Book Your Trip to the Moon, Two Weeks from Today

Bad puns aside, Walking On The Sea of Clouds is scheduled for release on Wednesday, 26 July!

Next week I’ll have more information about the best way to order a copy if you want one, and then as the actual date gets closer you may get tired of hearing from me about it. But, as I wrote to some friends last night, I’m only ever going to have one debut novel — and this is it! So I’m going to make the most of it.

Many thanks to the WordFire Press team for their hard work — and for putting up with my trouble-making!

Lunar Landscape
(Image: “Lunar Landscape,” by RDPixelShop, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

It’s going to be a real thing, real soon!

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‘Fans of THE MARTIAN will appreciate …’

… some aspects of my novel, according to another pre-publication review.

Before we get to that, some news: I’m in the midst of examining the galley proof of Walking On The Sea of Clouds and owe all my comments to the good folks at WordFire Press by the end of the week. I have more news — as in, an actual release date — but I’m going to share it first with everyone on my mailing list, which you can sign up for here (and even get a free [nonfiction] e-book).

Now, back to the latest review of Walking On The Sea of Clouds. Wendy S. Delmater, editor of the electronic magazine Abyss & Apex, reviewed the novel for their 3rd quarter 2017 issue. Here’s an excerpt:

If you’ve ever wanted to be a colonist on the moon, this is as close as you will ever get without going there yourself.

Fans of THE MARTIAN will appreciate the technical struggles of Frank and Stormie, Van and Barbara, and the other couples sent up to a moon colony started as a private venture. What’s especially interesting is not just the bang-on accuracy of the engineering challenges involved, it’s the behind-the-scenes wrangling of the company sending them, the independent contractors, and the very human situations these forces create for the colonists….

You can read the whole review, and make a donation to support the magazine, at http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2017/06/walking-on-the-sea-of-clouds/.

Librazione 16 03 14 BETTER 23-03
I love this image of the moon with the maria — the “seas” — appearing to be covered with water. (Image: “Librazione 16 03 14,” by Giuseppe Donatiello, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

I hope you think as highly of the novel, should you decide to read it!

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New Music Video: The Books We Call Baen

Most science fiction and fantasy fans know the name Baen Books — or at least know the names of some of our authors! Here’s a tribute song to Baen Books* and its founder, Jim Baen, from my album, Distorted Vision.

Hope you like it!

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*Full Disclosure: I’m a Contributing Editor for Baen. But I figure that’s all the more reason to do a tribute song!

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Other music videos:
Tauntauns to Glory
Help My Unbelief

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Science Fiction and FREEDOM! — LibertyCon

I don’t have any updates on my novel, so today I thought I’d share my schedule for LibertyCon, which takes place this weekend in Chattanooga. We’ll be celebrating science fiction and fantasy, and the freedom we have to enjoy them!

My convention schedule is heavily weighted toward Friday events, which will leave me time later in the con to relax:

Friday:

  • 1 p.m. — Reading
  • 2 p.m. — Panel: How to Approach Publishers
  • 5 p.m. — Opening Ceremonies
  • 7 p.m. — Author’s Alley
  • 8 p.m. — Concert

Saturday:

  • 11 a.m. — Panel: Space Debris and the Issues of Satellite Survivability
  • 12 a.m. — Luncheon
  • 2 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show

Sunday:

  • 10 a.m. — Kaffeeklatsch
  • 11 a.m. — Autograph Session

It should be fun — hope to see you there!

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Related Items of Interest:
– If you can’t make it to my concert on Friday, you can at least enjoy the “Tauntauns to Glory” music video
– You can also listen free to both of my albums, Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe

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It’s Summertime, But is the Living Easy?

Happy Summer Solstice!

It’s officially Summer, astronomically speaking, and as I said last week it turns out my novel was not a “Spring release” after all. C’est la vie. I wish I could tell you when it will be available, but alas I cannot. The good folks at WordFire Press last told me “end of June,” but that’s not looking too good from this vantage point — so I expect it to be a few more weeks yet.

By way of apology for not being able to give you more definite information, I present to you another excerpt from Walking On The Sea of Clouds. This excerpt introduces Van Richards, an irreverent but passionate “grunt” on the Asteroid Consortium team, during his mission to set up part of the infrastructure to support the lunar colony.

Bright sunlight bathed the lunar highlands: along rills and near rocks, it cast short but ever-lengthening abyss-dark shadows.

It was a lot better to get this job done in the daylight than the darkness, as far as Van was concerned. As sunset approached, there would be precious few sunlit swathes left. And the big lights on the front of the rig would barely penetrate the darkness.

A chime sounded from the control panel in front of him; if Oskar had taken off on time, he should be in the area soon. Van checked the frequency and keyed his microphone. “Oskar, this is Van,” he said, dispensing with all radio protocol. “You out there, Oskar?”

The radio crackled a little. In keeping with the Consortium’s low-ball approach, its electronics were nothing fancy but easy to repair. Van waited a few more minutes, then repeated the call. He was about to transmit a third time when Oskar’s voice blared from the speaker.

“Lima Victor November, this is Lima Sierra Oscar Victor, over.”

“Hey, Oskar! Been waitin’ for you to call. Where are you?”

Oskar sounded annoyed. “Roger, LVN. We’re coming up on your left, Van, about a thousand meters high. I can see you clearly. Looks like you’re right on time, over.”

“Sure we are, Oskar. Where else would we be?” Van snuck looks out the left-hand window for the suborbital vehicle. “Hey, why don’t you drop down and scout out ahead for us?”

“Negative, LVN. That’s not in the flight plan. That route hasn’t changed since the last time anyone drove it, over.”

Van chuckled. Oskar loved flying almost as much as Henry, but he was so by-the-book that he wouldn’t take a risk unless it really needed taking. If even then.

“You never know,” Van said. “Some transie could’ve burst out, right on our path. You’ll regret it if we drive right into a sinkhole.”

“Negative, LVN,” Oskar said.

Van chuckled again. No, I don’t suppose you would, Herr Hintener.

“I see you now, LSOV,” Van said, slurring the acronym into “ellessovee.” The suborbital vehicle was about sixty degrees up and not quite abeam—call it about 8:30, moving to 9:00, on an analog clock. He was surprised he could see the vehicle at all: the bright sunlight and the lights in the cab washed out just about every outside light source. The flyer was visible only because it caught a good bounce from the Sun. The hydrogen-oxygen flame propelling the flyer burned clear, and even if he was at the right angle the glowing hot exhaust bell would be practically invisible to him. As it was, the reflected light would change and he’d probably lose sight of it before long.

Van noted the suborbital vehicle’s forward progress, and frowned a little. Oskar wasn’t trying very hard at all. He had enough fuel to fly nap-of-the-moon, but he’d programmed a semi-ballistic trajectory that let him coast after the initial boost. Knowing him, he’d probably programmed it close enough that he’d barely have to light the engines to touch down right at the rendezvous point. You’re sharp, Oskar, but you’re not much fun.

“Looking good, Oskar. See you at the implant point.”

“Affirmative, LVN. Watch out for the transies, over.”

Van switched off the microphone. “Good one, Oskar.” Even if a transient lunar phenomenon had lit off recently right in the middle of their path—which he supposed they would know, since so many people back on Earth were watching the Moon these days—it wouldn’t affect them that much. Whether it was outgassing or a minor impact, all it might do is raise a brief spray of dust; the big truck would just roll along pretty as it pleased.

Van switched to intercom. “Grace, you up? We’re coming up on the setup site.”

She answered right away, but she sounded sleepy. “Yeah, I’m up. Oskar’s nearby?”

Van looked back into the sky, but as expected the LSOV was out of sight. “I had eyes-on a second ago, but not anymore. He’ll be down and cooling when we get there.”

“Roger. Do I have time to grab something to eat?”

“Oh, yeah, plenty. We’re still about twenty-five klicks out, so it’ll be over an hour.”

“Okay. I’ll start running the arrival checklist in about thirty minutes.”

“Suit yourself, Telly.”

“I will,” Grace said.

“Ha-ha. Hey, leave me a little something, okay?”

“Why? You never leave me anything.”

Van smiled. “I’m still a growing boy, don’t you know?”

Grace didn’t answer, but that was okay. And Van didn’t care too much if she left him anything or not; Grace Teliopolous lived up to her Georgia Tech reputation as a “helluvan engineer,” but she was not a cook.

An hour later, the LVN-1 crested a rise and Van looked down into a wide valley. In the distance a few large rock formations cast reaching fingers of shadow, but most of the low valley seemed almost to glow.

And in the middle of the glowing field stood a manmade rock that cast its own shadow in Van’s direction.

Van had already set the vehicle’s radio to broadcast. “I see you, Oskar.”

“Roger, LVN, we have a visual on you also. Come on down and join us.” Oskar sounded as if he was sitting in the cab next to Van. “Henry and I are getting ready to exit the LSOV, over.”

An “X” appeared in the box on the checklist screen to Van’s left, in front of the “Establish close proximity line-of-sight communications” step.

Van smiled at his reflection in the head-up display. He puffed his chest and said, “Roger that, Lima Sierra Oscar Victor. We read your last transmission five by five, and copy your checklist telemetry. Copy your intention to commence Echo Victor Alpha and begin stabilizing Lima Papa Papa November Three and the Romeo Oscar Papa Sierra.”

Van wasn’t sure if it was Oskar or Henry Crafts who laughed over the radio, but it was certainly Oskar who spoke. “Alright, Van, just get your ass down here and get to work.”

Thanks for reading along! I’ll post more details about the book’s release as I have them.

Moon Waxing Gibbous January 2012
(Image: ” Moon Waxing Gibbous,” by John Spade, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

 

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P.S. If you’re not already getting it, I’d be pleased if you would sign up for my newsletter. I try to make it more personal, and more conversational, than the blog — and it’s usually more timely, too. Plus, you get a free nonfiction e-book for signing up!

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Join the Asteroid Consortium?

Or stay independent?

That’s one of the dilemmas facing the characters in my novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds, forthcoming from WordFire Press.

If not for the Asteroid Consortium, there wouldn’t be a lunar colony for them to set up. But their dream is to be independent, and the AC causes them a lot of grief as they pursue it.


Asteroid Consortium logo courtesy of Christopher Rinehart Art & Design.

I still don’t know when the novel will be released — it won’t be a “Spring” release after all, unfortunately (since Spring ends next week). But I noted a couple of weeks ago that it’s being fairly well received, as seen in what Booklist Online had to say:

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.

I hope you agree, once you can read it.

Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know the release plans when I know them!

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P.S. If you want faster access to more details about the book release — and, really, more in-depth information and commentary — then sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get a free nonfiction e-book for signing up.

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ConCarolinas — Science Fiction, Carolina Style!

This weekend we’ll be celebrating science fiction and fantasy in Charlotte — at the Hilton Charlotte University Place, specifically — for ConCarolinas. ConCarolinas is always a fun convention, and the Guests of Honor this year are pretty amazing:

  • Music and Artist GOH, Aurelio Voltaire
  • Writer GOH, bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Science GOH, Stephanie Osborn
  • Gaming GOHs, Clint and Jodi Black

In addition, Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf is the Literary Special Guest, and the Music Special Guests include my friends The Blibbering Humdingers, Mikey Mason, and Valentine Wolfe.

I don’t have any solo events — no concert, no reading, no signing — but I have a few panels and other fun things that will get me into trouble:

Friday:

  • 4 p.m. — The Dreaded Synopsis (panel)
  • 7 p.m. — Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow (variety show)
  • 11 p.m. — Campfire Songs (music)

Saturday:

  • 3 p.m. — Let’s Write a Filk Song (music panel)
  • 5 p.m. — Write What You Don’t Know (panel)
  • 6 p.m. — Author and Politics (panel)
  • 10 p.m. — Filking the Night Away (music)

Sunday:


(Love this badge logo from the 2010 ConCarolinas, by Bob Snare.)

It should be fun — hope to see you there!

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Related Items of Interest:
– Because it’s science fictional and filkish and fun, the “Tauntauns to Glory” music video
– Also speaking of filk, listen free to both of my albums, Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe

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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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