Central Heat

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Published by Berkley/Ace in 1988. Paperback.
Reissued by Wildside Press in 2007. Trade paperback.
Reissued by the author as an e-book in 2010 and trade paperback in 2015.

What would happen if the sun vanished? The idea for this book was suggested by an article I read in, I think, Scientific American, describing a simulation of just that. The surprising result, according to the simulation, was that heat in the atmosphere and existing weather patterns would persist for a remarkably long time. It made me think about who might survive the catastrophe - military personnel in buried, self-contained complexes and bases on the moon - and what would happen next.

I decided to have the sun removed by extremely advanced and extremely stuffy aliens who did it to punish us for our bad manners. Haven't you ever sat next to someone on the bus who made you want to do something violent?

The original version of the book jumped around in time. It started in the future, decades after the disappearance of the sun, then jumped back to show what happened when the sun disappeared, then forward again to resume the story in the future. The editor at Ace thought that would be confusing and insisted I make it all more linear. For the Wildside reissue, I put everything back in the original (jumpy!) order and restored some cuts that Ace wanted made because of length.

First Three Chapters

To read the first three chapters of the book, click here. This is a PDF file.


At some point, I drew up a timeline of the events in Central Heat, as well as some of the events in the proposed sequel, Still Waters. You can see it here.

Still Waters - the Sequel that Never Was

Ace expressed interest in a sequel to Central Heat, so I happily came up with an idea for one, which I called Still Waters - a title that might seem a mite cliched but which really suited the story I wanted to tell in the second book. I wrote a synopsis and the first few chapters and sent those to Ace. Ace waited to see if Central Heat sold enough copies to make publishing a sequel a reasonable business proposition. It didn't. Too bad. That second book would have been lots of fun to write.

The synopsis and handful of chapters have been sitting on a succession of hard drives since then, which seems rather wasteful, so here they are, for anyone who's interested. They're PDF files, which you can read via the links below.

Still Waters synopsis

Still Waters chapters

Click Below to Read a Sample