Sci-Fi September

If you’re a science-fiction fan, you may enjoy Science Fiction September. The event is being organized by author Lara Storm Hitchcock.

Every day in September will feature a newly released science-fiction novel each day in the month of September. During the featured day, the author will be available for questions. Also, there will be several free giveaways.

  • Saturday, September 1st: Joshua Johnston, Chronicles of Sarco
    • Discussion with features authors
  • Sunday, September 2nd: David Asbury, No Road Among the Stars
  • Monday, September 3rd: Like Herding the Wind
  • Tuesday, September 4th: Galactic Mandate
  • Wednesday, September 5th: James McLellan, Singularity
  • Thursday, September 6th: Minaverse
  • Friday, September 7th: The Otherworld Series
    • Giveaway registration ends for signed copy of D.G. Lamb’s The Deepest Cut
  • Saturday, September 8th: The Vortex of Eire Series
  • Sunday, September 9th: Counterweight Maneuver
  • Monday, September 10th: Brokerah Brumley, Three
  • Tuesday, September 11th:
  • Wednesday, September 12th: The Darktrench Saga
  • Thursday, September 13th: Dekker’s Dozen
  • Friday, September 14th:
  • Saturday, September 15th: Courage
  • Sunday, September 16th: Apologetics Fiction
  • Monday, September 17th:
  • Tuesday, September 18th:
  • Wednesday, September 19th:
  • Thursday, September 20th: Katherine Dennard, Destiny by Design
  • Friday, September 21st:
  • Saturday, September 22nd:
  • Sunday, September 23rd:
  • Monday, September 24th:
  • Tuesday, September 25th:
  • Wednesday, September 26th:
  • Thursday, September 27th:
  • Friday, September 28th:

Here’s a link to the Sci-Fi September page of Facebook.


Colony Book 3 Underway!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Colony and Singularity. I’ve started work on the third book in the series. It picks up the story back on Earth: a place that figures into the thinking of the first two books, but has mostly been left undefined. This is planned to be a fun story, after Colony and Singularity both intentionally explored some ideas – this new book also has, I hope, some big ideas, but is about having a good, old-fashioned adventure.

Like with Singularity, I’ll start posting bits in the work-in-progress section. I would really appreciate your feedback! Please leave a comment and let me know if you have liked the books. Or, what you didn’t like. I’d really like to write the kind of story that people would enjoy to read.

Thank you for your support!

Singularity is Now Available at!

Thank you for everyone who read an early copy, provided feedback, or just provided encouragement. ‘Singularity’ is now available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.

The story picks up three generations after the main story in Colony ends. It focuses on Elise, a minor colonist character from Colony, now a grandparent. Settled, and seemingly happy, she encounter a group of refugees from the dominantly lower tech settlement of Bellevue to the east, which causes her to explore past the edges of her settlement.

What I wanted to explore in Singularity was the idea of the technological singularity. It’s this idea that at some point machines must become smarter than people, and we will either: go to war, die off, or evolve. In Colony, the answer was that people have to evolve. Evolved to be extremely smart, shouldn’t the problems that we have go away also? I wanted to explore that in this book, and it picks up scenario’s from much better works by Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, tries to apply them to a high-tech environment, and explores how the outcomes might change.

Anyway, I hope you like it! I’ve already started the third one, which will begin with the diplomatic mission briefly mentioned in Colony and Singularity and, I hope, go to some neat places from there.

“Singularity” Text Complete

The sequel to “Colony”, “Singularity” is set in a not so distant future. It follows the first human interstellar settlement and it’s development. “Singularity” is set almost three decades after the main events of “Colony”.

The first four chapters are available to read in the Work in Progress page of this blog. The bulk of the text is complete. Currently it’s being edited, and queries are being circulated for interest.

If you’ve helped with feedback, or just by sticking along, thank you!

Communications and Tectonic Package Sent to Mars

In case you missed it, Saturday NASA launched the InSight mission to Mars, scheduled to arrive November of this year. The science package contains a seismometer to determine if the fourth planet from the sun is still alive geologically. We know it was once by the volcanoes left behind, the largest being the 25 kilometer tall Olympus Mons. In addition to listening for a heartbeat, InSight will also drill fifteen feet into the soil and measure temperature and temperature gradient, providing a starting point for estimating temperatures much deeper inside the red planet. In addition, the science package will deploy two radio antennas with the purpose of determining how much the internal workings of the planet cause it to wobble.

But what is very cool is the pair of very small (14 inch x 9 inch x 4 inch), inexpensive – relatively speaking ($11 million) communications satellites that are transmitting along the way. CubeSats use commercial parts and are meant to improve accessibility to space by reducing the cost. If the satellites survive the trip, it will prove that lower cost alternatives for future trips to the planet are viable.

Atlantis – Yes, Really

It's amazing how much information we have at out fingertips. David Livingston spent five years of his life, and nearly died trying to find the source of the Nile. This morning I did the same thing in about an hour from the comfort of my couch using Google Maps. Unlike any generation before us, we can look up primary sources for ancient antiquities without not just getting to skip learning dead languages, but without even leaving the house for the library.

We're a family that watches a lot of history programming, so Atlantis comes up. I decided to look under the hood, and here is what I found:

Where Did the Atlantis Story Originate?

The only primary sources (first documented accounts)  for the story of Atlantis are two Dialogues of Plato - Critias and Timaeus. Some context is helpful here. Plato's dialogues are a student's (Plato) recollection of some of the very best conversations he overheard or participated in. It's a bit like a fan of someone famous writing down the very best memories of their journey with that famous someone. Hopefully, given the level of detail in the dialogues, Plato is working from notes as well as memory, but there's no indication of that. 

The context of Critias and Timaeus are these two individuals trying to entertain  Socrates with strange-but-true tales. Socrates is Plato's teacher and the person being recollected in the Dialogues. Critias and Timaeus both admit they partly consider the story a myth. Critias was looking at turning the story into a play. Either he never got around to it, or the play is lost.

Critias, now a very old man, received the story when he was ten from a popular poet named Solon. So bear in mind, this is a professional storyteller saying he got this story from another professional storyteller. Searching for Atlantis may be bit like overhearing Michael Bay and Stephen Spielberg discussing the next Transformers movie and using that as the basis to search for a historical Cybertron.

Solon claims to have encountered the story while visiting Egypt. He had intended to turn the story into a poem, but had not gotten around to it. Instead, Solon did translate the story from the original Egyptian, or so Critias claims, into Greek. Critias also claims to still have a copy of the original Egyptian manuscript.

The story Critias passes to Socrates from Solon is one of a great war between all of the nations inside the Mediterranean sea versus all of the nations in and around the Atlantic ocean. The battle, according to Critias took place at least nine thousand years prior to the present (the present being around 360 BC). Socrates' home town Athens was the leader of the Mediterranean forces in the world war, and Atlantis was the leader of the forces from the ocean. 

Characteristics of Atlantis in Original Sources

According to Plato's recollection of Critas and Solon Atlantis was:

  • Located past the Pillars of Hercules, outside the Mediterranean sea in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Close enough to the Pillars of Hercules that the disaster that overtook Atlantis made it impossible for the Greeks to reach the ocean for some time afterward.
  • An island chain (Critias uses the word "islands", not "island")
  • Had natural deposits of copper (red metal)
  • Had hot and cold springs
  • Had native elephants
  • Was destroyed by some natural disaster

The Pillars of Hercules

The Pillars of Hercules were an important landmark in identifying the location of Atlantis. These are two mountains identifying the expanse of water that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. These are very large and a noticeable feature, not easily mistaken for something else.

Finding Atlantis (Without a Wetsuit)

Although Critias gives us an easily identifiable landmark, you probably see that there is nothing to the west immediately past the Pillars of Hercules. The nothing continues west until you hit North America, causing some to consider places like Bimini in the Bahamas or other parts of North America as candidates for Critias and Solon's early civilization.

The Polynesians may have pointed their boats out into the unknown, but the Greeks didn't sail that way. They hugged the coast when travelling, even in the Mediterranean sea.

And, if you are hugging the African coastline outside the rock of Gibraltar (Pillars of Hercules) the first island chain you find is: the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands

Close enough that a natural disaster would have prevented coast-hugging European sailors from going any further down the African coast line, the Canary islands were an early candidate for Atlantis.

Not only is the location right, but the islands fit the description in several other respects : having hot and cold springs, precious metals, and an being close enough to Africa that an indigenous population of elephants is possible, if unproven. It's even close enough that a hypothetical armed conflict between Mediterranean nations wanting access to coastal Africa and a hypothetical kingdom of Atlantis situated on the Canary islands seems plausible.

In fact, there was enough of a fit that people spent real money studying the geology of the region to find one significant problem: there is no evidence of any catastrophic natural event having happened there.

What Did Solon Get Wrong?

Did Solon get something wrong? It seems all theories of Atlantis assume something in his description must have been mistaken. Those favoring Thera as Atlantis assume he was mistaken about it being outside the Mediterranean Sea. Those favoring Bimini discard the elephants, hot and cold springs.

Since it was a story about a major war, written by one side, maybe Solon got nothing wrong. Maybe the original Egyptians, or Solon (being a poet), improvised to give the "bad guys" of the story a fitting ending - being struck down by natural disaster, when what might actually have happened is the country fading away, as so many nations do.

What Does a Mudslide Look Like?

Mudslides happen. However, still shots do a poor job of demonstrating the speed and power of these natural disasters. If you are have not had the privilege of seeing one up close, here is video of a 2012 mudslide in  Johnson's Landing, British Columbia

Digital Colloids – Self Assembling Liquid Memory

Tiny drops of oil can be arranged to write information and read it back remotely, described in this 2014 paper. The oils suspended in water, literally colloids can be written to or read from using both optical and electronic mechanisms. When written to, the information is stored by rearranging the stable pattern of the droplets within a larger grouping. The applications of this technology include mixing the substance into batches of other goods as a marker, high density memory (estimated in the range of terabytes per gram), or memory for nano machines (still being much too large for than application, but showing promise).

Usefully, the structures assemble themselves under the right conditions lending themselves to industrial application. 

Knowledge Transfer Over the Internet

"I know kung fu"

The line from "The Matrix" summarizes the cool of being able to compress weeks, years, or decades of subject mastery into a data stream. Significant progress has been made since 2004 transferring knowledge between animals and people.

The technology, called Brain To Brain Interface (BTBI) achieved results of successfully transferring information 70%, compared to 50% of the time due to random chance. Not very impressive, but more recent work in people transfers more complex information with a 72% success rate, compared to 18% random chance of getting the same answers.