Tag Archives: space

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

In the wee hours between January 3rd and 4th, the Quadrantid meteor shower will peak. Between a storm building up cloud cover and an early morning Monday, I may not be able to actually watch this. This live feed might be a good alternative, though, since it’s both elsewhere and earlier. Yay for remote viewing options!

The Quadrantids are delightfully weird. They’re named for a constellation that is no longer recognized. The stars still exist, of course. Essentially, we stopped telling that story and started telling a different one. The Quadrantids, blazing across a space that used to have a formal name, are astronomical relics of a story that got lost.

Perihelion Today

During my sunrise time search for New Year’s, I stumbled on this description of a perihelion. Today, Earth is at its closest point to the Sun. It’s a separate issue from day length and season: distance instead of tilt. I had probably heard the term before; I forgot.

Upon relearning it, a corner of my brain started waxing lyrical about elliptical orbits. Drifting away, then circling back in again. It’s an idea I like. I’m the sort who will focus intense attention on something for a while, then wander off to think about something else. What makes it different from just losing interest is how I often swing back around to that thing again.

Video games, half played in a few days, will get picked up for round two months, even years, later. Hobbies learned and abandoned catch my interest again, and all the carefully packed-away supplies are broken out. Ideas percolate slowly. Interests wax and wane (to drift with my astronomical metaphors slightly).

How do you recognize the difference between a permanent loss of interest and a temporary one? What things have you drifted away from? What things have you refound? What other old interests might still be waiting, getting closer to the light again as time goes by?

Just Discovered In Open Space…

forecastAMZcoverWhen your daily grind involves traveling to new planets and being the first human to set foot on them, it can seem like nothing in the universe will ever surprise you again. Irina, with her partner Milo, freelances as a miner of exotic, exo-solar materials. She thinks she’s seen it all. She’s about to discover how wrong she is.

Magnetic radiation streamed around us and off into open space. The normal solar wind pattern had been disrupted, though, by a thick stripe of purple out ahead of us.

“That’s weird, right?”

The adventure Irina wished for might shape up to be the wrong kind: deadly. Investigation of an anomaly in space earns her an unexpected new companion in the void…and a ship which could fail before any hope of rescue or escape.

“What’s happening?” I asked as I broke into a jog.

No shaking, shuddering mess marked whatever had gone wrong. Accidents in space came quietly. The lights faded and went out. Though I couldn’t see anything, I knew the ship’s communications had gone down with them. External sensors had almost certainly cut out as well. With a series of hollow thunks, the big mechanical systems that generated the ship’s artificial gravity came to a halt.

Malfunctioning ship. Unresponsive mining equipment. Something very large and very live in open space. Irina just stumbled into all the excitement she could hope for. Now she just has to survive it.

“It’s no good,” I said when Milo continued to demand that I return. “There’s no way I can get back before it reaches me. I’ll probably just end up spacing myself if I try. I’m gonna go with the ‘don’t make any sudden moves’ tactic.”

Local Forecast, a story of rediscovering your sense of adventure AND living to tell the tale, now available for purchase in my shop for all ebook formats and on Amazon for Kindle.

Everything Is Boring, Everything Is Fascinating

Growing up, most children seem to have at least a brief phase when they want a pony. There’s a good market out there for horse-related products aimed at little girls. Have a pink sparkle unicorn school binder, a Breyer collectible, and a coloring book. Because while this passion for horses is some kind of truth of childhood (at least in the US), very few children will ever get that real pony with a ribbon around her neck.

Unless, of course, you grow up on a horse ranch like I did.

(For reference, ponies frequently have appalling personalities and a propensity for bad behavior. They are little balls of fluff and rudeness.) Whatever else can be said about my social life during grade school, this aspect of my life had some serious value to some of my classmates. At least one girl maintained a casual friendship with me for the sole purpose of being invited over to see the horses on a Saturday afternoon.

I, however, couldn’t have been more bored. Horses meant corrals to be cleaned, emergency drives to the equine hospital, and parents occupied with caring for someone else for most of the day. They were the permanent baby siblings I hadn’t exactly signed on for. I saw our horses every day. I liked them, or didn’t, on an individual basis. That baby kicked me and I’m holding a grudge. This one makes a funny face if I tickle his nose right. Horses could be fun, or annoying, or upsetting, or calming. They were never fascinating, though.

(Truth: I did, nonetheless, collect Breyers. Toy horses have significantly fewer annoyances associated with them.)

To this day, I forget. I forget that my lifestyle is special and unusual to other people. I forget that they want to hear about it and understand the secrets I take for granted. I forget that, just as I am weirdly interested in the daily lives of mechanics and painters and trash collectors, other people are interested in the daily life of a rancher. (Or a writer.) Only when something goes wrong do I remember that horses are strange and delicate and complex, harder to fix than I would like, and that life with them is anything but dull.

I forget that everything is boring and everything is fascinating, depending on who is doing the living and who is doing the looking.

Some day in the future, space travel with be an annoying routine. People will complain about the traffic at the space station and the line of ships backed up at the wormhole entrance. They’ll complain that the food synthesizer on board is making everything taste like licorice AGAIN. Exploring new planets will be someone’s daily grind. It has very little to do with the reality and everything to do with our perceptions. Do something enough and it becomes boring. Invisible. Often, catastrophe is the only thing strong enough to shake us up: scare us, and we start to look at our own lives with the eyes of strangers.

Humans will need to remember: anything can be boring, anything can be fascinating. If we forget, life has a way of sending a little mayhem in to remind us.

Meaning in Stories: Creatures Such as We

A friend mauled me until I played through this. Since I can’t stop thinking about it, I thought I’d pass along the pain/pleasure.

Creatures Such as We, by Lynnea Glasser, is an interactive fiction game from the Choice of Games line–which is frequently brilliant, by the way. You can play it online or via app for free.

The basic story is two-fold: you are a guide at a lunar resort, and in your free time, you play a video game called Creatures Such as We. This game-within-a-game structure is what ends up making this story such a trip. The story will ask questions about meaning, creativity, and consent–among other things–in reference to the interior game. Ultimately, those questions will haunt the frame story’s narrative as well, though. Apart from that, there is also some space adventure to be had, with your own life and the lives of others at stake.

I don’t want to give spoilers, and anyway, that would be difficult. Your choices, made every page or so, shape the story. You have an assortment of characters to interact with, and you can focus attention on whichever ones interest you the most. You can decide exactly what sort of person you will be in the story.

When I play any kind of RP or other flexible game, I’ll admit I can be a little…boring. I’m not the sort who cuts loose in a fictional world; I tend to be scrupulously my best self. I want to save the day and get the girl (or boy or nonbinary person, depending on what is available). This game…does not make that especially easy. Which is not to say it’s an “unwinnable” scenario, or one of those damn “rocks fall, everybody dies” doom stories. I’m not keen on those. What it is, is complicated.

Seriously, this is just me passing on the suffering my friend brought upon me. For the love of robots, play the game and come talk to me about it. I HAVE THOUGHTS.