Oct 03 2018

Upcoming events – MileHiCon 50, CAL book sale

Published by under T-Space,Writing

It’s that time again. MileHiCon, the Denver regional science-fiction convention, at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt-Regency hotel is celebrating its 50th the weekend of October 19-21. MileHiCon 50 logo I will be there for the weekend, including panels Friday afternoon and Saturday evening and the mass autographing Saturday afternoon. I’ll also have books at one of the author tables in the lobby. Find me and say “hi”.

The Colorado Christmas Gift Show will have a booth for the Colorado Authors’ League (CAL), which will have my books available. (I’ll also be at the booth for a couple of shifts, I don’t know exactly when.) The Show is the weekend of November 2-4 at the Denver Merchandise Mart.

I’m into the final editing stage for the Kakuloa book. This will be the first of three: Kakuloa: A Rising Tide, Kakuloa: The Downhill Slide and Kakuloa: Revivified (that last title may change). These span the gap between the Alpha Centauri series (you can think of them as books 4, 5 and 6 in that series, although the original characters make only minor appearances, if any) and The Chara Talisman. I can’t promise it for either of the above events, but I’m hoping. Definitely by December. And the next Carson & Roberts is in progress too.

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Aug 21 2018

Catching up, again

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Things have been a little crazy over the summer. Too much going on and not enough progress on the next books. As mentioned earlier, I had The Eridani Convergence re-edited and republished (see the earlier post below). I am planning on doing second editions of all the previous novels, with some updates and additional material, but that will wait until at least Kakuloa is out.

I pulled my old collection Starfire & Snowball (with the crummy cover) and issued a new collection (with many, but not all, of the same stories), Alastair Mayer – A Sampler. (Cover image at right. Much better than S&S.) This is currently paperback only, but there will be an e-book version shortly. This will be available on most e-book outlets, currently the novels are Amazon only (it’s a restriction imposed by Amazon to be available through Kindle Unlimited). Stay tuned (or sign up for my newsletter) for news about getting a free copy of this.

Conventions I’ve already done StarFest and Westercon this year, next up (August 24-26) is Bubonicon in Albuquerque, NM. Alas, I missed WorldCon and I think I’m going to have to give DragonCon a miss too because of work schedule. MileHiCon 50 (October) for sure, and I’m debating World Fantasy Con in November.

Works In Progress Kakuloa is coming along slowly but steadily. It’s a sequel to the Alpha Centauri trilogy, but not exactly the fourth volume. It starts just after The Return leaves off, but then skips forwards a few years to when the planet is being settled by squidberry farmers and Kakuloa City is being built. A few characters from the trilogy make appearances, but it is mostly new characters and new plots, and the book covers a span of a few decades (Jason Curtis puts in an appearance). The next Carson & Roberts book, The Pavonis Insurgence, is about one-third done. This one feels like the middle of a chess game; it’s a matter of getting all the pieces in the right places before the end game, which will be the next series of books, where we’ll see a lot more of various spacegoing aliens.

As background to all this, I’ve been worldbuilding. Some of that shows up on the T-Space Wiki, although I try to avoid too many spoilers for work that isn’t published yet. Check it out, and if you want edit access, just ask. I’d love to have some help with it.

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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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