Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Jan 14 2020

COSine 2020 and other news

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

A few quick announcements of upcoming conventions and books. First, this coming weekend (Jan. 17-19) I will be at COSine 2020 in Colorado Springs, both on panels and in the dealers’ room.. My panels are “Hard sci-fi” (Saturday, 9am), “When are we going back to the Moon?” (Saturday, 1pm), and “Space and private industry” (Sunday, 2pm). I will also be part of the Author Reception and Mass Autographing on Saturday at 5:30pm. Come on by!

Upcoming conventions include the Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) symposium, Feb. 13-15 in Provo, Utah. I’ve been wanting to get to this one for a while, and this year my friend and co-author Brad Torgersen (on “Strobe Effect” in Analog too many years ago) is Author Guest of Honor. I’ll just be attending this one, I’m not on any panels, but if you’re there and see me, feel free to stop me and say “hi”.

I’m also planning on StarFest in Denver, May 1-3, with both a table and (I hope) panels. Stay tuned.

As far as books go, The Pavonis Insurgence is still fighting to be finished. I’ve revised it a couple of times because I wasn’t happy with it. I started this novel two years ago now, although I did spin off some of that as The Centauri Surprise last fall. I want it done just as much as some of you do (grin). It marks a turning point in both the Carson & Roberts story, and the general T-Space story arc, so I want to get it right. It will definitely be out in time for StarFest, and probably for pre-order before LTUE.

I also have about 50,000 words of other T-Space books done, although that’s split across the next Kakuloa novel and a new trilogy (probably) based on the discovery and exploration of Verdigris at Delta Pavonis. These both introduce some new characters. There are a few other things in the works too, more about those later.

Oh, and happy New Year!

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Dec 10 2019

An Excess of Exoplanets

Published by under Astronomy,Writing

In the course of doing research and fact-checking for the imminent release of The Pavonis Insurgence and a new in-progress series (probably a trilogy) set in early T-Space (the same era as the Kakuloa series), I came across a recent, and fascinating, paper by a veritable laundry list of authors (Tuomi, et al.), titled “Frequency of planets orbiting M dwarfs in the Solar neighbourhood.”

M dwarfs, also called red dwarfs, are the most common type of star in our galaxy. The authors of the paper surveyed and analyzed data from many studies, covering 426 nearby stars and a total of 118 probable planets. They further analyzed this to come up with an average: an impressive 2.39 exoplanets per red dwarf, (although that could be (on average) anywhere from 1.03 to 6.97, again per star).

The numbers are probably different for different types of stars (like our own yellow G type), but my guess (and it is just a guess) is that the larger the star, the more planets it is likely to have, simply because there was more material in the original nebula. Now, that is complicated by gravitational effects of binary and multiple star systems, which tend to slingshot stuff out of the system, and with the formation of gas giants, which can do likewise. But still, we’re talking about averages.

Anyway, the paper got me thinking (always dangerous). At several cons now, I have given presentations that either briefly discussed exoplanets, or were entirely about exoplanets. Maybe I should write a book…. There are several books on exoplanets out there, but they are necessarily dated (it’s a rapidly changing field) and none (from what I’ve seen) target the audience I’m thinking of, most folks who want to know more about the science behind science fiction, both the readers and the writers. (For you astronomers out there, you’re not “most folks”, grin.)

Anyway, just a vague heads-up. No specific release plans yet, but I’m thinking summer of 2020, maybe around the time we start getting results from the CHEOPS bird (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) due to launch later this month. Meanwhile, I have science fiction books to finish.

Next time you look up at the stars at night (and for best results, do this away from the city where the skies are dark), consider that almost every one of those points of light has one or more planets orbiting it. Do you really think we’re alone?

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Nov 27 2019

Alpha Centauri trilogy updated, more coming.

Published by under T-Space,Writing

With the success of the refresh of my earlier Carson & Roberts books, we have done the same with my Alpha Centauri trilogy (First Landing, Sawyer’s World, and The Return). This includes another edit pass to catch any lingering typos and clean up a few Britishisms, a reformat to improve the interior appearance, and a refresh on the covers. (The cover change is less drastic than than for the other books, mostly just a font change. The new covers are below.) So far this only affects the Kindle edition. The updates to the paper editions (with new ISBNs) will be done soon.

All this is preparatory to issuing all three books in a combined omnibus (or “boxed set”) edition. There won’t be an actual box even for the paper copies, production costs are just too high to be worthwhile. I plan to include some bonus material in the omnibus, things like maps and a few illustrations. Target release date is mid-December.

Work on The Pavonis Insurgence is almost complete, but we’re pushing the release back until after Christmas to give more editing time. A new series, centering around the first landings in and exploration of the Delta Pavonis system, is also under way, as is the next book in the Kakuloa series. More to come!

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Aug 02 2019

MALCon is coming, and more

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

The seventh Denver area Myths & Legends Convention (MALCon) is coming up, August 9-11 at the Radisson Denver-Aurora. I will be on a bunch of panels, mostly on the Saturday (along with autographing sessions) and one Sunday. It should be a lot of fun. If you’re in the area, come on out. I may have a few giveaways at my presentations.

Also, number four in the Carson & Roberts archeology series, The Centauri Surprise is available now for pre-order. Release date is August 20. It turns out Rico is alive, although he’s not sure just where; Carson finally gets to talk to Peter Finley (you may remember him from Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World — he’s not dead yet) about “Pete’s Peak”; and Homeworld Security is getting increasingly nervous about the Velkaryans.

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Jul 02 2019

Spikecon, and Carson & Roberts refresh

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

I’ll be heading to Spikecon in Layton, Utah, for a prolonged July 4th weekend. I have panels on Thursday and Friday, check the online schedule.

Today also marks the beginning of the refresh of my Carson & Roberts archeology adventures in T-Space. The three existing novels are getting all new covers, plus an edit pass to clean up a few typos but mostly to remove some British usage in the language that was inconsistent with my later novels. The e-books are being re-released first, starting with The Chara Talisman with new paper editions coming later in July. Also coming in July will be The Centauri Surprise, (currently in edit), which follows The Eridani Convergence, and then The Pavonis Insurgence.

Above, samples of the new covers.

UPDATE: The updated versions are all now live. Click the images for links to the books’ pages on Amazon. The Centauri Surprise is now available for pre-order.

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Jun 11 2019

An eBook Sampler

Published by under Writing

I have decided to make my collection of short stories, A Sampler, available as an e-book. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it before, but until now (it just went live on Amazon) it has only been available in paperback. If you’ve already bought the hardcopy from Amazon, you should be able to download the e-book free thanks to their Matchbook program, otherwise it’s 99 cents.

This includes my very first T-Space story, “Into the Fire,” and an excerpt from Alpha Centauri: First Landing, but the rest is a mixed bag of stories that have appeared in Analog and elsewhere.

Enjoy!

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Jun 08 2019

Relaunch, refresh, and new releases

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So May was a hectic month, between my two youngest graduating college (on the same day, 700 miles apart), attending the SFWA Nebulas conference, and ferrying one son to the six-week geology field camp that, for whatever reason, the university scheduled for after graduation even though it’s a requirement. Only about 12,000 words written on the new novels, but also I got some editing in and even, for the first time in years, got a couple of short stories out to seek homes in the magazines.

Speaking of words written and new releases, The Centauri Surprise is almost ready for final edit. I’d like to release it the beginning of July, with next one, The Pavonis Insurgence, following some time in August. I’ll post a more complete and definitive release schedule as details firm up. Also, look for Kakuloa: The Downhill Slide later this year. (Ideally, I’d like to have Kakuloa: Crash and Burn out this year too. All of the above are in various stages of progress, so it could happen.)
New Chara Talisman cover
Before that, though, I will be relaunching the existing Carson & Roberts novels (The Chara Talisman, The Reticuli Deception, and The Eridani Convergence) with new covers (I can hear several of you cheering as I write that) and some minor revisions.
The latter is mostly just typo cleanup, but there are a couple of inconsistencies that crept into the overall timeline when I wasn’t looking. For example, the Belize wreckage found at the end of Reticuli makes more sense in 2122, not 2123. Also, the name Flora for hurricanes was retired after 1963, so I’ll probably rename it Fiona. That’s a minor detail of no story importance, it just offends my OCD now that I’m aware of it. The new covers will look something like the one above. I’ll post another update with all of them soon.

With the change to the title font, the Alpha Centauri series covers should also be refreshed, so that will likely happen sometime this summer.

I’m also toying with the idea of boxed sets for the Alpha Centauri trilogy and the first three Carson & Roberts books. Not literal boxed sets, of course (very hard to do with modern publishing), but rather all three books collected into a single e-book volume for sale at a lower price. Stay tuned.

Let me know what you think of the proposed new covers, boxed sets (omnibus editions), or anything else.

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Apr 05 2019

Book Report

Published by under Mars,T-Space,Writing

Which is to say, a report on where I am with in-progress and upcoming books, not a report on anything I’ve read recently.

The first draft of The Pavonis Insurgence, next in the Carson & Roberts series, is finished, but still requires revision (which will probably add ten thousand words or so) and final editing. So, maybe by Memorial Day? I spun up a lot of different plot threads in The Eridani Convergence and The Reticuli Deception before that, and I’m starting to tie them together.

When I came up with the whole T-Space series, I envisioned a twelve book plot arc, loosely based on a four-act structure. The Alpha Centauri series was act one. Kakuloa was supposed to bridge act one and act two, the Carson & Roberts series. Those of you mathematically inclined (if you’re also familiar with the four act structure) will be starting to recognize a problem about here. Pavonis will be the fourth of the Carson & Roberts books, and I’ve already suggested that Kakuloa itself may end up as four books (the first, A Rising Tide, came out in January, the next, The Downhill Slide is also in progress, about one-third done, with some work started on the third, Crash and Burn). And I’m only (with Pavonis) nearing the end-of-act-two plot twist. So, maybe a twenty (-plus?) volume series? We’ll see.

In my defense, these volumes are not the multi-hundred-thousand word volumes of a Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) or Wheel of Time. (Note, I’m not comparing myself to Martin or Jordan as an author, just comparing word counts.) I grew up on much shorter novels, and I think my readers would prefer to see me publish more frequently than once every few years. So there’s that. Anyway, I’d like to have the next Kakuloa book out by Westercon/NASFiC, which is the July 4th extended weekend.

On the other hand, I don’t want to get myself pigeonholed as just the author of the T-Space series. I have a few other projects that I’d like to work on.

Two of these are set within our own solar system, and are old projects I’m looking at taking off the back burner. One is my “Great Martian Novel” (every hard SF author should write one), centered around a couple of major construction projects on Mars. The other is my “Apollo 18” book, which was about half-written when that [expletive deleted] movie of the same name came out. I think it has been long enough now, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 is coming up. Working title is now Apollo 18: Project Jeannie. This is set between Apollo 17 and Skylab, and has nothing in common with the movie except the mission number and the Soviet lunar lander. (No doubt we were both inspired by the revelation that there was a Soviet lunar lander, although it never flew and was kept secret by the USSR to pretend there never was a Moon race.) No promises on these. I have mentioned them in passing before and will post more when there’s something more definite.

Another one is set in T-Space, but will be YA (young adult). I’ve alluded to the fact that Jackie Roberts was born on a starship during the five-year Eta Carinae mission. I want to tell a story of her growing up ten years after that, when her parents take her on another multi-year mission. I’d like to have that one ready for Christmas, but that depends on my writing schedule and priorities.

Somewhere in there I’d also like to do a sci-fi/fantasy crossover, maybe an expansion of my short “The Gremlin Gambit” (but I have some other ideas, too).

Too much to write and too little time. What would you like to see?

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Mar 03 2019

Another (older) interview

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Speaking of interviews (see below), back when The Chara Talisman was about to be released, I was interviewed for a podcast while at MileHiCon. I came across a link to that recently. Oddly, the page is tagged for Connie Willis. She usually attends MHC, and she may have been a guest of honor that year. (Ironically, I interviewed Connie myself about twenty years earlier, for a public access TV show our local National Space Society (L5) chapter was doing.)

Anyway, here’s the link to the interview. There are two MP3s on that page for some reason; they’re both the same interview. I intend to make that available from this website in case that link goes away. I’ll post the link when I do.

The interviewer starts off relating how he was reading my “Poetic Justice” and got so distracted he missed his train. That story originally appeared in Space Horrors and is reprinted in my Alastair Mayer: A Sampler if you’d like to read it yourself. (And if you have read it, that page could use a few reviews. [grin])

Meanwhile, work on the next two Kakuloa books and the sequel to The Eridani Convergence continues. Look for releases beginning in May.

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Jan 30 2019

TV Interview with Jon Caldera

Published by under Writing

So earlier this month I was interviewed by Jon Caldera for his TV show “Devil’s Advocate”. The clip is up on YouTube. We chatted about science fiction in general and about indie publishing, but he did plug my books. Caldera is a science fiction fan from way back, I had fun. It’s only twelve minutes, so not very in-depth. Maybe it will lead to more.

Anyway, check it out. (I’m the one in the blue shirt and glasses. 😉 )

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