Top Priority

Top Priority, a novel of speculative fiction, was published in 2008 by EUROPRESS and again in 2011 by Wildside Press.

The novel is by Doru Tatar and Dr. Petru Iamandi and myself are credited with being the joint translators - rather generously in my own case, I will admit. The ISBN number is 978-1-9344-3504-0.

DORU TATAR is a civil engineer in Romania. TOP PRIORITY was the first SF novel to appear (its original title was Prioritate Zero) after the fall of Communism in the country.

DORU TATAR is a civil engineer in Galatz, Romania. He has received many medals for his inventions (Pittsburgh, London, Geneva, Brussels, etc.) and his patents are being used in the USA, Japan, and some EU countries as well as in Romania. He has been awarded the prize of the Romanian Academy for his professional expertise. In SF, he has written a number of stories. He has also written essays on the scientification of SF, some of which have been radio broadcast.

Top Priority

This is the 2011 publication

An extract from the opening

At first there was nothingness...
Then an explosion of light in his eye sockets, and thousands of living needles invaded Ted's senses.
The indeterminate state of his whole body suddenly gave place to a violent pain. It spread from his brain in a sheeting sea of flames towards his back and limbs. For a moment the scream of his inflamed nerves mastered everything. Then the powerful shock to his senses changed his solar plexus into a resounding cavity which rapidly seemed to fill his body. It was an explosion that seemed to blow him into distinct pieces, and even the brain pulsed, only at once to stop, to collapse upon itself, leaving behind an ocean of darkness. In this Ted lost himself again.

*

     "Orm!"
     In the immense underground gallery, the call stirred strange echoes making the buzz of the power installations disappear.
     "Orm! The analyser! What're you waiting for?"
     The second call had more effect. A long rustle, followed by stifled noises and a dry crack, stirred the far end of the laboratory into life. From the darkness emerged a deformed figure struggling with remnants of installations fastened by tangled wires that clung stubbornly to his long limbs. The figure stopped every now and then, trying to get rid of these encumbrances, whistling strangely as it made its bizarre progress. The limbs were raised rhythmically in turn, accompanying the grotesque ballet of the suckers in a nervous attempt to liberate the cylindrical body of the being. Its skin wrinkled in waves, witnesses to its evidently nervous state.
     "Analysers..." whistled Orm angrily. "Here, take it - the analyser!"
     Puzzled, the other Varyan looked at him for a few seconds, then suddenly protested:
     "You are a monument to cackhandedness and blundering! I'll never understand what you're doing here in a research unit. You wander about, nose around, and ask about this and that. You understand nothing. More than that, you despoil and mess up everything everywhere. Look!" he went on, rolling his short flat limb on the smoking remnants spread on the floor. "You've destroyed the only flux analyser we've got here. The only one!"
     Orm's reply came straight away, in hurried strident whistles.
     "Big deal! We didn't have a chance of doing it anyway. I've had enough of your impossible ideas. I made it easy for you to get posted to this place because you promised me an epoch-making experiment," said Orm, breathing deeply. "But I think I was wrong. It's not worth the danger that I have to face... The professor can find us here at any time now..." The Varyan's thin antennae stung the air, their undulating top protuberances pointing at the other being, Sit, in a seemingly provocative way. "The analyser's gone. So what? We'll have to start your installation... You admitted yourself that you were waiting for an opportunity... or are you afraid you might blow it?" Orm continued derisively. Then he finished, triumphantly: "Anyway, it's now or never. I took a risk creating this experiment. You can't deny that, and so now I've earned my right to see it in progress. I'm fed up with seeing everyone bumbling about for dozens of cycles hoping that they could bring this creature back to life... if we know what life means to it, that is ..."
     While the Varyan's whistles continued in their staccato way, his eyes stared back at the container room Through the transparent walls and the plasma he could discern Ted's body, lying there covered by a web of sensors and wires connected to the floor. Above the Earthling, the ceiling descended in an unusual formation of funnels that surrounded his prone body. These were the fruit of Sit's latest researches - they focused unknown fields whose meaning none of the scientist's colleagues had yet even begun to decipher.
     Orm noticed a certain detail that made him forget the funnels. He stared at it intently, then turned to the bench next to him and stood still for a moment. It was as if he was making an attempt at dialogue with the magnetic fluxes of the indicators. Hesitantly at first, then more and more rapidly and precisely, Orm pushed his limbs forward and some of the suckers of his limbs started to run over the apparatus. It responded obediently. The Varyan's antennae swirled about him in fanlike waves, betraying indecision. His mouth opened slowly to whistle but he simply forgot to do it and pointed instead to one of the screens. From behind, Sit said forcefully:
     "Yes, it's not an illusion. The bio-field generators are working."
     "So that's where the energy leak was," said Orm, recovering from his surprise. "It's much bigger than the one maintaining vital processes... I wonder if decomposition would release it at a greater speed..."
     But Sit did not seem to be paying attention to what Orm was saying. He continued in an authoritative, almost sententious tone.
     "Nothing was in vain: the struggle to decipher the information codes; the effort to reconstruct the mechanisms of metabolic change; the reconstruction of the areas destroyed by the impact; the atmosphere on Var; the stupid experiments of all the incompetents here... The monster in front of us is alive now. My bio-energy field-codifying matrix has proved correct. Do you realise that this is a unique moment?"
Orm was so elated that his whole body seemed unstable. Both his limbs had moved apart and now tended to rise at the same time. His limbs beat the air in disorderly gesticulations, while the suckers stuck to one another in nervous discharges and made unnatural slurping noises.
     After a pause in which he gloated on Orm's reaction, Sit resumed his emphatic mocking tone.
     "You all turned against me just because I was a southerner. You removed me from the main research group; you and that incompetent professor of yours. He wanted to destroy the creature so he could analyse its information processing central unit. Idiots! You tried to destroy where I'd always wanted to reconstruct. You'll very soon see how the creature's intelligence can be determined without affecting those tissues whose fineness and organisation go beyond our understanding. According to my theory, the agglomeration of living units," he pointed two of his suckers at Ted's head, "is much more important than that of the information processing charge. In the new program I'm going to assign a new role to it. Any idea what that will be? No, of course not," he said, with an insinuating smile. "It'll be that of a resonant cavity of the bio-energy field fluxes emitted by me and captured by the creature as external stimuli, transmitted not by the information channels it is accustomed to but directly by the encoding made here." He pointed to what was above the container room.
     In this way Sit revealed his intentions, mixing his words and ideas as if wanting to get his message across without delay. Orm broke in anxiously:      "What? How can you be so sure of the validity of your theory? OK, so deciphering the organisation code of the energy matrix is a remarkable achievement. I for one didn't believe in it and still don't understand how you've achieved it. But to stimulate the monster in this way is just too much. No," he whispered as if to himself, "you won't succeed."
     "Do you really think that? Look, then!" the scientist shouted, pointing to the indicators on another panel. "That's the witness module. I caught something just as I called you. Pity it happened so fast. I've got the recording, though. Now I'll couple the memorisers and reproduce the phenomenon in an accessible time basis."
     Before Orm could say one more word, Sit started to activate the instruments. Then they pressed against each other in front of the tiny screen. Sit sucked in a small sphere from the bench with the tip of one of his hurriedly opened suckers. A strident signal came in response and the indicators of the witness module came to life. The Varyans' eyes stared ahead in maximum concentration. Everything was expectation. Fractions of time units succeeded one another in a mad race. The tension was discomfiting. Sit was making the creature lose control over the various parts of its body. Yes, the being certainly belonged to a common Universe, and his theory looked like it was going to be proved correct. He had introduced stimuli into the creature and had captured their response. What kind of contact had been made, he wondered. And what exactly had the apparatus recorded?


Top Priority
Wildside Press
Back to main page