Saturday, January 21, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Audiobook

I have finally received my copies of the audiobook edition of my novel Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries. It's read by Jonathan Davis, and it sounds good! (Well, the first ten minutes sound good, which is what I've listened to.) If you enjoy audiobooks, you might like to give it a try. (It is abridged, I should point out.)

This is the first of my books to be put into audiobook format, so it's a new experience for me. It's also the first time I've had one of my books abridged, and that takes a little getting used to. The method was not, as I expected, to go through and remove phrases and shorten sentences. Instead, they simply removed entire sentences, probably about one in every four or five. I think it works okay, though to my (prejudiced) ear, there is something lost. Still, it's instructive how much you can cut and still have it work. I don't know who did the cutting.

Note, I'm still calling the novel "the Miniseries," because that's what it is, notwithstanding the fact that someone along the way—certainly without asking me—took that informative subtitle off the cover of the book. At first they changed it to "the original hit series," and when I pointed out how misleading that was, they took it off, but didn't restore "the Miniseries." I hope no one is confused by the packaging into thinking that the novel reflects the series that followed. It doesn't. Some future novel might, though.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

It's Been a Year

Omigosh, I just realized, it’s been one year to the day since I started this blog! (You can see for yourself. Just scroll to the end. That's how I discovered it.) It's been a fast year. A lot of new friends have come to join me here. Let's celebrate!

One More Thing!

I almost forgot! My name's on that New Horizons spacecraft! Literally.

As a member of The Planetary Society, I am among the thousands whose names are inscribed on a CD carried on the New Horizons craft. The reason is that the mission to Pluto was cancelled over and over by NASA, by Congress, by Bush. Each time, the public constituency for planetary exploration, led primarily by The Planetary Society, rallied around to the cause. And each time, it was restored.

So this really is an example of power to the people.

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Astronomy in the News

What a great time to be alive, if you're interested in space! Today, NASA successfully launched the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Apparently everything is working perfectly, and tonight at 11:00 p.m. EST, the spacecraft will whiz past the Moon. (That's nine hours after launch. The Apollo spacecraft took three days to make the trip.) It'll zip past Jupiter a year from now for a gravity boost, and should reach Pluto in 2015, nine years from now.

A few days ago, the Stardust mission returned to Earth bearing grains of Comet Wild 2's dust in its Aerogel collectors.

A new movie by NASA and MIT scientists shows 10 years' worth of X-ray images of the Milky Way, gathered by the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. Watch neutron stars and black holes light up for the camera!

And finally, the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are coming to the IMAX screen in the Disney production, Roving Mars. See fantastic images of Mars on an IMAX screen near you, starting January 27.

It's easy to become jaded, but this is really cool stuff!

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I know I haven't been present here much lately, but life's been busy and I've been working on Sunborn and doing a little bit of promotion for Galactica. But today seems like a good and important day to check back in. We've gotten to where holidays in the U.S. often seem to mean little beyond a day off from school or work, and the banks and post office being closed. So I just want to stop myself for a moment and pause and think about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

What better way than to go back to his "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. My pastor read a portion of this in church yesterday, and it got to me then, as it gets to me every time I hear it or see the video clip. It's become so familiar that I can hear it in Dr. King's voice whether someone else is reciting it, or I'm reading it on the page.

Here's Martin Luther King, Jr.:

...I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

You can read the speech in its entirety at, among other places.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy 2006!

It's happened again. Christmas has come and gone*, and it's a new year. 2006. I feel as if I'm in some kind of a time warp, and the world is whipping around me faster and faster and faster.

*Unless you're like my family and officially celebrate Christmas up through Three Kings Day, which is January 6.

This holiday season was the usual blur, but good. We had family visiting, and I spent a lot of time watching high school wrestling. (The off-season work is paying off for my daughter Lexi. She's won a couple of matches already, and when she loses, it's usually a hard-fought match. As usual, I volunteer as announcer for home meets.)

My wife's job as the managing editor for an online math education program came to an end with the end of the year, so we are in a state of flux right now. The possibility looms that I might have to once more set aside work on the book in order to do freelance or consulting work. We'll see.

Still, I made two resolutions for the new year. One is to catch up on my financial record-keeping so that I'm not totally swamped when tax time comes around. The other is to finish writing Sunborn! One way or another! (Sleep? Who needs sleep?)