Race to the Moon Part 2?

Google has presented a new space challenge offering $30 million to the first private group that build, launch, and successfully run a rover on the Moon.  This seems focused on future mining efforts on the Moon.  Of course there are some political challenges involved in mining on the Moon, as there are already treaties in place making it a hands off terrain for private enterprise.  Yet the paydays could be tremendous.  There are some distinct similarities to the Alaskan Gold Rush.  A handful of entrepreneurs will get rich, probably dwarfing the wealth of the Bill Gates and Walton family among others.  Still the up front investment will probably be more than a ticket to the Yukon.

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Still it doesn’t look a lot more desolate than Wyoming

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Other than blue skies… and oxygen/nitrogen mix.

Are we likely to see actual mining on the Moon in the next 25 years?  I think the technology is close even now.  They’ll have to find ice/water (which they have found).  The biggest issue will probably wind up being the international trade barriers.


Dealing with a genius and solar eclipses

Aloha – It is an interesting month as my daughter, son-in-law, and two of my grandsons are visiting.  Daniel is a genius and suffers (or is blessed with) autism.  The common definition would be ‘high functioning’ as he is an extraordinary thinker (for age 11) and moving into mainstream gifted programs.  His biggest challenge is the inability to deal socially with others.  He sees the world through rose colored glasses.

Yesterday we were at a city park and discussing the upcoming solar eclipse.  He informed me that the next total solar eclipse is on August 21st of this year.  2:33 pm is a good time to be in Idaho Falls if you want the best view of this amazing event.  Lunar eclipses are a time a dozen, but total solar eclipses are rare.  He informed me that the next solar eclipse isn’t until 2024.  We then checked, and the following event isn’t until 2090.  We then drifted into a discussion of whether he would still be alive in 2090, and he informed me that I obviously would not be.  I laughed, frankly I’ll probably be lucky to make 2024.

It turns out that if he lives to 62, then his chances of making the 2090 eclipse is 50-50.  Amazing what you can learn on a smart phone in a park.

For those interested, Daniel is a character that appears in the prologue and epilog of several of the Orion Spur series books.  He’s a super grandson with frequent quotable quotes.

Meanwhile check out your map (on a path from South Carolina to Oregon) for the exact time and place to be to see all or at least a part of the solar eclipse.

Best wishes,


The Debate within

Aloha – I’ve been batting a decision for several weeks now.  Drafts for Salt of the Earth and Project Lilliput are both complete.  I’ll likely publish Salt of the Earth later this year (chapters of both books are in the blog archives if you’re interested).  Salt of the Earth is a young adult science fiction novel, and probably the most complex single novel I’ve written.  Project Lilliput is a juvenile science fiction novel and more of a fun adventure story.

So the debate I’m arguing with myself about is what to write next?  Both stories have an adequate ending, but plenty of options to continue the story.  I’ve even framed out the second novel, Sea of Salt.  I also have a three-part full-fledge space opera with another fun character I’ve wanted to develop for several years.  If I start that series I’ll be tied up for probably two years writing the saga.

I also need to wrap up a non-fiction book It Aint the End of the World, which means months of editing (must get this one done).  Then should I write updates for the other two non-fiction self-help books?  Yes I should.

In the next few weeks I’ll have to make a decision as my nervous twitch that says its time to stop editing and begin writing again is starting to surface 🙂  Doc

The Space Between Us

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Okay I admit it, I’m a hopeless romantic.  In many ways this movie, released in January 2017 reminds me of a mix of Robert Heinlein and Nicolas Sparks.

Asa Butterfield (known for Ender’s Game, Hugo, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children stars in this film that focuses on a boy born on the first private mission to Mars for colonization.  Turns out his mother didn’t know she was pregnant and the corporation fearing a PR nightmare keeps the boy a secret after his mother dies in childbirth.  Fast forward 16 years and we have a developing city or base still populated by scientists, and one 16 year old boy, who is now frustrated with his secret existence.

Somehow he has a Facebook type relationship that has developed with a girl his age on Earth who is in foster care.  This was probably the biggest challenge for me.  Their conversations are real time, ignoring the speed of light limitations of their messages.  Aside from the predictable mystery that the boy goes to Earth to solve, the story works well for self-discovery, delight in experiencing Earth, and of course a girl.  There is solid chemistry between the two leads when they get together.

I do worry about Asa Butterfield as an actor.  His wooden performance here seems in keeping with the role, but perpetual innocence and safeguarded emotions probably won’t serve him well in an adult career.  He may want to take hints from Daniel Radcliff’s efforts to transition to an adult actor.

All in all it is not a great movie, but it is a pleasant way to spend an evening without the movie being overwhelmed with CGI.  It is a movie I can sit down and re-watch frequently; but don’t go in with great expectations if you rent or buy the DVD.





Red Planet

Aloha – Over the years I’ve managed to acquire several first edition volumes of Heinlein’s early works, but I’ve yet to capture a copy of the Red Planet.  Common prices for a first edition of this 1949 volume often exceeds $1,000 and for my meager collection budget that’s out of range.

The novel itself is often considered Heinlein’s first critically successful work in the genre.  It still follows a model that I always appreciate:  the protagonist is a teenaged boy (exception Podkayne of Mars in which case it is a teenaged girl), he’s above average smart, and conservative in nature.  He has friends who are smarter, and sometimes are the individuals who solve a crisis, as in this case.

Two stories progress the novel.  First is the adventure element with Jim and Frank meeting and ultimately being partially adopted into the native Martian culture.  This relationship helps them cross Mars and warn their families about the evil plot against the Earth immigrants, leading to a rebellion, in which Jim and Frank are able to participate.

The true nature of ‘the bad guys’ leads the Martians to demand that the Earthlings leave their planet and return to Earth.  Ultimately the Martians relent because of the altruistic nature of Jim.

The Earthlings of Mars declare their independence from Earth, a common theme that emerges in Heinlein’s Solar System universe.

This is a must read for those who want to get emerged in the various novels about the Solar System, and some of the revelations that come from it (such as what the explorers in Space Cadet learn about the past history of the Solar System).  I like it more as a backdrop for other novels in the series.

Happy 4th,



Finally watched Hidden Figures

Aloha – I’ve been putting this off for months, but last night I finally watched “Hidden Figures”.  From the perspective of astronomy and science fiction it certainly doesn’t make it as a great space opera, but it works on so many other levels.  Having been a teenager when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, seeing the technology (or lack thereof) being used, and some of the mathematical fears that troubled the question of “how do we maneuver in an unknown environment?” was fascinating for a history buff and someone engrossed in science fiction.

The romance element of the film was weak, except for the idea of dating, romance, marriage, and sticking together.  This process has been a great loss to the African-American community, and now the population of the U.S. at large.

Perhaps the most surprising element of the film to me seemed intentional, but certainly rang true whether it was intended or not.  A husband of one of the mathematicians is on the side of civil rights through protest, while his wife is willing to step up and be reactive at times, yet she wins her battle of civil rights by working through the system and demonstrating her worth by example rather than simple demand.  In my mind, the film provided a perfect example of a process of getting respect through hard work, rather than just because “I want it.”

This is not a film I’ll watch over and over again.  But it is a film worth seeing and pondering.