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

Reviews

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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Nov 04 2016

Next up: The Eridani Convergence

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So, I’m 15,000 words into the sequel to The Chara Talisman and The Reticuli Deception. (No, those aren’t all NaNoWriMo-qualifying words, I got a head start.) The cover outline is done (see pic),
but the detail image awaits at least the first full draft of the text. Meanwhile, Alpha Centauri: First Landing is selling at a modest pace, and I’ve had some good comments on it.

There are a lot of separate character threads at the start of the next book, with Carson and Roberts temporarily going separate ways. Meanwhile an old friend, and an old enemy, are back in the picture. And everyone seems to be converging on a star tagged 82 Eridani…

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Oct 31 2016

Finally, Alpha Centauri: First Landing is out!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

A few posts down, when I announced The Reticuli Deception, I promised a prequel to T-Space called Alpha Centauri.   Well, the tale grew a bit in the telling (as they do), so it’s really a two-parter. The first can be read as a stand-alone, and I’m trying to do the same with the second, it’s not like the publisher artificially cleaved it twain at the midpoint.  It helps that there are two habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri system. 😉Cover image: Alpha Centauri: First Landing

Alpha Centauri: First Landing came out last week, debuting in time for MileHiCon 48, and so far it seems pretty-well received.  The sequel, Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World, will be out in 2017, but prior to that I’ve promised another Hannibal Carson/Jackie Roberts adventure, sequel to Chara and Reticuli, to be called The Eridani Convergence.   Good thing NaNoWriMo is coming up, I have novels to write!

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Oct 31 2016

Hello world!

Published by under Uncategorized

Welcome to the new home of my T-Space (and other universes) blog.  I’ve tried importing from the old one, but there’s a big gap in there, plus none of the image files came across.  I’ll be working on fixing that as time permits.

Meanwhile, welcome (back) to T-Space!

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Sep 15 2013

Meteorite!

Published by under Astronomy

Exactly seven months ago today, on February 15, a large fireball exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The shockwave damaged buildings and injured as many as 1,200 people (mostly from falling/flying glass). Meteorite fragments showered the area, although the main mass may be at the bottom of a nearby lake. Thanks to KD Meteorites and the Colorado Coliseum Mineral and Fossil show, I now own one of those fragments.

picture of meteorite

It’s a small piece, 10.5 grams and about an inch across, with an almost complete fusion crust except for a small chip showing the interior. Under a magnifier, you can easily see the grains — including tiny grains of nickel-iron — that make up this chondrite.

Pretty cool.

What I think is really cool, though, is this: a year ago this little piece of rock was in space somewhere out around the orbit of Mars. The track of the meteor (aside: the atmospheric phenomenon of a meteoroid or asteroid burning up in the atmosphere is meteor, when it’s still in space it’s either a meteoroid (small) or asteroid (over 10 meters — at 18m Chelyabinsk was an asteroid), and any pieces that survive entry and hit the ground are called meteorites) was well recorded on many security cameras and dashboard cameras in the nearby town, as well as by an earth observation satellite. Projected backwards, it is highly likely that the Chelyabinsk asteroid was one of the Apollo group of Earth-crossing asteroids*. Meteorite orbit, from Wikimedia It was about 40 days past perihelion when it slammed into Russia. A year ago — five months before impact — it was roughly in the vicinity of Mars’s orbit. (I haven’t worked out where Mars itself was at the time, it could have been on the other side of the sun.)

This is not my first meteorite. Some years ago I was given a nice 87 gm (about 1/5 pound) fragment of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, which formed the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona, impacting some 40,000 years ago. It’s awesome to have a piece of what blew a mile-wide hole in the Arizona desert. It is awesome to own a piece of the meteorite which we saw a few months ago on TV, one of the largest in a century. It’s even more awesome to hold a rock in your hand and know that a year ago it was deeper in space than any one, and few robots, have been before.

I think I’ve found a new hobby.

*(The largest member of this group, 1866 Sisyphus, is estimated at 8.5 km diameter, 472 times the diameter of Chelyabinsk … or over 100 million times the mass. If — or when — it hits us, the impact would be equivalent to that of the Chicxulub dinosaur-killer. Nervous yet?)

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Jun 15 2013

Worldcon is coming…

Published by under Writing

LoneStarCon logo

It’s just over 10 weeks now until Worlcon 71, the 71st annual World Science Fiction Convention. Also known as LoneStarCon 3, it’s coming up Aug 29 through Sept 2 in San Antonio, Texas. If you’re not already a member, sign up before the end of July to be able to vote for the Hugo awards. Eligible voters can download e-copies of most of the available works (obviously not the dramatic presentations) from the LoneStarCon web site. I just downloaded mine and am reading through what I’d missed; there’s definitely some award-worthy work in there.

I’m looking forward to the con, to seeing friends I haven’t seen since last con and meeting new ones. I don’t know if I’m on any panels yet, I got my volunteer info in kind of late, but I’ll be around. I think the last (only?) time I was in San Antonio was for an International Space Development Conference (many years ago!) and had a great time.

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May 10 2013

The Reticuli Deception now in print!

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Cover: The Reticuli Deception

My latest, The Reticuli Deception is now available in trade paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. The ISBN-13: is 978-0615-71102-7 if you want to support your local bookstore by ordering it through them. It can also be had in various e-book formats from the usual suspects.

This is a sequel to The Chara Talisman, and the latter has been reprinted with a few corrections and an added star map. Next up, and in progress, is a prequel to the T-Space series called Alpha Centauri, which covers the first landings.

I’d love for people to leave reviews of this — or any of my works — on Amazon, B&N, or any of the various review sites. I’m not asking for five-star reviews, just honest appraisals that will help new readers decide if my work might be for them or not (no author can please everyone). And feel free to drop feedback here too, of course. The more feedback I get, the more I write ;-)

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Apr 19 2013

Cybersquatted

Published by under Uncategorized

It seems Register.Com took too long to sort out the issue with my domain name, and let some cybersquatter jump on it. Said squatter wants over $1000 for it. Ain’t going to happen. Since what they did is contrary to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (nobody on the planet, but me, has any use for the ‘alastairmayer.com’ domain), I can get it back. I’m even willing to pay a lawyer if I have to (“millions for defense, not a penny for tribute”). But all that takes time and hassle, so it won’t be in the immediate future. Grrr.

Meanwhile, I’m changing all the on-line references I can find to this one, alastairmayer.org.

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