In the future deep space travel is a regular occurrence. After completing a mission to take supplies to Earth 2, or Genesis as the colonists call it, something goes horribly wrong with the space shuttle returning Adam Evans and his crew mates to Earth. The shuttle crashes and Adam and Jason survive, but the Earth they return to has changed greatly.
When tragedy strikes, leaving Adam on his own, he finds the paradise surrounding him has an increasingly darker side. He assumes he can outsmart it, beat it. The product of a lost past, where men and speech are free, he rebels against the rules restricting him. But is he just setting himself up for failure, for pain and misery? Can he ever hope to outwit the powers that be?
Then he meets River Boy, the only person in a village full of dirty, animalistic villagers with whom he connects. There is something intelligent about River Boy. Something civilized about him. Yet is Adam’s growing closeness to River Boy going to save him from himself? Or will his stubbornness, his rebelliousness, cost him more than he is able to pay?
Full Moon entered one of the smaller huts and Adam followed. The interior was dark and smoky from a small fire that flickered in the centre. It smelt of stale sweat and cooking smells. Bunches of dried plants hung from the ceiling in such profusion that he only caught glimpses of the actual ceiling itself.
“Sit,” said Full Moon. “Starman hungry?”
Indeed he was, but the aromas in the old lady’s hut didn’t encourage him to want to eat anything that had been cooked there. It made no difference. Full Moon thrust a wooden bowl of piping hot broth into his hands and passed him a roughly carved wooden spoon.
“Starman eat. Me talk.”
Adam reluctantly dipped the spoon into the broth and brought the spoon to his mouth. Long strands of something green hung from the spoon and there were lumps of something red sitting in the liquid. The concoction didn’t have any particular smell and when he put it in his mouth he was relieved that it didn’t have any particular taste, either. If anything, it tasted vaguely of how he imagined grass would taste.
“So, starman?” asked Full Moon with a grunt as she sat down in the dirt opposite.
“Yes,” Adam replied.
“How long starman been in sky?”
The journey to Earth 2, or Genesis, as the colonists liked to refer to their new home, had taken twenty five years. Once they had delivered their cargo of supplies including seeds for crops, animal eggs and sperm for fertilisation, and three dozen new colonists, the crew remained for six months. When they were rested they had returned Earth 1. Advanced stasis technology meant their body metabolism was able to be slowed to the point that despite fifty years having passed, the aging process had barely touched them.
“Impossible,” said Full Moon. “Dark Cloud more than two hundred year past.”
“What Dark Cloud?” asked Adam.
“Only one Dark Cloud. Dark Cloud destroy all. Kill all people.” She shook her head and another leaf fell out. “Not all people, most all people.”
“A nuclear bomb?” asked Adam. “A nuclear war?”
Full Moon shook her head again. She leaned forward, her breasts hanging down from her chest like twin pendulums. She took Adam’s bowl to fill it with more broth. “Very good this,” she said passing the bowl back to Adam. “Make starman better.”
“But I don’t understand. How can it be that the war happened over two hundred years ago?” Adam spooned more of the watery broth into his mouth and swallowed. “Unless something went wrong. A malfunction with the auto-pilot.” He remembered his three crew mates in the cock pit. “But no. That’s a hundred and fifty years.” He stopped eating and stared into space with a frown of concentration. “Impossible.”
“What starman say? Starman words no meaning.”
Adam realised he’d been mumbling to himself. “Why did you ask if my friend had killed anything?”
“Starman strange man,” said Full Moon with a smile. “But starman been in sky. Starman not know The Law.”
“What law?” Adam asked before handing his spoon and empty bowl back to Full Moon.
“Starman want more?” asked Full Moon.
Adam shook his head “No, thank you,” he replied before wiping his mouth on the back of his arm.
“The Law say human not kill animal.”
Adam wrinkled his brow. “But the bear and the lions killed my friend.”
“They punish starman friend for breaking The Law,” Full Moon explained. “Human not kill animal! Or animal kill human.”
“But Jason only killed a couple of fish ...”
“Fish animal,” said Full Moon with a frown. “Human no kill any animal.”
“That’s crazy,” said Adam shaking his head. “How are they going to know if you kill an animal or not?”
“Starman listen Full Moon. Listen good. Animal know everything. Talk together. Tell Lord Bear everything. Starman remember. Jungle has eyes. Eyes have mouths.” Full Moon got to her feet and reached out to the wall of the hut to steady herself. “Human kill animal. Animal kill human. Not forget.”