Tag: free

Interview with a Starship Captain

Interview with a Starship Captain

I had an opportunity to interview Captain Thomas Jackson, captain of the Science Ship Maria Mitchell, currently assigned to retrieve an extended stay science team from Beta Hydri Four. He’s just come off a successful mission in the Eta Cassiopeia system where he and his crew of the Maria Mitchell stopped a centuries-old plague being fueled by a Pegasi privateer. Welcome, Captain Jackson.

Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

The pleasure is mine. I’ve had people asking me about you, your past, what makes you tick. I hope you don’t mind if some of these questions get a bit personal.

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Captain Thomas K. Jackson

I’ll let you know if you cross a line.

Great. So, Captain Jackson, you’ve been in the North American Space Administration for twenty some years now. What drove you to the stars so to speak?

I’ve always had a fascination with space, as long as I can remember. It seemed natural to go in that direction.

What did you study in college?

I’m an alum of Caltech, California Institute of Technology. My focus was aeronautics.  I met a friend, Dr. Scott Gregory, there, and he has been my ship’s astrophysicist for several years.

You’re from South California. Did you have a typical childhood?

We didn’t always live there, but after my younger sister was born we stayed put. I love the ocean. I spent every summer on the beach, camped on the beach, and I was a very strong swimmer. That’s how I ended up at Caltech. It’s still a private university, and I was awarded an athletic scholarship, on their swim team.

Is that why you joined the navy? You love the ocean?

I love flying. It was a means to an end, at least in the beginning.

So, Captain, what moved you to change from planes to rockets?

Just out of school, I was an intern, briefly, at the Jet Propulsion Lab, and went to Luna Colony on an assignment. Once you see the Earth from space, you are changed, forever. It’s indescribable. You can never go back to the ordinary again.

But you did.

I can’t say flying ion powered fighters off a carrier deck is ordinary, but I was in the navy until an accident ended my service.

Care to elaborate?

I had a mishap landing my vehicle on the deck and was injured.

Sounds like this is something in your past you would rather forget about.

You could say that, yes.

So, I’ll move on. You went from the navy to the space administration?

I joined the space program as a lieutenant but was bumped up to commander pretty quickly, then to captain. I left the navy as a captain so I was glad to have my rank again. Love a challenge, ordering people around (laughs). Not much more challenging than exploring deep space.

You were pretty young to be given a ship.

I took my first command in 2149. I was 37. That’s not so young. Just ask a teenager. Do you have a coffee service here?

The captain and I took a break and walked to the cafeteria for coffee.

So, back to the formal questions. Tell us, please, was there ever a major turning point in your life?

When I left the navy for the space program. And when I met my wife. And when I met my daughter.

Is there anything your parents did that you think significantly affected who you are today?

Absolutely. I suppose you want me to tell you what it is. My father is a dry alcoholic, but he was pretty wet when I was young. That will change the way you see things around you. Now my mother, she’s a gem. She insisted that I be friendly to everyone, to look for similarities, not differences. I think that serves me well, most of the time. I married a woman from another world, and that’s about as different as you can get.

Your wife, Rianya, is from Beta Hydri Four. She is the love of your life?

She is.

It must be difficult to captain a starship and have a family aboard. Are there other captains in the space administration with families?

I’m unique in that category. I dislike exposing them to the dangers, but we are all happier together. Missions are simply too long to be apart. There are dangers on Earth, as well. You can’t avoid life.

Indeed. What’s next, Captain? Do you still have any goals to reach for?

I’d like to see my daughter join me in space one day, not as a passenger, but as part of my crew.

If anyone can make it happen, it would be you. Thank you again for taking time to talk to us.

If you want more information, please click and enjoy!

Solar Eclipse Fever? Mark your calendar for 2024

Solar Eclipse Fever? Mark your calendar for 2024

Total Eclipse of Sun and Corona Photo by Fred Espenak, 1999

Once in a lifetime solar eclipse? Maybe not. 

Nature’s rarest celestial spectacle, a total solar eclipse. Now that you’ve seen it on television and heard the awe of the spectators, you wish you’d been able to work it out. For a variety of reasons I was content to see a 72% eclipse from my home in Las Vegas, alas, for the single hour that would have been needed to watch, it rained. And it really rained, like big, black, storm cloud rain.

Rain might not seem such a big deal to most, but we have sun about 350 days a year here. It’s why I have a 10.5K solar array on my roof, why my bath towels are kind of stiff from drying on the clothesline six months of the year, and why I expected that in this valley my odds (no obvious Vegas pun intended here) of visibility were about 34:1 in favor of sun.  In fact, even with rain, at some point the sun will appear even on those days. And, I was right. The clouds cleared around noon, well past the entire event in the southwest part of the country.

Solar eclipse of 1979

So the last chance I had was in 1979. I will tell you, without too many age revealing details, I happened to be on a school campus at the time, sometime around 8:15. I used the pinhole method, a hole in a paper cast upon another sheet of paper. My classmates thought I was nuts for even caring. I was probably the only person that day who bothered, or cared, that in the sky above us something extraordinary was occurring, in real time, and that tiny little grey crescent, as it changed from fat to thin to fat and whole again, in the past had confirmed Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, in 1919.

And as sad as that experience might sound, I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve been nerdy since before they invented the term, and I’m not surprised to find myself writing scientific fiction stories, hoping to instill the same feelings of amazement and cosmic unity in my readers as I embrace. I call this a natural worldview. Only a handful of humans have ventured beyond our stratosphere, and only as far as our moon.

The speed of light is 186,000+ miles per second (300,000 km/sec), or 6.71×108  per hour. I seared that number into my brain prepping for a science club contest between high schools. A photon of light can circle the Earth 7.5 times in one second. Light travels between the moon and Earth in less than two seconds. It takes light 8 minutes to get from our sun to Earth. My point is, space is big, and that’s an understatement.

Next total solar eclipse in United States
Texas to Maine 2024

April 8th, 2024, we have another coast to coast total eclipse, but instead of west to east, it will be south to north, more or less.

 

 

 

 

 

annular solar eclipse 2023
Oregon to Gulf of Mexico

An annular eclipse, where instead of the corona you see a ring of fire, will occur shortly before that, on October 14th, 2023.

 

It works like this: the Sun is 400 times +- larger than the moon. It is also 400 times farther away from the moon than the moon is to Earth. For a deeper explanation, go read this Popular Science blog. No sense in reinventing the wheel here. And since the moon moves away from Earth a few centimeters each year, before another billion years pass, a total solar eclipse will be a thing of the past. Of course, none of us will be here to lament the demise. We are on the planet, conscious, sentient, intelligent, at the best time since life began.

I wrote about humans on another planet experiencing a solar eclipse, not a total eclipse, but one in which three moons converge to cast their shadows and block out the star, Beta Hydri, and this defining moment in their lives brings a new beginning and hope as they patiently await rescue on a planet that, like Nature here, doesn’t care for the life forms; they simply must use their brains to stay alive, and the solar powered escape pods are pretty helpful, too. If you want to check that book out, just pop over here and you can find it on Smashwords or Amazon as an eBook, or in paperback if you prefer. Paradox: The Alien Genome, the first novel of the Captain Jackson Adventures series.

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Five Star Rated, Paradox: The Alien Genome

Until the next worthy news item, wear your sunscreen. Those UV rays are Naughty Nature at her most wicked!

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway

gilesemooncoverStarts today! runs through the end of January – enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Paradox: The Alien Genome. Share with those who love Hard Science Fiction, this will take you from the vastness of our galaxy to the microcosm of molecules!  Castaway astronauts may never see Earth again, which is a shame since what humanity needs most is all around them.

Enter to Win!

#amwriting #sciencefiction #startrek

5 Free Ways to Live Long and Prosper

5 Free Ways to Live Long and Prosper

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It’s the beginning of a new year, at least as far as the calendar is concerned. Actually, every day is the beginning of a new year if you stop to think about it, so I say don’t make another resolution you won’t keep. Just consider these five easy peasy things you can do to help yourself live a longer, healthier, wealthier life.

  1. Breathe. Take five minutes daily to breathe using your diaphragm instead of your ribs. By inmarianaheinzbreathehaling “through your belly button” you bring air into the depths of your lungs where it has a chance to enter your circulatory system. It also does something very important: it retrains your brain, over time, to function more efficiently with your nervous system. Do it. It’s free.
  2.  Screen Time. Turn off your phones, pads, computers, and televisions at least 30 minutes before retiring. brainwavesOur vid screens induce an Alpha Wave state of mind, somewhat like staring out into space. Brainwaves that you need for optimum sleep efficiency are Theta Waves. By turning off your video screens, your pineal gland will perceive the darkness, produce melatonin, change the Hz of the nervous system and you will benefit from a better night’s sleep. Do it. It’s free.
  3. Save Money. It’s easier than you think to save money. The benefits you reap from saving money include the peace of mind that you are not a victim, a passenger in piggybankcashyour future.
    You don’t need to save much to feel the endorphin kick when your bank statement arrives, either. Next time you want that high priced coffee drink, a box of candy, or a magazine, tell yourself “no” and set that money aside, at least in your mind, until the end of the week. Aim for $10, transfer that money from your operating account to a savings account. In a year you’ll have $500 staring back at you. Do it. It’s better than free.
  4.  Wear Seat Belts.  This is a no brainer. Besides this action being a law in most states, these things save lbuckleives. Airbags
    are good, but airbags are not good without seat belts first. In a collision you hit an airbag too hard and it can cause real damage. Don’t like wrinkled clothes? Blood is worse. Feel like it’s choking you? Adjust the frame attachment point lower, or use a belt cushion. Afraid you’ll be trapped by it? First responders will cut you out. If you’re unconscious, you won’t be able to let yourself out anyway.
    Do it. It’s free.
  5. Drink More Water. No matter how much water you think you’re drinking, it’s probably not enough. waterThe adult body is 60% water on average. Eight glasses a day is the old standard, but it doesn’t have to be pure water to count. A glass of milk counts as 7 ounces, and some juice is nearly 8 ounces. On the other hand, drinks with caffeine reduce your water intake despite their lack of nutrients. Caffeine is a natural diuretic that removes water from your body. A cup of tea may have 8 ounces of water, but you’re going to lose a couple, so it only counts as about 5-6 ounces. Do it. It’s practically free.

So five easy, guiltless, scientifically supported actions you can take every day, starting today, that will cost almost nothing and most likely save you money when you look at the reduced electricity costs and the health benefits. Of course, the old traditional “eat better, exercise, and stop smoking” are in there, but start out slow. If you can do those five things, you’ll be starting out 2017 five steps ahead, and on your way to a long life of prosperity.

What are you waiting for? GO!

Free Again by Popular Demand

Free Again by Popular Demand

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Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games had a great debut and dozens of copies are now in the hot little hands of happy science fiction readers. Did you miss out? It’s coming up for FREE again, on October 22nd and 23rd. Take a needed break from the election madness and read about what happens when two alien races fight over the rights to a nuclear reactor – and it’s not even running on either of their own planets!

Remember: an E-Book can be read on ANY device, including your computer.

Gamma Ray Games  udp_kcp


Here’s a short excerpt: 

“I didn’t find any documentation for radiation sickness or illness attributed to the reactor,” Beth explained, opening two books across the table. “I found illustrated books on anatomy, and basic medicine, but it’s all mechanical and organic. No references to antibiotics or advanced surgical techniques like organ transplants or even vaccines, only plant extracts and such. And I hate to think about it: sutures and needles for closing lacerations,” she winced and drew her mouth into a flat line. Captain Thomas Jackson smiled at his field medic’s genteel aversion to the archaic medical technology then turned to his geologist.

“And the thorium?” he directed at Jamul.

“Well…um, Tom…” the young lieutenant began haltingly, glancing at the Cetian company in earshot, “there are a few manuscripts on minerals and elements. I didn’t have time to translate them fully.” He put his hands on a stack of geology books and then opened one. “Monazite sand is abundant here, especially this continent. The sands are mined for thorium, above ground, and the process isn’t difficult, not like uranium. Since thorium isn’t stand-alone ‘radioactive’ the mining it isn’t nearly so hazardous.”

“Well, that’s a start,” Jackson said. “I can’t find anything here on electricity except one book on theory, but nothing that would support Cetian technology on 20th century Earth level. I did some research on the trip out here, though. A thorium reactor produces electricity the same way a uranium fuel reactor does, but because the thorium can’t burn alone like uranium it has to be hit with a constant stream of neutrons. There’s a quick two-step decay process, then fission. If you turn off the neutrons, the process will stop. The fuel stops burning, like cutting off the oxygen to a fire. If for some reason it gets too hot, that heat melts a plug underground, and the molten salts surrounding the core drain off, and the process also stops. You can’t stop a uranium fuel reaction. It has to burn itself out.”

“So it can’t meltdown?” Beth asked.

“Yes,” Jamul answered, “but the failsafe is instant so the radiation damage is nominal. This all works at normal atmospheric pressure. And, most important, thorium can’t, reasonably, be made into nuclear weapons like uranium.”

“But, there is still some radioactive waste. And, now we’re left with a new question,” Jackson said. “If they aren’t making weapons from the thorium, why did Kiians put up a reactor here, in plain sight? And why a fission reactor? The Kiians are far more advanced than that. Why not a fusion reactor or better still a solar facility? And for that matter, why at all? Did the Cetians solicit or sanction it?” Jackson shook his head slowly and no one spoke for a few moments.

“Sir-um-Tom, so, why did Earth use uranium reactors if thorium was safer, easier to mine, less waste?” Beth asked. The two men looked at each other with little expression and then back at her.

“Weapons and politics,” Tom replied. “Uranium was used in weapons first, the Second World War, then as a power source. Testosterone ruled in the 20th century, and governments didn’t put up research money for just anything. War was profitable. Luckily that was short-lived, only a few major accidents over a hundred years and then we jumped to renewables.” He leaned on the table and glanced over the books. “What are Kiians getting from a thorium fission reactor they can’t get any other way? What is so valuable to warrant that…” he waved in the general direction of the reactor, “monstrosity?”

When they finished with the books to the limit of the translation reader they left the library with more questions than they’d answered. Tom took a last look at the map before they left to look for Quinaal.

“I hope you two studied your Cetian. It’s time we start speaking their language.”

“This is a charming town,” Beth said in a pidgin version of Cetian. “It’s like going back centuries in time. Everyone speaks the same language?”

“I imagine isolated populations speak their own language, like on Earth.”

“What are those?” Jamul asked and pointed to an ox-like animal harnessed to a wooden merchandise cart. The group paused to look at it.

“Didn’t see those the last time I was here,” Tom said. Perhaps half a kiloton, the animal appeared to be an awkward griffon but more primordial; it was less a mix of lion and eagle, more a mix of horse and a three horned chameleon-alligator. “Apparently, a Cetian beast of burden,” he stated. The lieutenant and the captain resumed their journey toward the metallurgist’s home when a moment later Beth screamed! The men spun about and saw the ensign sitting in the street, her hand bleeding copiously on the ground and on her garments.

Read More Read More

Got Sci Fi ?

Got Sci Fi ?

If you’re a member of Kindle Select, take advantage of FREE READING! Don’t forget that you can download many many many books available on Amazon Kindle and read to your heart’s content. Both of my books are enrolled in the Kindle Select program and you can find them here! You can also read the first chapter or two if you aren’t sure this is your kind of Science Fiction. If you are interested in space travel, alien interactions, and dire situations, these are for you.

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Paradox: The Alien Genome

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games

 

One Week Away

One Week Away

Next Monday September 26th, all day Monday, my novella Gamma Ray Games will be FREE
in the Amazon Kindle Store. You can read it on any device, no E-Reader necessary!
Tell a friend!
If you think a thorium reactor is harmless, think again.

gammapromo
 Get Your Copy Here
We’re over the hump!

We’re over the hump!

Placeholder ImageActually, I didn’t realize it was half way through the week until I checked on the Goodreads Giveaway – tomorrow is the last day to enter the give away for a signed paperback copy of Paradox: The Alien Genome. There’s over 200 requests, but the odds are better than average!

Speaking of Over the Hump – here in southern Nevada to the west of Las Vegas is a mountain range separating it from a rural town called Pahrump! They have a great little library there and I expect to be doing a reading there this fall. If you live in the land of Nye County, stay tuned and I’ll be updating when I know a firm date.

Also looking at doing a reading at the Neon Science Fiction Book Club here in Las Vegas. Again, no firm date, but wanted to give you something to think about. I’ll be visiting at the Vegas Valley Book Fair on October 15th downtown, but I was a bit too late for this year’s vendor list. Maybe next year I can make it!

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Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games

And one more announcement. Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games will be FREE on Amazon Kindle one day this month, on Monday, September 26th. As always, it’s free to read if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. It’s a poolside read, just a couple of hours and it’ll give you a great introduction to Captain Thomas Jackson and some of his crew.

Contest – just one skill needed

Contest – just one skill needed

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/201699-paradox-the-alien-genome

Hello Friends,

Sol seen from Titan
Sol seen from Titan

It’s another give away for Paradox – because the Amazon Give Away was a great success! This time you have to go to the Goodreads site and join for free, then you can enter all the book  give aways you want! All genres and authors, from one copy to a 100, try a new author and you might be surprised, and glad, you did. No risk, no money, just click that link above Saturn and enter.

By the way, Paradox is not the only available “read” – no time for a long novel? Check out my novella, 1/4 the size, 1/4 the price, currently available, Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games  at (yes) Amazon ($0.99).

One more reminder: If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, read both for free! No contest needed!

Do you know a friend who might like a hard science fiction read for September? Intelligent readers wanted! No dystopia, no apocalypse, no invasion of Earth, but much in common with what we face today at home. Share this post with them. They’ll thank you if they win!

 

Give Away

Give Away

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Crashed on Beta Hydri Four, it’s the humans that are the aliens in this story of discovery and deliverance. 

If you’re not a member of Goodreads, you need to go sign up. Thousands of books and dozens of genres, a huge community of like minded book lovers all hope for an worthwhile read. Make friends, rate books, set goals for yourself and get your “Want To Read” shelf filled without any hassle from the “Big Online Retailer”.  Find trivia, quizzes, and events, and a new favorite of mine, Giveaways! We authors want you to peek at our books, and in exchange, you just indicate you want to get one free! We don’t keep your name, email, phone number or address on file and cannot solicit you, so it’s a “no strings attached” deal. That was the wind up.

Here’s the pitch: Starting at midnight, I’m giving away 10 signed copies of my paperback, Paradox: The Alien Genome. All you have to do is click. In the meantime, join a group, create a list, open a discussion, ask authors questions, and challenge yourself to read something new this year. Let your friends know where to shop for your holiday gifts when they throw up their hands and say “you already have one of everything!” GOODREADS