TUNGUSKA, JUNE 30, 1908: The most catastrophic impact in recorded history rocks the Central Siberian plateau, flattening thousands of square kilometres of ancient forest and sending shockwaves around the globe, yet leaving behind not a shred of evidence as to what caused it.
Could the impactor have been a primordial black hole? Earth’s encounter with such a fantastic object — smaller than an atomic nucleus, more massive than a mountain, older than the stars — could account for all the phenomena of the Tunguska Event.
All, save one: An infalling micro-hole should have burrowed unhindered through the solid mantle of the earth, bursting up out of the North Atlantic hours later with as much multi-megaton force as the original impact. Absent any trace of such an exit event, the black-hole hypothesis was swiftly consigned to the dustheap of astrophysical history.
And yet …
110 years after Tunguska, maverick cosmologist Jack Adler is researching a new and improved scenario: What if there was no exit event because the black hole itself never came out? What if it fell into orbit around earth’s core instead? What if it’s still down there, tunneling through the lithosphere, slowly consuming the planet?
Unfortunately, Adler’s not alone in his surmise. A renegade Russian oligarch is plotting to capture the orbiting micro-hole and expose what lurks at its heart: a naked singularity — a gravitational point-source powerful enough to warp space and time itself.
Now only a rookie government agent and the ueber-consultant she’s drafted into helping her stand in the way of a world-spanning conspiracy aiming to conquer the future by rewriting the past.
A cosmic collision, a thousand times more powerful and devastating than an atomic bomb, levels an ancient forest in Siberia. A hundred years of international scientific investigation has yet to reveal the cause.
June 30th, 1908 — In the trackless wastes of Siberia’s remote Tunguska River basin, the most devastating cosmic collision ever recorded flattens hundreds of square miles of ancient forest with a blast a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Yet, after more than a hundred years of international scientific investigation, the cause of the cataclysm remains shrouded in mystery.
Maverick astrophysicist Jack Adler thinks he’s fingered the culprit: the impact with the earth of a submicroscopic black hole, smaller than an atom, more massive than a mountain, older than the stars. What’s more, Jack believes that this fantastic object is still down there, deep inside the Earth, burrowing through its mantle in an ever-decaying orbit that will end only when it has devoured the entire planet. Small wonder if the Russians refer to the voracious black hole by their word for vampire — Vurdalak.
Rookie secret agent Marianna Bonaventure is tracking three missing Russian scientists suspected of involvement in weapons of mass destruction research. The trail leads her to the luxurious megayacht Rusalka, floating corporate headquarters of billionaire Russian industrialist Arkady Grishin. Determined to prove herself, Marianna creates an elaborate ruse in order to infiltrate the enormous vessel — a dangerous gambit that requires the coerced cooperation of a rather special civilian …
Jonathan Knox is one of the country’s most sought-after management consultants; his knack for intuiting hidden relationships among seemingly disparate events serves his Fortune-50 clients well. But when Marianna compels the reluctant Knox to join her undercover on Rusalka, he must grapple with puzzles of a wholly different order of magnitude.
Together, these three must battle a globe-spanning conspiracy intent upon capturing Vurdalak and exploiting its awesome power, a power that can transform the world — or end it.