The Mars One Debate

I saw on the Mars Society’s webpage that the Mars One colonization program will debate their MIT critics at the society’s upcoming convention next month. I have a triple interest in the debate. My novel-in-progress, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, a Mars colonization novel. Secondly, as a former aerospace engineer, I have experience and a huge personal stake in the design and outcome of space exploration missions. And further, one of the listed critics of Mars One, Andrew Owens, is a friend and writing group member!

Needless to say, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

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Of Molecules and Mars Colonies

My novel-in-progress, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, takes place in a farming settlement that is part of a Mars colony. As I wrote Draft Zero, there was a lot of handwavium going on with respect to various technical details — the focus on just finishing the story. Now that I’ve progressed about a quarter of the way into Draft Alpha, I’m needing to clean up some inconsistencies and gaps. Today I figured out a piece of the story world that is good for me to know as I construct the novel, but probably won’t make it explicitly into the next of the work: how various molecules necessary for both human life and agriculture are going to be circulated on this Mars colony.

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New Cover Art / “Remembering Turinam” on Smashwords

Cover art copyright 2014 by Stephanie Hoover.
Cover art copyright 2014 by Stephanie Hoover.

I’m excited to be collaborating with graphic artist (and childhood friend) Stephenie Hoover on cover art for some of my work. A few months ago I sent out an email query to several friends that I knew were into graphic art, asking if anyone could be interested in working with a writer to develop cover art and other hybrid creative projects. Stephanie responded, and a few weeks later she had the first pass of a cover for my short story Remembering Turinam ready. I really like how she made Grandfather’s farm real in the near-ground, with the imagery of the Turinam valley, the Khem river, and the Dorhal mountain range forming a grand backdrop in in the distance. I’ll be honest — it’s not actually how I imagined the scene as the writer. And I think that’s a great thing.

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Arisia Panels – “COSMOS: A Space Time Odyssey”

I had the honor of serving as a panelist on four panels at Arisia 2015. I’ll be summarizing what I recall from each discussion in a series of posts.

COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey ( Mark L Amidon, Justine Graykin, Gordon Linzner (m), Marlin May, N.A. Ratnayake)
Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted a successful season of “Cosmos”. Seen by many as a “remake” of Carl Sagan’s PBS show, others consider it a bold shot back from scientists at the anti-science nabobs of our day. Let’s talk about how much it has (or hasn’t) changed the discussion.

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Language Is…

Language is a technology, a doorway, a weapon, and an agent of change and hope. As it shifts both form and function, the metaphors that describe it change too.

Language is a technology that has shaped our brains. Ted Chiang’s novelette The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling (a Hugo nominee last year) particularly struck me as revolving around the same complex issues — how important language and particularly writing has been to the human psyche. Language changes the way we think — it is a tool that can be both used and misused to great effect.

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I’ll be at Arisia 2015!

I’m excited and honored to be appearing on four panels at this year’s Arisia 2015 science fiction convention, coming up this January 16-19. I plan to be there for every day of the con, and I’ll post a list of panels that I will be attending as an audience member later, once I’ve had a chance to digest the program.

Below are the panels I’ll be appearing on as a panelist.

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The Writer and the Critic review “We See a Different Frontier”

The podcast The Writer and the Critic has reviewed both “We See a Different Frontier” and “Long Hidden” in their Episode 39. They discuss “Remembering Turinam” specifically as well.

The review was several months ago, but I figured better late than never. My response time to everything outside of work drops to almost zero during the school year!

Thanks for the review!

Space Opera!

A long, long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away… [cue amazing, soul-electrifying fanfare]

It is a period of civil war.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil GALACTIC EMPIRE.

During the battle rebel spies managed to steal the secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the secret plans that can save her people and restore peace to the galaxy…

I think I must have been about ten years old when I first saw those words scroll across a television screen. Oh boy, was it awesome.

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First Draft Novel Complete!

One week behind schedule for Camp Nanowrimo, I have finally completed a first draft novel, tentatively titled Red Soil Through Our Fingers! This is a major milestone for me. I’ve tried many times, via Nanowrimo and otherwise, to finish even one draft of a novel, but have never made it through the “murky middle”. Having made it to the other side, wow. It really does get better after roughly the 80% mark. Here’s what it means for what I’ve got and where it’s going.

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2014 Hugo Ballot

Three days ago, I submitted my votes for the 2014 Hugo Awards. If you’ve never voted for the Hugos before, I highly recommend it. For $40, you get:

  • nomination and final voting for the current year’s Hugo Awards
  • nomination for the following year’s Hugo awards
  • e-copies of all of the top five nominees in every category (some of the novel-length items are novella-length excerpts)

The Hugos are supposed to be a democratic representation of what the fans of the genre find compelling and worthy of praise. Say what you will about the state of the genre and how far we still need to go on many issues, but the Hugos are one way of making your voice heard. Don’t complain about what gets accolades if you don’t vote!

I didn’t submit votes for all categories, since I didn’t have time to read through everything. (You will recall, of course, that I was and still am working on finishing a novel draft this summer as well.) I also confess to voting for Best Novel based only on the first 1-2 chapters of each nominee. Here are my top ranked selections for each category that I actually submitted a vote:

  • Best Novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • Best Novella: “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Best Novelette: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Best Short Story: “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013

I think the category in which I was most conflicted about my final vote was Best Novelette. Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars” as well as Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling” were both lovely stories as well. I liked all three for different reasons. Kowal’s won out in the end I think because all else held equal, I think I’d rather promote a story about humanity looking outward into space again than anything else.