MRI scans of dogs brains show them responding not just to a speaker’s tone of voice (right brain function), but to the meanings of spoken words (left brain function). Now, this is cool—if perhaps unsurprising to dog owners. Nice to see it confirmed by a brain scanner, though! And those are some adorable-looking dogs. Read more about it in Science News. (Update: This Washington Post article has more information, including some video of how they did the research.)
My friend Richard Bowker has a new novel out in the Kindle store (coming soon in other stores). If you’ve read any of his books, you know he’s a terrific writer. This one’s called Terra, and is a direct sequel to his earlier book, The Portal, which tells the story of two boys who stumble into, and through, a dimensional portal into an alternate Earth. I’ve read it in manuscript, and it’s excellent. (The new one, I mean. But they’re both excellent.) Richard is hard at work on a third volume.
How’s that for a mingling of formats? Skyboat Media, producers of the soon-to-be-released audiobook of Neptune Crossing, has put together a short video trailer, showing Stefan Rudnicki at work reading the prologue, from the quarx’s point of view. It’s short, and it’s nifty. And it came out just in time to be my second big birthday present, after the discovery of Proxima b, the potentially Earthlike planet circling Proxima Centauri. Here it is:
Speaking of video, I did a Skype video interview with Stefan today, which was great fun—actually our first “face to face” meeting, if you count videophone as face to face. I hope we get a chance to meet in person one of these days. I’ll let you know when that interview goes up.
Huge news from the world of astronomy! A planet has been discovered circling the closest star to ours, just 4.25 light-years away! And it may be in the Goldilocks zone—neither too close to its star nor too far away to have liquid water. Proxima is a red dwarf, much smaller than our sun, and Proxima b (the planet) is orbiting much closer to its star than Earth, with an orbit around its sun every 11.2 days. The net effect of this is that, depending on what kind of atmosphere it has, the surface temperature could be moderate enough for water to exist in liquid form: ideal for our kind of life. This is big news, even bigger than the apparent discovery a few years ago of a planet circling Alpha Centauri (part of the same star group, but a little further away). Read the details on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog. And here’s a video from the European Southern Observatory:
Regarding that previous discovery around Alpha Centauri, it was (according to Phil Plait’s article) later found to be an error. But he thinks the evidence for this one is a lot more solid. So here’s hoping, and let’s start tuning up that stardrive!
Wait, wait, wait! We’re not getting jaded about these sales, are we? No, we are not. Not at the prices I’m paying to advertise these socko, out of the park sales! My ebook Seas of Ernathe just went on special for $.99, for one week only! Get ‘em while they’re… well, you know. Hot.
I wish I could think of a way to tie this to Hillary’s terrific speech last night—wasn’t she great?—but the truth is, when I booked the ad, I had no idea I was going to have that act to follow. Go Hillary! Balloons, people—think balloons, and buy some books!
Seas of Ernathe was my first novel, and the first novel in the Star Rigger Universe. Or, to put it another way, it’s the last novel in the Star Rigger Universe! It’s—let me try to explain.
This was the book that broke me into the book business. My first, and a book I still like a lot. Plus, it has this dynamite cover art by Chris Howard, who is a man of many talents, including both writing and painting! At the time I wrote Seas, I had published exactly one short story in the rigger world, “Alien Persuasion,” which was soon to become the starting point for my second novel, Star Rigger’s Way. For reasons I don’t remember, I set Seas in what you might call the post-rigger world, far in the future, when the secrets of starship rigging have been lost. The events of this story provide the clues that lead to the rediscovery of the art of rigging. So, it’s set at the end of the long story arc of rigging, but it’s the first written. And Ernathe has a silent e on the end.
Try it; I think you’ll like it! Did I mention it’s only $.99, for a limited time?
What better way to crown the Fourth of July, a celebration of the birth of the U.S.A., than to plunk a billion-dollar spacecraft—Juno, the fastest-moving probe ever launched by humanity—into a perfect orbit around Jupiter? This isn’t just any orbit. NASA had to thread Juno into a precise path taking the craft between the planet’s upper atmosphere and its hellish radiation belt. Too close to that belt, and the instruments would have been instant toast. Fortunately, NASA eats challenges like that for lunch. Juno will be flying a highly elliptical path over the huge planet’s poles, zooming repeatedly to within a few thousand miles of the atmosphere and then whipping way out for a long-distance view.
Like so many space stories, there’s a lot in this that echoes my current work in progress. Readers of The Chaos Chronicles might remember that Li-Jared comes from Karellia, a planet with a fiery radiation belt surrounding it. In The Reefs of Time, Li-Jared (and we) get a chance to visit that world, which features things even weirder than the “beautiful, perilous sky” that its inhabitants know so well.
Take a moment to enjoy this view of Jupiter’s moons circling the great planet, shot by Juno on its flight inbound.
Really? Everything? Honestly, the answer is nothing. Nada. You don’t need to know that Dragon Rigger, one of my favorite books, which took me a couple of years to write, is just $.99 for a limited time only. You don’t need to know that it’s a sequel to Dragons in the Stars, and one of the most layered novels in my Star Rigger Universe. You don’t need to know that one reviewer on Amazon called it “The Best Book I’ve Ever Read!” and another reviewer called it “A masterfully written book,” and still another said, “I couldn’t put it down!” and indicated a desire to give it 7 stars on a 5-star scale.
But even if you don’t need to know that stuff, isn’t it kind of cool that you do? I admit it feels cool to me.
Speaking for my own feelings about the book, I really enjoyed delving into the dragons’ culture and their journeys through the “underrealm,” which is a layer of reality that underlies the already alternate reality of the Flux. I was emotionally exhausted by the time I finished writing it, which is good, because it meant I was emotionally invested in the dragons, Jael, and others. The ending was hard for me to write, because it hurt even though it was uplifting and redemptive at the same time. It’s a book I felt good about having written, like I’d done the universe a solid, creatively speaking. And it has a gorgeous map.
For the price of a candy bar, this tale of mythic adventure in a science fiction world can be yours. How far can you go wrong? But don’t wait too long!
Here used to be a picture of me after licking a thorny plot problem in the chapter tentatively titled “Chapter 29” in The Reefs of Time. This would be the chapter that, in the first draft, caused me to type, “I HAVE NO FRICKIN’ IDEA WHERE THIS IS GOING! FIX IT IN REWRITE!” and then move on. When the rewrite came around, the situation was not much improved. But this time, I didn’t think I could do the same thing, so I just kept pounding my head on it until it relented and gave up its secrets. So, this time I’ve solved it and moved on. Having solved it. I think. You never know about these things until you circle back on the next pass and see it all in the context of the whole story arc.
Have I mentioned that this is a long and complex book, with many threads, and it’s taking me a long time to (re)write it? Think Game of Thrones… but without the thrones, the kingdoms, the backstabbing murders, the dragons, the dark magic, etc. Actually, it’s nothing like The Game of Thrones, except for the length, complexity, and the time it’s taking me to finish it. But that’s not nothing.
The Boston Globe has already put online the top ten commercials to be run during tomorrow’s Superbowl broadcast! What more do you need? Watch the commercials now (some of them are pretty good!), and then you can read a good book or watch cat videos during the game!
We’re starting a new circuit around the sun, and what better way to launch than with a book sale? I agree. Starting today and for the next five days, the ebook of my novel The Rapture Effect is just $.99 at all the usual places. That’s less than the cost of a candy bar at the movie theater, and will last far longer!
If you’re one of those discerning people who already owns it, please pass the word. And thank you.
Here’s one of my favorite blurbs from another writer:
“A lively dance of ideas—first contact, interstellar war, artificial intelligence, alien culture—and it moves at a rapid pace, from Earth through cyberspace to the Horsehead Nebula, and various points between. It’s well-worth the trip ticket.” —Roger Zelazny, author of Lord of Light