Sunday, June 28, 2015

InterstellarNet: Enigma -- now (finally!) -- on paper :-)

It's been an ebook serial. It's been an ebook book (or, as the publisher would have it, an ebook omnibus). It incorporates the Hugo Award-nominated novelette "Championship B'tok." But for the many who prefer the feel of a physical bound volume in their hands? They've been without an option.

Latest and greatest
It is InterstellarNet: Enigma, the third -- and, IMO, most ambitious yet -- adventure in the InterstellarNet saga. And as of today, I'm delighted to report, this novel is, finally, also available in print.

"When people talk about good hard SF -- rigorously extrapolated but still imbued with the classic sense-of-wonder -- they mean the work of Edward M. Lerner, the current master of the craft. InterstellarNet: Enigma is Lerner's latest gem, and it's up to his usual excellent standards; a winner all around."
-- Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

For a bit more about the story, read on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We will sell no wine before its time

Fine wine -- and even, if you're old enough, the not-so-fine, screw-top beverage the subject-line slogan will evoke -- must age to reach its full potential.

I find the craft of writing to be like that. Sure, I've knocked out the first draft of some short stories in a few consecutive days (or even one!), allowing nothing to interrupt. For longer stories and novels, the process is more complicated -- and not merely because longer stories require (at the least) months to complete.

For longer works, the original story concept -- no matter how detailed my research, going-in outline, and character sketches -- benefits from a time-out. From a bit of aging, if you will. More often than not, I'll set aside a long work once the first quarter of it (give or take) is in first draft. Even when that pause comes simply from a reprioritization -- writing under contract must trump writing done on spec -- I've found that the time away is always for the best.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Physics in flux

With the daily news so often grim, and the 2016 presidential campaign already seeming endless, I find it uplifting, from time to time, to reground myself in less well covered -- but more meaningful and exciting -- dispatches from the frontiers of science. Today: reports and speculations from the frontiers of physics.

A chip off the Moore's Law block
We'll begin with applied physics. Since the Sixties, we've been on a pell-mell race to continue upping the density (read: continue decreasing the cost and/or size) of electronics. It's that steady progress that brings us such goodies as HDTV and smart phones.

Regularly the prognostication is made that Moore's Law (the doubling of component densities every two or so years) must soon come to a screeching halt. Intuitively, that makes sense -- over the decades, some features of state-of-the-art chips have been reduced to a mere 14 nm across. (Interatomic spacing in crystals is about 0.1 nanometers -- we're not talking about a lot of atoms across such tiny features.) Technologists, fortunately, keep coming up with clever approaches to sustain the trend. See "Intel: Moore's Law will continue through 7nm chips."

How long can such progress go on? Perhaps until  single molecules serve as electronic components. See "Molecular Electronics Takes Large Stride Forward" for the example of single-molecule diodes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The 2015 Nebula Awards weekend

I'm newly home from Chicago and a wonderful experience: SFWA's annual -- and, as it happened, the 50th -- Nebula Awards weekend. SFWA, of course, is the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. (In this instance, not a typo. When fantasy authors demanded equal billing in the organization's name, maintaining the historical acronym and logo required that odd mixed capitalization.) The Nebulas, awarded annually by SFWA for specific works of fiction, are among the highest honors in the genre.

Photo from Locus
An even higher honor is the Solstice Award, "granted in recognition of the positive impact and influence the recipients and their work have had on the science fiction and fantasy genres." This year's honorees were Joanna Russ and Stanley Schmidt. Stan, of course, was the long-time editor of Analog. Over the years I've come to know Stan as a mentor, colleague, and friend. It was great to see him honored.

Larry & Ed at Nebula Awards (2015)
But the highest SFWA recognition, IMO, is the SFWA Grandmaster Award. This year's honoree was Larry Niven, recognized "for his invaluable contributions to the field of science fiction and fantasy" (he writes both). Larry is my frequent collaborator and friend, and I was invited to join the panel at a Niven-retrospective session and to contribute a written appreciation. I was happy to oblige, and here's what I wrote.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Spacing out

Here are some interesting space-exploration items I've been accumulating ...

Let's get it off the drawing boards
Getting the downers out of the way first: "NASA says new heavy-lift rocket debut not likely until 2018." And wouldn't it be nice if NASA knew what it wanted to do with its ever-delayed launcher? (On that latter point, it's not only me who wonders. From the Washington Post, see, "NASA has a spaceship, but where will it go?") Creeping toward a mission choice -- for 2025 -- we read "For Asteroid-Capture Mission, NASA Picks 'Option B' for Boulder."

If NASA's manned spaceflight is all but inert, the agency does continue to do interesting science: "NASA launches 4 spacecraft to solve magnetic mystery." The mystery: the nature of interactions between Earth's and Sun's magnetic fields. Particularly interesting is the sometimes rapid changes that occur at the dynamic interface between fields:
Magnetic reconnection is what happens when magnetic fields like those around Earth and the sun come together, break apart, then come together again, releasing vast energy. This repeated process drives the aurora, as well as solar storms that can disrupt communications and power on Earth. Data from this two-year mission should help scientists better understand so-called space weather.
Mercury

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A potpourri of SF news

Life went on, mostly without my participation, over the past couple of months and the run-up to and roll-out of InterstellarNet Enigma. On the genre side, here are a few interesting items that got me off-task long enough to bookmark for later perusal.

Looking for diversion? Best-selling and best are distinct concepts, but popularity remains a hint at options worth considering. In the video department, therefore, I found this list from Fortune to be interesting: "Here are the 10 highest-grossing sci-fi movies of all time." The Star Wars franchise, not surprisingly, dominates the list -- and in the case of episodes four through six, I even understand. I thoroughly enjoyed about half these top grossers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

InterstellarNet: Enigma -- War Against the Xool

It's crunch time. Matters have never been more desperate -- only to get worse when the final mysteries are revealed.

Three brave humans and their unlikely Hunter allies, defying eons of alien machinations and manipulations, after decades of travel, have finally brought the confrontation to the enigmatic Xool.

Or have they? The aliens are nowhere to be found, and only a silent, featureless, mirrored orb orbits Epsilon Indi where a habitable planet ought to be. Could the Xool—somehow—be inside?

When the Xool are found, the mystery only deepens.

How can mere humans wrap their minds around an age-old conspiracy that spans the galaxy? How can they take back control of their own destiny? Either aspiration seems hopeless.

 But unless they find a way, humanity and its InterstellarNet neighbors are doomed ….

Don't miss the shocking conclusion,  InterstellarNet: Enigma, Part Five / War Against the Xool for the Kindle (and elsewhere, for Nook and iGadgets) for only $2.99. Or consider the entire novel for $7.99.

Monday, May 11, 2015

InterstellarNet: Enigma -- The Xool Resistance

We're up to Part Four -- and circumstances are beyond dire.

The unseen forces long at work behind human history have been unmasked -- and the powers they wield are scary. Meanwhile, the warlike Hunter clan interned for decades in the outer Solar System has gone from clandestine resistance to all-out war. Precious little stands in the way of blocking either group.

Desperate times call for desperate alliances ….

Don't miss InterstellarNet: Enigma, Part Four / The Xool Resistance for the Kindle (and elsewhere, for Nook and iGadgets) for only $2.99. Or consider the entire novel for $7.99.