Supermassive Black Hole…ahhh…what a wonderful combination of words. Just reading the phrase fills me with thoughts of thudding dark energy and throbbing un-light. Ever since I saw Disney’s much under-rated classic, The Black Hole, these enigmatic matter-munchers have rocked my world. I love how they lurk, unseen, battening upon the substance of stars and space, like huge galactic leviathans. Who knows where their dark maws lead, if anywhere. And if somewhere, then where?
And what of ‘Supermassive’ Black Holes? Just when you thought these dark ghosts of stars couldn’t get any ruder, we discover that they can grow big, stupidly big, big enough to turn the stuff of galaxies like vast hubs. And there is one of these giants smouldering at the centre of our own galaxy, a great monster, hidden by gas and dust and stars. It makes my nose bleed just thinking about it.
Having shared my love of black holes, it will probably come as no surprise that the main villain of my sci-fi work in progress, Etherwheel, is a supermassive black hole. I have long been preoccupied by the idea that black holes, like stars and planets, might experience cycles, periods of activity and periods of dormancy, not unlike volcanoes. I got to wondering, what if the supermassive beast at the centre of our galaxy was coming to the end of a phase of dormancy, what if the black hole was waking up, becoming active once again, beginning to feed more voraciously. What effect would this have on our galaxy, on our stars and ultimately our solar system? From here I wondered what effect such an awakening might have on an advanced civilization, one that used wormhole networks to travel across inter-stellar space. Like a giant whirlpool, the black hole would begin to suck at the fabric of space-time destabilizing wormholes and dragging space faring vessels down into the dark abyss of sub-space…to their doom.
So, if you are fortunate enough to look up at a night sky and see the hazy star-spattered trail of the Milky Way unobscured by light pollution take note, some where in those marbled bands of dust and light, there lurks a cosmic beast of immense and humbling power. Amongst all that twinkling beauty there is a hungry darkness.