My latest release in the Inherited Stars series, Juggernaut, involves a very unusual setting for a space adventure romance. It’s underground! Most of the story takes place inside an ancient lava tube.
Lava tubes are a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. They can drain magma from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased, and the rock has cooled and left a long tubular, and often very twisted, cave. They can have large chambers where the lava pooled, or cliffs and drop-offs, or they can take the form of multiple tubes that split and then re-fuse. When the lava tube forms near the surface, parts of the roof can cave in over time allowing sunlight -- and curious people -- to access the underground labyrinth.
For a quick tour of a lava tube, here's a 55 second virtual fly-through of the Cueva de los Verdes lava tube in Lanzarote, Spain, done by the European Space Agency (ESA). It’s a little spooky, which is great for setting the mood of the story.
While doing the research, I learned that a lava tube can be a cave but not a cavern. All caverns are caves, but all caves aren't necessarily caverns. Lava tubes have different properties than some of the better known caves in our country--like Carlsbad Caverns and its neighbor, the fairyland-like Lechuguilla Cave (both in New Mexico), or Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Caverns are specifically natural caves that are big enough for access by humans and formed by soluble rock (usually limestone) that form speleothems--or stalactites and stalagmites. These formations are caused by water with dissolved minerals dripping from the roof of a cave that, over eons of time, form structures within the cave. These structures, stalactites and stalagmites, sometimes fuse together and form large pillar structures. Other times they flow in great curtains or weird, goblin-like formations.
I referenced a "speleothem" in the story, even though it takes place inside a lava tube, because this particular lava tube has a secret. Something completely unexpected and incredibly important is hidden there, a finding so monumental it has it's own security team to ensure this "treasure" is kept secret. But they're about to uncover an even darker mystery.
Get your spelunking gear ready for a different kind of space adventure!
Juggernaut is at the special price of .99 for a limited time.
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