Anton Vorlov runs the world’s biggest company, Between Destiny, from an island off the coast of Dubai. Officially, he’s a billionaire from Ukraine, but he is actually a trillionaire spaceman - and his real name is Zem. He never sleeps, and his vast organisations spend $100 billion a week financing the restructure of the global economy to make it sustainable. Zem has specialist training to handle the complicated international negotiations and the inevitable interference of the oil industry. However, when his personal assistant - a feisty earthling called Megan - decides that she wants his attention, Zem gets right out his depth.

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About the story

The early idea behind Intervene was to write a grand story about the plight of the humans on Earth, that would stand the test of time. Think War of the Worlds and The Day the Earth Stood Still, both of which started as novels and went on to be made into multiple movies. Both these stories explore themes about the human condition and the role of extra-terrestrials. Intervene features a beneficial alien, a character who can transform the global economy to make it sustainable within a decade, as long as the humans don't interfere.

I have spent 20 years of my life enquiring into ecological sustainability and I have yet to be convinced that any human, or human agency has the influence to change the trajectory of human civilization fast enough to save us from the imminent short future ahead. So, I created a fictional spaceman to do the job, to foster the idea that collectively, we might all intervene, ourselves.

In the early version of the story, Zem was embedded in a rock, and emerged when the atmospheric CO2 reached a certain concentration. His huge wealth came from gemstones that grew out of his palms. I shared this plot with a born again Christian, in London in 2010, and he said that Zem was Christ-like. Shortly after, I changed the story so that Zem arrived by teleport (more Spock than Jesus) and his wealth was teleported down too (the ruthenium alloy).

Eventually, the time came for me to give a name to this charactuer, but what do you call a Parrathean special forces agent on an economic transformation mission to earth. My finger tips danced across the keyboard and the name poured out of me... Zemitheree Beden-ificitu. Most people just call him Zem.

  Zem's foundation, Between Destiny, distributes $100 billion a week from the profits of Vorlov Industries, the company that sells the high temperature superconductor, ruthenium alloy.


In its earliest conception, the story was called The Font. Font as in fountain, or source of things. It was from the Font that the earth's salvation came. Later, the story was called Atlas, a consideration of someone carrying the world on their back. Later again, can the name Intervene.

An early cover concept had an Atlas-like characture who not only carried the weight of the planet, but also walked up a flight of steps. This was back in the very early days. Back in these days I had the most rudimentary graphic design tools (google images and powerpoint). Nonetheless, I was able to capture the spirit of my idea.

The second cover concept came post the conversation with the born again christian. Here, the spaceman - Zemitheree Beden-ificitu - falls to Earth. The background red is a photograph of the sun. I approached the author of the little black figure of the falling man, asking if I could use the image on a book cover, with appropriate attribution. She said she wanted US$500, so I politely declined the offer and continued searching for cover ideas.

Zemitheree teleports to Earth. To avoid injury should the 'z' coordinate be wrong, he pops into existence over water.

The sinking man image is from shutterstock and the Earth image is from NASA. I have always liked this cover. The typeface is even appropriately named sci-fi.

The image also alludes to human civilization sinking, naked, vulnerable, soon to impact with the grim realities of a global ecosystem with five of nine planetary boundaries exceeded. But it is sinking, not plummeting, so maybe there is still time for some thing, or someone to intervene.

In the absence of a spaceman, we might have to intervene, ourselves.


Imagery suggested by the novel Intervene.

From some angles, one would think that Earth was actually an ocean planet. In the middle of this watery mass, the Parrathean's dropped 15 megatonnes of ruthenium allow, to fund Zem's economic transformation of the global economy. On the day of Zem's arrival on Earth, an atmosphric anomaly is visible above his landing point. A halo around the sun, caused by ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Al calls it a portent. And Toddy says its importnat not to forget the cigarettes.
Gold. Gold. Gold. A store of wealth that is accepted on many planets. Zem's gold nuggets were unique. While that all had different shapes, they all weighed exactly the same. This is the apartment in Townsville where Zem discovers the truth about his mission one Earth.
Zem's Sikorski helicopter, powered by algae biofuel and leaving a wispy smell of popcorn in its wake. The Between Destinies campus on an island off the coast of Dubai. Here, Zem disposes of $50 billion a month as he restructures the global economy to make it sustainable.
One of the Between Destinies programs seeks to arrest the decline of the lowland gorillas. The project is highly popular amongst the Between Destinies staff and is known to make some go a bit 'ape'. The Greenhouse is Zem's custom built corporate tower. It is located on the outskirts of Dubai and provides all its own power and water. It also provides habitat for threatened species. In this way, the construction of infrastructure helps to improve the environment.
Saving the planet costs a lot of jet fuel. Fortunately, Zem grows his own using fifth generation algae. The Jetstream private jet, allows Zem and Megan to fly from Dubai to Houston in one stretch, to attend the Oil Man of the Year awards. The plush interior of Zem's private jet.
The lobby of the Burj Al Arab hotel where Megan punishes Olly's credit card while Zem is away. The helipad on the roof of the Burj Al Arab hotel where Megan sublimates into a single photon of white light, albeit just for a few moments.
The antagonist of the story is the Louisiana oil man, Tom Wayward. Wayward's pet project is to raise the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Sometimes, the only way to break the log jam is to force it. Swapping their colours for fatigues, the hit squad moves on the oil men. This technique is known among the Parrathean special forces as the oil man's hammer.
Phosphorescent algae light up the sea at night. In the disance, the lights of a city glow brightly. The Milky Way, the galaxy of the Parratheans and the humans.


Some happy customers of the Intervene novel.