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 ;-)

Be the first to comment

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.

Be the first to comment

Mar 26 2013

Domain issues

Published by under Uncategorized

If you’re reading this, then you’ve followed a working link or otherwise found out that the site is now at www.alastairmayer.org, not at www.alastairmayer.com.

Through a combination of unfortunate events, some my own stupid fault, some my original domain registrar’s, my domain “alastairmayer.com” expired and I didn’t find out about that until renewal became problematic. (It’s complicated; somehow I managed to end up paying twice for renewal and still not getting it renewed. We’re still working on sorting that out.)

Anyway, I bought “alastairmayer.org” (and a couple of others) from a different registrar, and moved what I could of the site here. I’ll sync back up when I get the domain issue resolved. Meanwhile I need to recover some of the recent posts…I don’t have immediate access to the latest backup (that also is being worked out).

“Sorry about this little snag, fellows.”

Be the first to comment

Oct 19 2012

MileHiCon44

Published by under Uncategorized

The 44th annual MileHiCon, Denver and the Front Range’s regional sf/f convention, starts today at the usual location: the Hyatt-Regency Tech Center in south east Denver.

I’ll be on a couple of panels and readings:
– “Long-Lasting Short Story” at 4:00pm today (Friday)
– “Higgs-Boson & Faster Than Light Neutrinos” at 3:00pm Saturday
– Reading at 5:00pm Saturday.

The usual locals — Connie Willis, Carrie Vaughn, Mario Acevedo, Jeanne Stein, Paolo Bacigalupi, among others (sorry guys, I’d love to mention you all but MileHiCon has its own web site for that) — will be there, along with guests Steve Brust and Cherie Priest. Come on by!

Be the first to comment

Aug 25 2012

New story in November Analog

Published by under Writing

The November issue of Analog has arrived (yes, I know it’s only August, that’s the magazine business for you), featuring stories by several friends of mine, including relative newcomers Gray Rinehart and Patty Jansen.
Cover, November Analog
More exciting for me personally is the appearance of “Strobe Effect”, a collaboration between me and my good friend Brad Torgersen. (May it be the first of many.) Brad was nominated for a Nebula earlier this year, and is up for a Hugo and the Campbell awards at Worldcon.

This story is based on a draft I did a long time ago, using as its gimmick something I used to joke about: if we ever discover anything that goes faster than light, it will be at some computer chip lab trying to make the things go faster. (Seriously. Light travels less than three inches in one cycle of a 4 GHz processor.) It’s nice to see it finally in print, and much improved over the original. (Part of that is unquestionably Brad’s influence, but I’ve learned a bit myself since then.)

Be the first to comment

Aug 07 2012

Congratulations to the Curiosity lander team

Published by under Mars

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that the Mars rover Curiosity successfully landed in Gale crater last night. This is quite a feat, not least because of the rather Rube-Goldberg sequence to successfully land the rover without contaminating it or the surface too much with backsplash from the landing jets. That’s been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, no need to go over it here, except to congratulate all those involved: the dang thing worked!.

With the landing accomplished, it’s now in the hands of the science teams and drivers. I wish them team all success, and hope we see Curiosity crawling around Mars for years to come. With any luck we’ll see data that pins down some of the ambiguous information we’ve been getting from previous probes.
I like to joke that the Vikinglanders, which landed on Mars back in 1976, were designed to answer the question: “Is there life on Mars?”. They landed, took their soil samples, ran their experiments, and beamed back: “Could you repeat the question?”.

The majority scientific opinion is that the Vikings discovered some very unusual soil chemistry, not life. The thing is, the results from the Labeled Release Experiment (basically, put soil on a nutrient medium labeled (chemically tagged) with isotopes and see if you detect labeled metabolic products) returned results which pre-launch criteria stated would indicate life. They changed the criteria later because of odd results from the other experiments: taken together, they didn’t indicate what the scientists believed would indicate life.

Later some of those same experiments would be repeated in relatively barren places on Earth, such as the ultra-dry Atacama Desert in Chile. They didn’t detect life on Earth, either. (More sensitive equipment will detect microbial life even in the Atacama.)

Do I believe there’s life on Mars? I have no data. I believe there could be, and that there almost certainly was once. We know (or are pretty sure) that Mars was once once wet, with a thicker atmosphere. We know that large meteorite impacts with Earth can knock off rocks which will eventually reach Mars, and, much more so, vice versa. We have strong evidence that some microbes could survive such a blasting into space, millenia long voyage, and entry into another planet’s atmosphere. In other words, it’s entirely possible that Mars was cross-contaminated from Earth (or vice versa!) in the early days of the solar system.

I feel pretty safe in predicting that Curiosity won’t answer all these questions either, but it will answer some. And I’m pretty sure it will raise a few more.

Be the first to comment

Apr 29 2012

Conspiracy theories

Published by under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

Readers of The Chara Talisman (and there are a bunch of you out there, thank you!) already know that the sequel, The Reticuli Deception (working title) touches on mysteries in addition to those of the millions of years ago Terraformers and the more recent Spacefarers. Namely, whether there was anything to some of the UFO contacts reported in the 1960s. Since these books are set 150 years after that, there’s some question as to whether the original Blue Book files can still be located, and they do try, although that’s a side story to the main plot. In particular, they’re curious about the Betty Hill incident, and the star map she drew. Hill star map

Sometimes, though, truth can be stranger than fiction. I’d heard that the Project Blue Book files were all transferred to the National Archives when the project was shut down in 1969 (or 1970, depending on which report you read). It’s not quite that simple. They were first transfered to the Air Force Archives at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, where they resided for about five years, although nominally available to the public. It was in 1975 that they were transferred to the National Archives, but only after redacting witness names and similar personal information. The Air Force kept a microfilm copy (also censored) for their own use.

It turns out, though, that uncensored microfilms also exist, discovered in the National Archives in 1998, and that “these rolls also contain some pages that are not on the NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] rolls” (– bluebookarchive.org). Curiouser and curiouser.

Eagerly I began to browse through Blue Book Archive’s list of microfilms. These are on line. Fantastic! I’d love to read the actual Betty Hill files. Pages one through four of their listings cover the pre-Blue Book projects, Sign and Grudge, as well as all the Blue Books up to 1954. The Hill contact was in 1961, I’m getting close. Page five … begins in mid-1968. Wait, what?.

So I dig a little deeper. Flip back and forth through various rolls. Search for “Betty Hill”, and find nothing relevant. Search for “Pease Air Base” (where they supposedly reported the incident) and find many interesting reports … from 1965. Ah, but what’s this? One of the first rolls has an index to all the cases. Great! Skip ahead 25 pages at a time: 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960… I’m getting close, slow down. Page 498, 16-30 April, 1960. Page 499, 1-15 May, 1962. Nineteen sixty two? What the…?

Okay, flip back and forth some more. Ha! Page 497 of the index is also 1962, page 498 must have been misfiled. Not a good sign (and at this point all the microfilm images are very faint, it’s near impossible to make out the text), but I’ll keep looking. Page 489 looks like it might be August, 1961, but the typewritten text is ghostly, and there’s an ominous hand-scrawled “missing” beside several of the cases listed. The next few pages are even less legible. (For example.)

I incline toward the sentiment “never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence,” and that’s probably what’s going on here (not, let me hasten to add, on the part of Blue Book Archive, who are doing an admirable job, but on the part of whatever bored Airman or clerk was microfilming this stuff in the first place, and other clerks who may have misfiled things). On the other hand, as Ian Fleming supposedly said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” I wonder.

For the record, I don’t really think Betty and Barney Hill were abducted by aliens. On the subject of UFOs as alien spacecraft overall, I’m a skeptical agnostic. I’ve seen enough strange things in the sky that I couldn’t identify at the time to have no doubt that plenty of people see unidentified flying objects. I think that to immediately identify them as alien spacecraft is silly. Some might indeed be, but the burden of proof is pretty high as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s also silly to say flat out that alien spacecraft are impossible. We just don’t know enough.

As far as research for The Reticuli Deception goes, I may not be learning anything new about the Hill incident or the supposed Zeta Reticuli starchart, but I am gaining a good insight as to how my characters feel when they’re looking for this stuff: frustrated.

Readers know that none of my characters take frustration well, and they tend to come up with creative solutions to it. This is gonna be fun.

2 comments so far

Mar 15 2012

The Ides of March

Published by under Mars,Uncategorized

So, on this day 2055 years ago (give or take a few days for calendar reform) Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a bunch of senators (politics was more hands-on in those days) to prevent the Republic from turning into a dictator-led Empire. That worked well. Of somewhat more relevance, the Ides of March was a festival day for Mars, although for the god, not the planet.

Me, I’m in the middle of a major crunch in the day job, counting down to the cutover to a major reimplementation of our business software in a couple of weeks. By day (and sometimes night) I’m a senior analyst/developer for a major provider of satellite-delivered entertainment. This cutover is as complex as any satellite launch, except that we do that every year or two.

Which is by way of explaining my absence here lately, and for the next few weeks to come. (And by the time the dust has settled, it’ll be tax time. Oh joy.) More sometime in April, unless something exciting happens in the meantime.

Cheers.

Be the first to comment

Feb 04 2012

Book signing February 11 at Broadway Book Mall

Published by under Writing

The title pretty much says it all. Next Saturday Who Else! Books, part of the Broadway Book Mall, is hosting a book signing for four Colorado SF authors, including yours truly. The others are Robin D. Owens (Hearts and Swords), Courtney Schafer (The Whitefire Crossing), and Rob Ziegler (Seed). Of course I’ll be signing copies of my The Chara Talisman as well as Space Horrors and/or Footprints.

That’s the Broadway Book Mall, 200 S. Broadway (in Denver, just north of I-25) at 3:00 pm on Saturday, February 11. Come on out!

Be the first to comment

Feb 03 2012

Another Analog sale!

Published by under Writing

Some of you will have already heard by now that I sold another story to Analog magazine. I’m pleased to say that I had help with this one, my friend and now collaborator Brad Torgersen. The story, “Strobe Effect,” will have both of us on the by-line, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without him. I know, because with this particular story I tried, and while Dr. Schmidt (the editor) liked my earlier solo version of several years ago personally, it was a little too technically focused even for Analog readers. Brad has admitted that he couldn’t have written this story alone either. Brad — who won the AnLab readers’ poll for his first Analog appearance and scored the cover with his most recent — took the core story, gave it the Torgersen touch (and a few thousand more words), and then both of us did some final polishing. I think both my fans and Brad’s will enjoy the result. It would seem Stan Schmidt thinks so too.

This is a buzz for both of us. Back in 2009 Brad and I met in person for the first time at one of Kris and Dean’s workshops on the Oregon coast (we’d met online already, in the Writers of the Future forums). Neither of us had published any fiction at that point (I’d just sold my first story, but it wasn’t in print yet), yet we joked about both being in the same issue of Analog some day. Well, that day came with last October’s issue. Now we’re sharing a byline. Coincidentally, this is also the fifth sale to Analog for each of us, but the first collaboration*. We both hope it’s not the last. (Indeed, we already have a few possibilities in the works.)

(*First collaboration with each other. Brad has also written stories with such illustrious authors as Mike Resnick. Technically I’ve collaborated on non-fiction with the likes of Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle and a host of others in preparing reports from the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, back in the day. But that’s not the same at all.)

Be the first to comment

« Prev - Next »