Right to Know is a fast-paced space opera about first contact—with a difference. When Art Stoddard, civilian information officer of the generation starship Mayflower II, is kidnapped by a secret revolutionary organization determined to overthrow the power of the Captain and crew, he becomes embroiled in a conflict that tests everything he thought he knew, forced to choose between preserving social order and restoring the people's right to know.
The rebels want him to release dangerous knowledge to the passengers: they are approaching a habitable planet. Before he can act on that knowledge, he is arrested by the ship's security and brought before the captain—only to be kidnapped again, ripped from the safety of his ship by the mysterious residents of Peregrine.
Suddenly he finds himself a pawn in a game that will determine the fate of both ship and planet. As he and his new-found friends rush to save both, he faces questions of courage, loyalty, and moral responsibility. The only tool he has is knowledge: knowledge that can cause the death of millions...or save them.
I've known Ed for close to twenty years (he sang at my wedding in 2003) and always enjoyed his convivial company. More importantly, I've been a big fan of his writing, both science fiction and fantasy. When I took over Bundoran Press in 2013, he was one of the first people I asked to submit. Luckily for me, he had Right to Know in the wings and I had a lot of fun editing it—so much so that when I met up with him at the convention where it launched, I immediately asked him for a sequel. We shook hands on it (just like in the movies!) and the rest is history. – Hayden Trenholm
"An inspiring tale of redemption and courage, set in an all-too-plausible future in space. Well done!"– Julie Czerneda, author of The Clan Chronicles
"...a wildly entertaining read...the novel had romance, an ego-maniacal supporting antagonist, family drama, intrigue, and plenty of action. Truth be told, there were many times while reading where I was reminded of the old Buck Rogers in the 25th Century serials I watched growing up...if you want a fun and rollicking SF yarn that I found to be pretty suitable for most age groups, Right to Know is a great selection."– Jon Guenther, SF Revu
"...a well-written story dealing with a first contact with a twist...Art Stoddard starts off as an irresponsible celebrity. He embarks on a wild adventure where he must find a way to save two civilizations. There are two corrupt governments with devastating weapons pointed at each other, religious fanatics, and rebels that want to restore people's right to know, ultimately for both sides."– Kurt D. Springs, Kurt’s Frontier
"This is a face-paced SF novel, with jailbreaks, rocket-rides and wilderness adventures on a strange planet. It also features clear themes. Freedom of the press is foremost, and the need to prioritize freedom over security plays a part, too...Recommended for anyone who likes SF with a rapid pace and a clear message."– Timothy Gwyn, Goodreads
The rest of the day passed in normal routine; he had interviews with three people and spent an hour getting vid of a dozen maintenance robots, supervised by two harried engineers, scuttling around the river recycler in the Habitat Five, the Forest Hab, which had recently been giving the stream a unique colour and odor definitely not in the original specifications.
Art doubted the vid would ever air. Two stories he'd submitted for approval the day before had both been rejected without explanation. Art frowned at the Crewcomm terminal. One story had been about a mysterious fungal infection that had wiped out a whole tankplot of tomatoes, and the other about a half-day loss of computer records at the credit transfer centre after an unexplained power surge. Both were already the talk of the mid-Habs—but he'd had no choice but to ignore them.
He cleared the screen with an angry swipe. Six months ago he had not only been allowed to report on a similar computer malfunction, he had been ordered to. And agricultural die-offs due to disease or tankplot malfunction were nothing new; every other week, it seemed, some fruit or vegetable crop had to be re-started from the genetics bank, while everyone did without. They'd once gone six months without potatoes. Why wasn't he supposed to say anything about it anymore?
He was reduced, in his evening recording session, to reading practically the same script again, except for two frothy human-interest bits, one on the 85th birthday of the oldest Passenger, a man born just after the inaugural meeting of the Caliphate of the Holy and Oppressed and just before the destruction of Ottawa provided the impetus to Unification, and one on an amateur sculptor who made models of the ship out of scrap metal. Art allowed himself the cynical thought that that could quite plausibly be considered a political comment; he was surprised the Council censors, much less the Crew ones, had allowed it.
The only "hard" news was already ancient history: the publication of the latest lists of women required to attempt conception and the men designated as acceptable fathers. Sure, the semi-annual "Sperm-'n'-Eggs" list was big news—and had led to the previous night's energetic and entirely pleasurable, if somewhat exhausting, activities with Treena, and since he was on the male side of the list he was more than happy to continue to draw other eligible women's attention to it—but still, three days after its release, it wasn't exactly new "news," was it?
Norman gave him the traditional thumbs-up as he finished the recording, then closed down the control board and headed off, hand-in-hand with Teresa. Art watched them go and sighed. Teresa was young and sexy and…completely uninterested in him. Unfortunately, even though she was on the current Sperm-'n'-Eggs list, so was Norman, and that suited them both so well Art knew he didn't stand a chance.
Not that it stopped him from fantasizing every once in a while.
He'd just reached the door when his terminal beeped three times, the high-low-high pattern indicating an incoming voice call. For a moment he considered ignoring it, since he was officially off-duty, but then he decided reluctantly it could be important. He went over to his terminal. "Answer," he said. "Internal Communications, Stoddard here."
He expected the screen to light with the image of the caller, but instead it remained stubbornly blank; and the voice that spoke was both distorted and neutered. "Why didn't you report on the cred-transfer breakdown?"
Art frowned at the blank screen. "Who is this?"
The voice laughed, the distortion giving it an eerie, horror-movie sound. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."
Art blinked in surprise. He'd have bet he was the only person on the ship who would have gotten that particular ancient pop-culture reference. "What?"
"I've got something for you. I know who caused the data loss. Interested?"
Art sighed. Every problem brought the crazies out of the deckplates. "A power surge caused the data loss."
"But who caused that?"
"Who? Don't you mean what?"
"No," the distorted voice said. "I mean who. I can tell you. If you want to know."
Crazy, he thought again, and Call the 'keeps, another part of him urged.
But it has to be a hoax, he argued with himself. Do you really want to waste the Peacekeepers' time on a hoax? Time enough to call after you talk to this nut, if you have to. Play it safe.
"Well?" the voice said impatiently.
"I'm interested," he said cautiously.
"Good. Take the pod as usual. We'll meet you."
"Meet me? Where? There's no place to—"
"As long as we know, you don't need to, do you?" The line went dead.
Art stood still for a moment. He could still call the 'keeps…but then he swore at his own faintheartedness and quickly finished closing up. Five minutes later he stepped out into the ever-bright Hab and made his way to the pod.
Halfway there, the lights went out.
Art stopped dead, shocked. The lights never went out in Admin Hab. Never. It was a given. Had something drastic happened? Have we hit something?
The lights came back on.
He gulped. Coincidence, he thought. It doesn't have anything to do with that mysterious voice.
He was almost able to convince himself.
The pod trip back to Habitat Three was uneventful, though Art held himself tensely the whole time, waiting for something to happen. When he stepped out into the access station, he took a quick, nervous look around. Again, he saw nothing unusual.
A prank? he thought. Could be…
Peter! Peter or one of his friends. That's gotta be it.
Convinced he'd solved the mystery, he set off down the street toward his parents' house.
Well, half-convinced: he couldn't help taking quick looks around as he walked down the dimly lit street, the skyplate shining with "stars" above him but little else in the way of artificial lighting except for the widely spaced glowing lightposts, casting fuzzy patches of silver on the scuffed ceramic street but making the darkness between them even blacker.
As he approached the park, he quickened his pace. Just beyond the park's patch of deeper night he could see the more concentrated glow of Neighbourhood One. The park was two hundred metres wide. He was maybe fifty metres into it when all lightposts along the street went out at once.
He stopped in confusion, heart suddenly racing: and an instant later two dark figures leaped out of the shadows.