Archive for April, 2011

Apr 29 2011

“Poetic Justice”

Published by under Writing

“The sleeper ship Raven sliced the icy, inky, tans-Plutonian darkness a light-year out from Earth.” So begins “Poetic Justice”, a deep-space psychological horror story that’s also a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado”. I wrote this for the anthology Space Horrors, and it is now available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
cover: Poetic Justice It was a lot of fun to write and I think it’s one of my better short stories to date.
To help launch it, I’m offering a 100% discount (that is, free) off purchases made at Smashwords. Enter the coupon code QF56Q; the coupon expires May 8, so you’ve got a week. All I ask (beg, plead, implore) is that you give it a rating, ideally on both on Smashwords and Amazon (or B&N, if you’re a Nook reader). If you feel so moved, I’d appreciate reviews, too. Thanks! (In fact, I’ll offer a free e-book to the first five reviewers, good or bad — I want honest reviews.)

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Apr 27 2011

Plans…

Published by under Writing

My friend Brad Torgersen, who’s writing career is really starting to take off, has an interesting blog post, No Battle Plan Survives Contact that illustrates how the shake ups in the publishing industry can change even the plans of nimble newbies on a month by month basis. He and I are pretty much on the same wavelength as far as this goes: I’m going to be taking some new approaches to making my work available (and writing more of it!) too.

Brad’s also just published Blood and Mirrors, Cover, Blood and Mirrors a “noir, detective, somewhat erotic, somewhat cyberpunk” novelette that sounds great fun.
Real Soon Now (too many things in the queue!) I’ll be reissuing some of my existing e-books to clean up minor formatting issues and change the interior illustration (which in several cases is the old cover image, not the cleaned up new one.) And Poetic Justice should be out tomorrow or so.

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Apr 25 2011

Coming soon: Poetic Justice

Published by under Writing

I’ve been prepping my space horror story “Poetic Justice” for Kindle, Nook and other ebook readers or reader software (like Kindle for PC). Cover: Poetic Justice

You may remember this as the lead story in the Full Throttle Space Tales volume Space Horrors (edited by David Lee Summers) which came out last year shortly before Halloween. That book is still available if you want hardcopy, and contains many other fine stories besides. (Although I will likely be submitting “Poetic Justice” to Anthology Builder soon, too.)

I will be making some other changes to what’s already available. I think I will drop “Light Conversation” as a stand-alone (it’s only 1000 words — two pages in Analog) and include it in a collection, although I may offer it as a free sample from time to time. I’ll probably do the same thing with “Poetic Justice” (another short-short). I’ll keep you posted.

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Apr 21 2011

Warping space and time

Published by under Physics,T-Space

No, nothing to do with Rocky Horror, sorry “Time Warp” fans. It seems that colliding black holes can severely warp space and time too, according to this article at Astrobiology Magazine. black hole vortices. The warped space vortex and tendex lines (read the paper referenced in the linked article) spiral out from the hole.

This is interesting enough in its own right (if you’re into that sort of thing), but it touches on something I’ve been pondering in my T-space universe: what happens if a ship in a warp bubble flies into a black hole? There’d be some similar effects, the edge of a warp bubble is highly curved space, like a black hole. Perhaps if you do it right, and the wormhole is rotating, you can create a “closed time-like curve”, i.e., travel in time. (Loosely based on the theory Tipler proposed in his paper “Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation” — see also Larry Niven’s story of the same name.) It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for some stories. Guess I’d better start writing them.

Image credit: The Caltech/Cornell SXS Collaboration

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Apr 15 2011

My new Kindle

Published by under Uncategorized,Writing

I finally bought myself a real Kindle. I’ve been using Kindle-for-PC software on my laptop for about a year, but the actual device is much more portable. Also, I want to be able to see how my e-books and e-stories look on the actual device. (I’ll get a Nook, too, at some point. Meanwhile there’s a Nook reader for PC.)

How do I like it so far? Great, with some reservations. I bought the wi-fi only model, because (a) I’m cheap (the Kindle 3 with built-in G3 wireless access is $50 extra) and (b) having truly instant access to Amazon’s Kindle store is a little too tempting for me. (But not for you; of course you want instant access to buy any (all) of my e-books). Public wi-fi access isn’t quite as ubiquitous as one might hope, but then I don’t really need to be download while driving. Most coffee shops and fast-food places have wi-fi these days, so it isn’t really a problem. The included web browser (in the latest software) takes some getting used to — a gray-scale image, and no mouse or touchscreen means you have to move the cursor around with the “5-way” pointer key — but I could easily read my favorite blog sites.

The built-in text-to-speech software can read your e-books to you, if the publisher has activated that feature (I do with all of my books/stories). It sounds rather robotic, and occasionally messes up pronunciation, but it’s great, especially for non-fiction where dramatic reading and voice inflection isn’t so important. However, it doesn’t handle section headings or bullet-lists well. If the heading or list item doesn’t have a comma or period at the end, the Kindle software just keeps reading without taking a virtual breath, which can be a bit disconcerting.

These pronunciation issues are probably easily fixed with some tweaks to the text-to-speech algorithms. On the other hand, Amazon earlier had a dispute authors and publishers who (with some justification) claimed that this infringed on the audio performance rights. The current state seems a happy medium between providing for the visually impaired (as does the Kindle’s adjustable font size) and the improved quality of performance that a human reader could provide. (Amazon also provides for publishers to opt in or out of enabling text-to-speech when the Kindle version is prepared.)

For the tinkerers among you, the Kindle is easily “rooted”. Dropping the right files into the Kindle when it’s attached to a computer (via its USB cable) will update the OS to allow access to the Linux-based operating system using that same USB cable as a network connection. Mind, if you don’t know what you’re doing you could really mess up your reader that way. Details can be found at www.mobileread.com and looking for “usbnetwork” and “jailbreak”. Consider those vague instructions as the equivalent of a childproof-cap; if you can’t find it from that, you probably shouldn’t be messing with trying to root your Kindle. 😉

I’ll always have a soft spot for paper copies of books, but I find I’m using my Kindle more and more.

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Apr 12 2011

Fifty years in space

Published by under Man in Space

It was fifty years ago today,
Major Yuri taught man how to play,
We’ve been going up and down for a while,
And it’s guaranteed to raise a smile…

Okay, Lennon & McCartney I am not, and Major Yuri Gagarin was no Sergeant Pepper. But on April 12, 1961, the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin to become the first person in space and the first person to orbit the Earth — a feat that the US, in the person of John Glenn, would not duplicate until February 20, 1962. (The US did launch two manned but sub-orbital flights before that, Shepard on May 5, 1961 and Grissom on July 21, 1961.)

It kicked the Space Race into high gear. President Kennedy would make his “before this decade is out” speech on May 25, three weeks after Shepard’s flight. (His “we choose to go to the Moon…not because it is easy, but because it is hard” speech came later, and we seem to have lost much of that spirit.)

A lot has happened in that fifty years. We sent men around the Moon less than eight years later, landing them on there just eight years, three months and eight days after Gagarin’s flight. (Question: does anyone here realistically think we could land men on the Moon eight years from today? Granted, the Apollo program (in different form) was already on the books back then, but we still had to invent most of the technology.)

On the upside, we’ve had people living and working in orbit almost continuously since the early 1980s, with Salyut 7, then Mir, and then ISS. Recently SpaceX, a private space company, successfully demonstrated a space capsule (Dragon) far superior to Gagarin’s Vostok or Glenn’s (and Shepard’s) Mercury, more the equivalent of a souped-up Apollo Command Module or Salyut. It was an unmanned flight, but it was pressurized (and, in an irreverent tribute to Monty Python, contained a wheel of cheese as the “passenger”) and survived reentry.

Could we get back to the Moon in eight years? Maybe, if somebody offered the contract to SpaceX, or perhaps China.

RETRO
My friend and fellow author Brad Torgersen is putting together an anthology of original stories, RETRO, themed around different directions the space program could have taken if things had gone a little differently. Russia on the Moon first? Mars by the 1980s? A base on the Moon? I’m contributing both a story and a non-fiction article, and I’m looking forward to reading what the other invitees come up with. Stay tuned for a announcement of the, ahem, launch date.

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Apr 05 2011

June Analog on sale

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Analog cover imageI trust everyone survived April Fools Day? Personally I think it’s getting a little out of hand, you can’t trust anything you read on the web on April first. Okay, I’ll grant you that could also be said of just about every other day of the year, but still.

Anyway, it’s no joke that the June issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact is now on the news stands. The next (July/August) issue goes on sale May 10, so you have until then to buy a copy if you want to read “Stone Age”. 😉

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