Thursday, January 31, 2008

Local Barnes and Noble Sells Out, Orders Six More

The local Barnes and Noble in Palmdale sold out of my book, The Bible's Most Fascinating People, today. Of course, they'd only had a single copy of it. And my pastor, Don Patterson, was the one who snagged that lonely copy.

But this afternoon I spoke with their nice manager, Diana, and she promptly ordered six more copies for the store. I also spoke with her about a possible book signing some time in the near future. So we'll see if that happens. Now I have to make sure everyone gets over there to buy the copies she ordered.

First US Satellite Launched 50 Years Ago Today

I recieved this press release from JPL today:

On Jan. 31, 1958, the JPL-designed and -built Explorer 1 soared into space. The spacecraft, a quick response to the Soviet's Sputnik, lofted the United States into the Space Age.

Visit JPL's Explorer 1 site to learn about the historic event, watch archival video footage, and take an interactive peek inside the satellite.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

If you can't read and write you can't think. Your thoughts are dispersed if you don't know how to read and write. You've got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were.

Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I have never found anywhere, in the domain of art, that you don't have to walk to. (There is quite an array of jets, buses and hacks which you can ride to Success; but that is a different destination.) It is a pretty wild country. There are, of course, roads. Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain't no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction — you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

First Multi-engine test firing of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

Space Daily reports the first multi-engine test firing of the Falcon 9, scheduled for launch later this year:

On Jan. 18, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) conducted the first multi-engine firing of its Falcon 9 medium to heavy lift rocket at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor. The engines operated at full power, generating over 180,000 pounds of force, equivalent to a Boeing 777 at full power, and consuming 700 lbs per second of fuel and liquid oxygen during the run.

Video from YouTube:

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.

Robert A. Heinlein, Waldo & Magic, Inc.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.

Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Book in a Barnes and Noble in Colorado

Dandi, a friend of mine in Colorado, found my book in a Barnes and Noble there. So she took a picture of it with her cellphone and sent it to me. I was relieved to see that Reader's Digest did, in fact, spell my name right:

Now, once my publisher sends me the three free copies of the book that they owe me, I'll be really pleased.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Star Trek Teaser Trailer for the New Movie

A new Star Trek movie is coming around Christmas this year:

If you'd like to see the trailer in higher resolution than YouTube can offer, go to the official site:

Star Trek

On the offical site, you'll notice a small read dot appears next to the words "Under Construction." Click on that to go to another offical site with some extra camera angles.

Video from Virgin Galactic's Unveiling of SpaceShipTwo

Some video of the soon-to-fly SpaceShipTwo:

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel folks.

Harlan Ellison

Friday, January 25, 2008

Comparison Prices shows the price of my book at a variety of online booksellers, including the shipping costs and whether you'd have to pay sales tax:

The Bible's Most Fascinating People

I'm very puzzled about how any booksellers could be offering used copies of my book, given that it was only released yesterday. Speed readers?

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I write as clearly as I am able to. I sometimes tackle ideas and notions that are relatively complex, and it is very difficult to be sure that I am conveying them in the best way. Anyone who goes beyond cliche phrases and cliche ideas will have this trouble.

R.A. Lafferty

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Price Change For My Book on Amazon

When my book, The Bible's Most Fascinating People, was only available for pre-order on Amazon, they were offering it for $16.47. Now that it is out and available from any bookstore, Amazon's supply on hand has shrunk (they've apparently been selling well, forcing them to order more of my books for their warehouse already!) they have raised the price to $18.96. That's still less than the list price of $24.95, but not as good a discount as it was.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The trouble is that things never get better, they just stay the same, only more so.

Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Customer Reports Amazon has Shipped My Book

I got an email this morning from Eric Miller informing me that Amazon has shipped the copy of my book, The Bible's Most Fascinating People, that he had pre-ordered awhile back. So, Amazon has my book in stock!

Assuming they have more than the one copy they just shipped to Eric, of course.

Virgin Galactic

News on Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo:

The Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which was being unveiled in New York today, is already under construction. Test flights are expected to begin in June, with commercial flights starting 12 months later.

There are a few more details and nice pictures at
And even more at the Virgin Galactic website.

Philosophical Questions

In the current issue of Wired, Clive Thompson has an interesting article, Why Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing:

If you want to read books that tackle profound philosophical questions, then the best — and perhaps only — place to turn these days is sci-fi. Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas.

I'd recommend reading it all.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for . . but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong.

If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Apparently My Book is Available in Some Places

If you go to Barnes and Noble's website and look at my book, The Bible's Most Fascinating People, you'll see that it now "usually ships within 24 hours," which is what they say about most of their books. Instead of being available for pre-order, it is simply available to be ordered.

Amazon, however, still offers it for "pre-order," announcing that it is to be released on Thursday (January 24, 2008)--that's in only two days.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I have memories - but only a fool stores his past in the future.

David Gerrold

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Martin Luther King Day

The "I Have a Dream" speach:

Fantasy Author Quote of the Day

I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft... I'm laughing slightly because to me, the idea is absurd.

I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, "Ms. Rowling, I'm so glad I've read these books because now I want to be a witch." They see it for what it is... It is a fantasy world and they understand that completely....

I don't believe in magic, either.

J.K. Rowling

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name.

Brian W. Aldiss

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Quote for a Saturday Night

Half the harm in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm, but the harm doesn't interest them. Or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

- T.S.Eliot

Friday, January 18, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

That's [a] good question. More than likely it will never be answered to your complete satisfaction. But then, how many questions ever are?

Harlan Ellison, 'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.

Douglas Adams

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I write for the same reason I breathe — because if I didn't, I would die.

Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Many things are possible. Few things are certain.

Harry Turtledove

Monday, January 14, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

"We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception-- he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it's a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."

Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Writing a novel is that sort of weird process where it seems for a long time you're not making any progress at all. It's like trying to build a wall or dig a ditch across miles and miles, and you just do it, one word at a time. You're going to have the good writing days, and you're going to have the bad writing days, and it's going to take a year or two years, or more, to get to the end.

Neil Gaiman, Fragil Things

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.

Arthur C. Clarke, The Exploration of Space (1951)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?

Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.

Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Too many people want to have written.

Terry Pratchett

Launch from the Point of View of the SRB

Launch of the space shuttle as seen from a camera looking down from one of the solid rocket motors. The video shows from launch to the splash down of the SRB into the Atlantic. Includes sound.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Inside the Shuttle from Launch to Orbit

Cockpit video of a shuttle launch:

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

You can't get any movement larger than five people without including at least one...idiot.

Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Physical World as Virtual Reality

A paper by Brian Whitworth at Massey University in Albany, Aukland, New Zealand argues that our physical reality might be, in essense, a computer simulation. It has interesting theological implications, obviously.

The virtual reality concept is familiar to us from online worlds, but our world as a virtual reality is usually a subject for science fiction rather than science. Yet logically the world could be an information simulation running on a multi-dimensional space-time screen. Indeed, if the essence of the universe is information, matter, charge, energy and movement could be aspects of information, and the many conservation laws could be a single law of information conservation. If the universe were a virtual reality, its creation at the big bang would no longer be paradoxical, as every virtual system must be booted up. It is suggested that whether the world is an objective reality or a virtual reality is a matter for science to resolve. Modern information science can suggest how core physical properties like space, time, light, matter and movement could derive from information processing. Such an approach could reconcile relativity and quantum theories, with the former being how information processing creates space-time, and the latter how it creates energy and matter.

The paper is an interesting one. In PDF format: The Physical World as Virtual Reality

Science Fiction Author of the Day

You can’t make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago “Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world’s music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don’t have to die of dental abcesses and you don’t have to do what the squire tells you” they’d think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say ‘yes’.

Terry Pratchett

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Advertising reaches out to touch the fantasy part of people's lives. And you know, most people's fantasies are pretty sad.

Frederik Pohl, The Way The Future Was

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

One thing that puzzles me (and I use puzzle here in the technical sense of really, really irritates me) is reading, as from time to time I have, learned academic books on folktales and fairy stories that explain why nobody wrote them and which go on to point out that looking for authorship of folktales is in itself a fallacy; the kind of books or articles that give the impression that all stories were stumbled upon, or, at best, reshaped, and I think, Yes, but they all started somewhere, in someone's head. Because stories start in minds--they aren't artifacts or natural phenomena.

One scholarly book I read explained that any fairy story in which a character falls asleep obviously began life as a dream that was recounted on waking by a primative type unable to tell dreams from reality, and this was the starting point for our fairy stories--a theory which seemed filled with holes from the get go, because stories, the kind that survive and are retold, have narrative logic, not dream logic.

Stories are made up by people who make them up. If they work, they get retold. There's the magic of it.

Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

Friday, January 04, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.

Terry Pratchett in the foreword from The Definitive Illustrated Guide to Fantasy by David Pringle.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don't Judge a Movie by its Title

Misperceptions coupled with imagination...

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I think science fiction does help, and it points in very interesting directions. It points in relativistic directions. It says that we have the imagination for these other opportunities, these other choices. We tend to tie ourselves down to limited choices. We say, 'Well, the only answer is. . .' or, 'If you would just. . .' Whatever follows these two statements narrows the choices right there. It gets the vision right down close to the ground so that you don't see anything happening outside. Humans tend not to see over a long range. Now we are required, in these generations, to have a longer range view of what we inflict on the world around us. This is where, I think, science fiction is helping. I don't think that the mere writing of such a book as Brave New World or 1984 prevents those things which are portrayed in those books from happening. But I do think they alert us to that possibility and make that possibility less likely. They make us aware that we may be going in that direction. We may be contriving a strictly controlled police culture. B. F. Skinner worries the hell out of me. He is right out of Huxley. He is standing there like a small boy saying, 'Please let me have a world like this because I feel safe in it!' He is saying, 'I want to control it.' He may be very accurate in his assessment that our total society is going in that direction and that maybe he is opting for the lesser of numerous evils, in his view. But what kind of a society would that produce?

Frank Herbert

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cat Alarm Clock

If you have a cat, this will seem quite realistic.

...and Statistics

Interesting information concerning Venezuela.

The homicide rates are measured by the number of corpses that go through the morgue, but there is an additional category in public hospitals called “undetermined violent deaths. In 2004, there were 9962 homicides reported by the morgues, 2150 for “resisting the authorities” and 4298 “undetermined violent deaths”. This gives you 74 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, higher than Colombia’s 54, but that country is in the midst of a civil war.

--90,027 people have died violently since 1999 in Venezuela. This is more than the number that have died in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq.

--Only 7% of homicides reach the point of someone receiving a sentence for it

--Of executions only 1.4% of the cases ends in a sentence

--The rate of homicides in jails is 20.6 per 1,000 inmates. In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia combined; the rate is 0.6 per 1,000.

--There is an estimated 6 million weapons in Venezuela floating around, of which only 15,000 are registered.


Iraq’s and Venezuela’s populations are roughly comparable: 27.5 million versus 27.7 million. In the last three months, there have been 1498 civilian fatalities in Iraq. During this same time, roughly 3000 Venezuelans have been murdered.

For the last three months of 2007, a Venezuelan was twice as likely to lose his life to violence as an Iraqi.

See a blog associated with the online magazine, Salon and also check Gateway Pundit. Given that one site is noted for being on the left end of the political spectrum, and the other on the right, perhaps it is possible that these are not completely inaccurate statistics.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, 'So this is how it feels,' and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.

"The Tempest," issue #75 of The Sandman (1996), collected in The Wake; The speaker is William Shakespeare, looking back over his career as he finishes writing The Tempest as one of two plays commissioned by Morpheus (aka Dream, aka The Sandman).

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

Terry Pratchett