Jun 15 2017

Back from LaunchPad

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

So, I’m back from the LaunchPad astronomy workshop for writers. It was awesome. Met some great fellow writers, and learned some more astronomy. (While a lot of it was refresher — which didn’t hurt — some of the stuff on exoplanets and galactic black holes was particularly new and useful.) If you’re a writer of anything, not just hard SF, look into attending this.

It took a chunk out of my writing time, but things are on track for Alpha Centauri: The Return next month. I’ve added an extra plot thread to cover what the Chinese have been doing all this time. (It turns out that Epsilon Eridani isn’t a very friendly system.)

The first two volumes of the Alpha Centauri series, First Landing and Sawyer’s World are doing well. BTW, when I last checked, Amazon was still selling the trade paperback of Sawyer’s at a few bucks off the list price. That also entitles you to the ebook at Amazon’s special “match book” price, less than a dollar.

The Eridani Convergence is still targeted for the fall, before MileHiCon. (The Eridani of the title refers to the star 82 Eridani, not Epsilon Eridani. Don’t blame me, I didn’t name them. <grin>)

I’ve been squeezing time in to read a few other books. Dennis E. Taylor‘s “Bobiverse” series is a hoot, and a very different take on near-star exploration from mine. I’ve also discovered Marko Kloos‘s (he was at LaunchPad too) “Frontlines” series, yet another very different take on the nearby stars (although coincidentally, we roughly agree on the time line). I’m halfway through the second volume (Lines of Departure). It’s military SF, and the first volume (Terms of Enlistment) has some of the same flavor as Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, yet different takes from both. Very enjoyable reads, and I’m taking notes* for when interstellar war eventually breaks out in T-Space (four or five books from now, probably).

Happy reading!

*(Of course, the nature of interstellar travel in T-Space will make things quite different, and I’ll be falling back on some of my own military experience too.)

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May 29 2017

Quick update: First Landing free, Sawyer’s World released.

Published by under T-Space,Writing

A hasty and, sorry to say, a bit late update. Alpha Centauri: First Landing is temporarily available as a free e-book from Amazon. The second in the series, Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World is out and available (both e-book and trade paperback). After the free period, First Contact will go on sale at $2.99 (reduced from the original $4.99 price), or something roughly equivalent in local currency for non-US sites (I try to round down).

I spent most of the past week at a computer conference in Austin, and I’m in the middle of doing a re-finance on my mortgage, so things have been a little crazy for me lately even without making sure Sawyer’s World was ready to go this month as promised.

The next (third) volume, The Return, is almost complete, and it will tie up threads from the first two. Anticipated release is just after the July 4th weekend.

There will probably be a fourth in the Alpha Centauri series, Alpha Centauri: Kakuloa, following on after The Return but focusing less on Drake, Carson, Sawyer and company, and more on later events on Kakuloa (such as the rise and fall of the squidberry industry alluded to in the Carson & Roberts series), bridging the narrative gap between the first missions and (at least) the Jason Curtis adventures.

Happy reading!

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Apr 04 2017


Published by under T-Space,Uncategorized,Writing

Happy April! Just a few short updates here, then back to working on the next book. 😉

HTTPS – I’ve enabled the website for https access (thus https://www.alastairmayer.org and so on). At the moment, your browser might complain about the certificate. Temporarily I’m using a self-signed cert, which in general you shouldn’t trust unless you know what’s going on. But you shouldn’t be posting any sensitive information here anyway. No doubt you’ve seen it before with other sites.

Books and Covers – some of my older covers look a bit outdated, I’m looking into doing a refresh to coincide with new volumes in each series coming out. And I kind of want to change the ship on the cover of Alpha Centauri: First Landing to look more as described in the book. And speaking of looking outdated, this whole website could stand a refresh. Coming Real Soon Now.

Publishing ScheduleAlpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World is about to go to edit, and barring major changes should be out sometime this May. I’m hoping for sooner rather than later, I’ll keep you posted. (For faster updates, and some special offers, join my mailing list. See below.) The Eridani Convergence, third in the Carson & Roberts series (aka the Starship Sophie series, still trying to find a good name to differentiate those books from other mini-series set in T-Space) is past the halfway point on the first draft. Target is as soon as possible after Sawyer’s. There will be at least one more in the Centauri series, Alpha Centauri: Kakuloa, covering the return to that planet and segueing into the era of the Jason Curtis stories.

Mailing List – Some of you, I know, have been wanting more timely updates on what’s happening with the next books in the series, and I’d like to offer my fans something extra for their loyalty. Perhaps advance notification of special deals and events, freebie short stories or novelettes, background material that isn’t in the public wiki, that sort of thing. No spam. Here’s a link to the signup page.


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Mar 15 2017

Launch Pad, and a Countdown sale

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

A couple of quick notes. I’ve been accepted to this year’s Launch Pad Writers Astronomy Workshop this summer in Wyoming. Really looking forward to it, other writers who have been enjoyed it. And yes, even though I write occasionally on astronomy and try to get it right in my stories, back when I took astronomy and astrophysics in college, Pluto was still a planet and didn’t have any moons. Among other discoveries since.

The Countdown Sale is at Amazon, for Alpha Centauri: First Landing. Tomorrow (Thursday, 3/16) it goes on sale for 0.99, and the price will bump up about every 27 hours until Monday evening. Welcome in Spring with an e-book ;). Might also be just the thing to help you forget about the snow if you’re in the north-eastern US.

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Feb 22 2017

TRAPPIST-1 the UltraCool

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

By now probably anyone paying attention is aware of NASA’s announcement of seven Earth-sized exoplanets, three possibly in the Habitable Zone, surrounding the “ultracool dwarf” star TRAPPIST-1 (aka 2MASS J23062928-0502285), about 39 light years away. Now, ultracool as having seven terrestrial (rocky) exoplanets is, that word really refers to the fact that it’s a fairly dim red dwarf star (type M8, for those counting). That means those planets in the hab zone? They’re really close. Like roughly 7-day orbit close. (Three of the others are even closer to their sun.)

That doesn’t rule out life. Habitable Zone means, that, well, they might be habitable. The temperatures could be right for liquid water. No guarantees, of course; technically, Venus and Mars are within (barely) Sol’s habitable zone. But still.

In the context of my T-Space series, this is also ultracool. At 12 parsecs, it’s not far beyond the 10-parsec limit that very loosely defines T-Space (in fact, it’s about the same distance as Zeta Reticuli, but off in a different direction). Because it’s not a G-type star like our sun (or nearly so like some K and F stars), it’s very unlikely to have had planets altered by the Terraformers. Earth life probably wouldn’t grow there because the sunlight and seasons would be all wrong. But that’s not to say that something else couldn’t grow there. There’s actually a fair body of serious speculation as to what life on a planet orbiting a red dwarf might be like.

Remember the degkhidesh? (Well, if you haven’t read The Reticuli Deception yet, you wouldn’t.) They came from somewhere. And although not yet explicitly stated in print, there’s a good chance they’re not from yet another terraformed planet orbiting a Sol-like star. We may have found their home world, or one of their systems near T-Space. Time to send an expedition to check it out.

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Feb 16 2017

Price drop!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So, in anticipation of the long-delayed third book in my T-Space Carson & Roberts series (or if you prefer, the Starship Sophie series), we’re dropping the price on the e-book of the first, The Chara Talisman. Price is now $2.99, down from $4.99 (40% savings).

By the way, each of my T-Space novels is available on e-book for only $0.99 if you’ve bought the paperback version through Amazon, as part of their Match Book program.

You can start reading Chara Talisman at Amazon. One reviewer called it “A delightful mix of Indiana Jones and space opera.” Enjoy!

(The third in the series, The Eridani Convergence will be out later this year. If you’re interested in an advance review copy, let me know by replying below.)

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Jan 23 2017

Rolling into 2017.

Published by under T-Space,Writing

S-class ship
So, 2017 is well under way, and I’ve been adding stuff to the T-Space wiki. Mostly background but also some starship pictures (see right).

The publishing schedule this year includes both Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World and The Eridani Convergence, sequels in the two T-Space series out so far. (Dates when I know them, but I expect early summer and late fall.) I also hope to break my logjam with short stories (entirely my own fault, the magazines can’t publish what I don’t submit), a mix of T-Space shorts and unrelated stories.

And it being almost the end of January, I’m starting to see royalty statements coming in for last year. A big thank you to those of you who have been buying my books, and another thank you for those who have left reviews on Good Reads and especially Amazon. It all encourages me to get more stories out sooner. 😉

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Dec 31 2016

2016 – I’ve had worse

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

Speaking of reviews (see below), this seems like as good a time as any to do a “year in review” entry.

A lot of people are moaning about how awful 2016 was. (It’s worse than you thought — not only was it a leap year, meaning it was 366 days, we also get a leap second just before midnight, so it’s 366 days and one second long.)

Yes, a lot of well-loved celebrities died (as did my ex’s mom), but so did a few not-so-well-loved folks did too. Fidel Castro comes to mind, for one.

And yeah, a lot of folks griped about the results of various elections. Face it, in any presidential election there are going to be millions unhappy with the outcome, whoever wins. I’ve got no particular brief on Brexit — I left Britain long before it became part of the EU, so in some ways for me it’s just a return to the status quo ante.

But now for the good stuff.

After their first brief successes at the end of 2015, both SpaceX and Blue Origin went on to successfully launch vehicles to space and return them intact several times in 2016. SpaceX did their first, second and third successful ocean landings on their drone ship Of Course I Still Love You as well as a couple more on land. (Alas, the unfortunate cryo tank detonation in September put a damper on that for the rest of the year, the good news is that they’ve figured out the problem and will be flying again as early as before January is out. Blue Origin, while facing a much easier flight regime (they’re not trying to put something in orbit) not only had several successful landings, but they reflew the same vehicle several times. SpaceX is still working towards this, and while DC-X did it twenty-five years ago, DC-X didn’t get anywhere near space, unlike Blue Origin’s New Shepard. So, in general a very good year for reusable spacecraft.

On the exploration front, NASA’s Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in July, and has sent back some great new data on the gas giant’s atmosphere and magnetosphere. The Asteroid Sample Return mission, OSIRIS-Rex, is successfully on its way to asteroid Bennu (expected return in 2023). The James Webb Space Telescope was completed this November, and will undergo a year of testing with expected launch in 2018. And by no means least, especially considering the fiction I write, in May of 2016 the Kepler team announced 1,284 additional exoplanets found, of which at least nine are in their stars’ habitable zones. (That’s 1,284 more than the 951 already discovered by Kepler and brings the total to about 3,200.)

Also in 2016, the New Horizons probe spent most of the year (up to October) sending back the data it gathered in its fast flyby of Pluto et al. back last December. The tough little robot is now on its way to a rendezvous with Kuiper Belt Object “2014 MU69” in 2019.

So while 2016 may have sucked for some here on Earth, it’s looking good as far as us becoming a spacefaring species. Ad astra!

Cover image: Alpha Centauri: First Landing
And oh yeah, speaking of spacefaring species, this year I had another book published, Alpha Centauri: First Landing. If you’re still bummed about 2016, or even if you’re not, you may enjoy it. I promise, no mention at all is made of the events of this past year. Available from, among other places, Amazon.

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Nov 14 2016


Published by under Writing

Amazon review poster.
I don’t expect everyone to like my writing any more than I like every other author’s writing. Some I like, some I don’t, some it depends on the mood I’m in. I do try to make it clear what the reader is getting with any of my stories or novels. In the case of stories I sell to magazines, that’s mostly up to the editor — an editor won’t buy a story unless they think their subscribers will enjoy it. With the novels, that’s what cover blurbs and free samples on Amazon are for.

But whether you like it or whether you don’t, if you’ve read something of mine that’s available on Amazon (or other online bookstore), please, please leave a review. Even a short one. It helps get the message out to other potential readers, and it helps with the various algorithms that e.g. Amazon uses to link books together (as in “readers who bought X also bought Y”).

Amazon has been changing its review rules lately because of incidents of scammers buying reviews and such. I won’t do that. I write to entertain (not least myself), and an entertainer always wants to reach the largest audience possible. (But I can’t afford to give it away. Artists, copyeditors and the like expect to be paid, and it helps justify the time and effort I put into it rather than indulging in some hobby — and so I can pay other writers for the stuff I read.)

All of which is a very long-winded way of asking: if you’ve read anything of mine, please leave a review. If you haven’t … why not download a free sample from one of my books on Amazon, or one of the short stories here. Thanks!

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Nov 11 2016

In Remembrance

Published by under Uncategorized

It’s Veterans Day here in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada, the UK, and other commonwealth countries. Lest we forgetSometimes called Poppy Day, after the traditional symbol named from the poem “In Flander’s Fields” (where poppies grow…)

To all veterans of the US, Canada, the UK and allied countries … thank you.

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