Андрей Закревский, инженер по добычи нефти и газа. 39 лет. Писать начал уже после тридцати. Несколько рассказов входили в сборники, в том числе и международные, это рассказы “Catchers of Misfortune ” и “То, что имеет начало”. Автор считает, что самое главное в фантастике – это отсутствие ограничений, а в литературе – гуманизм. Ценность человеческой жизни должна всегда иметь приоритет для настоящего человека.
Andrew Zakrewsky is an oil and gas engineer. He is 39. Began writing after age of thirty. Several stories were included in collections, in particular in international collections, among those stories are “Catchers of Misfortune” and ” What the beginning has.” The author believes that the most important thing in science fiction is the lack of restrictions and in literature – humanism. The value of human life must always take precedence for the person.
Научная фантастика “Asia”
The first time I heard about ‘autorotation’ back at school. That was my second plane trip and, so it happened, that I had a great specialist on this issue beside me. I was only fifteen then and I considered myself a quite independent and well-read guy absolutely capable of flying planes alone without informing his relatives. At that time, I had a rather romantic story with a girl waiting for me in the south, in one of Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. That story was full of trains and long telephone conversations… So, my company, a fat man pungently smelling with sweat, was loudly discussing that if we didn’t have a bad fall at the start, then we would definitely reach destination where the second ‘guess-what’ was waiting for us – either a fall or not.
He kept addressing me formally, was loudly blowing his nose and telling me that ‘Boeings’ are not equipped with an anti-icing system so they must be poured with special liquids whereas ‘Airbuses’ sweat so no pouring is required.
‘And you apparently deal with planes?’ I asked more to sound polite than out of interest, as at the time I was more overwhelmed with thoroughly lyrical issues.
‘No, it’s helicopters! I build ‘em.’ He began to fidget on the seat brushing me with his elbow. ‘And you – do you have any idea of how a helicopter flies?’
‘Yeah,’ I replied boringly.
‘Might be true… and how it turns?’
‘The inclination angle between the blades’ surfaces changes and, perhaps, the hind rotor taxies.’
‘Might be true… and what if it falls, how do you survive?’
‘Use the parachute,’ I guessed, ‘catapult?’
‘Wrong! Virtually nobody makes them, the catapults, except for the militaries…A helicopter can land itself, even with its engine off.’
‘That’s how come!’ my companion looked at me with pleasure from the height of his all three chins. ‘There is such a thing called autorotation…’
How many years back was it? Twenty-five? Apparently, something clicked in my memory, I boarded the plane and – there! That was the point where everything started.
You can never mix Asia with anywhere else. Even if you get there at night, blindfolded, anyway you will understand that you are in Asia. Because of the smell, the air, the sky. Even if it’s winter, even if the sky is fully covered with clouds, even if you are under some fir or palm tree at the airport – you will anyway understand that you are in Asia.
I saw different parts of Asia: middle, central, southern. I’ve been to the Middle East in my childhood. There, one would think, an oakling is growing, or some tiny birch, but you can feel that this birch is Asian, not related to the tree from the central part. Not related to you. The smell is different. The smell of Asia. It smells like smoke, as in Delhi, or like a warm summer evening … all the time, as in the Brahmaputra valley; or it smells like dust and apricots, as in Tashkent, or there’s the smell of flowers and meltwater, as in Almaty. Or like expectation, as in Khabarovsk. Or like ocean, as in Vladivostok.
I very clearly felt that I was in Asia as soon as we were out of the carrier, and, although the night fell and it was raining heavily I understood: we were close. Or, maybe I understood that exactly because it was raining and because of the night. From the dedicated flight of the drops towards the Earth, from the way these drops were welcomed by the air and the concrete runway.
Night helicopter flight; accommodation in the squat barracks took place in the daybreak twilights. Quick landing in front of the row of covered helicopter bodies, check-in inside a command caravan accompanied by swift smiles of sleepy dark-skinned sergeants, then an unexpectedly comfortable sleep on detergent-smelling sheets. As if I never slept half the day in the airports and planes before that. Evidently, my body needed that.
I slept a lot and woke up slumberous. I washed my face, took a shower in a small extension that they showed me at night; I had a walk through empty quarters with bare bed frames, I put on a short-sleeved shirt, thought a bit and decided to neglect the head dress. I had no wish to salute anyone and respect could be demonstrated even by a slight squint of an eye.
Having entered the command caravan, whose porch was marked with a stars-and-stripes flag, I managed – more with a smile than using my English – to coax out of the two black ladies that the base had its own beach located a bit down the runway, and I was even escorted towards the place where a short path started. I was warned about the rain that was expected to start in a couple of hours and left alone.
Who knows who invented this reddish-and-yellowish clay Asian soil, with inclusions of tiny granite crystals and shells, that is home to trees giving sparse shadow! When it’s dry, you can walk on it as if it’s the surface of some posh stadium. The path stretches now up, now down like a fair line, crossing low hill ranges. But, as soon as the rain starts, this entire system of shallow gullies turns into a single sewage collector that carries small branches and rusty frames of cars, originated from who-knows-where, to the ocean with equal easiness. Examples of such frames found me at the end of a pebble-covered beach.
I took my clothes off, folded my uniform neatly and put it over my shoes and came into warm water. Having sunk into a ditch at the very coast, created by the tide, I climbed it, my feet a bit hurt on large rollers, and went deeper into the ocean.
I experienced a sharp feeling of the end of the Earth. ‘Like hell knows where!’ as I liked to repeat to my friends telling them about Asia. Ahead of me, within several hundreds of kilometers, there was a string of islands, and beyond them were only the Pacific and the Southern Oceans. The fact that the latter one existed was still unusual for me.
Dull sun gave warmth through the dense haze, yellow specks of light ran from it down dimmed grey water, directly to me. The water was warm and I was walking forward till I fully plunged into it. I dived and, with my eyes open, watched slanting beams of sunlight going into the deep. Then I reached the surface, turned on my back and stroke out looking at the whitish haze and the low clouds.
I altogether hated to die.
I was twenty seven when I first tried autorotation. The speed of our ‘savior’ was low, the altitude – not more than one kilometer. It was as if the machine fell through, I felt weird vibration, the horizon went naughty and I experienced strange dizziness, and then I understood that the helicopter started swinging.
My fingers worked by themselves, though. I tried to restart the engines but I failed to… and having retracted the clutch, I slightly changed the inclination angle between the blades. The helicopter lost speed dramatically and started falling. Then, when the rate of fall hit 10 meters per second, the air flow bent the blades upwards and started spinning them.
Gears above my head were turning, blade rotation was transmitted to the generators and the rotor at the rear, lights in the cabin turned on. Falling slowed down essentially, the helicopter stopped rotating at all.
I descended slowly, as it seemed to me. I had enough time to understand what should be done and how it should be done, enough time to choose the driest march below and even to ‘give my piece of mind’ to the cargo compartment.
Right before landing I changed the inclination angle between the blades again so that long steel strips that gained centrifugal force sharply shot upward, bent and slowed down the fall. I did it a bit earlier than I should have done, that’s why the helicopter suddenly hovered at the distance of two meters above the ground and then threw its entire body with the force enough to make my teeth clank and let me taste blood in my mouth.
My second time was more prosaic, but it was exactly what made autorotation a part of my life.
That was during testing of new models of two-seater excursion helicopters. Russian pilots, due to their cheapness, became perhaps the most experienced test pilots for new helicopters. According to the rules, helicopters had to ensure safe landing in autorotation mode and we took the models up, bags with sand instead of passengers, reached the altitude of two-three kilometers, then switched the engines off and descended. The money, paid for this, was absolutely crazy, so when I returned home, with the earned capital I redecorated my father’s flat and constructed my first autogyro, or, simply put, a gyrocopter.