Quite a Favorable Comparison

The American Library Association’s Booklist Online recently included a brief review of Walking On The Sea of Clouds, and the last line of the review compared my novel to another recent science fiction novel you might have heard of. The comparison was so nice that the good folks at WordFire Press added it to the back cover:


(Click to enlarge.)

If the image isn’t clear (e.g., if you’re reading this on a phone and it’s too small to see), the new back-cover quote is:

Much like The Martian, Walking on the Sea of Clouds puts you on a lifeless rock and makes you think about why we explore new frontiers even as it explains how it can be done.

Not too shabby. Here’s looking forward to celebrating the book’s release in a few weeks!

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P.S. I told my newsletter subscribers about this a couple of weeks ago (I usually try to tell them things first). If you’re not getting my newsletter, why not sign up here? You’ll even get a free nonfiction e-book just for signing up.

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Nominate Nerdy Music for the Pegasus Awards!

Do you like music related to science fiction or fantasy? Then you can nominate your favorite songs for the annual Pegasus Awards for Excellence in Filking — which is, as you might guess, writing and performing music often related to SF&F and other nerdy, geeky topics.

Pegasus Award Logo

(Pegasus Award Logo.)

 

In case you’re wondering, anyone who has an interest in filk is considered part of the “filk community” and can nominate candidates (and vote, later!). Since very few people make it to every convention or hear every performer, the award includes a “brainstorming” phase which wrapped up a few weeks ago; you can head to the brainstorming results for suggestions in each category.

What are the categories? The Pegasus Awards are given out in four permanent categories, as well as two categories which rotate from year-to-year:

  • Best Filk Song — any filk song that has not previously won a Pegasus
  • Best Classic Filk Song — any well-known filk song at least 10 years old that has “entered filk community public consciousness”
  • Best Performer — any filk performer who has not won this Pegasus in the past 5 years
  • Best Writer/Composer — any writer/composer of filk songs who has not won this Pegasus in the past 5 years
  • 2017 Rotating Category: Best Horror Song — any song that “elicits horror”
  • 2017 Rotating Category: Best Perky Song — kind of self-explanatory

If you have some favorites you’d like to nominate — and you can nominate up to five songs or people in each category — fill out the 2017 Pegasus Nominating Ballot. Nominations are open until the end of July.

Let your voice be heard, and have fun with it! (And let me know if you need some suggestions….)

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If you’re really not sure whether you’re eligible to nominate, the award by-laws define “exhibiting interest” using examples such as filking at SF&F conventions, attending filk conventions or “house sings,” taking part in related on-line forums, and just “discussing filk and filk related issues with other filkers.” So, if you read this whole post, you can probably claim to have exhibited interest and therefore would be qualified to participate in the Pegasus Award process. (However, this is just barracks lawyering and does not constitute legal advice or any official rules determination.)

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It’s a Slow Process, So Here’s a Brief Tidbit

It’s beginning to look as if Walking On The Sea of Clouds may not be a “Spring” release after all. Hopefully the actual date won’t drift too far into Summer, but I’ll keep you posted as I learn more!

Meanwhile, would you like to read an excerpt from the novel?

If so, here’s the start of the scene in which one of the main characters, Stormie Pastorelli, is about to undergo an experimental nanotechnology medical treatment — called a “picophage” treatment in the text — that’s required because she was exposed to pathogens while saving an accident victim’s life.

Hope you enjoy it …

The only warm color in the room was the red-brown ribbon of blood that flowed through translucent plastic tubing from Stormie’s right arm to the scanner and back again.

The rest of the antiseptic room blazed cold under the fluorescent lights: the row of cabinets labeled with machine-like precision, the stainless steel table with its orderly array of implements, the ubiquitous anatomy poster. The IV drip into her left arm was clear as ice water. Even the scanning and filtration unit itself, squat and boxy in its cream-colored housing with sky blue faceplate, seemed unwarmed though her blood flowed through it.

Over-conditioned air bit through the hospital gown, and Stormie wished she had taken the thin blanket the nurse offered. At least the gown was a tri-fold—a wrap-around with three arm holes—even if it had to be the standard putrid green.

Nothing to be afraid of, she told herself. Nothing but a million microscopic hunter-killers coursing through your blood.

Stormie squirmed a little on the padded table, and the paper covering crackled loud as thunder. The tubing pulled against the tape that secured it to her arm. In places where the light hit the tubing just right, her blood looked as dark as her skin.

Dr. Nguyen’s smiling face appeared in the wire-crossed glass set in the door. He waved, then came in carrying the brushed aluminum clipboard with all the release forms she’d signed. She hadn’t read them, of course; she supposed no one did. Written in the most obscure dialect of legalese, their clauses and codicils were inaccessible to those uninitiated in the lawyerly arts, even people who were otherwise smart; if system administrators could erect electronic barriers as formidable as lawyers’ linguistic barriers, no computer firewall would ever be breached. The papers all boiled down to I-understand-the-risks-associated-with-this-procedure-and-accept-the-improbable-but-very-real-possibility-that-it-may-result-in-my-death-or-permanent-disability. She had signed them with barely a first thought.

Dr. Nguyen’s black, greasy hair stuck out above one ear, as if he’d just gotten up from a nap at his desk. “How are you doing?” he asked. He reached out his slender hand and Stormie shook it for the third time this morning. “Everything still okay? No irritation?” He bent toward her arm and examined the needle site.

“Seems okay,” Stormie said. “I’m cold, though.”

The door opened again and the same stout, blonde nurse who had witnessed the paperwork—Nurse Myracek—carried in a plastic transit case about the size of a six-pack cooler. The dark, almost hunter-green case contrasted with the room’s stark brightness. She set the case next to the equipment on the steel table as Dr. Nguyen asked her to bring Stormie a blanket. She gave Stormie an “I told you so” look, but smiled and nodded to make it a friendly comeuppance.

“You’ll want to lie back now,” Dr. Nguyen said.

Stormie complied, and the clean paper sheet scrunched against her back. Her empty stomach complained about the preparatory fast. In a moment, Nurse Myracek had her expertly swaddled under a soft, robin’s-egg-blue blanket and put a small pillow under her head.

Stormie remembered something in a poem about the night, lying on the table … something about anesthesia … she tried and failed to recall the line. It might be appropriate, somehow.

Dr. Nguyen snapped opened the clasps on the transit case. They clattered down one by one, then he took off the lid and lifted out a syringe about the size of a cigar. He started making notes on his clipboard.

“Just think,” Nurse Myracek said. “That came from outer space.”

Stormie smiled a little. The nurse made it sound as if the picophages in the syringe were alien creatures brought back to Earth by some survey team. They didn’t come from outer space per se, they were grown and processed in the high-vacuum, medium-orbit foundry that the Low-Gee Corporation developed from the space station nanocrystalline laboratory. “Pico-” was marketing hype: they were smaller than almost any other nanomachines, but not three orders of magnitude smaller. So far they were one of only two commercial products that seemed to require low-gravity manufacture, but on that shallow foundation Low-Gee had built a small technical empire. A greater hurdle than making the things in the first place had been figuring out how to prepare them for descent into the Earth’s gravity well; the shock-and-vibration-damping packaging was expensive, but still cheaper than sending people into orbit for treatment.

Stormie nodded. They came from outer space. And you’re going to put them in me.

Clear Night Sky
(Image: “Clear Night Sky,” by Alex Leier, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Hope that gave you a feel for what to expect. Thanks for reading along, and stay tuned for more info!

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Another Testimonial: ‘Amazingly Authentic’

In the run-up to publication of Walking On the Sea of Clouds, here’s what award-winning editor (and author of This Giant Leap) Edmund R. Schubert had to say about the novel:

From the science to the science fiction costume party to the one scientist’s African accent, everything about Walking on the Sea of Clouds feels amazingly authentic. They say an author should write what he knows, and based on this book, I’d say that Gray Rinehart has been in outer space, walked on the moon, thrown up in a NASA-approved barf-bag, fired thruster engines, and driven an LVN (gotta read the book if you want to know what that last one is). You can experience all that and more for yourself, too; just jump in on page one and don’t stop until you get the end.

Orange Moon #1
(Image: “Orange Moon #1,” by Alex Leier, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

I’m sorry to say we still don’t have an official release date yet. But stay tuned for more info!

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What’s Going on in Williamsburg?

RavenCon, baby!

Yes, this weekend I’ll be at the RavenCon science fiction and fantasy convention in Williamsburg, Virginia.

I have a few events to keep me busy:

Friday:

  • 5:25 p.m. — Reading (Room 4)
  • 7 p.m. — Opening Ceremony (Large Auditorium)
  • 10 p.m. — Panel: “The Dystopia is Already Here…” (Room E)

Saturday:

  • 4:30 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show (Room 8)
  • 6 p.m. — Panel Moderator: “As You Know, Bob…: The Fine Art of Exposition” (Room G)
  • 10 p.m. — Panel Moderator: “How to Read Aloud” (Room G )

Sunday:

  • 10 a.m. — Panel: “Should J.J. Abrams be Beaten with Hammers…” (Room E)

The only open filking session is on Sunday morning from 10-12 a.m., so that’s a little odd, but maybe I’ll be able to find a quiet corner and play some tunes. Regardless, it should be fun — hope to see you there!

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Related Items of Interest:
– Speaking of filk, watch the music video of Tauntauns to Glory
– Also speaking of filk, listen free to both of my albums, Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe
– Speaking of reading aloud, watch my Public Speaking Tip: The Value of Inflection
– Speaking of nothing in particular, visit my Online Store

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Admitting My Doubts

I feel a great kinship with two Bible characters in particular: Thomas, who asked for tangible proof of Jesus’s resurrection, and the man who wanted Jesus to heal his child but who confessed his doubts with the poignant, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

So I wrote a song called “Help My Unbelief,” and put it on my Truths and Lies and Make-Believe album. Now, here’s a music video for it:

Hope you like it.

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And, because I neglected to mention it on the blog before now, a couple of weeks ago I put together a music video for one of the science-fiction-inspired songs from that album:

Hope you like it, too!

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What Can You Tell About This Book By Its Cover?

Do you think the old adage is correct, that you can’t tell a book by its cover? Maybe in some ways, but at least the cover should give you an idea of what kind of book you’ve picked up. I think mine does.

Here’s the complete cover of Walking On the Sea of Clouds:


(Click for larger image.)

Here’s what it says on the back:

“Annoyed you haven’t been to the Moon yet? Then pick up Walking on the Sea of Clouds; you’ll feel like you’re there.”
—Charles E. Gannon, author of the award-winning Caine Riordan series
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ON THE LUNAR FRONTIER . . .
. . . survival and success require sacrifice.
. . . some sacrifices are greater than others.
. . . sometimes surviving is success enough.

Every frontier, every new world, tempts and tests the settlers who try to eke out an existence there. In Walking on the Sea of Clouds, a few pioneering colonists struggle to overcome the unforgiving lunar environment as they work to establish the first independent, commercial colony on the “shore” of Mare Nubium, the “Sea of Clouds.” What will they sacrifice to succeed—and survive?
_____

“This book will be treasured by anyone who has ever dreamt of visiting the Moon, walking on another world, or bathing beneath the light of a distant star.”
—David Farland, author of the NYT-bestselling Runelords novels

“Two things are immediately clear. First, Gray Rinehart knows his field(s) inside out; and second, he writes with grace, skill, and professional polish. What more could any reader ask?”
—Mike Resnick, multiple Hugo-award-winning author

So, does that tell you what you need to know about the book? I hope so.

Stay tuned, here and to WordFire Press, for more info as we work our way up to release!

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P.S. I’ve got a new sign-up form for my mailing list. If you’re not getting my every-once-in-a-while newsletter, use the form in the upper right to sign up.

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Two Brief Testimonials

The novel is coming, one of these days! No release date yet for Walking On the Sea of Clouds — it’s still supposed to be a Spring release, and Spring has a few more weeks in it. I’ll let you know when to start looking for it to appear, but meanwhile I thought I’d present two more blurbs.

First, from Mike Resnick, whose stories have garnered more awards and award nominations than any other science fiction writer:

Two things are immediately clear. First, Gray Rinehart knows his field(s) inside out; and second, he writes with grace, skill, and professional polish. What more could any reader ask?

Second, from Martin L. Shoemaker, the award-winning author of “Today I Am Paul”:

Gray Rinehart knows that real engineering is messy, and that Murphy was an optimist. When whatever can go wrong with constructing the first Lunar colony does go wrong, teams on the Moon and on Earth struggle to save the project–and their lives. This is meat and potatoes for the hard science fiction fan.

If it’s permissible to put two different things together, I guess you might say that I know my stuff, and my stuff might appeal to hard science fiction fans. (I admit I really like that “meat and potatoes” line.)

So if you know any hard SF fans, maybe they’d find something to like in my novel.


Look, up in orbit, a Supermoon! (August 2014 Image from NASA/Bill Ingalls.)

Stay tuned, here and to WordFire Press, for more info!

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So, I Started This Video Thing …

It’s been a long time since I made a video, and even longer since I attempted a series, but now seemed like as good a time as any!

I put together my last video series back when I was with the Industrial Extension Service at NC State University, and it was called the “Manufacturing Minute.” I made 44 videos in that series, and probably would’ve made more except that I left that job 3 years ago this month. Each of the “Manufacturing Minute” episodes was “about a minute, about manufacturing,” and even though they were targeted at a niche audience folks seemed to appreciate them. (They’re still available if you know where to look.)

My new series is something different — it will cover a variety of things, not just manufacturing, because I have a variety of interests. For instance, this first episode combines guidance from a samurai warrior and a science fiction Grand Master to arrive at what I call “The Musashi-Heinlein School”:

I hope you liked it! I intend to keep all the entries about as short as this one; right now I don’t envision any of them running much longer than about 5 minutes.

If you have any thoughts about this new venture, I’d love to hear them. Let me know if you have comments, questions, suggestions for improvement or suggestions for future episodes — for instance, if you’d like me to expand on “The Musashi-Heinlein School” by delving into the different things Heinlein listed.

Thanks for watching, and have a great day!

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Related Items:
Series Introduction (extra episode)
Host Introduction (extra episode)
– I delve into some of the ideas from the video in my book, Quality Education: Why It Matters, and How to Structure the System to Sustain It

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Another Testimonial: ‘You’ll feel like you’re there’

The WordFire Press team and I have made progress on my forthcoming novel, Walking On the Sea of Clouds, though I’m still not sure what the actual, definite, no-kidding release date is yet. I’m still counting on it being a Spring release — which, if you’ve seen previous posts about the book, you know I take to mean between now and the summer solstice.

In the meantime, I’m pleased — and, I must admit, quite humbled — to present another endorsement, this one from Charles E. “Chuck” Gannon, author of the award-winning Caine Riordan books:

You’ve always wanted to go to the Moon. You’ve always loved hard science fiction. You’ve always gravitated toward believable characters. You’ve never found a way to get all three in the same place, at the same time. Well, now there’s a way. Here’s how:

You pick up Gray Rinehart’s Walking on the Sea of Clouds, the most faithful and gritty ‘you are there’ novel of early lunar settlement I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. This is hard SF at its hardest — by which I mean that not only is the science spot on and largely off-the-shelf, but the characters conform to the emotional and psychological limits of folks we interact with every day. There are no galactic crises to be overcome, no interpersonal conflicts that erupt into homicidal rage, and no cast of quirky tycoons, femme fatales, or wise-cracking test-pilots. This is the Moon as it’s likely to be in the early days of colonization, where even the smallest problems have impacts far beyond what living on Earth has trained us to anticipate.

Annoyed you haven’t been to the Moon yet? Then pick up Walking on the Sea of Clouds; you’ll feel like you’re there.

Hopefully that whets your appetite for the story, or you know someone who might like the kind of story Chuck described. And hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to tell you how to order a copy!


Want to go to the Moon? (Full Moon image from Apollo-11, from NASA.)

Let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested!

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