Monday, September 23, 2013

e-Book Release: Fractal Standard Time

After a lot of technical glitches, Fractal Standard Time is now available at as an e-book. The book is located here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Where's Part II?

It started with a single short story.

Last September, I finished a short story collection titled, Corridors. Although it was not released until this past spring, in the middle of the collection was one peculiar short story that simply went by the title of "The Mines of Mars". It was a story about two men who attempted to loot a mining train and how it went wrong.

Somehow, though, the story did not seem finished. So I labeled it "Part I" with the hopes of finishing it someday and publishing that story in another short story collection. This idea occurred more or less at the same time as I was considering writing a collection of "interlinked" short stories.

Eventually, I thought...well, why not make a whole series of short stories set on Mars? Sort of like a subtle homage to Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Only this time, I wanted to illustrate the progress of technology over several decades and the impact that could make. So I started tinkering with the ideas of having robots, settlements, and domed cities. The goal was to focus in on a small group of pioneers and inventors and follow the impacts of their creations. I also wanted to write it like a documentary where the individual parts together would form a much bigger picture. The end result was Fractal Standard Time, which does contain "The Mines of Mars, Part II". Part I is here and is also in this collection here.

But it didn't stop there.

At the end of the writing of that book, a beta reader commented about the story didn't feel "finished". The more I thought about it, the more I realized they were right. So the story continued to grow and now there two more books in the works...which will form a trilogy. Each book will build on the patterns laid down in the previous book(s) to form one large fractal structure. Which brings me to...

Yes, there are fractals in Fractal Standard Time. Sure, there are street names in one of the cities in the story that reflect famous past mathematicians. But there's more. Although each story in the book has its own narrative arc, the first three stories taken together also form an arc. So do the next three stories, and the next, and the next. On top of that, the first six stories form a bit of arc, too, along with the last six stories. Lastly, all the stories as a whole form a generalized arc which could be described as "the rise and fall of Magnopolis". You can probably guess what the whole series involves, then.

And the odd pattern on Fractal's cover? It's the beginning of a Hilbert curve. You can probably guess, then, what will end up on the next cover, too.

I don't know fully where this will all end up, but this is by far the most complicated thing I have ever attempted to write. I know some will complain about the gaps in time and plot with the first few stories of Fractal Standard Time, and perhaps at some point I'll go back and address those. Some, but not all, of those will be addressed in the next two books. But the key to these books will not so much be the fractals themselves, but what breaks the pattern...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Random Tech Bits

Yesterday, I mentioned Olympus Mons, and how it currently holds the title of the biggest planetary volcano in the Solar System. It looks like that may now have a rival...on Earth (in terms of area, not height). From the article:
"Tamu Massif is a rounded dome that measures about 280 by 400 miles (450 by 650 kilometers), or more than 100,000 square miles. Its top lies about 6,500 feet (about 2,000 meters) below the ocean surface, while the base extends down to about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) deep."
Here's a brief story about a robot in space. Apparently it has a few interesting abilities. From the article:
"Kirobo will be able to recognise [Wakata's] facial features and is designed to communicate in Japanese and take photos."
Not much longer until someone comes up with HAL-9000, I suppose. I wonder when they'll start working on autonomous mining machines?

In other news, Tesla Motors' CEO is planning on driving cross-country with his family in a Tesla Model S, which is an all electric vehicle. The goal is to only charge for about nine hours total and travel 3,200 miles. Should be interesting.

Finally, in about a week and a half, I'll have a major update on the Fractal e-book and some plot updates for Ionotatron.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Caves of Mars

There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to long term living on the surface of Mars. The planet has a much weaker magnetosphere than Earth, and so shielding from solar radiation will be needed for any settlements. My guess (and it's only that) is that some type of shielding technology will be soon developed that will offer better protection than what is currently available. It will be lightweight, easily portable, and will probably involve nanotechnology. Great advances are already being made in the development of solar cells, too, and in some cases due to nanotechnology.

As an alternative to above-ground shelters and domed cities, some have proposed living underground (or even growing food underground). One of the areas of interest are the caves found on the slopes of Pavonis Mons and Arsia Mons. The caves are thought to be lava tubes, aka "skylights", and could act as shelters not only from the radiation but from micrometeoroids. Of course this assumes the volcanoes stay dormant. Nearby Olympus Mons already has the distinction of being the tallest mountain on any planet in the Solar System (although it's profile is that of a flat, shield volcano).

The flip side to all of this is that although the caves could be location for a future settlement, they could also act as a hideout. This is a theme I'm exploring in the second and third books of the Chronopticus Chronicles series I'm working on now. More on that later.

Speaking of books, I hope to have the second book in the series, Ionotatron, finished by the end of November...hence I will probably be posting less for a while. The book will build upon the sprawling foundation established in Fractal Standard Time (which is available now in paperback). The e-book version of Fractal Standard Time will also be available by mid-September on Amazon.