Comic Con Salt Lake Continues high on a mountain top

Comic Con continues into its second warm day in Salt Lake City, with one day to go.  Dean Gorman, the good looking dwarf from The Hobbit and the Weasley twins from Harry Potter are running the entire marathon for three days, but Friday brings us the Winter Soldier himself from Captain America.  But Saturday brings us Agent Carter, Captain America himself, and Falcon.  If that’s not enough I can’t resist making another plug for the Utah Symphony Concert tonight featuring its Sci-Fi spectacular featuring Marina Sirtis from Star Trek Next Generation.  The show starts at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow night.  Best show of the symphony with the possible exception of the 1812 Overture in Deer Valley.

Comic-Con Salt Lake City

Aloha – Welcome back to Salt Lake City, ComicCon.  If you’re stuck in lines with nothing to do, feel free to download a free copy of the sci-fi novel, Demeter at Amazon this weekend only

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MZFH8R6?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

The Utah Transit Authority is offering extended hours for of operation for TRAX trains headed into Salt Lake City.

Something of special interest if you aren’t aware is that Friday and Saturday night the Utah Symphony is doing it’s annual Science Fiction concert at Abravanel Hall at the other end of the block.  I’m missing out on the Conference, but will definitely be making it to the Concert this weekend.

Doc

Comic Con is coming to Town – SLC

Aloha – Looks like Dr. Who, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones is converging on what has already become the largest convention in the state of Utah.  This week, January 29th – 31st over a hundred thousand people are expected to attend.  This is the fourth event being held in Salt Lake City, and the first of two in 2015.  Will Demeter be represented?  Maybe.  Might be a good time go get an e-book copy at Amazon and give the participants something to do while they’re waiting in line :o)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZFH8R6

Happy New Year from Orion’s Spur

Aloha – It’s hard at times to tell where Ryder, Debbie, Becky, Randy and Joel may be or even if they’re in the same sector of Orion’s Spur.  Perhaps they’re celebrating on Cyrella (well Debbie might be), or perhaps Demeter, or Haumeah.  At least part of the team is on Earth somewhere, wishing they were back in the warm climate of Demeter.  In any event, Happy New Year from all!

Who is the better juvenile science fiction writer between Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein?

Aloha – When I think of Isaac Asimov I immediately think of the Robot series and his Foundation series.  Excellent books, but pretty heavy reading.  My favorite Asimov novel is Pebble in the Sky, which is still not what I would consider Middle School Reading.  Many people are unaware that he also wrote a delightful juvenile science fiction series about David Starr, better know as Lucky Starr.  I found the entire series in the Kinokuniya bookstores in Japan (along with a number of other early science fiction series).  They filled the hour long train home each night with adventures that took me far from the crowded trains.
Robert Heinlein wrote twelve juvenile science fiction books between 1947 and 1958.  I found eleven of the twelve totally engaging, and yes I did read all of them while in Middle School.  Going back, I do find a few are starting to date a bit.  But I still love Farmer in the Sky, which I believe was originally done as a serial in Boy’s Life.  Tunnel in the Sky is a fascinating turn on Lord of the Flies.  The Red Planet and Between the Planets is a fully engaging pair of novels that begin to connect the Solar System eco-system.  But as I mentioned in a earlier post, Citizen of the Galaxy remains my favorite.
I’m not sure how I’d rate these two great authors total works to total works, but as Juvenile Science Fiction authors I believe Heinlein in the clear winner.

Ceres and Demeter

Aloha – Interesting news that I’ll stay on top off with this blog as time goes by.  NASA’s Dawn Mission is fast approaching the asteroid, Ceres.  The story is available at:  http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-spacecraft-snaps-best-photo-yet-dwarf-planet-171343195.html

If you are familiar with mythology you realize that Ceres is the Roman name that is related to the Greek God Demeter.  Ceres in our Solar System was the asteroid or mini-planet that I used to model the size and general description of Demeter for the Demeter series.  Again, I’ll be interested in following how this study proceeds.  I may, but probably won’t have to make adjustments to the garden world of Demeter.  From Chapter 6 of Demeter:

“Demeter is one of three way stations between the Saggitarius and Perseus arms of the Milky Way. Control of the way stations has shifted back and forth over the past ten thousand years. Demeter is relatively small, approximately one thousand miles in diameter. One of its best defensive features is that it is located between three star systems, but nearly a light year away from each of them.”

“It sounds cold,” Cynthia suggested.

“The surface is cold; too cold for human life-forms to exist. In fact, I am unaware of any life-forms that can exist at that temperature. But that is part of the benefit of Demeter….

“So we’re going to be stuck in dome cities, like they talk about putting on the moon?” Cynthia asked.

“Not exactly. Demeter does have eighty dome stations scattered around the surface. They are more like observatories and military watch stations. We actually live inside Demeter.”

“You mean we’re going to spend a year living in a cave?” Athena sounded disgusted.

“It’s hard to describe, although you have seen pictures of the interior of Demeter before. I had a mural of the islands off Arion in your classroom. But I think the best way to understand what Demeter is like is to see it for yourself. We’ll be doing that soon enough.” Miss Li smiled cryptically.

Pilot, Astronaut, President

Aloha – As I’ve posted before, much of the characterizations for the Demeter series came from my children.  Even some of the dialog at times is almost verbatim.  We get further insights into Ryder’s crazy sister in the following sequence from Chapter 4:  Outta this World, from Demeter (available on Amazon).

Over the next few weeks Ryder frequently regretted talking his parents into letting Debbie come along. She seemed twice as irritating as normal, and her confidence seemed to be expanding beyond reality.

“I’ll bet I can get the pilot to let me fly the plane,” she boasted. She would then go on to say she was going to be a pilot when she grew up. Later, she was going to join the Air Force. Then she was going to be the President of the United States.

“After that I assume you’ll be an astronaut and become a multi-millionaire selling energy drinks,” Ryder responded sarcastically.

The fire in Debbie’s eye warned him in time, and he ducked as the TV controller sailed past his head and broke against the far wall.

“Dad’s going to kill you.” Ryder laughed as he fled to his room, locking the door behind him as Debbie’s body slammed into it.

“I’ll get you sooner or later,” she screamed. “You have to come out some time.”

At the Earth’s Core and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Aloha – My interest in Edgar Rice Burroughs really didn’t start until I was in college.  I’d already read and re-read all of my favorite Robert Heinlein novels by then.  The idea of underworld civilizations actually start though, with the old Superman TV series when Superman had to deal with creatures who inhabited an underground world.  In High School, I was bored in a class and with a fellow student (who ironically had beaten me up in 6th grade) developed a juggernaut that drilled into the Earth and traveled at quite a rapid clip considering it had to drill its way through rock and dirt.

Getting back to Burroughs, I was working my way through college and would often spend my lunch break at the library just a block from where I worked.  I really wasn’t that interested in the Tarzan series, but devoured the John Carter from Mars series.  Actually I’ve read the series a couple of times now.  But what to read when those books were gone.  I ran across a much shorter series that started with At the Earth’s Core.  A juggernaut was built that drilled into the Earth’s crust and eventually came upon a populated world that is similar to Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.  These books are fun quick reads and I’ll probably go into a bit more detail on some of them in a later blog.

Now, in Demeter, we add another world to the notion of a world not on the surface but inside a world.  The question of what the world would look like and how it would work was interesting.  I had a fun time working out how gravity worked in such a world.

Debbie and Cynthia

Although Ryder is the protagonist of the Demeter Series, two of the most interesting characters in the series are Debbie, Ryder’s younger sister, and Cynthia Flores. They are strong characters and evolve as central to the plot of the entire series, and in Debbie’s case as comic relief. One of my favorite passages in the first book gives a sense of what is to come. Ryder has been beaten up by the class bully at a school dance. Enjoy the reaction of Debbie and Cynthia.

Ryder noticed Barry’s pointed-toe cowboy boots as one came flying at his stomach. The connection knocked the wind out of him, and he could hear the laughter cut off. That was the last moment he was aware of the surroundings for the next several seconds. Repeated blows came to his face, back, and stomach, depending on how he turned to avoid further contact. He was starting to fade in and out when a chaperone (he thought) arrived and broke up the “fight.” The throbbing pain started to overcome him. “That didn’t turn out so well,” he mumbled as he threw up, then passed out.Ryder wasn’t sure how long he was out, but he was still on the floor in the same position, so it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. As shapes started to come into focus, he was wishing he was still unconscious. The throbbing pain was starting in. He’d felt pain like this before. When was it? Oh yes, when he fell out of that tree and cracked a rib. But in this case, he couldn’t make up his mind which hurt worse, his face or his back or his ribcage. Yup, that same cracked rib. Ryder wondered whether the rib was cracked or broken this time. Meanwhile, it felt like someone had gone over his face with a hammer. No, that was cowboy boots, wasn’t it? he thought.

With his vision back into focus, he saw Mr. Small standing over him in an almost protective crouch and trying to check his pulse at the same time. There was some sort of altercation going on beyond his vision, and screaming, he thought.

“Mr. Small, I’m alive,” Ryder croaked. He realized he must have been kicked in the throat as well.

“We’re calling an ambulance. Lie still.” Mr. Small was using his reassuring voice.

“I’m fine.” Ryder tried to get up, but the throbbing made it easy to relent to Mr. Small’s severe look.

“Come on kids, the show’s over. Back away. We need some air here,” Mr. Small commanded.

The crowd seemed to disperse quickly as there was something else going on just out of Ryder’s vision. Finally, he was able to make out something that made him wonder if he was delirious. Debbie seemed to be flying in circles and he caught glimpses of Cynthia swinging just below her. Suddenly, Debbie seemed to disappear, and there was a great deal of laughter. Ryder thought, I must really be fading. Maybe I’m dying. Then he heard another sharp voice. Was that Mrs. Peterson?

“Get off him you two!”

There was an abrupt screech. Ryder had never heard anything quite so terrifying in his life. It sounded like…well nothing Ryder could imagine. Then his senses came to him quickly. Barry was obviously beating up Debbie. The adrenalin kicked in, and Ryder rose to his feet, holding his side. What he saw made him start to chuckle. His ribs just couldn’t take it. Barry Hales’ voice could now be heard distinctly yelling, “Get them off me! Get them off me!” Mrs. Peterson seemed to be taking her time removing Cynthia and Debbie from Barry, who was now collapsed on the floor. Debbie had two handfuls of hair that had apparently belonged to Barry in her clenched fists. Ryder saw a glaring bald spot on one side of Barry’s head. Cynthia’s foot was retracting from one of those spots guys just don’t like to think about getting kicked. Ryder started to laugh, then spluttered, “Oh no,” and fell unconscious to the floor.

This is an excerpt from chapter 2 of Demeter. The first couple of chapters can be read for free on the Amazon site for the book. Again, Enjoy.