Variable StarBook - 2006
A never-before-published masterpiece from science fiction's greatest writer, rediscovered after more than half a century.
When Joel Johnston first met Jinny Hamilton, it seemed like a dream come true. And when she finally agreed to marry him, he felt like the luckiest man in the universe.
There was just one small problem. He was broke. His only goal in life was to become a composer, and he knew it would take years before he was earning enough to support a family.
But Jinny wasn't willing to wait. And when Joel asked her what they were going to do for money, she gave him a most unexpected answer. She told him that her name wasn't really Jinny Hamilton---it was Jinny Conrad, and she was the granddaughter of Richard Conrad, the wealthiest man in the solar system.
And now that she was sure that Joel loved her for herself, not for her wealth, she revealed her family's plans for him---he would be groomed for a place in the vast Conrad empire and sire a dynasty to carry on the family business.
Most men would have jumped at the opportunity. But Joel Johnston wasn't most men. To Jinny's surprise, and even his own, he turned down her generous offer and then set off on the mother of all benders. And woke up on a colony ship heading out into space, torn between regret over his rash decision and his determination to forget Jinny and make a life for himself among the stars.
He was on his way to succeeding when his plans--and the plans of billions of others--were shattered by a cosmic cataclysm so devastating it would take all of humanity's strength and ingenuity just to survive.