Tag: space

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.

starship captain
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.

novel alien genome
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!

A recent review

A recent review

Shameless plug: another 5 star review of Paradox. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Click the picture and get the e-version instantly! Read it? Rate it! Read more stories with many of the same characters: Jackson, Quixote, Rianya, Bala, Lee, Watson, Bailey, Dukvita, the Kiians, and a new species coming up – the Zlogers!

 

If you long for the days of Gene Roddenberry’s soulful Star Trek, or hope the Avatar movie might one day become a reality, then you are in for a treat with H.S. Rivney’s Paradox: The Alien Genome. The suggestion of a genetic cure from the world beyond captivated my imagination, as did the author’s writing style. For me, the vivid, unique descriptions illuminated this space odyssey to movie-screen proportions. A healthy dose of dialogue keeps the pace at warp speed with lots of techie jargon. But what really impressed me was the author’s sophisticated scientific knowledge—I would believe her to be an astronaut or a physicist in a previous life to dream up the concepts presented throughout the novel. The author creates a totally convincing world from ecosystems to geology, animal species to alien beings. One graphic scene was tasteful, accurate and evocative. But there’s a touch of intrigue and danger, as well as a softer side to this story, too. A great ending wraps up this exciting futuristic journey after traveling back to a nostalgic era of Kirk, Spock, and Sulu— I highly recommend the ride!

Patti Cavaliere, author of 5 star rated “Looking for Leo”, click me!

Novissimus: Space Station One

Novissimus: Space Station One

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Earth Station with Star Trek’s Enterprise

I’ve been debating whether to release Novissimus or Symbiosis next. I wrote Novissimus during the black out time between first draft and revisions of Symbiosis. Would love to hear your thoughts. Novissimus is a novella episode prequel to Paradox, about 24,000 words.

Novissimus, Space Station One, Quantum Quandaries;   Mission VIII, October 9, 2154

Novissimus orbits Omicron Nu fifteen light years from Earth in the opposite direction of the galactic center. It’s medical facilities are unsurpassed, and its arboretum legendary. When Captain Jackson is assigned to call a research team off Luyten’s Lepus for a new mission, that is to pick up live vaccines from Novissimus, the leader of the research team is furious and not afraid to show it.

Funny things happen on the way to Novissimus, or rather, not so funny. They can’t afford the time delays; the live vaccines are only viable for 100 days. In addition to the medicine, dozens of proton microscopes and an electromagnetic image chamber are also part of the cargo. Silverado Six’s population is depending on the S.S. Linus Pauling to arrive before a planet-wide outbreak of Altairian Fever becomes an epidemic.

Thomas Jackson meets Dukvita for the first time, a Pegasi with a rogue, if not an entrepreneurial, spirit and a well armed cargo ship. Novissimus becomes the scene of the crime where not only are lives at stake, but an extraordinary discovery becomes a weapon of mass destruction.jaguar

Don’t forget to check out another prequel adventure of Captain Jackson and the S.S. Linus Pauling, Gamma Ray Games, a novella episode where Jackson must investigate the sudden appearance of a thorium reactor on a pre-industrial world.

Both Novissimus and Gamma Ray Games will be made available together in one paperback this summer.

Abducted by Aliens

Abducted by Aliens

No, actually, I’m still here. I’ve been working on the next two (yup, 2) books coming out soonjaguar. Another novella, a prequel, and another novel, the second of three beginning with Paradox. Of course, Captain Thomas Jackson leads the adventures, and Quixote makes his appearance in both stories as do a few other memorable characters on the bridge and among the crew.

Novissimus: Space Station One, is Earth’s first space station, a collaboration with three other space faring species, set in motion around the fifth planet of Omicron, an orange star seventeen light years from Earth. The mushroom shaped orbiting facilitynovissimus-cover is known for its magnificent arboretum that acts as a complete biological component of the station, as well as its state of the art medical facilities and top notch space vehicle repair services.

Going from a dark star planet filled with fossils, the Linus Pauling is called to Novissimus to collect medical equipment needed on Silverado Six, which is fighting an outbreak of Altarian Fever, a virulent pneumatic virus that needs not only the equipment, but a live, attenuated vaccine, in stasis. Little did they expect the fossils they collected would be so much trouble, and so much help, in completing their mission.

Symbiosis: Titans of Cassiopeia, is set one year after the end of Paradox, The Alien Genome. Captain Jackson, Rianya, and Zalara return to Earth only to be sent back into space with a new, faster ship, the S S Maria Mitchell. Taking doctors on an errand oyersiniaf mercy to Eta Cassiopeia’s fifth planet, they stop at its fourth planet to collect a unique artifact that can’t be explained by anything other than as proof of time travel! Upon arrival at the fifth planet, and with confirmation that Pegasi are in the area, the artifact begins to shed some light on the centuries-old problem of antibiotic resistance causing an entire population to suffer, and die.

We’re introduced tomriyquito Dr. Jane Ferris, a human with a curious ancestry. The remnants of radical genetic manipulation show in her face that startles most people, at first. When Captain Jackson is taken hostage on the planet, Rianya is taken ill with the bacteria on the Maria Mitchell in orbit, and neither knows the peril of the other. Are Pegasi and Kiians colluding for profit or just innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire? The key is held in the data banks of an abandoned space ship from the future, confirmed by a beautiful stone in the pilot’s pocket, and the information it reveals changes Tom and Rianya’s family forever.

Coming soon on Kindle and in Paperback. Follow me on Twitter @hsrivney or Facebook From the Stratosphere, or Goodreads author HSRivney

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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

Move Over, Hubble

Move Over, Hubble

james-webb-space-telescopeA golden telescope is ready to be tested after twenty years under construction. It will be the largest space telescope humans have ever deployed, and it’s scheduled to assume its final position about a million miles away from Earth in 2018. This magnificent feat of engineering will have seven times the light collecting surface of Hubble in addition to having the ability to collect infrared light.

It’s called the James Webb Space Telescope. If the moon was only the size of a jellybean, this telescope could see it, and any heat that it might emit. From its orbit ‘behind’ the earth at a place in space officially called Lagrange Point 2 (see the info graphic), and by maintaining a temperature near absolute zero, the telescope will, among other tasks, be able to penetrate clouds of dust and analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets that have been discovered around nearby stars.

The cost? Almost 9 billion bucks. That’s a lot of money, but it didn’t simply go up in smoke. The money supported high tech and manufacturing jobs for the betterment of man as opposed to more nuclear weapons, wars for oil, and the interest on the national debt, which by itself is over 230 billion dollars annually. Over the course of 20 years, this single project cost less than a third of a single year’s American science budget. When you look at it that way, it’s downright reasonable given its projected lifespan, the information we will gain, and again, the high tech jobs that go with. We spend that money and we have something to show for it.

NASA leads the project, but has considerable support by the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.  The 21 foot mirror  has to be launched folded and will unfurl once it has endured the launch itself which will take about two weeks! It will be told to open its solar shield, then it must cool down. The last thing ground engineers will do is focus the instrument, and it should begin functioning by Spring of 2019. It carries enough fuel to sustain it for ten years but with typical spacecraft, it will probably function much longer than anyone expects.

I borrowed (stole) this info-graphic from Space dot com that broke the story, and hope if you are interested in more details you’ll go visit them. I’m all about giving credit where it is due, and simply want to bring a little good news to you in light of all the ugly news on the television these recent days. Enjoy, share, and dream.

 

 

 

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.

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When October Goes

When October Goes

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All roads point to home in old October. I find this one of my favorite blurbs as October seems to call people home. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer heat is over, the world gets ready to fold up for the winter and pumpkin spice everything appears on menus all across America.

Books are coming out – Mike Massimino’s new book entitled #Spaceman is out and would be a great holiday gift for any one who likes space travel, courage, and all things NASA. Clayton C. Anderson, another average Joe who went to space, also has a good book out that was published in 2015, The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut. And of course, the Star Trek Encyclopedia by the Michael and Denise Okuda, released for the 50th anniversary this year.529

And Autumn is the time of year to trade in your swim suits for a good book and travel to another world. If you’re looking for a good fiction read, of course, you can also check out my own books, Paradox: The Alien Genome ($3.99 and $9.99 paperback), and Dangerous: Gamma Ray Games ($0.99 e-book only).

Put away the grill, the flip-flops, and beach towels, and pick up a Kindle, a paperback, or your favorite Go-To book on the shelf, and reacquaint yourself with words and worlds. You won’t be disappointed.

Last Chance 2016

Last Chance 2016

 It’s the last day this year that PARADOX: The Alien Genome will be available for FREE on Amazon. If Science Fiction isn’t your cup of Earl Grey, Coffee, or Passion Fruit Iced Tea, do a friend a favor and share this post with them!