Here’s an excerpt:
Two boys walked down the beach, deep in conversation. Seventeen-year-old Jeff Luty was carrying a carbon-fiber pipe rocket. His best friend, Carlos Tucay, was carrying the launch rod and a cheap bottle of Mieux champagne. Gangly Jeff was a head taller than Carlos.
“We’re unobservable now,” said Jeff, looking back down the sand. It was twilight on a clear New Year’s Day in Stinson Beach, California. Jeff ‘s mother had rented a cheap cottage in order to get out of their cramped South San Francisco apartment for the holiday, and Carlos had come along. Jeff ‘s mother didn’t like it when the boys fired off their homemade rockets; so Jeff had promised her that he and Carlos wouldn’t bring one. But of course they had.
“Our flying beetle,” said Carlos with his ready grin. “Your program says it’ll go how high? Tell me again, Jeff. I love hearing it.”
“A mile,” said Jeff, hefting the heavy gadget. “Equals one thousand, six hundred and nine-point-three-four-four meters. That’s why we measured out the fuel in milligrams.”
“As if this beast is gonna act like your computer simulation,” laughed Carlos, patting the thick rocket’s side. “Yeek!” The rocket’s tip was a streamlined plastic cone with a few thousand homegrown nanochips inside. The rocket’s sides were adorned with fanciful sheet metal fins and a narrow metal pipe that served as a launch lug. Carlos had painted the rocket to resemble an iridescent blue-green beetle with toothy jaws and folded spiky legs.
“We’re lucky we didn’t blow up your mom’s house when we were casting the motor,” said Jeff. “A kilogram of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and powdered magnesium metal mixed into epoxy binder, whoa.” He hefted the rocket, peering up the beetle’s butt at the glittering, rubbery fuel. The carbon-fiber tube was stuffed like a sausage casing.