Jun 01 2018

The Eridani Convergence temporarily unavailable

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Just a quick note that I’m pulling The Eridani Convergence from distribution temporarily. The current version has a few minor errors (mostly badly placed commas or words accidentally omitted in edit), more than I’m comfortable with.

I’ve had it all re-proofed by another editor and the corrected version should be available in about a week. (No plot elements were harmed in the making of this edit.)

[UPDATE: 6/30/18 – Both the Kindle and print versions are now available again. ]

On a related note, I’m at about the one-third point in the sequel, The Pavonis Insurgence (or possibly, The Pavonis Surprise. I’m waffling on the title.) Kakuloa, the sequel in the Alpha Centauri series, is further on. Release is planned before DragonCon (before WorldCon if I can manage it), so this summer for sure.

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May 23 2018

Presenting at Westercon

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Westercon 71 PostcardI’ve been invited to give a science-track presentation at this year’s Westercon (Denver, July 4-8). They asked for a topic, so I proposed The Science of T-Space (blurbed as “Terraforming and warp drives and fusion power, oh my! What’s the real science behind Alastair Mayer’s T-Space series?”), which they accepted. This gives me a chance to talk about some of the stuff I didn’t want to just info-dump in the stories (grin).

The current schedule has me on at 4pm on Thursday, July 5. I realize that won’t work out (either time or location) for some of you, but if you can make it, I’d love to see you there. My plan is to cover some of the key topics and then throw it open to questions. Speaking of, if you have questions about the background of T-Space, go ahead and post them below. I’ll answer them here, and also see about working it into my presentation.

If it works out, I’ll pitch the idea to MileHiCon for October (it may be a tough sell; this year is MHC’s 50th anniversary, and there will be a lot of guests, including many previous guests of honor.)

I’ll be around at Westercon for the whole very long weekend. Currently I’m not planning on having a sales table. StarFest worked out alright but I’d rather attend the events. If you’re going to be there, check out the schedule, I may be on other panels.

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Mar 01 2018

March Newsletter

Published by under Writing

I’m posting the (slightly abridged) contents of my March 1 newsletter below, for those of you who aren’t on the mailing list and might be curious about it. There’s no specific schedule, but it comes out roughly every month or two depending on what (if any) news there is. Nobody likes spam.


As mentioned last time, I’m slowing the writing pace a bit this year (after four releases from October 2016 to December 2017). I’m doing more world-building (and expanding the wiki), as well as getting some short stories out. The books are coming too, though. I’m making significant progress on Alpha Centauri: Kakuloa (the fourth in the trilogy, grin) and the fourth Carson & Roberts book (working title is either The Pavonis Surprise or The Pavonis Insurgence). A third release this year is a possibility.

Kakuloa will likely have some scenes that tie back to incidents in the Jason Curtis story “Renee”, but from a different viewpoint. (The scenes are drafted, not 100% sure if they’ll make the final cut yet.) I’m aiming to have this out before Westercon, which brings me to my next topic….

Conventions.
My plans for this year definitely include StarFest (Denver, April 20-22), Westercon 71 (Denver, July 4-8), and MileHiCon 50 (Denver, Oct 19-21). You may notice a geographic theme there. I also plan to get to at least one of WorldCon 76 (San Jose, Aug 16-20) and/or DragonCon (Atlanta, Aug 30-Sep 3. This one is huge, more like Comicon.) If you make it to any of these, find me and say hi. If there’s a regional convention you like to attend that I haven’t mentioned, let me know. I can’t make any promises here, but I’m always open to visiting new places.

Pictures
SpaceX FH dual landing.SpaceX Starman, Tesla

Because these are just cool.

(thanks, SpaceX)


If you’re interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

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Jan 08 2018

Happy 2018

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Well, now that the chaotic blur of releasing The Eridani Convergence is done, the crazy schedule of the holidays is over, and the kids are back (or about to be) at school, I can get to writing again.

Next up will be Alpha Centauri: Kakuloa. It’s not really the fourth book in the trilogy (Douglas Adams thoroughly mined out that joke years ago with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series), because the focus and time scale are different. Yes, some of the characters from the earlier books will be appearing, especially in the first part, which follows the ships Victoria and Vostok to their landing on Kakuloa, where the crews will research the intriguing properties of squidberries and generally further explore and start to settle the planet. The later parts of the book follow the cycles of settlement and economic boom and bust on the planet, against the larger background of exploring further out into what becomes known as T-Space. It covers a span of about forty years, in four parts. (That’s the current outline, anyway. It could change.)

Also in progress is The Pavonis Surprise (that title may also change), the sequel to the The Eridani Convergence in the Carson & Roberts series. There are actually two stories that need to follow the latter, and I haven’t decided yet whether it makes more sense to combine them into a single volume or split them out. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve noticed that my Alpha Centauri series seems much more popular than the Carson & Roberts books. I suspect part of that is due to the timing of the releases of each. The first three Alpha Centauris were released over the course of a single year, but the first Carson & Roberts, The Chara Talisman, came out six years ago. And while they’re both set in T-Space, they’re some fifty years apart in the timeline. I’m curious as to how you see these two different-but-related series, and why (if you do) you prefer one over the other. Let me know what you think.

And, Happy New Year!

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Dec 05 2017

Yes, it’s December, and I’m late

Published by under T-Space,Writing

As you may have noticed, it’s now December and the long-awaited sequel Eridani cover 2
to The Reticuli Deception still isn’t available. I promised The Eridani Convergence for Fall this year, then November. Technically, the end of Fall isn’t until December 21, so I should just make it.

It turned out to be a much longer and somewhat more convoluted story than I thought, laying the groundwork for the next few books. (When done, I expect T-Space to cover a 12-book arc, including the Alpha Centauri trilogy and a final trilogy which wraps up loose ends. There will probably also be a few side novels and short stories set in the same universe.) Eridani cover 1 Rather than drag it out for another six months and 200 pages, I’ve done some major edits on Eridani to bring it in line with the other Carson & Roberts novels, without leaving major cliffhangers. The next in the series will be out next year. More about that soon.

The final cover is still a work in progress, with two different possibilities. (See above right). As far as the text, are just a few final edits left. Keep tuned, I am determined to have this available before Christmas.

Update, 21 December:
I made it! The book has been available for pre-order for a few days now, releasing today. The final cover is the upper one shown, with Roberts sitting on a crate waiting.

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Nov 18 2017

Yet another nearby, possibly habitable, exoplanet (Ross 128 b)

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space

Scientists this week announced the detection of an extra-solar planet around the red dwarf star Ross 128, which at eleven light-years, is one of the dozen or so (depending if you count binaries as one) closest stars to Earth.

Artist's view of Ross 128 b

This particular planet, dubbed Ross 128 b in the standard nomenclature for newly-discovered exoplanets, is interesting for several reasons: (1) it’s “terrestrial”, meaning rocky and approximately Earth-sized as compared to a gas-giant, (2) it appears to orbit in the habitable zone, where temperatures are likely not too hot and not too cold for water to remain liquid (sometimes called the Goldilocks Zone, although it has nothing to do with porridge 😉 ) and (3) unlike most red dwarf stars, Ross 128 is relatively “quiet” — it isn’t subject to massive solar flares.

The last is worth noting. We’ve discovered planets in or near the habitable zones of other red dwarf stars, most notably Proxima Centauri (also known as Alpha Centauri C). That’s less than half the distance of Ross 128, but Proxima is known to undergo massive flares that would likely cook (through UV, not heat) any organisms living on planet Proxima Centauri b. So this recent discovery is much more conducive to life.

But not, as the saying goes, life as we know it. The sunlight on Ross 128 b (or Proxima Centauri b, for that matter) is dimmer than it is here on Earth. More of the star’s radiation is in the red and infrared range than in the visible frequencies of our Sun, and it’s particularly deficient in one the frequencies used in photosynthesis (as we know it). Life may well still exist on a suitable planet orbiting a red dwarf (and we don’t know for sure that Ross 128 b is suitable, just that it could be), but it will be different.

By the way, for an excellent non-fiction work on the possibilities, see David S. Stevenson’s Under a Crimson Sun: Prospects for Life in a Red Dwarf System published by Springer (2013). I used that book in my research for my upcoming The Eridani Convergence, part of which takes place on a planet orbiting a different red dwarf, Kapteyn’s Star.

(T-Space doesn’t have terraformed planets around red dwarfs. Perhaps the original Terraformers thought such systems weren’t worth the trouble. But they’ll be showing up more in the series. They comprise the vast majority of stars in the universe, it would be silly to think that none of them have planets of interest.)

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Oct 26 2017

MileHiCon 49, and book promos!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

It’s the weekend for MileHiCon, the Denver regional science-fiction convention, at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt-Regency hotel.
I will be there for the weekend, including panels Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and the mass autographing Saturday afternoon. Find me and say “hi”.

My books will be available on sale at Robert Williscroft’s table (his books include Operation Ivy Bells, The Starchild Compact and Slingshot; if you like my stuff, you’ll probably like his.)

And for those who can’t make it, there are two Amazon promotions running. From Friday through Sunday, the ebook of Alpha Centauri: First Landing is free. The second volume, Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World will be on a “price countdown” (where the price starts low (99 cents) and increases over the next several days) from midnight Saturday (01:00 am Sunday 10/29 Mountain time) through the week, going back to full price next Saturday (11/4). Buy early! 😉 This is also a great opportunity to promote First Landing to your friends who might like it. Amazon lets you buy an ebook as a gift and they’ll mail a redemption code to your designated recipient; I assume that will also work for this price promotion.

And The Eridani Convergence is almost ready for release. I hope to have it available for pre-order in a week or so.

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Oct 01 2017

Tau Ceti exoplanets, new information.

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space

So it seems that Tau Ceti — a sun-like star just shy of twelve light-years from here — has exoplanets. Through a pretty creative application of mathematics and modeling to observations of the star, astronomers teased out signal from the noise in the data and initially (in December, 2012) thought they’d found five planets (plus a lot of dust) in the system, labeled Tau Ceti b through f (a is always reserved for the primary, the star itself). All of them several times larger than Earth, but probably not gas giants. (The star may have gas giants, but far enough out to make them too hard to detect with current instruments.)

This past August (2017), however, the estimates were revised. The data suggests only four planets, with b, c and d (the former inner three) being replaced by g and h (the labeling is purely chronological by discovery date). Both of these are too close to the star to be habitable.

Tau Ceti III (officially, Tau Ceti e currently), however, is within the Habitable Zone, where water could be liquid. Good thing, too, because that’s where I put it back in 2011 when I wrote The Chara Talisman. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be a “super-Earth”, coming in an anywhere from about 3.2 to 4.6 times the mass of Earth. I have several chapters set on Skead (as I call Tau Ceti III) in the upcoming The Eridani Convergence, although not all that mass is in the planet (it has a large moon, too).

The gravity is higher than Earth’s (in the 1.3-1.5 gee range) but not intolerably so. It does increase the escape velocity significantly, but warp ship pilots have a trick up their sleeves for dealing with that. I’m not sure what it does for the coffee crop, though. 😉

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Sep 09 2017

RIP Jerry Pournelle, 1933-2017

Jerry Pournelle passed away in his sleep yesterday. I heard about it this morning. I considered him a friend, and I will miss him.

I first read Jerry’s science fiction back when he was writing for Analog Science Fiction magazine, and later had the opportunity to work with him at Byte magazine. Byte flew me out to his Chaos Manor to get him up to speed on their new BIX system, a computer conferencing system based on my CoSy software. That didn’t take long, he was a very bright man, and we spent much of the afternoon into the evening in his study, discussing science fiction, space, fandom, and other common interests. As we were both headed to San Francisco the next day (he for a book signing, me to show BIX to the McGraw-Hill office there) he invited me to an after-party at his hotel. That’s where I met Larry Niven, Bob Silverberg, and Poul Anderson, among others.

I later worked with him, Niven, Anderson and a number of other writers, scientists and astronauts as part of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy. We (mostly he) helped get the DC-X project started — reusable, vertical-takeoff-and-landing rocket technology that SpaceX built on (indirectly) for their Falcon launcher.

Jerry and me in 1993 at White Sands for the first public (2nd actual) flight of DC-X (Jerry and me in 1993 at White Sands for the first public (2nd actual) flight of DC-X. Gods I was young.)

Jerry also inspired me, by example, to start selling my writing, both non-fiction and later fiction. In fact, through a series of events I won’t go into here (but involving the Council, L5 and an International Space Development Conference) he led to me meeting the woman I later married. When we had twin boys, we briefly (very briefly) considered naming them Jerry and Larry.

His passing isn’t a complete surprise; he was getting on in years and he had had health issues in recent years, but it is still sad to see him gone. His last public appearance was at the recent DragonCon, and now I really regret not making sufficient effort to attend it. My condolences go out to his family, who were all very gracious when I visited his home.

He inspired a lot of people, writers, scientists, and others. And while his opinions may have annoyed many, a large number of those still respected the man. He will be missed.

Ad astra, Jerry.

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Jul 28 2017

Launch weekend! (and price countdown)

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Alpha Centauri: The Return just launched on Amazon. This is the third of the Alpha Centauri series, and ties up the loose ends of the first two books–most of them, anyway.

There is a price countdown (actually, count up, but that’s not what Amazon calls it) promotion on the first two volumes, First Landing and Sawyer’s World. The promotion starts Friday night at midnight Amazon time (Pacific time, so 1 AM Saturday Mountain, 3 AM Eastern) and runs until midnight (Pacific) the evening of August 2. Price will start at $0.99 and bump up at regular intervals until it’s back to the regular price. This is just for the e-book versions. cover image

Alpha Centauri: The Return will debut at $3.99 and then bump back up to the regular price of $4.99 next week. It’s available now.

This will be the last Alpha Centauri book until perhaps around Christmas. Alpha Centauri: Kakuloa will cover the twenty-or-so years between The Return and the Jason Curtis short stories. Planned for release before MileHiCon in October is The Eridani Convergence, the next in the Carson & Roberts T-Space archeology series (also known as “Indiana Jones in Space”, grin.)

Enjoy!

Update: The Eridani Convergence is late. Early feedback confirmed my gut feel that the plot threads were getting too complicated, so I’m revising. The plan is still to get it out before the holidays.

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