing. As we suspected, they probably do have speech and radio--but we
can't pick up either. We're seconds ahead of them in time and we can't
pick up from the past sounds of nearby origin or nearby signals radiated
at light-speed. They'll see and hear us soon, but we'll never receive an
answer from _them_! Our questions will come to them in their future but
we can never pick answers from their past!"

"Let's go, Harry," I said quickly.

"Where?" he asked. "Where can we ever go that will be an improvement
over this?" He was resigned.

"Back into space," I said. "Back to circle this system at a
near-light-speed. The computers should be able to determine how long and
how slow we'll have to fly to cancel this out. If not, we are truly and
forever lost!"

Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from _Fantastic Universe_ January 1954.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
    typographical errors have been corrected without note.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lost in the Future" ***

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