to: JEFF BEZOS, subject: LUNA CITY

I’m an aerospace software and systems engineer, working most recently at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Boeing’s Phantom Works. I am now retired and spend much of each day writing, mostly fiction.

I am also one of many diverse professionals who study, think, and discuss how to colonize the Moon. Here are some ideas your own engineers may not have suggested to you.

BUILD WITH TELEROBOTS – Drones remotely operated from Earth are most cost effective. “Deaths” among them are not tragic, they need no air or water or food or habitats, they need not be returned home.

BUILD WITH PREFABBED PARTS – Construction on the Moon can be done faster and better by doing the hardest work here on Earth.

USE LOCAL MATERIALS – Lunar rocks and soil contain useful minerals which can be extracted in several ways. These include oxygen and the metals iron, calcium, aluminum, and magnesium.

USE VR/AR HEADSETS – “Vears” are an infant industry slowly ramping up to a big business. Remote operation of drones and viewing of the Moon by long-distance “tourists” is a way to give Earth-bound humans a better way of visiting the Moon.

Putting people on the Moon is a practical near-term goal. Putting them on Mars is not. It’s time to build a moon base, or better a moon city.

After the base or city is built it would be covered by a thin layer of dirt to protect it from meteorites and extremes of heat and cold. Artwork by Chris Butler, available in several different versions at his web site.

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BEST-DRESSED at the Golden Globes

My rule for “best dressed” for women is LESS CLOTHES, MORE WOMAN – at least for women whose looks I like.

For men it’s: ADD SOME COLOR already!

Here are two men who followed my rule: Tony Shalhoub and Darren Criss.

But if there is one excuse for STUPID capes (which IDIOT comics artists put on superheroes) Billy Porter gives it here.

Now for the IMPORTANT style items: the women’s dresses. Here are the women whose dresses impressed me. Starting off is Jessica Chastain, Dakota Fanning, Marin Hinkle. They show that “plain” colors and elegant design on a beautiful woman is fabulous.

So can the cooler colors, as these on Camilla Belle, Gemma Chan, Lupita Nyong’o.

The hotter colors always catch the eye, especially when the women themselves also command attention. Here is Alyssa Milano, Danai Gurira, Carly Steel.

And finally two of my favorite dresses, AND women, stars of the wonderful movie “Roma”: Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira.

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The ORPHAN is on the MOON

A Christmas present to fans of The Eons-Lost Orphan. For non-fans, it’s a realistic look at the Supergirl myth, with touches of Captain Marvel. The present is an update on my progress writing the sequel.

Sequels are hard. They have to continue the appeal of the previous book but also add something new. I’m finding the sequel difficult to keep on course as Jane blossoms out into “near-space,” my term for what scientists call “cislunar space” – the sphere of space from Earth orbit to just beyond the Moon. But though the going is slow I’m having fun exploring Jane Kuznetsov as she matures into near-superhero status.

At this point in the sequel she and her crew go to the Moon. There they build and run an experiment featuring a radical new invention. And have an astonishing experience.

While they do this they live in Luna City. It was created from prefab parts shipped to the Moon plus local materials. These parts include bricks made by industrial 3D printers from Moon rocks and dirt. The construction was done by robots operated remotely by engineers on Earth using virtual/augmented reality headsets. The robots have to be very smart as it takes a minimum of 2.6 seconds to five or more seconds for round-trip communication between Earth and the Moon. Not good when you are remotely driving a Lunar rover and suddenly have to put on the brakes!

Luna City was made by finding a medium-large crater, constructing the city in it, then covering it over with a layer of Lunar material. The layer protects the city from meteoroids and extremes of heat and cold. Once made and powered up and filled with air the interior is made livable by adding plants. These help maintain air and (just as important) provide welcome relief from the drabness and utilitarian nature of the city.

Click image for a larger view.

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New CHARLAINE HARRIS book – terrific

It is an occasion to rejoice when there appears any new book by Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series which was the basis for the popular HBO series “True Blood.” And of several other series, including the Aurora Teagarden mysteries.

The latest is titled An Easy Death. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic US in (I’m guessing) is roughly equal to our own 1940. There are automobiles and automatic pistols. The latter is a part of the life of the main character, a young woman known as “Gunnie” Rose, as her profession is bodyguard.

The story well begins when she takes a job to protect two wizards as they look for an itinerant Russian nobleman. Her work is cut out for her, as there are others who want him not to be found, and they’re willing to kill to ensure he is not.

The Amazon page for the book styles it as Gunnie Rose book 1. I surely hope there are follow-ups. I want more Rose!

Click to read an excerpt and to buy the book.
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The ORPHAN on the RED CARPET

News from the Orphan sequel front:

Bad news and good news. Bad: I’m working on the middle of the sequel to The Eons-Lost Orphan. It is going OK, but it does take some work to keep up to the qualities of the first book. Good: I know the end of the sequel and have plotted it (very roughly). I quite like it and hope lots of others will agree.

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At 25 Jane Kuznetsov (the Orphan) has her first boy friend. This is normal for the people where she was born. They lived very long lives and matured much later. They might not marry and have children until they were 50 or 100 years old.

Her boyfriend is a good deal older and a celebrity in the entertainment industry. On occasion he treads various red carpets at such events as movie premieres, awards shows, and such events. Naturally Jane has to have nice outfits for such events. Here is one.

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THE ORPHAN goes to the SPACE STATION

I took some time off from the The Eons-Lost Orphan sequel because I was having trouble with a plot point. The next morning as I came slowly awake the solution occurred to me. I hurried through getting ready for the day and returned to the sequel.

Jane is now on the World Space station doing, hmm…. You’ll have to buy the book to find out what.

Here is my first draft of an image of the space station. In the time of the Orphan, some 15+ years in our future, it was built by a consortium of the top hoteliers of the world. The “cans” at the far ends of the station are like combination hotels, shopping malls, entertainment arenas, and offices.

The station spins to create artificial gravity in the cans that mimics the gravity of the Moon. This serves double duty. It lets people traveling to and from the Moon adjust to the transition in gravity. More importantly, it keeps people who spend a long time in zero-G from being near-invalids for a few weeks when they return to Earth.

Click image to see a larger version

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Two more stories available about THE FIRST SHAPECHANGER

I was working on two Shapechanger Tales novelettes when the Orphan appeared naked and asleep in a public park. She haunted me until I HAD to tell her story. I did that in The Eons-Lost Orphan. She haunts me still as I work on the sequel: The Orphan in Near-Space.

Recently, when the Orphan gave me a few hours off from her story, I polished one novelette (Phoenix’s Flight) and finished the other (The Fair Warrior). They further extend the narrative of the first shapechanger, Maelgyreyt.

Click image to read an excerpt and to buy the stories.

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Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE SPIRIT RING – terrific fantasy

You’re in for a treat if you’ve somehow overlooked Lois McMaster Bujold‘s first fantasy novel, written after she’d achieved success with the “Vorkosiverse” novels. I had. Recently I came across a mention of it and snapped it up.

I’m glad I did. The Spirit Ring is set in an alternate Renaissance Italy where magic is real. It has believable likable (and hatable) characters, richly realized setting, and action as straight as an arrow shot.

I suspect I overlooked it because it’s fantasy and I disliked that genre when it first came out. Don’t make my mistake.

Click image to read an excerpt and to buy the book.

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THE EONS-LOST ORPHAN sequel

I’ve had a lot of queries about sequels to The Eons-Lost Orphan. Good news: I’m a quarter of the way into the first one. Bad news: I don’t expect to finish before Thanksgiving. Christmas week is a more likely launch date.

What will Jane do in the sequel? Spend more time in space. Some on or near the World Space Station, on or near the Moon. There she will meet her first lover. And there and back on Earth begin to tangle with one or more of the three Chinese splinter empires.

Sequels can be tough. I have to maintain the appeal of the first, and I don’t really know what that is. I broke a number of rules of writing I always thought universal. Some of the negative reviews took me to task for that.

For instance, Jane is a sort of Supergirl-lite, nearly a “Mary Sue” – a term for someone perfect in every way. There is little conflict, no great super-villain or super-bad problem. Jane and her kind were designed by an advanced race over a thousand years to be perfect warriors and charismatic leaders. Anything or anyone who threatens the people under her protection is doomed. Fights with her are quick and lethal, so there are no long-drawn-out fist-fights so beloved of action movie makers.

Luckily for the people of Earth she’s also a loving person who likes being around people and working with them, building them up rather than using them. (Like her super-soldier nature, she was designed that way too.)

So what’s in the quarter-novel so far? Jane is assigned to the space-threat program by the Space Force (the short name for the real-world Air Force Space Command). This is just an excuse. Basically they have a proven genius on their payroll and they want to give the golden goose a chance to lay more golden eggs.

She is stationed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (where I spent 11 years). The first task she sets for herself is doing research on telemagnetic floater tech. This will allow aircraft to take off from almost any flat surface rather than huge and expensive (and vulnerable) runways. This is vital to ground support aircraft that do emergency evacuations, reconnaissance, and ground attacks. Below is the first of four test beds which she and her staff build.

To see the others (and find out a little bit more about the sequel) follow this link: FLOATER TECH at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click image to see a larger version

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MURDERBOT 4, last of the series, now available

The last of the four novellas which make up Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries is now available. Each is a complete story, but together they make up one complete novel. It brings to a satisfying resolution the longer story arc.

In case you don’t know her, Martha is a prolific writer with several series as well as single books to her credit. I’ve long been a fan of her, ever since I was introduced to her Ile-Rien series, one of my favorite series of all time. Find out more about her extensive works on the Martha Wells web page.

Click on the images to preview or buy the books.

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