Saturday, 26 October 2019

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

October's Interview - Susan Burns

October's Interview - Susan Burns

Q. So, you’re an award-winning author. Tell us more.

Yes, thanks, Chris. I belong to a few chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA), on and off-line. My first career had been basically as an engineer and applied mathematician, so in writing sci-fi novels, I wanted to delve deeply into the psyche of my characters through what Orson Scott Card (of ENDERS GAME fame) says is THIRD PERSON LIMITED DEEP POINT OF VIEW narration. RWA continues to help me to write my social sci-fis (or sci-fi romances (SFRs)) with more depth than we might find in traditional sci-fi thrillers.

Every once in a while, I like to write near contemporaries so I can amplify the relationships between characters (heroes and heroines) rather than getting lost in the science.

Years ago my first contemporary, originally called A PERFECT MATCH, was given The Golden Claddagh Award from the Celtic Hearts on-line chapter of the RWA.
Working it over as a suspense, I renamed it OPEN SEASON on Love and Death (finally out on August 31st of this year, during the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in Flushing Meadows where the story of our future tennis champion takes place).

Q. Your books have been rather successful, sales-wise. What do you do for promotion?

Most indie writers know it is hard to get noticed, even if an author has honed their craft. My first book, an erotic sci-fi horror novella, was published traditionally through Whiskey Creek that was subsequently bought out by Simon & Shuster. Two of my LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS series were published by SOUL MATE, who from time to time does promotion for its authors. To amplify sales, at the insistence of my SOUL MATE editor, I wrote a novella that I indie-published free through DRAFT2DIGITAL. Amassing a audience using, I managed to keep my novella in the Amazon top-downloaded for months.

There are so few authors profiting from sales that it only takes the sale of one paperback to propel ones book or author rank to a top ranking for a day (in paranormal romance/SFR). Right now, it is more important for me to get my nonformulaic books out there than to earn profits.

Q. Your book covers seems kind of sexy but there’s also a fair mix of different kinds of sci-fi. What kind of genre writer do you see yourself as?

NA Social Science Fiction (New Adult (NA) relationships between individuals and their societies)

Q. How do you differ from other sci-fi writers?

I challenge myself to write in the most intimate manner possible through narration from within the character (deep POV).

Being a scientific generalist with advanced degrees, I write hard sci-fi that helps the reader to start asking real questions about space and time instead of using words developed in the mid 20th century as placeholders. For example, instead of using just the word EXPANSION to describe what our universe is doing, I hope to get the reader to think about how space is created and destroyed (the destruction is where the black hole comes in).

Q. You have scientifically published research on fluid-fluid analogue of universal expansion. So for those of us who don’t know, what is this?

In a thin horizontal mould (bordered by glass top and bottom) a water-based viscous fluid droplet is injected into an oil-based outer fluid. As more of the inner fluid is added (at the source) the expanding boundary of the droplet goes from a perfect circle (stable) to an unstable boundary of any number of sine waves (a simple model of how quanta are created).

Though this experiment is low energy, it gives us an idea of how our universe arises as it is. Unless there are changes in potential (coming out of a singularity source), relationships cannot be formed in a permanent manner).

Q. How would you say you differ from other scientists?

Other scientists in this field (using a Hele-Shaw cell (my mould) to force the flow of two viscous fluids together) used higher flow methods that were easier to come by but harder to mathematically simulate/model. I invented a special valve to slice the syrupy/viscous fluids together so that air droplets at the interface between the two fluids would not affect the experimental results.

Many applied mathematicians did not have courses in how to solve for early unstable forces in the universe (using complex numbers and The General Energy Equation)— the beginning of existence of any number of relationships/objects on our expanding universal boundary.

Out of my research, I began to see that objects, anything that exists within the universe, represent relationships across boundaries. This is more of a relational natural philosophy, just another perspective to solve some of the mysteries out there (like bicameral vision (two ways of looking-at/perceiving things) gives us data on depth perception).

Q. Tell us a bit about your life doing forensics on F16s as an aerospace engineer.

Well, it was the beginning of diversification of computers and many different forms of disc operating systems and different Basic languages existed or each system.

I did lots of fractography. When a plane crashes, if a fractographer examines the way an aerospace material breaks, that can us tell us lots about how the part failed.

I created a program that helped me measure the crack growth markers (for example, as a result of the high and low stress imposed by a failure or a test to reproduce the failure). The program was given to those friendly countries who wanted to do their own failure analysis.

I also worked with a composites group, by developing ways of recognizing damage on aircraft skins and load members through the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that appears in my space opera novel SPACE FOR US (coming soon).

Q. I read somewhere on your blog that you’re the mother of one of smartest sons in the world. Do you ever get any ideas from him or run any ideas past him?

We are speaking of a millennial now. And I am his mother!

The most important things I glean from him is his laid back attitude about the world, and yet a powerful empathetic understanding of it. These kids will be my beneficiaries. Our world, whatever we make of it, will be theirs. They see most of the mistakes of the former generations. Things will change. I hope these kids, like my son, figure things out for themselves.

Since I write both NA and YA (young adult) my editor beta reads my work and tells me what I should be writing in the millennial vernacular.

Q. You’ve a couple of books out this year. Tell us about them.

OPEN SEASON on Love and Death: is an NA romantic suspense. Dedicated to my father who was involved in early tennis in the United States, it is about Madison Weller (heroine) who has no mother, but a distant father, who was a successful tennis champion. His indoor tennis center ambitions are a different matter. He forms an alliance with a crooked tennis agent, mother of the hero, the current mens tennis champion. The suspense comes in when chemical forensics is used by NYPD to stop the nefarious ambitions of the sociopathic mother of the hero. Can any number of rain delays and poisonings propel our heroine to the finals?

SPACE FOR US: is an NA, SFR, space opera. The heroine, Jade, looks Asian, but is a descendent of the Sledani aliens who had once gone to the stars in generation ships, and have returned to Earth to retake their planet.

The mind of the first lady is missing. She is in a coma, but it was not Jade (the heroine) who put her there. The president goes nuts and sends Jade out with his black ops squad to rescue a downed pilot, Shepard (the hero). But all that rescuing was a farce, to insert Shepard as a mole on a rebel crew who steals one of the space planes.

If this becomes a series, it will be labeled SQUARE BALLOONS, since the motive forces of the new alien-invented spaceplane (and its AI riding shotgun) is a product of the expansion and contraction of space.

Q. You’ve written so many books. Do you have a particular favourite?

The one I have not written yet. The one I wrote the outline for during the 2018 NANOWRIMO: BAZOOKA TIME MACHINE, starring metallic and wetware androids and aliens, a woman on woman relationship, and written in the first person.

Q. Your books are rich in dialogue. Has this been a conscious decision? And what’s the secret to good dialogue?

As a very young one, I read the plays of Shakespeare and scripts from those on Broadway. Dad, also, encouraged me to recite some Shakespearian soliloquys.

Because of my comfort with dialogue, I write that first (no grammar, just words). Then in layers (through editing) I add the grammar, the tags, and the behavioural beats. I am seriously thinking of downloading at least one novel into a screenplay.

I have to admit, when I started writing, that I spent my time putting in too much background information and narrator intrusion. So I force the extreme of only narrating from within my characters.

Memorize all the rules in the little book, STRUNK AND WHITE: Elements of Style, keep it under your pillow, and practice it profusely.

Okay, thanks for the interview.
You can find out more through SBK Burns’ webpage here
where you’ll also find a link to her twitter.
Check out her bibliography on the amazon webpage here
and you can connect with her on goodreads here.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

October's Book - Cosmic Chronicles by Quent Laws

October's Book - Cosmic Chronicles by Quent Laws

A stylish collection of sci-fi shorts. Well written and easy to read.


Cosmic Chronicles presents four short supernatural stories that are suspenseful, dramatic and mystical all in one!

Glowing Squares- An urban Chicago youth stumbles across a mysterious pair of dice and realizes that it has a bizarre power.

The Castle of Clues- Pierre Marcos, an arrogant young man from a wealthy background, disrespectfully encounters a strange homeless man and finds himself in a dangerous world of riddle and clues.

Prism- A Portland journalist, Marlin Bryant, is sent to Egypt to cover a story on the pyramids but discovers an ancient object inside that brings about the most pivotal point of his life.

Sapphire City- The result of international nuclear war has rendered the Earth into a wasteland and some humans into mutants. The planet's face is distorted... all except for one place on the top of the globe.

Friday, 11 October 2019

October's Story - Time Fuze by Randall Garrett

October's Story - Time Fuze by Randall Garrett

Commander Benedict kept his eyes on the rear plate as he activated the intercom. "All right, cut the power. We ought to be safe enough here."

As he released the intercom, Dr. Leicher, of the astronomical staff, stepped up to his side. "Perfectly safe," he nodded, "although even at this distance a star going nova ought to be quite a display."

Benedict didn't shift his gaze from the plate. "Do you have your instruments set up?"

"Not quite. But we have plenty of time. The light won't reach us for several hours yet. Remember, we were outracing it at ten lights."

The commander finally turned, slowly letting his breath out in a soft sigh. "Dr. Leicher, I would say that this is just about the foulest coincidence that could happen to the first interstellar vessel ever to leave the Solar System."

Leicher shrugged. "In one way of thinking, yes. It is certainly true that we will never know, now, whether Alpha Centauri A ever had any planets. But, in another way, it is extremely fortunate that we should be so near a stellar explosion because of the wealth of scientific information we can obtain. As you say, it is a coincidence, and probably one that happens only once in a billion years. The chances of any particular star going nova are small. That we should be so close when it happens is of a vanishingly small order of probability."

Commander Benedict took off his cap and looked at the damp stain in the sweatband. "Nevertheless, Doctor, it is damned unnerving to come out of ultradrive a couple of hundred million miles from the first star ever visited by man and have to turn tail and run because the damned thing practically blows up in your face."

Leicher could see that Benedict was upset; he rarely used the same profanity twice in one sentence.

They had been downright lucky, at that. If Leicher hadn't seen the star begin to swell and brighten, if he hadn't known what it meant, or if Commander Benedict hadn't been quick enough in shifting the ship back into ultradrive – Leicher had a vision of an incandescent cloud of gaseous metal that had once been a spaceship.

The intercom buzzed. The commander answered, "Yes?"

"Sir, would you tell Dr. Leicher that we have everything set up now?"

Leicher nodded and turned to leave. "I guess we have nothing to do now but wait."

When the light from the nova did come, Commander Benedict was back at the plate again – the forward one, this time, since the ship had been turned around in order to align the astronomy lab in the nose with the star.

Alpha Centauri A began to brighten and spread. It made Benedict think of a light bulb connected through a rheostat, with someone turning that rheostat, turning it until the circuit was well overloaded.

The light began to hurt Benedict's eyes even at that distance and he had to cut down the receptivity in order to watch. After a while, he turned away from the plate. Not because the show was over, but simply because it had slowed to a point beyond which no change seemed to take place to the human eye.

Five weeks later, much to Leicher's chagrin, Commander Benedict announced that they had to leave the vicinity. The ship had only been provisioned to go to Alpha Centauri, scout the system without landing on any of the planets, and return. At ten lights, top speed for the ultradrive, it would take better than three months to get back.

"I know you'd like to watch it go through the complete cycle," Benedict said, "but we can't go back home as a bunch of starved skeletons."

Leicher resigned himself to the necessity of leaving much of his work unfinished, and, although he knew it was a case of sour grapes, consoled himself with the thought that he could as least get most of the remaining information from the five-hundred-inch telescope on Luna, four years from then.

As the ship slipped into the not-quite-space through which the ultradrive propelled it, Leicher began to consolidate the material he had already gathered.

* * * * *

Commander Benedict wrote in the log: Fifty-four days out from Sol. Alpha Centauri has long since faded back into its pre-blowup state, since we have far outdistanced the light from its explosion. It now looks as it did two years ago. It –

"Pardon me, Commander," Leicher interrupted, "But I have something interesting to show you."

Benedict took his fingers off the keys and turned around in his chair. "What is it, Doctor?"

Leicher frowned at the papers in his hands. "I've been doing some work on the probability of that explosion happening just as it did, and I've come up with some rather frightening figures. As I said before, the probability was small. A little calculation has given us some information which makes it even smaller. For instance: with a possible error of plus or minus two seconds Alpha Centauri A began to explode the instant we came out of ultradrive!

"Now, the probability of that occurring comes out so small that it should happen only once in ten to the four hundred sixty-seventh seconds."

It was Commander Benedict's turn to frown. "So?"

"Commander, the entire universe is only about ten to the seventeenth seconds old. But to give you an idea, let's say that the chances of its happening are – once – in millions of trillions of years!"

Benedict blinked. The number, he realized, was totally beyond his comprehension – or anyone else's.

"Well, so what? Now it has happened that one time. That simply means that it will almost certainly never happen again!"

"True. But, Commander, when you buck odds like that and win, the thing to do is look for some factor that is cheating in your favor. If you took a pair of dice and started throwing sevens, one right after another – for the next couple of thousand years – you'd begin to suspect they were loaded."

Benedict said nothing; he just waited expectantly.

"There is only one thing that could have done it. Our ship." Leicher said it quietly, without emphasis.

"What we know about the hyperspace, or superspace, or whatever it is we move through in ultradrive is almost nothing. Coming out of it so near to a star might set up some sort of shock wave in normal space which would completely disrupt that star's internal balance, resulting in the liberation of unimaginably vast amounts of energy, causing that star to go nova. We can only assume that we ourselves were the fuze that set off that nova."

Benedict stood up slowly. When he spoke, his voice was a choking whisper. "You mean the sun – Sol – might.…"

Leicher nodded. "I don't say that it definitely would. But the probability is that we were the cause of the destruction of Alpha Centauri A, and therefore might cause the destruction of Sol in the same way."

Benedict's voice was steady again. "That means that we can't go back again, doesn't it? Even if we're not positive, we can't take the chance."

"Not necessarily. We can get fairly close before we cut out the drive, and come in the rest of the way at sub-light speed. It'll take longer, and we'll have to go on half or one-third rations, but we – can – do it!"

"How far away?"

"I don't know what the minimum distance is, but I do know how we can gage a distance. Remember, neither Alpha Centauri B or C were detonated. We'll have to cut our drive at least as far away from Sol as they are from A."

"I see." The commander was silent for a moment, then: "Very well, Dr. Leicher. If that's the safest way, that's the only way."

Benedict issued the orders, while Leicher figured the exact point at which they must cut out the drive, and how long the trip would take.

The rations would have to be cut down accordingly.

Commander Benedict's mind whirled around the monstrousness of the whole thing like some dizzy bee around a flower. What if there had been planets around Centauri A? What if they had been inhabited? Had he, all unwittingly, killed entire races of living, intelligent beings?

But, how could he have known? The drive had never been tested before. It couldn't be tested inside the Solar System – it was too fast. He and his crew had been volunteers, knowing that they might die when the drive went on.

Suddenly, Benedict gasped and slammed his fist down on the desk before him.

Leicher looked up. "What's the matter, Commander?"

"Suppose," came the answer, "Just suppose, that we have the same effect on a star when we – go into – ultradrive as we do when we come out of it?"

Leicher was silent for a moment, stunned by the possibility. There was nothing to say, anyway. They could only wait....

* * * * *

A little more than half a light year from Sol, when the ship reached the point where its occupants could see the light that had left their home sun more than seven months before, they watched it become suddenly, horribly brighter.

A hundred thousand times brighter!

Time Fuze was published in IF Worlds of Science Fiction March 1954. For more information on Randall Garrett, click here. This story is taken from Project Gutenberg. For legal reasons the following statement must be included: (This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at