Thursday, August 31, 2006


Anyone who ever writes for a space setting needs Celestia. This is an open source, free to use, free to change (but need to share your changes) piece of software capable of rendering any known celestial object under any specified parameters. It does this in ways that are beautiful, accurate, easily controlled and comprehended, and beautifully performant on modern hardware.

Just a few clicks apart I was able to produce this view of the earth from moderate lunar orbit (low resolution export):

And a comparative view of Terran and Martian orbits on 2 different time scales, with an ideal trajectory for the protagonists to depart the distant outpost on 2152-07-29 (that's a date), arriving on the Moon on 2152-10-21 just 84 days later (image is squished here, click for full [still low resolution] view):

The distance traveled of ~0.68AU (64,000,000 miles) would require a mean velocity of ~14k/s in this time frame, well within human tolerances and even current technology (the vessel in question is a simple emergency craft as well, so it's not going to be sporting the shiny He-3 fusion drives available elsewhere). A surprisingly short trip, considering that they start out 1.9635AU (16.3299457 light-minutes) apart. Quite fortunate.

Aside from the purely geeky aspects of accessible stellar cartography, this software can serve as a marvelous introduction to any skill and educational level of the much larger universe. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still Writing

I'm still writing frequently, just not here. Whenever my composition picks up heavily in one area, it drops in others. Previously this was a conflict between journal and blog, but now I've added book to the mix so both of those are suffering.

And will continue too, I'm having too much fun with the book. I will leave a little teaser though, a favorite line from the end of the prologue:

The General did not close his eyes as he lay slack against the op-center chair, exhaling a final shallow rattle and starting his body on the long decaying journey of uninhabited flesh.

Cheery, eh?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Touch of Moxie

What makes a person believe he or she can attempt something truly outrageous and accomplish it? I've asked similar questions in the past. This tendency can be seen as bravery, foolhardy, naivete, even presumptuous ego or pride, and contempt for others to conceive of being so individually deserving of esteem or accolade.

At times in life I've been labeled with all of the above, simultaneously admired and despised from differing vantage. My intent never differs however: seize the chance to make the most of myself, to grow in experience. Compelled, as I've mentioned before, by personal philosophies.

Not to upstage or overshadow the work of others though (an accusation I've suffered now and again); my aim is not the spotlight, only the pinnacle of my own self. That peak may exist in the dark unknown to the world, but with the drive satiated I am whole and at peace.

The limited accomplishments I've enjoyed serve to encourage me, upping the octane on the already highly charged entrepreneurial fuel. If the Nth-of-a-percent possibility of success is truly out there, wouldn't it be great if...? This is why I've gone so far as to verbalize DaVinci, and why I now pour energy as it flows freely (at times unbidden) on a new series of ideas for (at least) a trilogy of novels.

I've allowed this to derail a few other long-standing but steadily moving objectives for now. The transcription of one of my piano compositions, notes on a short story and prior novel concept I've been refining - the DaVinci initiative itself. Too many irons in the fire, maybe? I won't argue. But so long as they make progress, however scant, they serve their purpose of offering me refinement.

I'm just nuts enough though to believe that this latest idea has sufficient merit to survive to some stage of completion, and to become profitable. The original concept began life as a classic sci-fi "what if," with an added flavor from the writer's dream-book of untamed scenarios. Highly implausible, but too tantalizing to drop immediately out of hand. I began to think backward into what arrangement of the stars and fates might conceivably produce that rare intersection of realities able to stand with only standard-issue Suspension of Disbelief.

The prologue resulting from the exercise is tantalizing in its own right, suitable to bring to life as more than back-story and extending the potential tale by a book to a book and a half. Copious material has come along with it to round out the original "what if" into a more mature and engaging proposition. I've been slamming it into every device within reach, onto every page in uniform but inscrutable scrawl, outlining and drafting and spewing pieces to a large and unorganized puzzle. The challenge now is to complete the assembly with a glue of prose entertaining to a reader and capable of carrying the complexity which has resulted in the abstract rough-draft of the following timeline: