Study Guide for 2176

Study Guide for 2176 : Birth of the Belt Republic

 

About the Author : Ted Butler is a grandfather of three and father of two.  He retired from Boeing as a computer consultant.  He has worked in radar in the United States Air Force.  He’s loved science fiction for over fifty years. 

He has a Bachelors degree in Math/Computer Science from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California.

During his life he has washed dishes, shelved library books, bagged groceries, fixed Air Force radars, worked as an aerospace technician and then engineer, fought computer viruses, then a computer programmer and computer consultant.  He’s written a computer game (not very successfully), taught computers, and written science fiction.

He helped launch secret satellites, and on a visit to Kennedy Space Center he got to touch space shuttle Endeavour.

 

The inspiration for this book comes from several sources. 

From other fiction: The book Johnny Tremain (historical fiction) which the Disney Corporation turned into a movie.  From Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and his Red Planet (science fiction)

From History: in particular the East India Companies of the 1700s and 1800s, and of course, from the American Revolution.

From Science: consider the immense mineral wealth of the main asteroid belt.  (See Mining the Sky by Lewis)

 

About the Story:

Gil Klanz is a high school student at the Belt Corporation’s high school in the main asteroid belt.

He becomes involved in a student prank on his principal but instead the Belt Corporation’s director is trapped in a swimming pool of dessert gelatin.  Gil is expelled and his mother, a corporation doctor is fired.

Gil goes to work for a robot freighter company and becomes involved in the secret Rock Society, which is trying to make Belt Corporation treat its people better.

Then there is a Boston Massacre.  Suddenly Gil is part of a revolution to become independent of the Belt Corporation, and to form something new, the Belt Republic.

The Characters:

Gilbert Klanz - Earth born teenager, who has come to the asteroid belt with his mother after his father’s death.

 Sergeant D Abrams - Former Earth Federation marine, serves with the belt militia in Gil’s platoon.

 Don Candle - Belter born who hates Earthers, particularly Belt Corporation Earthers, because he blames Belt Corporation for his father’s death.

 Captain Garten - BC Navy Captain who apprehends Gil after the school prank, and then punishes Gil and his family. 

 Larry Hall - Gil’s friend and schoolmate, also a teen Earther.

 Hedda Klanz MD - Gil’s mother, until the blacklisting, she’s a medical doctor working for the Belt Corporation.

 Junior Lomack - Son of Senior Lomack and a robot freighter programmer.

 Senior Lomack - Owner of Lomack Freight who hires Gil after Gil is blacklisted for the dessert gelatin prank.

 Andy Shale – A belter who hates the Belt Corporation, at first he attacks Gil.

 Timias Simms - Foreman at Lomack Freight where Gil works after being expelled.

 Martin Thomas – Belter, four year old, who is rescued by Gil and Don Candle.

 Vance Turen - BC executive’s son and a schoolmate of Gil’s. 

 

Earth Federation - Federation of Earth nations, EF long ago chartered the Belt Corporation to administer the main asteroid belt and its trade.

Belt Corporation - BC is a kind of East India Company of the asteroid belt, exploitive, arrogant and careless of non-company lives.

Discussion questions

1.     If Gil Klanz hadn’t been expelled from school and blacklisted by the Belt Corporation, do you think he would have joined the rebellion against BC?  Why or why not?

2.     Gil winds up fighting a kind of duel in a weightless environment.  He feels he is standing up for himself by fighting.  Do you think he could have found another way?  What could he have done?

3.     In the story, cargo is moved around in nets inside Keras asteroid station.  What is the method of propulsion?  Is it a polluting method?  Could it be used on Earth?  Why or why not?

4.     Why did this fight happen?  Later in the story the two fighters cooperate to save someone else’s life.  Do you think they could have become friends at first?  Instead of fighting first?  If so how?  Or why not?

5.     In this story a corporation has power over the belters as well as the responsibility for them.  Why do you feel they failed to fulfill their governing charter?  Does it sound like they did at first?

6.     Why do you think the belters decided to kick out the Belt Corporation?  Should they have tried more things first?  If so what?

7.     In this story people live in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  Do you think you’d like to live there?  Why or why not?

8.     In the story the hero and his friends were threatened with spacing, so that they would die in vacuum.  No air to breathe and parts of your body could burst.  Why were they threatened?  Do you think the mob would have been sorry after they found out who they’d killed?  Why?  What does this suggest about hating people at first sight?

9.     If you could be one of the characters in this book who would it be?  Why?

 

Part Three: Topics for Research and Discussion

 

1.     The Solar System’s Main asteroid belt is between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  What is the median distance between these two planets?  How does this distance compare to the orbital distance of our own Earth?  Would the amount of sun reaching a square meter of asteroid be more or less than the amount on a square meter at Earth’s orbit?

2.     This book is a science fiction story.  Can you list three things that make this story science fiction? 

3.     This book has some similarities to the book “Johnny Tremain” about the American Revolution.  Can you name three of those similarities?

4.     One of the reasons for the wealth of the Belt Corporation in the novel is the value of resources in the asteroid belt.  Calculate the value of a two-kilometer diameter asteroid made of iron at today’s prices.  Hint: The mass of such an asteroid would be around 30 billion tons and it would be about sixty percent iron and forty percent nickel.

 

Back to Belt Republic Home Page

                                                 Study Guide for 2176 by  Ted Butler