Book 08: Hellfire
Hellfire is a series of inhabitations built on the asteroids that form a belt around the red giant star 63 Fornax. They rest actually in the outer atmosphere of the star, and as such are constantly engulfed in flame. For thousands of years, the people of the asteroids, and the people of the nearby planet coexisted peacefully, physically and culturally isolated, but getting along fine. Then, some meddling aliens, the Kariad, decided their two societies should be brought together. By the time Pegasus arrives, they are on the brink of war. From there, things get worse.
Hellfire is a trilogy of three stories
Part I: No Blood for Tritium
The Hellfire system (200 200 Ara) is dominated by a single red supergiant sun the size of Betelgeuse. The sun is surrounded by a dense asteroid field. Some of the larger asteroids have been carved into outposts of the Hellfire colony. The Hellion colonists have been fighting a losing a war against the system's other inhabitants, the Solarites, for several centuries and are on the verge of total defeat.
When Pegasus arrives at the Hellfire system, the ship is down to the last reserves of Tritium, a vital aviation fuel used in her fleet of Aves. Pegasus strikes a bargain with the Hellions: In return for help in evacuating the besieged Hellfire Refining Station 3, Pegasus will be rewarded with an entire shipment of Tritium.
Lieutenant Commander Eliza Jane Change will lead the mission, accompanied by Flight Captain Matthew Driver, Warfighters Johnny Rook and Max Jordan, and Lieutenant Technician Zulu Jeff, a specialist in ion-engine repair with "talent on-loan from the all-being."
But the Hellions are a treacherous, desperate, and untrustworthy people and their plans for the crew may not be entirely honorable. Also, Change is letting the power of command go to her head, and Johnny Rook and Max Jordan are trying to deal with their own personal problems in between fighting off Solarite attacks.
What could possibly go wrong?
- The Hellions were inspired by characters in bad Japanese space operas, like Fugitive Alien.
- Solarites is a reference to MST3K Episode “Phantom Planet.”
- Max Jordan bouncing the ball against the wall of the shuttle parallels Eddie Roebuck doing the same thing in Book 01
- Driver’s reference to “self-lives” is a nod to George Orwell’s 1984.
- Driver’s quote “He said ‘Gurp’ and then he said ‘Good’ and then he died” is a reference to The World According to Garp.
- Quiet City is a reference to the 1940’s radio serial Six-Shooter.
- Goldeneyes Dactylos is a reference to Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” books.
- Ludicrous Speed is a reference to Spaceballs.
- Once again, a term from the 20th Century is given a new meaning. Much as “landing gear” refers to the clothing and equipment used by away teams when exploring a new planet is a re-use of “landing gear” meaning the wheels and stuff underneath a plane, here “catalytic converter” is used to refer to equipment used in Tritium refining, and has nothing to do with pollution control devices on 20th century cars.
- Matthew Driver and Trajan riffing on the “Hellfire: Wonder of the Galaxy” video was inspired by the MST3K shorts “Assignment Venezuela” and “Progress Island USA.”
- Atlas Colony (from Fiddler’s Green) is referenced again.
- When Max Jordan responds to “Are you all right?” With “I’m Super, Thanks for Asking,” he’s using a line fromSouth Park, Bigger Longer and Uncut.
- Note the company the Hellions work for is ‘Crucial Space Fuels.” The abandoned building the crew explored in Crucible had a sign in front reading ‘Crucial Hydrocarbons.’
Part II: Falldown
In Part II, Pegasus travels to the world called Falldown. Falldown once had a thriving technological civilization, but it has fallen to ruin because of Kariad intervention. The Aves Amy crashes on a mysterious island with a crew of minor characters from the earlier books. Soon, the survivors of the crash are running around naked, killing wild pigs, talking to trees, and seeing crewmen who left the ship way back in Book 6.
And then, things start to get weird.
- Flight Lieutenant Aramburuzabala is named after Mexican billionaire Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala.
- Specialist Savagewood is named after a character from the Bloom County comic strip.
- Atlantic’s memory of an old tale about retaining one living memory in the afterlife is based on the crappy Japanese art movie Wandafuru_raifu
- Dr. Skinner’s shtick on the beach is like a similar running gag on Family Guy where the doctor’s use of medical clichés are deliberately misunderstood. Skinner admits at the end he was screwing around with Atlantic.
- The character of Bart Savagewood (before he goes crackers) is modeled after Bear Grylls of Man vs Wild.
- During Atlantic’s flashback to the beach party on EdenWorld, Specialist Brainiacsdaughter asks “Did I just see a robo-shark?” In Book 06, it’s mentioned that (Anaconda Taurus?) received a commendation for retrieving a wally-ball from a lagoon where sharks “may or may not have been spotted.” Also, the Lost episode Adriftcontains a scene in which Sawyer and Michael are menaced by a (possibly robotic) shark.
- Alkema’s flashback on Day One contains an exchange of dialog with Keeler practically identical to an exchange in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
- Cleolanta was a character in the 1950’s scifi serial Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, and appeared in the MST3K episodes Manhunt in Space, and Crash of the Moons.
- Savagewood’s comment “It’s a bad business, being bored” is a riff on Lord of the Flies. Rook’s comment about “Fun and games” also references LOTF. And so does the alien pig’s head on a spike.
- The word “probulator” is borrowed from Futurama. As is the reference to “This thing I wear on my wrist.”
- At least two Michael Crichton novels are obliquely reference, Jurassic Park and Prey, when Atlantic is chased through the jungle by nano-technology robots in the shape of a ‘carnivorous sauropod.”