Friday, January 25, 2008

Virgin Galactic's Spaceliner Design Unveiled

So you're ready to fly into space, but you don't have $200,000 handy to buy a ticket? Me neither. But we can dream together, can't we? Virgin Galactic has released designs for SpaceshipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo, currently under construction at Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites air/spacecraft factory. This thing is gigacool. It's one of the best reasons I can think of for winning the lottery (and I can think of quite a few). They've also got a video, with some animated depictions of a flight. New Mexico spaceport, here we come!

It's been a few years now since I wrote my short story, "Rocket Ride! A Short Day's Journey into Space," about traveling in just such a machine. But you can still read it here.

"And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Still Here, Still Tickin' in the New Year

Good Lord, I haven't posted in over a month! Yiiiee. Last time I checked in, I was about to head off with my family for extended holidays in London—and indeed, we had a great time there. We saw all of the usual famous buildings, the British Museum, the National (art) Galleries, the Tate Modern, the Greenwich Observatory, the London Tower, the Thames from a boat, and the insides of a good number of pubs. We also visited the famous Forbidden Planet bookstore, and saw some plays: Boeing, Boeing and Wicked. And my daughters saw Ian McKellan in King Lear! (We would all have gone, but tickets were sold out. Only by standing in line for people selling off unneeded tickets did we get two individual seats for the girls.) McKellan, they reported, was awesome as Lear. And Wicked was a stunning stage production. Oh, we also took a train to visit family friends in a real English village somewhere north of London.

Here are a few pix of us from London:

Here we are, straddling the Prime Meridian!

Julia, Lexi, and Allysen overlooking Greenwich and the Thames River.

Me, apparently looking very very serious,
in the darkness of a pub.

Immediately after our return, my brother and his girlfriend arrived for a 5-day visit. We tried turducken for the first time, as we had a belated Christmas dinner. An interesting experiment, but I think we'll go back to regular turkey next time.

It was all great. But by the time we'd gotten back to normal and recovered from jet lag, our total "out of real life" experience was close to a month. Where did the time go?

I am now back at work on The Reefs of Time—struggling with the transition from where I thought the story was heading before to where I think it's heading now. At the same time, I'm also looking for outside consulting work as a developmental editor. (That's probably worth a post of its own: coming soon.) The reason, of course, is obvious: most of us can't make a living from writing fiction alone, and sooner or later, we have to seek out gainful employment. One of those facts about writing that we wish were different.

But hey—I just resuscitated a dead Roomba! And I fixed our crippled Calypso washing machine without calling a technician! (I knew that voltmeter would come in handy one day.) And I replaced the battery in the iPod Mini I just inherited from my daughter! So I'm on a high!

"I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances." —John Steinbeck

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