Christie Golden: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Christie Golden Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
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    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
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    Фантастика и фэнтези / на английском языке
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The official novelization of the blockbuster movie, written and directed by visionary Luc Besson ( ). In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha—an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

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Christie Golden




The stars were not eternal, but they were ancient nearly beyond reckoning.

Much had their judgeless gazes witnessed in the system ruled by Sol, especially the activity clustered around the third planet from that star.

By that world’s calendar, in the year 1975, something momentous occurred above it.

From separate places on this planet, known to its inhabitants as “Earth,” a pair of nations had launched what would later be deemed “primitive” space vessels. For the first time in Earth’s history, two ships would be joined together, and the inhabitants could move freely between them.

The momentous “handshake in space,” both a literal one and a figurative one, occurred between astronaut Brigadier General Thomas Stafford of the Apollo, and Alexey Leonov of the Soyuz.

There were smiles and joy and a sense of connection, and the two men became and stayed steadfast friends through the decades that unfurled.

What happened in 1998, at Alpha Space Station in orbit around the blue-green world, was not merely two nations meeting. When the European Hermes spaceplane, proposed in the same year as that first historic handshake, arrived to dock at Alpha, it represented a coalition of nations. Space was no longer the province of a few tiny humans, but was rapidly evolving to belong to humanity.

The space station grew as time went by. In the year 2019, China’s massive Tiangong-3 spaceship was warmly welcomed when it came to take its place at Alpha. The captain of the Alpha Space Station, one thirty-year-old James Crowford, enthusiastically greeted his Chinese counterpart Wuang Hu, who himself could not seem to stop smiling. Later historians would mark this moment as the end of international tension, and the beginning of what was the first Great Age of human cooperation.

What many on Earth had said could not happen, did happen. Humanity continued to work for peace and cooperation on Earth, while keeping their eyes and hearts attuned to the siren song of space. They continued to shake hands against the vast panoply of the starfield.

The station was fully established, and the distant stars looked on as Earth’s united glory and passion fueled Alpha’s boom. Eight short years later, the station had grown enormously. Its population had swelled to eight thousand. More nations had ventured into the stars, and wanted to be part of this symbol of unity. By 2029, every country on this third planet from the sun had at least one scientist on board to represent them.

In 2031, an artificial gravity system was installed. The station’s denizens could now walk its corridors as easily as they walked on their home planet. Captain Crowford was now a distinguished man of forty-one years. He had the honor to welcome captains from India, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Africa, Australia, Brazil, and Japan— who, instead of the iconic “handshake in space,” offered and accepted a traditional bow.

Still the stars, distant and silent, observed. The station expanded, its numbers swelled not just with military or official representatives, but families. And the stars watched as history—not just for humanity, but for the rest of the galaxy—was made in the year 2150; the international space station Alpha was now two miles long and home to over a hundred thousand people. But until this moment, all the construction and designs on the station, all the ships that had come to dock with it, and all those aboard them had all had a certain comfortable familiarity.

The vessel that was now approaching did not.

It looked more like a creature of nightmares than a spaceship—black, chitinous, covered with dozens of sharp, cruel-looking spines. It was lit from within—a dull crimson hue visible only from a few windows positioned on the ship’s sides and two on its bow, if such a strange vessel could be even said to have so pedestrian a thing as a “bow.”

Captain Joshua Norton, known for his somewhat rakish appearance with a neatly trimmed beard and piercing eyes, would later write in his memoirs:

The ship looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel—more living entity than ship. The portholes positioned on its bow were located toward the top of the sloping vessel. The overall impression was of a huge, dangerous creature bearing down upon the hapless Alpha, its two red eyes glowing in anticipation. At any moment, I expected an enormous mouth to open and swallow us all whole. The English word “alien” had never felt more apt.

Norton awaited the aliens in the station’s ceremonial hall. “I tried not to be nervous,” he recalled, some six decades later.

Our communications with the Kortân-Dahuks, whose species had originated in the Pleiades star cluster five thousand light years from our neighborhood, the Sol system, had been consistently civil. The shock of that first contact with them—our first confirmation that we were not the sole sentient race in the galaxy—has of course been articulated by historians and journalists, and captured by artists and poets. It seems old hat by this time, to be physically interacting with an alien. But you must remember, it was so shockingly, so bravely new to those of us who stood in that hall, sweating and no doubt silently uttering prayers.

As I said, correspondence had been civil. They told us they explored the galaxy not looking for conquest, but in search of art and beauty, which was the heart of their species’ culture. We hoped for the best. But we didn’t know.

The last airlock opened.

Three aliens stepped from their ship onto Alpha station.

They were slightly taller than their human hosts, and were roughly humanoid—“Such a telling, Earth-centric word,” lamented Norton, “and we still don’t have anything better”—but there the similarities ended. Norton and his fellow delegates recognized arms and legs, heads with eyes and mouths, but these were appendages affixed to reptilian bodies, and eyes and ears on faces without noses.

Their primary skin color was orange, with blue, yellow, and red blending in those large, noseless faces. Protruding blue-gray lips were set in hard lines. They wore armor on their torsos, lower arms, and legs, and their feet ended in what looked to human eyes like cloven hooves.

We all knew it was a pivotal moment. History in the making. But what kind of history? It seemed as though everything in the world—in ours, at least—was at stake, in the time it took for our hearts to beat… rapidly.

According to accounts, in the pivotal moment, Norton gulped. He offered a smile, and held out a hand that trembled, ever so slightly.

“Welcome aboard,” he said.

One of the Kortân-Dahuks translated for its leader. There was a pause; the alien features were unreadable to humans, who had never before seen them in the flesh.

The leader stepped forward, taller than Norton. He seized the captain’s hand—

—and pumped it up and down, vigorously.

The station—and the whole, watching world— breathed a sigh of relief.

Things moved briskly after that first contact. Species that were then unthinkably strange but who would later become old friends, household names, reached out to interact with humans and make their homes on Alpha.

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