Debbie leaves a trail of dust?

Mystery Object Appears Near Milky Way's Monster Black Hole

Aloha – There is actually a subplot line in book 5 of the Demeter Series, “Orion’s Spur” that won’t be out until later next year, where Debbie’s character is recklessly, and somewhat hopelessly trying to accomplish a trans-galactic arm passage.  The reason for this feat is too much of a spoiler.  Anyway, when I saw this photo last night it was certainly the right imagery for the events, might even the be the inspiration for the cover art.

Meanwhile, back to reality.  This is actually a massive cloud of gas that astronomers can’t quite figure out.  It is circling a black hole?  Humongous (I usually don’t use that word) space whale made of gas?  Fireball headed toward Earth?  Probably not.  An anomaly that just isn’t explainable at the moment.  If you’d like to read the story check out the link below:

Are we there yet?

Artist's concept of Dawn firing its ion engine (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Aloha – 450,000 miles to go at 450 mph.  Glad I don’t have the kids in the back of the mini-probe yelling, “Are we there yet?”  I’ll keep you informed on this particular mission as Ceres (Demeter) was the genesis of the Demeter series, at least for setting.  For the full article:

Earth versus Demeter

Huge Solar Flare Unleashed By Sun on Friday

On Friday, there was a massive solar flare that created some power outages in regions of our Mother Earth.  This is not a problem in Demeter for a couple of reasons:

1. The asteroid planetoid of Demeter is a light year from the nearest star

2. The habitable portion of Demeter is in the interior of the asteroid.

There are of course disadvantages of living in a world without a nearby heat generating star.  The surface has no atmosphere and the temperatures are pretty darn cold.  Of course, without oxygen I suppose it doesn’t matter how cold it is.  An intriguing question is whether you would die of asphyxiation or hypothermia first.  No one has volunteered to pop out of their warm insulated STU units to find out, although Becky might consider it.

Another disadvantage is that you don’t see the stars unless you’re on that surface that is bitterly cold and without atmosphere.  You don’t get sights like this:

But, there are the brilliant risings inside Demeter if you’re willing to get up early enough to watch them.

Another of Robert Heinlein’s best Juvenile Science Fiction

I’ve previously reviewed Citizen of the Galaxy by Heinlein.  Today I’m going to discuss another early favorite written by Robert Heinlein, Between Planets.  Unfortunately, the reader has to suspend believe regarding Venus.  Venus is Heinlein’s vision is a muggy, swampy world.  Earth colonies survive, and to an extent thrive with toehold colonies on the planet.  They share the world with another sentient group of Dragons who are pacifists and I suspect look at Earthlings and wild adolescent children for justifiable reasons.  Mars also supports an indigenous, intelligent lifeform.

The story line in many ways portrays Earth like the 18th century England… expansionist, colonizing, ruling, without much thought to how they are ruling their subjects in these colonies.  They are not portrayed as evil, just not empathetic.  Nonetheless, Earth’s ruling class are the villains for the novel.

The protagonist is young Don Harvey, who has been studying on Earth, but when things begin to look like war is brewing, his parents summon him home to Mars.  His timing is off, and he is forced to decide whether to return to Earth or go on to Venus. He chooses Venus in hopes that he will eventually be able to return to Mars.  Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

It’s a great adventure story for young readers.  It has interesting lessons relative to how we treat people who aren’t the same as we are.  It also addresses on a grand scale the concept of bullying.  This is not a dystopian novel, but it does address many of the same issues.  As with all Heinlein juvenile science fiction it shows the worlds of the future with great optimism.

Northern Lights and Tithe Day

Aloha – About ten years ago I was in southern Alberta, Canada for a family reunion.  I did not have a camera with me one late night/early morning as I did a six hour round trip to pick up some extended family members who had arrived in Calgary for the reunion and being an in-law I volunteered to make the drive to pick them up.  The trip was well worth it.  My understanding is that it is very unusual to enjoy the northern lights in the summer, but that particular night (between midnight and 2am, I caught the glimmer of something odd in my rear view mirror as I drove south.  It was probably three or four minutes before I realized that I was getting a first hand northern lights experience.

When writing the dawning chapter, entitled “Titheday” the northern lights are what I was thinking of regarding the unusual way that daylight was created inside the world of Demeter.  The picture above is a good representation, but the video of 12,000+ photos is a much better way to enjoy the entire sense of the lights.  You can get to the video and story at

Happy Boxing Day

What tailgating in an asteroid belt might look like

Aloha – Still proofreading Haumeah.  I thought it would be a good time to bring up more of Debbie’s antics.  So for your entertainment, the following is an excerpt from Haumeah.  (Boy it’s hard to find a good picture of a space ship tailgating another ship.)

All was quiet for half an hour.  Somewhere in the back of Ryder’s mind an alarm went off as he continued to focus on options under the current situation.  His sub-conscious was warning him of something.  What was it?  Then he heard it again, laughter.  Not just laughter, but laughter coming from both Debbie and Becky.  Suddenly he realized the laughing had been going on sporadically for several minutes.  He rose quickly and took the steps two at a time to the cockpit.  “What are you two up to?”

“Nothing,” Becky turned bright red.

“Told you we should have shut the door,” Debbie complained.

Ryder looked out the cockpit window, “Are you crazy?”

“Don’t bother me, I have to concentrate to do this,” Debbie complained.

“Tailgating a Haumeahan fighter?  I’m surprised the escort hasn’t shot you down.” Ryder’s voice rose.

“Yeah, they’ve threatened to do that three times now, but they can’t.” Debbie laughed a little too loud.

“Why not?” Ryder asked.

“We’re so close that we’d probably blow up the ship in front of us,” Becky responded.

“How close are you?” Ryder asked.  “200 yards?”

“Two hundred feet,” Becky responded, “Oops 190, 170, 150.”

Debbie eased off and Becky continued “180, 200, 210.”

“You know, you’re really distracting us,” Debbie snapped.  It takes a lot of work to stay this close at this speed without ramming them.”

Ryder silently counted to ten.  “Back off!”  Turning to Becky he added, “I can’t believe she drew you into this.”  He exited and returned to the overstuffed chair, and tried to concentrate on scenarios, but couldn’t calm his mind down enough to work.  He returned to the cockpit.

Becky reported as soon as he entered, “Per your order, we’ve backed off to two hundred yards.”

“You still look awfully close,” Ryder complained.  “What is the normal appropriate distance?”

Becky looked at her computer screen, “At this speed, close order formation is two miles.”

“Hey look,” Debbie interjected.

Reduce the Christmas Shopping Stress … at least if you have friends who love Science Fiction

Aloha – It is December 24th, and while speaking with a good friend last night, he informed me that he had not yet done ANY of his Christmas shopping.  This morning at 5am my middle son was up because he had run out of propane and his domicile was freezing.  After attempting to help him figure out how to find propane at 5am I was awake, and thought the whole notion of last minute shopping for gifts or propane is very stressful.  So I decided to provide an easy option for my friends and readers.  I’ve reduced the price of all four books I’ve written that are available on Amazon as e-books to 99 cents (the minimum that Amazon allows :o).  This is a Christmas Eve/Christmas Day offer to help you finish up any last minute Christmas shopping you’re stressing over.  The first three titles are the first three books in the Demeter series.  The fourth book is a “how to” book I republished last year on how to avoid getting ripped off at car repair centers (years ago I was the COO of a large automotive repair chain so I speak from experience).  Browse, shop, and avoid the stress for those last minute science fiction junkies, and/or your friend who just got ripped off at a repair shop.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Oshogatsu Omerito!

Ceres vs Demeter or Fact vs Fiction

Could the Dwarf Planet Ceres Support Life?

Aloha – This will continue to be an evolving story as the NASA probe, Dawn explores Ceres.  As I mentioned in an earlier story, I formulated the idea of Demeter (the mini-planet or asteroid) from our Solar System’s Ceres.  As Demeter has a barren surface, but a vibrant core with a massive ocean, I find it particularly interesting that Ceres is deemed to be the second largest object holding water in our Solar System, next to Earth.  Perhaps the terra-forming project from Demeter will actually make sense in the case of Ceres (fiction meets fact).

Of course, Demeter is also, in effect, a geode or an asteroid that is a mineral rich rock that is hollow in the center.  I’m not sure if Ceres fits that bill, but perhaps we’ll find out in the next few months.  I’ll keep you apprised.  For the rest of the news story:

Favorite current science fiction writer

Aloha – Hopefully I won’t get in trouble copying in a cover page from one of Lois McMaster Bujold’s books.  In this blog I do one of three things:  (1) comment on current news stories that relate or could relate to science fiction, (2) write and excerpt from books that I am currently writing, and (3) comment on my favorite science fiction writers.  Most of my favorite science fiction writers are dead.  Some of those writers have been dead for decades.  I love the naivete and Saturday serial style of those writers from the 20s, 30s, 40s and even 50s.  Protagonists are heros.  Antagonists are villains.  Black is black and white is white.  I think this is one of the reasons I like Robert Heinlein is he kept the innocence in his juvenile science fiction, but took us to a higher level with deeper thought.  Still, I didn’t have to think too deep :o)

In recent years, it has been difficult to find books that are nearly as entertaining.  Juvenile Science Fiction has been overwhelmed with fantasy.  I like some fantasy.  I’m a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and also of the Harry Potter series.  But that is for another time.  Today I want to discuss my favorite active writer in the field of science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold.

Bujold can be a bit intimidating as I categorize her writing as literature.  Don’t be put off by the fact that she is a brilliant writer, she still creates eccentric characters that are full of life and adventure.  They sometimes brood, but not for too many pages :o).  Shards of Honor was the first of her books that I became acquainted with several years ago.  What a ride!  Two strong central characters from dramatically different cultures…. think 1950s Russia versus 2010 San Francisco.  Despite their differences they do, reluctantly fall in love, after they fall in respect with each other.  Actually, the female lead is more interesting than the male character is this story.  This was followed up with Barrayar that continued the alliance of these two characters in a post-war, politically intriguing setting.  I had finished reading the book a second time before I even realized that there was virtually no space travel involved.

Ms. Bujold, then developed an entirely new character; a hyperactive, physically challenged offspring of the couple:  Miles Vorkosigan.  Oh, the trouble he gets into in subsequent novels.  It would be interesting to put young Miles in contact with Debbie’s character from the Demeter series.  They’re sewn from the same cloth.  Although, most of Debbie’s antics are simply her real life counterpart’s antics if she were Debbie.  Confusing to understand if you’re not writing this, but accurate.

The Miles Vorkosigan novels were so delightful, that I would be waiting, and checking, to see when the next volume would be out.  Then Ms. Bujold did something unthinkable; she started writing a different series.  Not only was it a different series, but it was an adult fantasy series.  I was heart broken until I read the first of the books, The Curse of Chalion.  Oh my goodness, fantastic story, fantastic troubled characters.

There are many good, perhaps even great, science fiction writers today, but I believe the most talented active writer is Lois McMaster Bujold.  May she live and write many more novels…. and hopefully, more Miles Vorkosigan stories.