Lying About the Future, OR Reality is Unrealistic

I've written, to this point, five hard-SF novels, with two more on the way – the Boundary Series (Boundary, Threshold, Portal), the Castaway Planet novels (Castaway Planet, Castaway Odyssey, and forthcoming Castaway Peril), and one tentatively titled Fenrir. As hard-SF novels, I worked hard to make these stories as accurate-to-known-science as I could, within the limits of dramatic necessity and the need to not bore my readers with calculations and details that they didn't really want. But even within hard-SF, the author has to make a lot of [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 23

Well, the Sergeant was back to consciousness if not to action...     Chapter 23.      "Whoa!" Tavana lunged out reflexively, catching Maddox as he was almost dragged headlong into the water. The carbonan fishing pole was bent in a sharp curve, vibrating furiously even while Tavana managed to get the smaller Bird brother back on his feet. "Got something, Tav, we got something!" "Vraiment, that we do! Can you hold it?" Maddox' face was set in lines of determination. "If… you can… keep me from falling on my [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 22

Xander said the Sergeant was waking up, so why not see things from his point of view?       Chapter 22.      Campbell blinked his eyes blearily, forced them to focus. What… Oh. I'm inside my suit. For a moment he was confused. Was I on EVA? Fixing something? What happened? When he tried to sit up, he felt the tremendous lethargy and pain of having been still for many hours, even days, and his leg gave a dull throb despite what his nanos reported as "significant pain reduction". That cleared his head, and [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 21

Well, Xander seemed to have things under control...     Chapter 21.      The pistol bucked three times in Xander's hand, almost without him willing it. A screech and convulsive writhing showed that he'd hit the sinuous creature just as the targeting app had said he would; the centisnake, as Maddox had named the thing, shuddered to a slow halt; once it was still, Tavana stepped forward and brought the machete down hard, taking the head from the body and causing another powerful but this time harmless sequence of [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 20

Sorry about the delay; medical emergencies in the household distracted me yesterday.   Chapter 20.      "You have to eat something, Tav." Tavana jumped slightly at the unexpected voice. He was sitting on the steps of the lander's ladder, looking up at a comet whose slowly-fading tail covered thirty degrees of the now-dark sky. "Not hungry." "Bullcrap," Xander said, and held out a plate. He was about to refuse again when his nose caught the scent. "A Buckley? Merde, Xander, we were supposed to be saving those for special [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Planet: Chapter 19

The Sergeant was down... -----   Chapter 19.      Xander sensed the information dump hit, stream through him and into his omni, even as he saw the Sergeant slump down and felt as though the bottom was dropping out of his world as it did. No. This can't happen. The other three boys were staring at him and the unconscious Sergeant, eyes wide, tears trickling down Francisco's terrified face. His own terror was clawing at his mind, the thought of facing a world filled with things like that monster without Sergeant Campbell looming [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 18

Well, the Sergeant wasn't having a good day all of a sudden...   ------ Chapter 18.      It wasn't a conscious decision, but a reflexive action, almost as instinctive as the not-quite-dead-enough creature's strike. Campbell had seen Tavana move forward, his leg lift, and he knew exactly what Tavana was going to do – and having seen this scenario on half a dozen worlds, knew how it might go wrong. But that was the conscious thought, and it lagged far behind the reaction, which was to shout a warning and lunge, as fast as he [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 17

Work's never done on a frontier world... -----   Chapter 17. Tavana sagged back into the shelter's narrow bed and let out an explosive sigh. He hurt in places he didn't remember he had. The temporary shelter was made of the lightest, strongest materials available. But it was also designed to house up to ten people, which meant that even with the lightest, strongest materials it was very heavy, very bulky, and unfortunately required some manual work to unpack and set up. The automated anchors had failed; they were meant for [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 16

Time to make a camp! -----   Chapter 16.      "This," Campbell said, "Is a JD-CAT Model 450 Universal Excavator." The boys were all watching attentively, even Francisco. Heavy machinery still held a fascination for most children, and these – thank goodness – were no exception. He walked around the big machine and smacked the wide, thick bar that was held up by the manipulator frame. "Excavator is just part of what the 450 can do, though. This is a fully controllable advanced SMA – Shape Memory Alloy – universal blade [ Continue reading... ]

Castaway Odyssey: Chapter 15

Time to step out and take a look...   ------   Chapter 15. "No, Maddox, Tav, no one but me and the Sergeant gets armed." "But Xaaaaaander –" "No but Xander, Maddox. You don't even know how to handle a gun yet, and I don't think that Tav or Francisco do either." The other boys glared at him and Campbell, but finally the glares turned to pouts. "Well… okay. You're right." "Good listening, kids," Campbell said. "Guns are not toys. We've got several from the cargo, so if and when I think you boys are ready, all [ Continue reading... ]