Category Archives: hard science

Comets and Book Clubs

IMG_9503We are landing on a comet tonight! This is a momentous event. After ten years of chasing, using gravity assist, the Philae Lander, a robotic spacecraft, will catch up to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or 67P, and anchor itself there for hopefully a year long ride.

The Rosetta project, led by the European Space Agency with contributions from NASA and others, will be studying this comet in order to better understand the composition of comets, thought to bring water to primitive Earth, and possibly life itself. Eventually it will be within 180 million km of the sun and expelling water and gases because of intense heat.New Image of Comet ISON

Find more at: CNN.com: Rosetta Landing or www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta

This is the ESA’s official website, where you can find the latest news, images and animations on the spacecraft and its lander .

touching-crystal-thumb-1Why does this intrigue me? My sixth novel, Touching Crystal deals with the impact of a comet against Alysia’s moon, Thanos, and the resulting consequences to my world of Alysia.

Science will now explain what was once mystical, a harbinger or omen for humans. Although it took ten years to get close enough to land, the idea that we can interface with a moving comet offers hope that we may be able to divert any future threats to Earth from this type of cosmic threat.

Although, we certainly didn’t see the meteor that crashed into Russia last year and took us by surprise. We were too busy staring at a passing asteroid.

NeuromancerI am currently reading Snow Crash, as it is a selection of my Powell’s Book Club and we meet tonight. It is a Hugo winner classic from 1992 and is very different. Think William Gibson and his Hugo winning book, Neuromancer, which created the sub genre of Cyber-punk in the early 1990s and you have an idea of the story.Snow Crash

The Powell’s book club is a rowdy group of fifteen to twenty-five or so science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts who have been meeting for over ten years at the world famous bookstore of Powell’s in Beaverton. They are awesomely intelligent about science fiction and not shy about offering opinions.

Makes for lively discussions, so I need to be prepared.

Abyss Beyond DreamsI also plan on reading The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter Hamilton, and will report on that new offering in the next week or two.

someones_clone_front-cover_v2_finalBut first, I have my proof for Someone’s Clone in my hot hands and expect a November 20 publication date. Until then, I’ll be working feverishly to put the final touches on it and conquer the format and download monster.

Check out Amazon for this exciting new adventure, one of my best to date. A murder, a mystery, time travel, romance, aliens…this one has it all…so stay tuned.

 

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Quantum Theory Noir Thriller: hard science in science fiction

IMG_0165

Grab your chisels ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who have been mumbling that McCartha has gone soft, this week’s review is for you.

It’s all about hard science fiction.

For what is the most challenging, the most difficult to get your head around, the least understood of all the science theories?

Quantum Theory.

You bet. It changes even as you look at it, and a cat-in-a-box can be both dead and alive until the observer decides it’s fate.

Schrodinger’s Gat attempts to explain Quantum Theory, Probability and Permutation as the main characters manipulate events at every toss of a coin.

Welcome to a hard science novel that tackles a challenging subject and gives lectures along the way. Yes, throughout the book are serious science lectures where the author warns you that if you’re after story only, you should skip the next several paragraphs of dense science theory.

Of course, when anyone says, “Don’t read this, or look away,” that’s when I dig out my glasses.

Told in the first person,using the voice and ambience of a Dashiell Hamnet novel, Schrodinger’s Gat is a simple story that  explores the quandary of fate versus free will and the puzzle of parallel dimensions.

Interested?

Yes, please.

Schrodinger's GatFailed writer, teacher and divorced father, Paul Bayes succumbs to depression, tosses a coin and lets its outcome direct him to step in front of an oncoming Bart subway.

There are several depression ridden moments…be warned.

While moaning over his life in true Hamlet fashion, he is still male enough to notice out of the corner of his eye, a pretty dark-haired girl watching him and when the coin comes up tails and he begins to step forth, she yells, “No!” and runs away.

Flummoxed, he hesitates just long enough to miss his train, and instead he takes off and chases her to begin a wild ride into the realm of quantum physics. For Tali, can locate tragedies and prevent them from happening. She dices with fate at the toss of a coin and the possibility of breaking free from the grip of fate fills Paul with hope…until the future begins to punch back.

This two-hundred and eight page story is full of action, but is also a mind-bending romp into the hard science of Quantum Physics.

You wanted it.

And if you haven’t had your fill yet,  this fascinating link shows how the dreams of science fiction writers have turned into the reality of present day science. http://www.buzzfeed.com/microsoftmsn/10-science-fiction-technologies-that-are-now-real

Check it out…science fiction technology becomes real day technology.

 

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An Exciting new Space Opera

IMG_9518Sometimes a book is so good that you can’t wait to talk about it. Such is the case with Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey.

But first…

For my hard science followers, this Utube link discusses how we see our universe and contains some interesting concepts on how big it must be. I just had to include it in my blog. There must be a book in there somewhere. Misconceptions about the Universe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBr4GkRnY04

On to Caliban’s War…

Caliban's war

Caliban’s War is the second book in The Expanse trilogy that is slated to be made into a mini series on the syfy channel sometime in the future. It will be interesting to see how they present this series.

I read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan Wakes, (February 11, 2014) but dragged my feet on delving into this 600 page adventure because of both price and title. The title just didn’t excite me, but the price did.

Leviathan Wakes

I went on a rant.

The publisher is Hatchette and that house puts out expensive hardbacks at $25 by popular authors until the next book debuts, a year later, and then publishes a trade paperback so they can charge $17 a book. That’s high for my budget, in addition to a wait.

So, I went to Kindle where I found the Ebook at $9.99. For an Ebook! Fortunately, I had a credit at Powell’s Bookstore so I justified buying the paperback…but now I want to read Abaddon’s Gate, the next in the series with a cool title, and I’m faced with the same high cost and so I am impatiently waiting until it shows up in my library (which it hasn’t yet).

Maybe that’s what Amazon is protesting in their suit with Hatchette.

After struggling through some Indie books and a few traditional novels of mediocre writing, the professionalism of the writing and formatting in Caliban was a welcome change. Hatchette does that right at least.

Abaddon's GateFour main characters reveal the story. On Ganymede, breadbasket to the outer planets, Roberta Draper, a Martian marine, watches in horror as an alien super soldier easily slaughters her entire platoon and destroys the critical food installation. As the sole survivor, she is taken to Earth and questioned about what happened where she meets and becomes involved with…

Chrisjen Avasarala, an elderly, powerful, politician from Earth, who deftly manipulates the game of politics in a desperate attempt to prevent interplanetary war. Cracking pistachios in a bright orange sari, the assistant to the undersecretary of executive administration wields her power as she tries to out maneuver war-mongering generals and power hungry, good old boy politicians.

While on Venus, the protomolecule from the first book evolves, spreads and overruns the planet, threatening to escape and take over the solar system.

Meanwhile, James Holden takes on the job of keeping the peace for the Outer Planet Alliance until Prax, a desperate scientist from the devastated Ganymede, pleads with him to help find Mei, his daughter, who has been kidnapped from Ganymede by mysterious scientists.

In order to pay for the rescue, Holden crowdsources the funds, showing pictures of the kidnapped child while her father, Prax, emails and communicates with millions who sends what they can to support the endeavor. The idealistic Holden pursues a trail that becomes more and more dangerous and complex, until the future of humanity rests on whether his single ship can stop the alien invasion that threatens them all. With the help of the Earth politician and Martian soldier, he tries to dismantle a secret conspiracy that unwittingly may destroy humankind.

Lots of action with real characters and emotion, this space opera should be on any science fiction enthusiast’s reading list.

So, start saving your pennies now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Asimov’s World Fair Predictions 1964

IMG_0174After reading Timebound by Rysa Walker where the main character time travels back to the World’s Fair in Chicago of 1899, I stumbled into an article that talked about the fifty year ago predictions of science fiction author, Isaac Asimov, for the future at the 1964 World’s Fair. I thought it was interesting to learn some of his predictions and whether they came true or not. Can science fiction authors predict the future or are they just writing good stories?

He actually nailed some of them and some he missed the mark on. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27069716

He predicted:

We would be able to see and hear any conversations.

With the advent of Skype and Facetime, this is possible. However, I think FaceTime hasn’t reached the popularity Apple or the world thought it might, mainly because I’m not ready to show my face bright and early in the morning before make-up has been applied. The little picture in the window is never as flattering as I wish it could be. Maybe the young kids use it much more often than we more mature (read wrinkled) generation, but I’m surprised at how overlooked it is. Do you FaceTime?

We could direct dial to any spot.

downloadPretty much true.

 

 

Robots would not be common, but would exist.download (1)

A lot of research is going forward developing amazing robots. Recently Cosmos, a new tv show, talked about a four-legged robot that could go over any rough terrain and carry several hundred pounds. It’s a mechanical packhorse. I own a romba (named Robbie)  that cleans my rugs and floors, and this is rather commonplace. IRobot also makes robots that go into dangerous places or war zones to investigate possible bombs. Currently robots can do surgery and, of course, manufacture cars. Manufacturing uses a lot of robotic functions. Amazon is talking about having drones deliver packages.Microrobotics

3D television and wall screens will be common.

While large flat tv screens are in most homes, the acceptance of 3D television has flopped. No one wants to pay the extra money and wear the goofy glasses.

There will be conversations with the moon.

Except if you call, no one will answer.

Robots will make coffee.

My morning coffee is set up at night so all I have to do is push a button and it’s percolating. You can schedule it to go on automatically if you want. Pretty much automated except I put in beans and water. There’s no robot picking beans for me or bustling around the kitchen that early.

We will have algae grown and vat made meat that will taste not so bad.vat meat

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-08/first-lab-grown-hamburger-served

This just happened where a pseudo burger was developed in a lab. However, the not-so- bad taste is still in question.

We will have fusion and solar power and other sources of alternate energy.download (2)

While the fusion power is still a dream of the future, large solar arrays in the desert and house-top solar panels are growing by leaps and bounds. We are making progress, but it still isn’t in every household. Electric cars are gaining traction…buy Tesla stock.

Vehicles will drive with robot brains. Jetpack’s and hovercraft will be common modes of transportation. http://www.google.com/about/careers/lifeatgoogle/self-driving-car-test-steve-mahan.html

While most vehicles use computers and high tech devices for gps, video and audio, self driving cars are still in the developmental stage. (but see the link on this progress) However, they are coming. Jetpack’s and hovercraft displayed at the Fair are still not used extensively, although they exist.

Not all will enjoy the gadgetry in full, but the majority will be better off than present, but many will be further behind.

There is a new class division developing between those that have access to tech and can use it and those that are falling behind. Tech is developing and changing at a breath-taking pace and those that can keep up will forge ahead, leaving many in luddite dust. Some of this is generational. My daughter has integrated high tech more deeply into her life than I have, and understands it far better, but my mother doesn’t even own a computer or understand the basics of our current tech world. She can barely comprehend the complicated world of social media that now exists and the wide array of aps and websites that proliferate.

If you could hop in a time machine and power ahead fifty years from now, what would be one technology now in the developmental stage that you might find integrated into society?

PS: On Mother’s Day through the 15th I have enrolled in the KDP Select program that will offer Caught in Time free. Check out the right panel for synopsis and more details of the book.

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Comet Ison: Not Science Fiction

IMG_0174If the name Ison means nothing to you….then you need to read on.

If it does, then you might want to read on anyway.

Ison is the name of a spectacular comet that has entered our solar system and is headed toward the sun. On November 28, 2013, it will approach perihelion with the sun (closest point: 700,00 miles above the surface) and one of three things will happen:

It will survive and head out towards Earth, it will break up into pieces like the Schumacher-Levy Comet did, and pieces of it will continue towards the sun, or it will disintegrate completely due to the sun’s enormous gravity and heat. It may not survive…

Most Sungrazing comets don’t.

touching-crystal-thumb-1This exciting event happens just around the time of the launch of my sixth book, Touching Crystal, and yes, Chapter One starts with a comet streaking  out from behind the sun and crashing into Thanos, Alysia’s smaller moon. Richard Steele and Trace Walker have to cope with the aftermath of changing weather and disrupted economies. But more than that, there’s alien crystals and invaders involved.

Exciting stuff…and very timely.

I would like to say that I planned Comet Ison coming at this time, but of course, I didn’t.

Serendipity.

Here’s an interesting link on 12 cool facts about Comet Ison.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/11/21/comet_ison_12_cool_facts.html

It’s less than two miles across in the rocky core…1.2 miles (size of Manhattan) and shrinking as it casts off huge amounts of gas and water. The tail is five million miles long and the coma (front part) is 100,000 kilometers in size. The tail has recently split into possibly three tails and the front has sprouted “wings,” which indicates that pieces may have come off.

If it does survive the sun and comes around out of the backside, it could reach a velocity of 225/sec or fast enough to cross the Continental US in twenty-five seconds.

But…

New Image of Comet ISONThe closest it will get to Earth is on December 26 (hmmm…) at forty million miles away. (phew!)

We should be able to see a spectacular show, and even now, it’s brightening up enough to be seen with binoculars and the naked eye at certain times.

Then, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. It’s called a Perihelion Comet and they don’t come back.

So be alert, and check the skies for a once in a lifetime event.

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Ebooks: What’s Going On?

IMG_0174Several interesting developments have happened to me recently in the world of Ebooks.

First, my science fiction book club selected Amped as the book to read this week. Dan Wilson also wrote Robopocalypse, which made the New York Times Best seller list. He’ll be coming out with  sequel, RoboGenesis, in 2014.

He’s a young writer with a promising future and came to talk personally to our group…old school marketing style. His credentials are strong as he has a Phd in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and consulted with several professors on how such a device would work. He said that Random House is his publisher and really got behind him with a strong marketing campaign to get his book out there.

I would say, it worked. Color me green.

AmpedThe book is about a device implanted in the brain that increases intelligence, motor function and overall performance. In Amped, the device is implanted into the handicapped and lower class person, setting up discrimination against those “Amped.”

Already, we have many devices implanted in the brain to augment deficits…cochlear implants being one, Parkinson aids, pacemakers, and others. I actually know people who have each of these right now. So, the idea is not too far future.

There is the flavor of Flowers for Algernon and a bit of Slan, except technology is used instead of chemicals or genetics to elevate performance.

Needless to say, a class war ensues and Wilson brings in some weighty questions as to who should be augmented and how the ordinary Joe will react to those chosen to be augmented into superior beings.

A lot of politics and back room maneuvering for power develops. Events turn nasty…and he starts with a suicide.

However, what I found interesting was that to get the book, I went online to my local library, and downloaded the story. Thrifty person that I am, it cost nothing, and I didn’t even leave my chair. I used an app called Overdrive that made it easy.Robopocaypse

Even for a techno idiot like me.

Then, last week I went to a seminar put on by Kobo, which is an ebook seller worldwide in over 150 countries. They are partnering with independent bookstores to put in  QRcards for ebooks.

Jan’s Paperbacks, an independent local bookstore, hosted the event and over eighteen area authors came to greet their readers and swirl carousels to distribute cards with their cover and a QR code on the back. The cards took you to Kobo where you could download the book for free. The idea is to offer a free book in order to get your name out there and entice readers into other books you have written.

However, some books cost…and I bought a card for DIY Publishing for $9.99 and went online to Dropcards.com to download it through an access code found on the back of the card. Worked quite well.

So we have both libraries and brick and mortar bookstores offering Ebooks, some free and some at a good price.

Interesting.

A final note to the awesome Peter at Powell’s Bookstore in Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton. The reading group just celebrated their tenth year, and Peter has worked with the group offering sample books, helping us pick out available authors and generally existing as a font of science fiction knowledge. Thanks for all your help. Ten years for a reading group to stay together is amazing.

Leah Day and John Bunnell are part of the reason why.

Leah has over 27,000 books in her home and contains an incredible knowledge of science fiction. John remembers esoteric details of all things science fiction and is also amazing.

Thanks to everyone for all your hard work in keeping this group going.

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Imagination to Reality in Science Fiction

IMG_0174Imagination…one of the attributes that sets man apart from the beasts.

When I was a kid I used to wonder what the future would look like.

Still do.

And since my father loved science fiction, I often envisioned what a space station, or a spaceship might look like.

I watched Startrek and got some ideas. Battlestar Galactica gave me others. I read about other writers’ ideas in many books.

When we walked the moon, I wondered if we would ever build a space station, and go further.

What would crafts able to travel in deep space look like? Probably not like the airplanes I saw flying overhead at the time. I researched space travel for my book Past the Event Horizon and tasked my character Richard Steele to build a space station in Space Song.

Of course in imagination, there is no price tag and mine is fairly large and spacious, but not without some stumbling blocks.

Gravity, radiation, fuel, distances, oxygen, and many more elements would drive innovation in designing a safe travel vehicle or spinning way station …

but man has ingenuity…and imagination, and can do amazing things

I would close my eyes and envision a spinning station where people worked experiments, slept, ate, and launched ships onto other worlds.

Now I have reached that future.

It’s not exactly what I expected. Or saw in most movies, but I often feared I wouldn’t see it in my lifetime.

And yet one of these now exists. Enjoy a tour of our International Space Station, courtesy of the imagination of man.

And be amazed at what man has accomplished.

Click here: Departing Space Station Commander Provides Tour of Orbital Laboratory – YouTube

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Current Science Concepts or Themes in Science Fiction

IMG_9503Have you noticed?

I have.

Certain current science concepts and themes are cropping up in best selling science fiction.

One theme sparked by current science discoveries is the search for new habitable planets. Thanks to the Kepler mission, scientists are now sorting through hundreds of possible candidates for a new Earth.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

Interestingly, our scientists are sending robots first to investigate other worlds…just like the alien robot that crashed onto my world of Alysia.

Hmmm. Maybe it came from Earth?

Because that’s what we’re doing now on Mars.

Nanobots is also a current theme. I sent a link two blogs ago on remote control miniature robots. One of my favorite scenes in my forthcoming novel Touching Crystal (out in November 2013) concerns saving two hostages using remote controlled flying nanobots.

Lots of fun.

The Risen EmpireScott Westerfeld has a great scene in his Risen Empire that also does this, only he sends in a horde of nanobots and you don’t get to sit in the “cockpit” with  Richard Steele like my readers do in Touching Crystal.

Several recent novels by well known prolific writers touch on the theme of robots that are self-replicating and can reconfigure themselves into whole new forms as their environment changes.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/07/m_block_self_assembling_cube_robots_mit/

Self replicating nanobots are the source of possible world disaster in Larry Niven and Matthew Harrington’s new novel The Goliath Stone.

The Briareus mission took nano machinery out to divert an Earth crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, but things go wrong and nanobots go wild, creating a whole new entity that threatens Earth.The Golith Stone

Dr. Toby Glyer, is the genius behind the nanotechnology and uses it to effect miracle cures on Earth…long life, disease free humans with strong libidos. Now he must find his partner, William Connor, and stop the incoming danger.

While the concepts and technology of this novel were intriguing, the dialog and action bogged me down.

A lot of sitting around and guessing what game the elusive William Connor played.

New EarthWell known and prolific writer Ben Bova just came out with his newest in a series called New Earth. He uses both the theme of discovering habitable planets and medical nanotechnology that enables health and long life.

Of course, everything gets carried much farther than current technology.

Science fiction writers do that….Until eventually, it becomes reality.

Like Niven, he ascribes a dangerous element into his nanobots, but does not ban them from Earth like Bova does.

Maybe he should have.

In both, the current themes and science are interesting, but the writing could have been better and more engaging.

In Bova’s New Earth, a long term exploration ship is sent to an exciting new world that appears habitable for humans. While the eighty year trip to New Earth takes place, the passengers are put in a cryogenic sleep, unaware of a global warming crisis on Earth.

Here is another current theme much discussed nowadays…global warming.

In the story, global warming has caused Earth’s cities to be inundated and weather to shift. Economies are on the brink of disaster.

A global weather shift is also a theme I use in my forthcoming novel, Touching Crystal, but that event is caused by a destructive comet.

Several popular movies, Deep Impact and Armageddon  in 1998 portrayed how we might respond to an advancing asteroid or meteorite. Recent asteroid activity and the crash of a meteorite in Russia has reignited this theme. (See Feb. 2013 blog)

In the novel New Earth, the political leaders choose to abandon the expedition in order to attend to their own world crisis.

The expedition lands and discovers highly advanced friendly aliens that carry human DNA. The natives claim to have been born on the planet, which turns out to have a hollow metal shell. They deny having interstellar travel capability, but insist that they are human. Everyday technology is highly advanced, yet no cars, or manufacturing are visible. Nothing adds up.

The Earthlings are suspicious and the exploration team divides into several factions. The main character falls in love with one of the human appearing natives and trusts their leader’s offer of friendship. Other factions in the landing team mistrust the natives. They continually warn that the natives have ulterior and dangerous motives. The story sets up a nice conflict among the two groups as to who can be trusted and what motives drive both humans and aliens.

While parts of the story bog down a bit, Bova throws in a surprising twist towards the end, which keeps the reader flipping the page.

For me, what carried the story were the interesting dynamics of psychology: from the world leader abandoning the expedition for his own local concerns to the whole exploration of the human psyche and how various individuals reacted to first contact.

Humans can be a bit paranoid when confronted by new and unknown things…and aliens, well, who knows whether they can be helpful friends or world destroying enemies?

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Science Fiction Becomes Reality

IMG_9518Science that seems like science fiction

Recently, scientists have succeeded in implanting false memories…

Into mice.

Wow!  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jul/25/false-memory-implanted-mouse-brain

But how far away are we from doing this to humans?

I swear this phenomena has already happened between my mother and me. We both can be at the same moment in time and both carry away totally different memories of what happened or what was said.

“You remember, you said…”

“I never said that!”

“Oh yes, you said…”

Insert discussion here that is totally different from how you remembered it.

Human memory at best is faulty and subject to personal viewpoint interpretation.

But deliberately implanting totally false memories?Origin of a comet

That’s scary.

The Bourne Identity movies may not be too far off in the future. And the opportunity for implanting false memories to use as a coverup to hide government programs is frightening.

Or what about implanting memories that could be used in the entertainment industry a la Total Recall. The lines of reality and fantasy might become blurred as we experience totally false memories that we can purchase from, ah say, Amazon Online.

Hmmm…I have a few in mind already.

Now there’s a science fiction story for you.

Still with a horde of baby boomers getting older and older, the hovering threat of memory loss, Alzheimer’s and Dementia has pushed exploration of how memory functions to the forefront of science. We are trying to find out what memory is, and how we can protect our ability to remember.

A Dr. Blaylock is doing a lot of research on memory loss and is discovering surprising facts about the role diet plays in accelerating or preventing it. According to his research, absorbing certain metals plays a role in memory loss. Cast iron skillets, lead, aluminum cookware, eating certain fish and getting flu shots all contribute to a build up of various metals in the body, and may contribute to memory malfunction. Other villains are MSG, soy, and aspartame often found in prepared foods.salmon

Health science is focusing on how we can prevent disease rather than having to find cures, or rely on medications so heavily.

Thank you, Dr. Oz. No wonder your program is popular.

Extending memory through computers and cloud storage for all the events and people we want to remember is exploding. We’re no longer keeping photos on dusty bookshelves, but are storing our pictures in the computer or in the cloud.

More than memory loss, what about a total loss of identity?

The DisappearedThis week I read The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The story is not only about people who erase their memory, but who completely erase their identity and assume new ones. They need to disappear for one reason or another.

This is the first book in her popular Retrieval Series and touches on how the law has to provide a framework for various alien cultures to get along together. Unfortunately, these laws are not always just or fair to humans.

The story’s main character is recently promoted cop Miles Flint who is glad to leave the spaceport beat and move into covering the Dome. However, because of his spaceport experience, he has the bad luck to be called in for a crime on a space cruiser containing ritually disemboweled bodies that reflect a Disty vengeance killing. Next a ship of two human children abducted by Wygnin leaving moon orbit for their home planet is detained. Finally, a civilian calling herself Greta Palmer sends out a MayDay from a space yacht, reporting that she is being hunted by the Rev. To make things interesting, he is paired with an abrasive female detective whose record at headquarters describes someone with behavior problems.

Miles Flint has his hands full figuring out what is going on, and things are only going to get worse when he realizes that the largest service, Disappearance Inc., that helps humans hide and find new identities to escape alien forms of justice has just sold out its extensive list of clients.

Cases years old are resurfacing and humans are being sold, abducted or killed in the process.

I found this a fascinating exploration of alien jurisprudence wrapped in an absorbing, emotional story of three varying tales of desperate human groups, trying to deal with the horror their lives have become because they unintentionally broke or violated an alien law.Consequences K. Rusch

If you like detective stories with a science fiction framework, you’ll enjoy The Disappeared. And you may enjoy the others in her series too.Extremes-K.Rusch

Next week I’ll talk about the fascinating subject of…ah….hmm…, er…how about I get back to you on that later?

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Future Forward: Notable Science Fiction

IMG_0174First off: Happy Fourth of July. As much as the news criticizes our government and claims we are as bad as Orwell’s 1984, I am still glad that I live in America and was born to my parents. I am lucky.

More than the government, I fear a relative or friend posting an awkward picture on Facebook, or quoting a tweet out of context. More than the municipal camera on a street corner are the millions of cameras in the average person’s smart phone ready to snap any local event or action. We resent government interference, but embrace everyone else… Amazon, Facebook, Linked-in, etc.

Nowadays we can’t hide from each other.

Nor do we seem to want to.

I just returned from Nashville where I attended a special wedding of my nephew and a book signing.

Text messaging enabled me to stay abreast of all activities and be where I needed to be. My whole dynamic of communication shifted.

I learned a few lessons about doing a book signing. Last time I came to this group, I contacted the organizer well ahead of time and she got me on the regular calendar. The room filled with over fifty people and was immensely successful. I sold every book I brought and then some.

This time I hesitated to contact the organization ahead for various reasons. My old contact had left and someone new ran the activities. I didn’t have her number, would they even want me to talk again? By the time we connected, the normal calendar had gone out. But, she was enthusiastic and we discussed an intriguing title.

Which didn’t get published.

Instead, I was billed as Sheron McCartha discusses her second career as an author, and a small flyer went out to a limited number of people. Needless to say, the attendance was not the same.

BUT…

There is nothing that beats face to face contact with a reader. Everyone in attendance bought a book and I made some wonderful friends and met some really nice people. I had a good time and would do it again.

The moral is to get out there, but make sure you’re well publicized first. Don’t be shy. People can be really nice.

As I was sitting on the plane traveling out, I remember gazing out the window and seeing the cotton white clouds, thinking of the settlers trudging westward over a hundred years ago. Did any one of them stare up into the sky and imagine large metal birds flying high overhead at incredible velocities packed with passengers of all types that stared at iPads and kindles, and paperbacks, passing the time sipping various drinks and eating peanuts? I took six hours to travel coast to coast where early settlers took many months, and most died in the attempt. I went in comfort and barely felt the heat outside. Did any one of those early settlers envision this future or even have the capacity to understand what it might be?

And a hundred years from now, how might my descendants be traveling, and what might they look like? Hopefully not baggy shorts and Nike t-shirts.

Spin StateIf you would like to imagine a far future where faster than light communication is enabled through Bose-Einstein relays that use special crystals that involve entanglement, and genetically designed and tanked beings, part human, part cyborg exist, then I recommend Chris Moriarty’s Spin State.

Spin State is a detective story with Catherine Li as an augmented investigator, born out of the mines of Compton’s world, where the precious crystals that enable worlds to connect are found. She escapes the crushing poverty of the mines, buys a new face, cutting tech augmentation, joins the military and becomes a hero, a major and finally a UN Peacekeeper.

Now she is sent back to her home world to investigate the death of a dead physicist, called Sharifi, who turns out to be her cloned twin. And what was called an accident is looking more and more like murder. But over thirty-seven faster than light jumps has erased most of Li’s memories and every corner she turns deep inside the mines of this alien world holds deadly secrets she must unravel. The critical crystal may be alive, but dying, and a missing data set could change the balance of power and bring about a war.

Li engages the help of a one of a kind artificial intelligence that is programmed with human emotions. Cohen is her strange lover who uses various human bodies and downloads into them as he helps Li solve her mystery. He can access places no human can go and process data in a blink of an eye…but can she trust him? His motivation is suspect as he also wants to find what Sharifi has discovered and use it for his own purposes. Secrets are everywhere. And the witch Bella, created and tanked by the Synthetic worlds who want to take over humankind, has her own reasons for finding out what Sharifi uncovered deep in a mine’s glory hole. For her, the crystals sing.

An intriguing mix of mystery, quantum physics, evolved humans and artificial intelligences, I found Spin State an engaging read and recommend it. This book is first in a series that I want to bring to your attention. Spin Control and Ghost Spin continue the tale of Catherine Li and the struggle between artificial intelligence and humans. I am looking forward to reading these also.Spin Control

Spin State received a nomination for the 2003 Philip K. Dick award and was the top ten editor’s pick for Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2003.

And made the time pass swiftly and enjoyably while I soared overhead.

Ghost Spin

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Filed under alien life forms, artificial intelligence, artificial nature, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Hard science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction science, super computer, Uncategorized, virtual reality