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!

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Jul 17 2017

Countdown to The Return

Published by under T-Space,Writing

The return to Alpha Centauri is coming. Or, rather, Alpha Centauri: The Return (book 3 of the series) should be available from your favorite Kindle store next week.

Due to a few last-minute production issues, it won’t make the hoped-for July 20th (anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing) release day. Sorry about that. Current target is now July 24th, which is the day the Apollo 11 crew returned to Earth. Maybe that’s a more appropriate anniversary anyway.


(The cover is not quite final. One of those last-minute production issues. But this is close.)

To quickly recap, Alpha Centauri Book 1, First Landing details the first mission to Alpha Centauri (which I guess is somewhat obvious from the title, grin). At the end of that, the mission forks. One crew elects to stay behind to explore the second Earth-like planet, while the rest come back to Earth to report their findings. The time-lines for Books 2 and 3 are in parallel, with Sawyer’s World set in the Alpha Centauri system, and this latest, The Return, following as Drake’s crew returns to Earth, find some interesting things in the returned specimens, and work to get another mission back to Alpha Centauri to retrieve Sawyer’s crew. Oh, and remember the Chinese from Book 1? We find out more about that in The Return also.

If you’re on my mailing list, I’ll be sending you a free short story, “Shake Up”, which is a bit of a sidebar to the series, explaining some off-scene events alluded to in the latest book. (If you’d like to sign up, you can do that here: subscribe)

The trade paperback version of Alpha Centauri: The Return will be available a little later, but within a couple of weeks.

Cheers!

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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

Miscellany

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.

Cheers!

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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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