“Containment” takes place in the future, a time when Earth’s population, lack of resources and rapidly rising CO2 levels force interplanetary exploration. The story takes place at V1, an enormous dome that is home to the first two generations of pioneers to Venus. Venus was once believed to be inhabitable but genetic enhancements and scientific advancements allowed for space travel and successful habitation of the planet. Still, only a few specified members of the colony are allowed to leave the dome, and they must wear advanced suits to help them adapt to its atmosphere.
V1 is a pinnacle of achievement that Earth relies on for scientific research and eventual colonization of other planets. Each adult at V1 has a specific duty that he or she has been trained to perform. V1 consists of 50 adult founders and their 100 combined children. All 100 humans born into the second generation were tagged as “Gen V,” or the first generation to be born on Venus. The members of Gen V were born only days apart in order to create companionship and to better keep track of each individual. Their jobs were decided based on academic or physical areas of interest and excellence.
V1 is essential to the survival of people on Earth; research performed at V1 consists in part of trying to replicate and understand artificial photosynthesis. Since the CO2 levels on Earth have become so dangerous, a group of researchers on V1 is focused on finding a new chemical compound that will create breathable air through cell mutation.
The story focuses on Arik, the most intelligent member of Gen V, who has inherited the problem of solving artificial photosynthesis. When the story begins, Arik is waking up encased in a steel vise in the Medical Pod. He is alarmed when he finds he has suffered intense memory loss and that his wife is three months pregnant. He learns he has been in an accident and should not be alive.
Arik later receives what he considers to be a message from himself sent shortly before his accident. This message forces him to work back through his own memory to uncover the mystery about what happened and uncover a secret about V1 that will change the course of human history.
This is classic science fiction. The author, Christian Cantrell, creates and outlines in marvelous detail the structure and appearance of the world that is V1. He goes beyond the changes and advances in our everyday technology. For example, the infrastructure of V1 can recognize the foot patterns and weights of every single individual, so any time a scientist or worker is needed, a member need only ask the building itself and it will pinpoint the exact location of the person sought. Perhaps not coincidentally, the story gets one thinking about solving the problems we face on Earth today. Cantrell also delves into questions regarding some of the problems that humans would encounter while living 223 million kilometers from Earth, such as the reliance on shipments from Earth that don’t always come in on schedule.
Cantrell, who is a software developer in Northern Virginia, has written and self-published several short stories. He dedicates “Containment,” his first novel, to “future generations who must question everything about the worlds they are born into.”
That’s an accurate representation of what he is trying to accomplish with this book.
Preston Braun is finishing his master’s degree in education and is a Manhattan resident.