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.