From October 20 – 27, my thriller, The Manganese Dilemma, will be discounted to 99c/99p on Amazon. The Russians did it; everyone is convinced of that. But just exactly what did they do? The curvaceous Svetlana has brought to the West evidence of new super stealth technology. Some believe there is nothing there since their surveillance technology cannot show any evidence of it, but then it is “super stealth” so just maybe . . . Charles Burrowes, a master hacker, is asked to work with Svetlana and validate the technology. Can Burrowes provide what the CIA needs before Russian counterintelligence or a local criminal conspiracy blow the whole operation out of the water? The lives of many CIA agents in Russia will depend on how successful he is. A thriller based on espionage, counter espionage, and old-fashioned crime. Parts of it are set in the Belgorod – Kharkiv region, which is of current interest.
From May 27 – June 3 Jonathon Munros will be discounted to 99c on Amazon in the US and 99p in the UK. The third book in a series, in which the evil Jonathon Munro violates the only reason his evil behaviour has as yet not been punished. He is to be replaced by an android, who learns to behave like the real man. However. Jonathon’s inherent evil has been underestimated, and the android, knowing of Jonathon’s obsession with sex, and knowing that sex is needed for reproduction, decides to start reproducing itself. What could possibly go right? A dystopian hard science fiction novel that, while the third of a series, stands alone as long as you accept the characters have a past, and a problem that makes the Terminator seem modest.
From March 24 – 30, Miranda’s Demons will be discounted to 99c on Amazon in the US and UK. In 2285, the 34 exhausts of a badly mauled alien battle fleet are seen travelling at relativistic velocities to end on Miranda, the innermost moon of Uranus. The aliens conquer Mars and take slave labour to repair their ships, seemingly with cooperation from Terran corporations. War follows.
Natasha Kotchetkova, the Commissioner for Defence is faced with an alien race that totally outclasses any Earth military technology. Even if Terran forces can win, thanks to the corporate treachery, who wins the following peace? Meanwhile, Scaevola has followed the aliens, and arrives on Earth to meet his prophesied “second woman in his life: the ugliest woman in the world”.
A hard science fiction epic with 18 major characters, four alien races, several romances, not all of which end well, treachery, and is set variously in 3 continents, the Earth-Moon L-4 space station, Mars, Iapetus, the asteroid belt and Miranda. Book IV of a series, but originally written as a stand-alone.
For a short time my ebook Spoliation is price reduced on Amazon. Unlike Kindle Countdowns, this discount applies world-wide, and I am experimenting to see how effective this strategy is.
The Board, is a ruthless, shadowy organization with limitless funds that employs space piracy and terrorism. A disgraced Captain Jonas Stryker is acting as an asteroid miner, and when The Board resorts to using a weaponised asteroid to get its way, only Stryker can divert the asteroid. The Board is determined to have Stryker killed, officially he is wanted for murder, so Stryker must expose and destroy this organization to have any future.
A story of greed, corruption and honour, combining science and visionary speculation that goes from the high frontier to outback Australia. The background also gives a scientific perspective on asteroid mining.
From March 6 -12, my ebooks at Smashwords will be significantly discounted. The fictional ebooks, which are thrillers and, similar to Andy Weir, with real science in the background include:
Puppeteer: A technothriller where governance is breaking down due to government debt, and where a terrorist attack threatens to kill tens to hundreds of millions of people and destroy billions of dollars worth of infrastructure.
‘Bot War: A technothriller set about 8 years later, a more concerted series of terrorist attacks made by stolen drones lead to partial governance breaking down.
Troubles. Dystopian, set about 10 years later still, the world is emerging from anarchy, and there is a scramble to control the assets. Some are just plain greedy, some think corporate efficiency should rule, some think the individual should have the right to thrive, some think democracy should prevail as long as they can rig it, while the gun is the final arbiter.
Spoliation. A thriller set about asteroid mining, where some of the miners mysteriously disappear. Then someone tries tο weaponise a large asteroid. A story of greed, corruption and honour, combining science and visionary speculation that goes from the high frontier to outback Australia.
There is also the non-fictional “Biofuels”. This gives an overview of the issues involved in biofuels having an impact on climate change. Given that electric vehicles, over their lifetime probably have an environmental impact equivalent to or greater than the combustion motor, given that we might want to continue to fly, and given that the carbon from a combustion exhaust offers no increase in atmospheric carbon levels if it came from biofuel, you might be interested to see what potential this has. The author was involved in research on this intermittently (i.e. when there was a crisis and funding was available) for over thirty years. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/454344
From October 21 – 28, “Red Gold” will be discounted to 99c/99p.
Mars is to be colonized. The hype is huge, the suckers will line up, and we will control the floats. There is money to be made, and the beauty is, nobody on Earth can check what is really going on on Mars. Meanwhile, on Mars we shall be the only ones with guns. This can’t lose.
Except that there is one person who will try to stop the fraud. Which means he cannot be allowed to live. Partly inspired by the 1988 crash, Red Gold shows the anatomy of one sort of fraud. Then there is the problem that fraudsters with guns cannot permit anyone to expose them. One side must kill the other.
If you liked The Martian where science allowed one person to survive then Red Gold is a thriller that has a touch of romance, a little economics and enough science to show how Mars might be colonised and the colonists survive indefinitely.http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009U0458Y
From November 26 – Dec. 3, Athene’s Prophecy will be discounted to 99c/99p on Amazon. Science fiction with some science you can try your hand at. The story is based around Gaius Claudius Scaevola, given the cognomen by Tiberius, who is asked by Pallas Athene to do three things before he will be transported to another planet, where he must get help to save humanity from total destruction. The scientific problem is to prove the Earth goes around the Sun with what was known and was available in the first century. Can you do it? Try your luck. I suspect you will fail, and to stop cheating, the answer is in the following ebook. Meanwhile, the story. Scaevola is in Egypt for the anti-Jewish riots, then to Syria as Tribunis laticlavius in the Fulminata, then he has the problem of stopping a rebellion when Caligulae orders a statue of himself in the temple of Jerusalem. You will get a different picture of Caligulae than what you normally see, supported by a transcription of a report of the critical meeting regarding the statue by Philo of Alexandria. (Fortunately, copyright has expired.). First of a series. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GYL4HGW
What is the point of a scientific theory? The obvious one is that if you understand you can predict what will happen if you have reason to have that proposition present. Unfortunately, you can lay down the principles and not make the specific prediction because you cannot foresee all the possible times it might be relevant. What sparked this thought is that about a decade ago I published an ebook called “Planetary Formation and Biogenesis”. The purpose of this was in part because the standard theory starts off by assuming that somehow things called planetesimals form. These were large asteroids, a few hundred km in size, and then these formed planets through their mutual gravity. However, nobody had any idea at all how these planetesimals formed; they were simply assumed as necessary on the assumption that gravity was the agent that formed the planets. On a personal level, I found this to be unsatisfactory.
I am restricting the following to what happens with icy bodies; the rocky ones are a completely different story. We start with highly dispersed dust because the heavy elements are formed in a supernova, in which these gases fly out at a very high speed. In one supernova, one hour after initiation, matter was flying out at 115,000 km/second, and it takes a long time to slow down. However, eventually it cools, gets embedded in a gas cloud and some chemical reactions take place. Most of the oxygen eventually reacts with something. All the more reactive elements like silicon or aluminium react, and the default for oxygen is to form water with hydrogen. The silicon, magnesium, calcium and aluminium oxides form solids, but they form one link at a time and cannot rearrange. This leaves a dispersion of particles that make smoke particles look large. If two such “particles” get close enough, because the chemical bonds are quite polar in these particular oxides, they attract each other and because they are reactive, they can join. This leads to a microscopic mass of tangled threads since each junction is formed on the exterior. So we end up with a very porous solid with numerous channels. These channels incorporate gases that are held to the channel surfaces. In the extreme cold of space, when these gases are brought close together on these surfaces they solidify to form ices. These solids filled with ices have been formed in the laboratory.
My concept of how icy bodies accrete goes like this. As the dust comes into an accretion disk where a star is forming, as it approaches the star it starts to warm. If particles collide at a temperature a little below the melting point of an ice they contain, the heat of collision melts the ice, the melt flows between the bodies then refreezes, gluing the bodies together. The good news is this has been demonstrated very recently in the laboratory for nanometer-sized grains of silicates coated with water ice (Nietadi et al., Icarus, (2020) 113996) so it works. As the dust gets warmer than said melting point, that ice sublimes out, which means there are four obvious different agents for forming planets through ices. In increasing temperatures these are nitrogen/carbon monoxide (Neptune and the Kuiper Belt); argon/methane (Uranus); methanol/ammonia/water (Saturn); and water (Jupiter). The good news is these planets are spread relatively to where expected, assuming the sun’s accretion disk was similar to others. So, in one sense I had a success: my theoretical mechanism gave planetary spacings consistent with observation, and now the initial mechanism of joining for very small-scale particles has been shown to work.
But there was another interesting point. Initially, when these fluffy pieces meet, they will join to give a bigger fluffy piece. This helps accretion because if larger bodies collide, the fluff can collapse, making the impact more inelastic and thus dispersing collisional energy. Given a reasonable number of significant collisions, the body will compact. If, however, there are some late gentle acquisitions of largish fluffy masses, that fluff will remain.Unfortunately, I did not issue a general warning on this, largely because nobody can think of everything, and also I did not expect that to be relevant to any practical situation now. Rather unexpectedly, it was. You may recall that the European Space Agency landed the probe Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which made a couple of bounces and fell down a “canyon”, where it lay on its side. The interesting thing is the second “bounce” was not really a bounce. The space agency has been able to use the imprint of the impact to measure the strength of the ice, and found it to be “softer than the lightest snow, the froth on your cappuccino or even the bubbles in your bubble bath.” This particular “boulder” on the outside of the comet is comprised of my predicted fluff. It feels good when something comes right. And had ESA read my ebook, maybe they would have designed Philae slightly differently.
From September 18 – 25, Athene’s Prophecy, the first in a series, will be discounted to 99c/99p on Amazon. Science fiction with some science you can try your hand at. The story is based around Gaius Claudius Scaevola, who is asked by Pallas Athene to do three things before he will be transported to another planet, where he must get help to save humanity from total destruction well in the future. The scientific problem is to prove the Earth goes around the Sun with what was known and was available in the first century. Can you do it? Try your luck. Hint: you should use the background in the novel, but think of experiments to check it. I suspect you will fail and if so, the answer is in the following ebook. Meanwhile, the story. Scaevola is in Egypt for the anti-Jewish riots, then to Syria as Tribunis laticlavius in the Fulminata, then he has the problem of stopping a rebellion when Caligulae orders a statue of himself in the temple of Jerusalem. You will get a different picture of Caligulae than what you normally see, supported by a transcription of a report of the critical meeting regarding the statue by Philo of Alexandria. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GYL4HGW
Until the end of July, Troubles will be discounted to $0.99 or £0.99, and with similar discounts across all Amazon stores. It is also discounted in Smashwords for those who wish to purchase .epub. Troubles is a dystopian novel, in which thanks to the invention of fusion power the world is starting to emerge from a near total economic meltdown, and in which vested interests have maintained their preferred lifestyle and have provided just sufficient for the average citizen to exist and not riot. Now the economy will grow again, and the growth will not be shared. The benefits will go to those with the money and/or those with the guns. Politicians emerge, there is the promise of democracy and sharing, but corruption ensures the innocent are to be fooled. It is not an easy ride for anyone. A dystopian tale of dishonour, revenge, greed, and the few who wish to restore morality and justice for all.