Category Archives: Space

Back for now, off again soon

Yes, it’s been a week since I returned from the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop — during which time I turned 45, had a very full week of work, and then did up some Father’s Day fun. So there’s some catching up to do, for sure. Here we go.

Launch Pad was, in short, amazing. Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready assembled an amazing bunch of writers to head to the University of Wyoming and get a crash course on astronomy for a week. We learned everything from planetary science to cosmology, star formation to colliding galaxies. I came out with some great ideas around exoplanets that have been added to the (neverending and exponentially increasing) to-write list. Just an amazing week.

If you’re an established science fiction writer, I cannot recommend Launch Pad highly enough. Just be sure to hydrate and take it easy at altitude for the first few days. (I hit the gym Monday morning and spent the rest of the day with a massive headache. Learn from my errors.)

For those who haven’t yet read MJ-12: Inception, the good folks at Skyhorse Publishing — home to my imprint, Night Shade Books — are running a giveaway over on Goodreads. You have until Saturday to enter for your chance to win one of five free copies. Go forth and enter!

I’ll be in Los Angeles for work starting this Saturday and all through next week, so apologies in advance if I don’t keep up on the blogging. But definitely keep an eye out on Twitter, which has become my more immediate go-to for news and such. I imagine I might hit up a few bookstores here in New York, as well as in L.A., to sign the new MJ-12: Inception paperbacks, so definitely keep an eye out for that if you want one!

#SFWApro

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Some news bits from Wyoming and beyond

I’m enjoying the heck out of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop here in Laramie, Wyo. Seriously, it’s been amazing and educational and I’ve met some incredible writers on top of it all. Not to mention that I’ve been developing this really cool story idea all this week, which I probably shouldn’t tell you about quite yet. All in all, a very worthy and awesome program, and I’m grateful as heck to be here.

But while my head’s been in the (Magellanic) clouds, there’s been a few things that I should belatedly link to. So here you go.

First, I was a guest on the excellent Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents blog, wherein I discussed the five things being a journalist taught me about writing fiction. For those new to the blog, I spent the first 15 years of my post-collegiate career as a journalist, most notably for The Associated Press in Albany, N.Y., Seattle and New York. (If you read carefully, you’ll probably find this blog follows the AP Stylebook very closely, because that stuff’s burned into my DNA at this point.) And while there’s a world of difference between journalism and fiction, I still rely on some of my journalism tools in my books. So if you’re game, check it out.

I also saw a neat little listicle out this week on The Portalist — “10 Space-tacular Books Like The Martian” — that featured The Daedalus Incident alongside books by H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, among others. That is not at all shabby. And being here at Launch Pad this week, I can now say that I got the bulk of the hard SF science right in the Daedalus books, so I’m pretty proud of that.

Tonight we head up to the WIRO telescope, and tomorrow is our last full day here. I’ll probably do a post next week all about Launch Pad, but for now, suffice it to say that if you’re an science fiction writer, you really need to apply next year, because it is made of awesome.

#SFWApro

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Heading to Wyoming to gaze at the stars and learn a whole bunch

May was a particularly busy month, with trips to Pittsburgh for the Nebulas and Richmond, Va., for vacation — and, of course, work and writing and all that jazz. June is starting off on a very different note — I’m heading to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop!

Getting accepted to the workshop was incredibly cool. It’s designed for established science fiction writers to get a crash-course in astronomy and space sciences, and our schedule looks amazing. We’ll be talking about planetary formation, various types of stars, galaxies, dark matter…you name it. And we’ll also be talking about how we might apply our newfound knowledge in stories.

Oh, and we get to go check out the Wyoming Infrared Observatory (WIRO), a 2.3 meter telescope, seen above. This is real-deal science, y’all. Not bad for an English and government major.

I’ve talked to past Launch Pad attendees, and they had nothing but excellent things to say about it. I’m honored to have been chosen to go, and I’ll be among quite a diverse and accomplished group of scribes. There will likely be beer at some point.

It remains an open question as to whether I’m going to blog much during the week, but you can bet I’ll be doing my thing on Twitter, so if you want to follow my antics, I’d try there first.

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Gravitational waves confirmed; science fiction writers rejoice

If you’re at all scientifically inclined, or simply peruse major media outlets regularly, you likely saw the big news today: Scientists have successfully detected gravitational waves, thus confirming a key piece of Albert Einstein’s theories regarding the universe.

And lots of science fiction writers cried out in joy. No, really, you could probably hear their echoes now if you listen closely.

I’m going to put on my journalistic hat for a moment and basically summarize why this is such a big deal. Back in 1916, Einstein theorized that the massive energies created from certain phenomena — such as the collision of supermassive black holes — would be so profoundly ka-boom that they would disrupt the very fabric of space-time. Mass would be transformed into energy, and that energy would be so powerful, it would create gravitational waves — ripples in space and time.

It was just a theory, of course, one that Einstein couldn’t really prove because nobody knew how to detect gravitational waves. And the wild-haired dude himself wasn’t always so sure about the theory — he went back and forth on it more than once in his career. And until last year, it really was just a theory.

But then scientists built some things — 2.5-mile long antennae that could detect the most minute movements at the subatomic level. And these antennae soon found ripples all over the place. Gravitational waves are real.

So what does this mean? Now, bear in mind, I’m no scientist. All the research I did for the Daedalus trilogy was, frankly, super hard. But I get the gist of it, and this is what has me excited: space-time is fungible. That is now, pretty much, a for-real fact.

Thus, when we talk about a “warp drive,” a la Star Trek, there’s a more solid scientific grounding for it. The “warp” in warp drive is the ability to warp space-time itself — folding space so that two points, separated by immense distances, could be brought together by either compressing or going around the space-time between them.

And let’s throw Interstellar into the mix, too. Wormholes, in terms of science fiction, are old news — they are basically pre-existing tunnels in space-time that allow you to go from point A to point B without expending the massive amounts of energy needed for a warp drive. But the key to saving the human race was in harnessing gravity as a source of propulsion. The movie was, perhaps necessarily, fuzzy on how that would work, and trying to get “quantum data” from a black hole seems like a total made-up thing.

But think about it — if there are gravitational waves rippling all around us, perhaps it’s possible for us to figure out a way to catch the wave, as it were, and basically surf gravity. Or again, if we had some serious, serious energy at our disposal, such as a harnessed matter-antimatter collision, we could theoretically make our own waves to surf — though I think warping space-time would be much more efficient for interstellar travel, as gravitational waves are only traveling at the speed of light, rather than faster.

Still…Earth to Mars in nine minutes by hitching a ride on a gravitational wave? Great stuff. Smarter people than I will surely plumb those depths in fiction. Maybe I’ll even do it some day.

#SFWApro

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Mysterious Galaxy reading! Venusian Gambit pre-orders! Plus wikipedia!

There’s stuff going on! You should totally be informed of these happenings, so here you go. I suppose I could’ve made you sift through three different blog posts, but that would’ve been slightly lame. Besides, I don’t get paid for putting ads up on here, so page-views aren’t really a concern. Anyway.

First off, I’m excited to be returning to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore for my second reading/signing/Q&A event. Sadly, the Redondo Beach store is no more, so I’m heading down to beautiful San Diego to visit the MG mothership on Thursday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. I hadn’t planned on being in southern California, actually, but there’s an off-site meeting for work, and the excellent folks at MG agreed to have me over afterward. Perhaps word got out that I brought beer last time. (I am not above beer bribery.) Anyway, if you’re in the area, come on out and say hello. I’ll likely read from The Enceladus Crisis and maybe even give a sneak-peek at The Venusian Gambit. 

Speaking of The Venusian Gambit, the pre-order sites are up and running for the print version, so you can go and order one now! Which is…super-early, actually, but why not? Think of it as a gift for your future self. I haven’t seen a page up on Barnes & Noble yet, but you can order it from the aforementioned Mysterious Galaxy as well as Books-A-MillionAmazon or Amazon UK and Chapters in Canada. Or better yet, you can bug your local independent bookseller about it via IndieBound, which makes you a fine individual in my eyes.

Note that the pre-orders are for print only. E-book pre-orders tend to come later on, and I don’t expect them until next year. Same goes for the Audible version, which I do expect will be a thing given that we got the first two.

Finally, I’ve discovered the first mention of my work on Wikipedia, which was a small but proud moment. The entire Daedalus series has been listed on the Saturn’s moons in fiction page. And wow, there’s a lot of great works that play in the Saturn system. Happy to be bulleted among them.

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Great timing! Scientists find under-ice lake on Enceladus, possible home to extraterrestrial life

I’d like to thank the good folks at NASA and the scientists studying data from the Cassini probe for putting Saturn’s moon Enceladus in the news just one month before the release of The Enceladus Crisis.

Seriously, I need to send someone a fruit basket or something.

The news itself is cool: By studying gravity measurements from Cassini from 2010-2012, scientists believe that there is indeed a body of water under Enceladus’ ice — a big one, too. It’s believed to be the size of Lake Superior.

It’s that body of water, located at the moon’s southern pole, that feeds the plumes of water that erupt from the “tiger stripe” formations there.

Here’s the kicker, though: Those same gravity readings have led scientists to believe that Enceladus is a “differentiated body.” That means that the planet has a rocky core, with the aforementioned lake on top, and a layer of ice covering it all and protecting the water and rock from radiation and other space-y stuff.

And when you have carbon and silicates in contact with freestanding water, and a planetary core warmed by the immense push-pull of Saturn’s gravity, you have the possibility of life.

Now, we’re likely talking very primitive life — microbes if we’re super lucky. But still, that’s pretty amazing. The folks at io9 have a good write-up here.

I’m feeling really lucky on a personal level, what with The Enceladus Crisis hitting shelves in just over a month. I did a ton of research on Saturn’s little moon for the book, and this latest study confirms a lot of the stuff I put in there. Way cool.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that there’s all kinds of headlines about Enceladus happening right now, what with the moon’s name in the title of the book, coming in mere weeks. I’m not going to get all spoilery about the role Enceladus plays in the novel, but let’s just say that this latest bit dovetails nicely with what I’ve got going on.

On a related note, Barnes & Noble now has Nook ebook pre-ordering available for The Enceladus Crisis. You can also pre-order the ebook on Amazon and Kobo. No word yet on iTunes and Google Play, but I’ll keep you posted. And, of course, if you like your books in paper form, you can pre-order it from wherever fine books are sold.

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Where I’m at Sunday at WorldCon

kevinpostitLoneStarCon 3, the 71st WorldCon, rolls on this morning, and I’m managing to keep up as best as I can. Yesterday’s signing at The Twig was quite fun. I signed some books — which never, ever gets old — and chatted with fans and my fellow authors. And New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne drew me this PostIt doodle.

While I’m thinking of it, I once again have to tip my hat to artist Sparth and the folks who designed the cover of The Daedalus Incident. Folks really seem to gravitate to it. I’ve seen it over and over now here in San Antonio. It’s like a magnet, almost! So, well done, art people!

Last night’s Drinks With Authors thing was excellent. There were door prizes and random chances to win books. And I mean random — attendees rolled a giant d20 against the author’s “to hit” score. Justin Landon declared me an ettercap, with a to-hit of 9. I was somewhat offended at first, until I remembered that we really wanted to let people win books. And so we did. Thank you to Justin, Steve Drew and Myke Cole for putting together an excellent shindig. Continue reading

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