About Europa, Book Three of The Last Stop Trilogy
Michael Burnam, MD
I suppose the seeds for The Last Stop Trilogy began germinating for me at age 7.My father was then the Technical Director of NBC News on the west coast. Once a month the NBC news luminaries of the day met at our home to discuss the next big story. I often hid behind the couch and listened, pretending that no one knew that I was there. One night, Chet Huntley from the Huntley-Brinkley News Hour grabbed me by the pajamas and told me I had to leave.As I stood behind the couch not really surprised that I’d been discovered, he added that I could ask him one question before leaving, anything at all.To do this day I’m not certain why I picked this one, but I asked: Did a flying saucer really crash in New Mexico? With a very straight face that I will always remember, he answered:Yes.Several other people in the room whose names you’d likely recognize nodded their agreement, and then I went to bed, trying to sleep.The next morning I asked my father if it was true and he answered yes, but warned me never to mention it to anyone as “bad things can happen to people who know about it and tell.”
Years later, I decided to try my hand at writing Sci Fi. Book One of The Last Stop Series, The Last Stop, was my first attempt. Book Two, The Next Step followed, and Book Three (the finale) Europa will soon be released. Besides giving me the enjoyment of writing, I wanted the books to be special in other ways, forgive me—to have a message, and to be an extension of my point of view scientifically and philosophically. This meant, first and foremost, that all three books in the trilogy had to be positive, uplifting, and have happy endings—think ET and Close Encounters, not Alien and Star Wars. Teen Suicide is the second leading cause of death in that age group. Two out of three teens report being cyber-bullied.
I too was bullied as a child and young adult, and the emotional scars are still painfully there'll three books constructively comment on bullying through characters or plot. Despite the seriousness of the topic, I’d be surprised if all three books of the trilogy don’t make you smile.
The Last Stop was almost a movie, but in the end the producer turned it down as not being sufficiently dark and edgy. Our kids and young adults don’t need more dark and edgy. WHO does?
The Last Stop immerses the reader in astronomy (four scared teenagers on a wild ride through the solar system) and raises an interesting philosophical question. What happens when Evolution ends and there’s nothing left for fully evolved beings to do? The story weaves around the lives of four teenagers who take a flying saucer ride to Europa where they meet, you guessed it, fully evolved aliens. The main character Mickey is really me. Mickey and his best friend David are the prototypical nerds.Mickey has the hots for Vickie. Vickie is at the pinnacle of the school in-crowd and considers him in the same category as gum on the sole of her shoe. Vickie’s colorful response upon arrival on Europa where she becomes the first human to see an alien is one of my favorite lines in all three books.
Book Two, The Next Step, discusses genetic engineering and the very real problem of on-going species extinction. Two of my favorite characters are introduced, robots nicknamed Romeo and Juliet. Forgive me, but I minored in Shakespeare. We see through their purely logical inorganic minds the foibles of humanity as R and J attempt to become more human. Romeo wants a tattoo, but ends up with Use Unleaded Gas Only. Juliet tries makeup but isn’t sure how or where to apply it. The two progeny of a pair of the teens (no spoiler allowed) are introduced. Al and Bet, modeled after my grandkids, have unusual abilities. Wonder how that happened? Romeo and Juliet are the kids’ nursemaids and full time companions. This does wonders for all of their emotional development. Romeo and Juliet begin to suffer the emergence of long repressed memory files with glimpses of a young boy and young girl. Why were the memories files hidden? Why are they re-emerging now?
Book Three, Europa, brings the trilogy to a satisfying, dare I say action-packed conclusion. It begins with an Ancient Aliens-like flashback followed by a series of fictional but plausible historical alien contact vignettes as the story moves forward.The organic characters ponder how life began. The sometime schism between science and religion is explored, from both sides. The inorganic Europans for the first time in eons face their long-repressed past. The burden of this new knowledge tears their world apart leading to a titanic battle with planet Earth as the battleground. Okay, I couldn’t resist one final cataclysmic alien vs human space battle, but spoiler alert, nobody gets hurt.
Will Romeo and Juliet become more human?
Will Mickey and Vickie finally stop bickering? Will Al and Bet learn how to be just kids?
Europa’s finale is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes--that is unless you’re a Europan.
Two hundred thousand years on from when the humanoid Europans were ruled by tyrannical religious group, the Sect, in an undersea city, Earth becomes the battleground as Europa’s sentient robots and the Sect’s descendants collide in the final battle of their eons’ long war.
'Europa is the page-turning finish to The Last Stop Trilogy. Central to the story is a deep existential dilemma: facing annihilation, would you choose to download your conscious into a computer to survive? After achieving immortality, would you give it up to become humanoid again? Burnam weaves this theme into a heart-warming, intergalactic love story where the action never stops.' Robert D. Zanger, Founder of the Albert Hoffman Foundation for Consciousness Research.
The third and final instalment of The Last Stop Trilogy.
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