Thursday, July 30, 2015

Life on other planets

Is there life on other planets? Assuming we agree on what defines life then we must consider the possibility that there are. Consider this. There are 125 billion galaxies that have been detected by our own telescopes. If only 10% of all stars have orbiting planets, there would be more than 6 x 10(with 18 zeros) possible planets. Even if only 1% of those planets could sustain life there would still be billions and billions of possible planets.

What if we discovered such life tomorrow. How would it impact us here? Would we panic? Would we be curious. Would we have to rethink the majority of world religions that claim that they're people are the only chosen ones of the universe? Creation stories of almost all cultures mention the beginnings of mankind, the animals, and the earth but none mention that the creator also made green globules of living matter on a planet millions of light years away. It is more comforting to believe we are the only ones.

That's what the Kevutians have always believed as well. There was never a need for any other beings. They alone were created for the purpose of seeking perfection in the universe. What happens to a society when its long standing sense of self importance is shattered?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Seven Sisters

In both the first and the current book there are references to something called The Seven Sisters. They are only mentioned briefly in the first book. They appear in some of the opening quotes and only a few times by the characters themselves. Only at the end are the Seven Sisters mentioned as being seven bright lights that appear in the night sky.

In the second book they play a more significant role. You learn that there is a religious connection to them. The residents of Pa'Kevutu believe the Sisters are all just bright stars until circumstances cause them to actually go out and explore one - a heretical act in itself. The idea of the Seven Sisters has always been part of the original (an unrevealed) back story for the entire collection of asteroids called The Milleran Cluster. Although it is not mentioned much in the first text it was always part of the original idea. That idea began over a year ago on the shores of an idyllic lake in Vermont.

Imagine my surprise when I began reading Neal Stephenson's newest book Seveneves. The title of the second chapter is The Seven Sisters. In his book he refers to seven parts of our moon which have just recently and mysteriously broken apart. These seven fragments threaten to break apart and eventually destroy all life on earth.

My sisters are a little less mischievous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Willow Books

I am proud to announce that Willow Books in Acton, MA has agreed to carry some of my first book.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Return of the Ancients

The concept that there is a race of wise and powerful ancient people is a theme that runs across many story lines and movie plots. Some of those plots have appeared in the television series Stargate, Doctor Who, and Star Trek: The Next Generation (think Q); the videos games World of Warcraft and Ninjago; movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the Alien series; and in literature think the Cthulu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft or Contact by Carl Sagan. They go by many names: the Illuminati, The Templars, The Ancient Egyptians, Atlanteans, etc. If you want to get a real flavor for a fervor for ancient ones, look up the Annunaki.

What in our psyche creates in us a desire for an older and wiser race of people? Is it a cosmic extension of our own childhoods? Do we seek some imagined wise parent that will come and teach us the secrets of the universe and then buy us a cosmic ice cream cone to make us all feel better? Maybe it's spiritual. We desire a connection to the beginnings of the universe and ideal these powers in physical forms we can relate to. Is it that we don't trust ourselves enough to try and figure out the answers on our own. How nice it would be for an anthropomorphized version of the Wikipedia of the Universe to appear and guide us through the rough waters.

The people of Pa'Chot also wait for the Ancient Ones but their elders of history are not mythical creatures. They are simply human though from another world. They have been waiting a long time for them to return and when they think they finally have returned, they are jubilant. The truth, however, will not be a chance for celebration.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Shape of Aliens

Have you ever stopped to wonder why all those aliens in all those science fiction movies and television shows look so humanoid? Think back on all those episodes of Star Trek and all the creatures walking around in the bar on Tattoine in Star Wars. How many of them had two arms, two legs, and a head? How many even had slight variations on a mouth, a nose, eyes, and ears? In the vastness of the universe surely there would be more variations to living beings.

Think about our very own planet. How would you describe a spider or a jellyfish to someone who has never experienced one? Neither of those creatures looks anything like a human. Obviously only humanoids are capable of interstellar travel. I guess jellyfish have a tough time managing the steering wheel.

So, with all that ranting you would think that maybe I would do something different. I would break the habit of anthropomorphizing the universe. Onward with creativity and bizarre living beings. Well, no. The aliens encountered on the planet of Pa'Chot (as it shall be named) are humanoid. In fact, all my aliens are humanoid. They may differ in size and constitution, language, and culture, but they are essentially all human. Cop out? Lack of imagination? Maybe, but there is actually a reason for all of it but I can reveal no more. That will have to come in a chapter far far away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


In the Piedmont hills of Italy there is a sanctuary underground. It is called Damunhur and consists of several levels and rooms. In fact, there are seven large halls. They are each lavishly decorated and were constructed by hand. To see them is to be awed by the art and architecture. Above all this however, one would only see a typical Italian countryside and nothing more.

This is how I imagine the underground communities that make up the world of Pa'Chot are constructed. Beneath the surface are connected cities and other structures but above the surface little is seen except the rocky and dusty surface of the planet.

That is what the Kevutian crew of the Constantia thought they had encountered until they found the underground community living below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mount Milnak

Crater Lake

In my last post I pointed out a possible mountain in the midst of a depression on Pluto's moon Charron. We can come closer to home, however, to see the same phenomenon. Crater Lake in Oregon has a similar feature. Crater Lake is a caldera which is a lake formed after a volcanic eruption. If the top of the volcanic mountain is destroyed, a depression can be formed and water can fill it. In the case of Crater Lake a mountain also developed in the midst of the lake. The mountain is called Wizard Mountain.

The mountain in my book is named Mount Milnak by the people that live within and below it. They depend on that mountain to keep them protected by the rapidly changing surface of their planet and use it as a launching bay for their small ships. Unfortunately for them, the Kevutians have just discovered their mountain but do not yet know it is inhabited. Kevutians believe they are the only beings in the universe and that the universe was made for them exclusively. They are about to find out that they were very wrong in their assumption.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Charron's Mount in a Crater

The circle in red shows a mountain peak rising from within a crater on Pluto's moon Charron.

Peak in the Valley

The planetoid Vesta reportedly has a giant crater in its southern half that is quite large compared to the others on its surface. What makes this carter even more unusual is that a mountain peak rises from within it. When I read this I decided to use the same topography for the center of the inhabitants of the planet to be called Pa'Chot. The peaceful people that live there have covered over the crater part of the structure and have used to create an underground system of small cities. Going underground prevents the need for creating an artificial atmosphere above the surface and allows for greater temperature control. That's a good thing because this particular planet has great swings of temperature differences.

Imagine my surprise when a recent photo of Pluto's moon Charron displayed a similar topography. (See next post). It seems that that a mountain amidst a crater is not so impossible.

I say that the people of Pa'Chot are mostly peaceful. They have spent many thousands of years in their mountain waiting for the return of the people they call The Ancients. Unfortunately for them, it is not The Ancients that will soon be there. The Kevutians have discovered them instead.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Back To The Sea

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy said the following:

I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.

He was speaking at a dinner for the sailing competition called the America's Cup. As international events go, it was not a big deal, but that one paragraph in his speech has lived on as one of his many famous lines. Why? Because in a speech directly mostly to sailors he said something that was poignant and true for all of us. We did, in fact, all come from the sea and it is part of our physical, emotional, and mental constitutions as he pointed out. It is why so many of us feel this strange connection to the sea when we visit the beach. The word sea in many languages is often spelled as a variation on "mer." It is where we get the word mermaid. It is not a coincidence in my opinion that the word "mother" (ma) in many languages is similar to the word for sea.

Shuk was a sailor for most of his life and sought to escape the banal routine of being a merchant seaman. It is why he came ashore just in time to get caught up in a revolution that he eventually led. Now, though, the ceorans have forced him to consider other options to resolving the dilemma and he is faced with a stark reality. Spreading the message of the revolution will involve taking to the sea and talking to the people of the other islands. That means, of course, that Shuk himself will have to get back onboard a sailing ship, something he hoped to avoid. It seems the sea eventually calls all of us back home.

The word 'sea' in different languages:
Spanish, Portugese, and Catalan: mar
Italian and Romanian: mare
French: mer
German: meer
Estonian and Finnish: meri

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fire and Water

We are taught that opposites are separate entities that are distinct from each other but there is no such thing in this universe. All things are part of another. Opposites define each other but only to a certain degree. It is often the case that an extreme followed for a length of time will lead to its own opposite. The Taoists understood this concept and portrayed it through the symbol of the yin and yang.

Fire and water are apparent opposites. They help to define each other and can react against each other but not everyone has seen them as distinct. In the ancient religion of Zorastrianism, fire and water were both equally important elements of purification. Temples of worship are sometimes called fire temples and the ash of sacred fires combined with clean water are essential parts of their rituals. Fire burns away the unnecessary while water cleanses.

Shuk, the sudden and initially unwilling leader of the Kethix revolution has decided to employ both fire and water in his efforts to maintain peace at the temple. He is holding out for negotiations and a mad riot, he believes, will only work against his aims. He is sure that holding the local ceorans will be a bargaining chip with the Grand Council in Yakrutich but they are stalling and things are heating up in the northern islands. When a riot breaks out, he uses a raging fire to get the crowd's attention so that he can calm them down before violence can begin.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Instigated Revolution

In October of 1789, a group of 6,000 women (with some men dressed as women) organized themselves in Paris and marched their way to the king's palace in Versailles. They were motivated by hunger, food rationing, and high unemployment. An extravagant feast sponsored by the king just the night before had been the last straw for them and they wanted the king to know about their dissatisfaction. They were so angry, in fact, that they managed to capture the king and queen and brought them back to the prison in Paris. Shortly afterwards, the monarchs were beheaded.

This all sounds like a victory for grass-roots power and the need to overcome gross injustices but some historians do not believe the story is that simple or one-sided. The king's wealthy cousin, the Duke of Orleans may have had a hand in starting the revolution. The king actually kicked him out of the country for a time for talking bad about the royal family but the Duke returned. It has been reported that he was found amongst the rioting protesters egging them on. When the revolution had succeeded he made it known that he would be willing to step in as the new king, for the good of the people, of course. His ideas were not well received and he lost his head as well.

Political upheaval and revolutions are rarely simple exchanges between one class of people and their leaders. Usually there are a whole host of motivations and goals involved with a bevy of egos wrapped up behind them. Rarely is a revolution the consequence of only local politics. Many countries and interests become involved when a change of power is possible. This is true even now for many of the recent revolutions. If you think you know the simple story you are probably being deceived.

Revolution is afoot on the island of Kethix as well and deception is in the mix. The people are seeking negotiations with the ceorans for a more equitable way of life but the leaders of the dominant corporations are not likely to give in to a change of government so easily. In fact, they have made plans to instigate violence so that the people will look like the instigators. That way, the ceorans can claim that the revolutionaries are nothing but violent thugs and that their way of control is necessary to insure peace for all the people of the planet of Pa'Kevutu.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Coast to Coast

Just returned from a business/pleasure trip to Las Vegas to deal with some issues concerning my father's estate. It was his disappearance over four years ago now that has given me a new appreciation for life and how limited it all is. Writing regularly is one of my great joys in life so I make sure that I spend a little time each day doing it as best I can. Even going on vacation didn't stop me from continuing to write.

Every morning I went to the same restaurant for breakfast. It had a nice bar that was perfect for setting up the iPad and clicking away. There were few people there in the mornings so the staff never seemed to mind me pounding away while I absorbed yet another cup of coffee. A couple of them even asked me what I was doing so, of course, I told them. One promised to purchase book I and read it.

So, now my book has reached from coast to coast. Ok, well, coast to desert.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Temple of Capitalism

Consider this: the largest free standing building in the world was built in 2013. It is so large it could contain within it three (count em three) Pentagons (the US military building in DC). Inside is a water park, hotels, and, of course, lots of shopping venues. It is a grand memorial to the power of capitalism but it is its location that is the irony. It is called the New Century Global Center and it is located in Chengdu China! That's right, communist China.

Now consider this: In medieval times towns were constructed near rivers or near hills for protection and trade but the highest point of any hill was left for the church and its tall spire. From the distance, the thing that was seen first was the church and it was lifted above all other buildings. Look at skylines now. What buildings are seen from the distance? What is lifted above the others? Most often it is the bank and insurance buildings.

That is the vision of the people of the island of Kethix as well. Their tallest building is a temple dedicated to the worship of the corp ceorans–the bosses of the companies that control the lives of nearly all the people on the island. There is no pretense here. The ceorans encourage a kind of faithful devotion similar to evangelical preachers–without the snakes, fortunately. But now that revolution is in the air, that devotion has been shaken.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Map of Kethon

Kethon is the capital city of Kethix and the location of the Kethix Ceoran Temple.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Map of Kethix

The Island of Kethix

Possibly one of the most historic and fascinating of the Greek islands is Rhodes. It once was the site of the world famous colossus of Rhodes which was a gigantic statue of the sun god Helios. Before its destruction by an earthquake it stood 98 feet into the air above the passing ships. I've you've seen Game of Thrones then you may have seen the Titan of Braavos–a close approximation to how the colossus of Rhodes may have looked in size. Rhodes is also famous for being the home and base for the Knights Hospitaller who developed the island and built many of its famous fortifications.

The Greek islands are the basis for many of the islands in Pa'Kevutu and Rhodes is the inspiration for the Island of Kethix where the people have stormed the temple and are seeking change to the currently repressive form of government. The revolution has come to an abrupt standstill, however, with the appearance of security troops.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Map of the Constantia

The KES-106 Constantia

In October of 1957, the Soviet Union launched an  unmanned satellite called Sputnik. It seems like such a harmless thing to us today. It was only about the size of a beach ball with several spikes radiating from it and it was designed mostly to make atmospheric measurements but its impact went far beyond its size. The fact that a powerful nation like the USSR could manage such a thing meant that they might also be capable of launching weapons into space–a place with virtually no defenses. The race to the moon was a romantic cover for the race for future domination of space. It is a silent war still being played out today.

The Constantia is Kevutu's first exploration ship. In fact, it's their first space ship of any kind and the only reason they were even able to develop it is because of the science left behind when the Ganshions fled the planet. Now they are using it to explore very small asteroids in the hopes of mining them for valuable resources–something that is being reduced rapidly on the home planet. But, like Sputnik, peaceful missions can become preludes to aggression. Tools, after all, are only tools. A hammer can be used to build a house or smash a skill. It is in the hands of the user to determine the outcome. A ship is just another tool but with a lot of people within.