Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend eBooks

This week I plan to do a little Kindling and have loaded up some cool new eBooks (ha ha, yep I read on the iPhone! Crazy...) You also might want to check these out:

First up is Semper Audacia by M. Pax. $0.99

"Space opera. Novelette. 13,200 words. Alone. Leda is the last living member of the brigade, the sole defender of her world. War took everyone she knew, leaving her in the company of memories and ghosts. Or is it madness?

The siren blares. The enemy is coming. Or is it? The approaching vessel isn't a friendly design, but it answers with the correct code. Leda must figure out whether the arrival is reinforcements or the final assault. In an aging flyer, she ventures out to meet her world's fate, the last stand."

Next is Hunted - The Flash Gold Chronicles by Lindsay Buroker. $1.49

"Self-taught tinkerer Kali McAlister is determined to build an airship and escape the frigid Yukon forever. Unfortunately, she’s the heir to the secrets of flash gold, an alchemical energy source that tends to make her a popular target for bandits, gangsters, and pirates.

With the help of her bounty-hunting business partner, Cedar, Kali has outwitted and eluded attackers before, and she thinks she’s prepared for anything. Then her ex-fiancĂ© strolls into her workshop.

As if fooling her once wasn’t enough, he aims to embroil her in a fresh scheme. Meanwhile, a new nemesis is stalking her, a shrouded figure with an arsenal of deadly machines that make Kali’s inventions seem like toys. This time, it’ll take more than her ingenuity and Cedar’s combat skills to survive.

Hunted is a 27,000-word steampunk novella.

Printed page count equivalent: 120"

And Imperium - A Caulborn Novel by Nicholas Olivo. $2.99

"Vincent Corinthos leads a triple life. As a secret agent, he handles paranormal threats; as a god, he protects his followers from evil forces; as a stock clerk, he keeps the back room of an antique store tidy.

When one of his fellow agents goes missing, Vincent begins with the usual suspects. His investigation reveals that Boston’s latest supernatural threat is also waging war on his followers, and has diabolic intentions for the city’s paranormal citizens.

Now, with the aid of a new partner and a gremlin, Vincent must locate the missing agent, defend his followers and learn the identity of his adversaries before they can revive a malevolent force that’s been dormant since World War II."

I'm already a fan of Buroker's Flash Gold series, and the premises of Semper Audacia and Imperium look pretty awesome. Now I just need to find the time to actually read...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mythik Imagination #1 is a Free eBook

Mythik Imagination #1 is now a free eBook on Smashwords. It's also free on Barnes & Noble and iTunes. It's not free for the Amazon Kindle yet, but if any volunteers out there would like to let Amazon know they should adjust the price to free, that would be way cool. Thanks to Savvy Self Publishing for the tip on how to make Kindle eBooks free!

I'm not quite ready to announce a release date for Mythik Imagination #2 Weird West Edition just yet, but hopefully it will be ready soon.

I'm trying to make up for time lost over the summer, and if all goes according to plan, the next issues of Mythik Imagination will be much closer together :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weird Wednesday - Strange Places

So I've been collecting a small database of, shall we say, odd places. I have a theory that if you dig around enough, you can probably find something weird about just about any place. But the locations in this list sort of stand up and shout out how odd they really are and don't require much digging at all. I've been using the list for possible locations in some Weird West stories. Strangely enough, most of them have the word "canyon" or "devil" in their name. Bonus points if they have both. And if it's not "canyon" or "devil," it's a mountain. So if you ever see a sign pointing the way to "Devil Mountain Canyon," go the other way. Alright, now for the list:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spaceship Links

Well, my amateur rocket science obsession has just about run its course. Until the resulting stories are published, anyway ;) But for those of you who haven't been completely driven away by all the equations, here are some final cool links about the final frontier:
  • Basics of Space Flight - A complete tutorial from JPL. It starts at the beginning and walks you through every aspect of space travel.
  • The N Prize - That's right, launch your very own tiny satellite into space, and win a prize! (Please let me know if you actually succeed in doing this, cuz it seems waaaay cool.)
  • SpinCalc - A handy little program that lets you see how much artificial gravity you generate by spinning.
  • Orbit Diagrams - Courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this cool site shows all kinds of interesting views of our little home solar system.
  • Mars Design Reference - From NASA, this has everything you ever wanted to know about a real-life trip to Mars.
  • Thruster Calculator - You can input your own numbers or let the computer do it for you (Try out the AM-Beam Torchship (which is powered by anti-matter,) put in a Mass Ratio of 4 and reach 23% of the speed of light!
Okay, that's that for that. Next up: The Weird West!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Build A Spaceship - Part 4

MPD Thruster
In Part 3, we plugged our numbers into the equations and did the calculations. So let's look at what we came up with:

Mythik Magnetoplasmadynamic Mars Expedition Ship
Mission - Fly to Mars, look around, and return to Earth.
Distance - .5 AU or 74,799,000,000 meters.
Ship - Orbit to orbit Mars Expedition vessel. "Fire Baton" class generating 1G artificial gravity by spinning around the central core. The artificial gravity is good for the health of our crew and also helps simplify things like plumbing and all the other things that act surprisingly weird in micro gravity. It's powered by two 15MW nuclear reactors, generating 6MW of electrical power.
Length - 125 Meters. The reactors are at one end, the Habitat Module at the other end, connected by trusses from the central core. The distance of our crew from the reactors, combined with the radiation shield, keeps the amount of radiation exposure to safe levels for the duration of the mission. There is a "storm cellar" in the center of the Habitat with extra shielding in case of solar flares, etc.
Thrusters - Six Magnetoplasmadymaic (MPD) Thrusters, which have 25 Newtons of thrust each. Three thrusters are on each side of the central core. Our design is what's known as Nuclear Electric Propulsion. The nukes make the electricity which powers the thrusters. Another design is Nuclear Thermal Propulsion, where the nukes are the thrusters.
Wet Mass - 145,400kg
Dry Mass - 75,400kg
Propellant Mass - 70,000kg
Propellant Tanks Mass - 4,000kg
Drive - 32,200kg - Includes all power systems, radiation shield, radiators, etc.
Hull - 5,000kg - Includes central core, thrusters, truss, etc.
Payload - 34,200kg - Consists of TransHab inflatable crew module, including all life support systems, navigation, control systems, etc.
Thrust - 150 Newtons
Specific Impulse - 5,000 seconds
Mass Ratio - 1.92
Exhaust Velocity - 49,050m/s
Ship Delta V - 32,210m/s
Acceleration - .001 m/s
Travel Time - 197 Days (6.6 Months)
Mission Delta V - 17,568m/s

Okay! There are a couple of issues:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To Build A Spaceship - Part 3

In Part 2 we looked at some of the variables we need to know or calculate to determine our spaceship design. Now, we'll look at the elements of the ship itself.

Just as a Ferrari has specific parts such as engine, chassis, suspension, brakes, body etc., a spaceship can be broken down into necessary, specific components.

We'll need a drive (no warp drives here!) and propellant, hull, and a payload section.

The design I'm going to initially copy is from the NASA Artificial Gravity for Human Exploration Missions report. I must admit, I picked this one because it looks cool and has some rather interesting quirks that I think would make for a great story setting. It uses the "fire baton" concept to create artificial gravity by spinning the entire ship. The power reactors are on one end, and the payload (the habitat or crew module) is balanced on the other end. The ship rotates around the center, where the propellant tanks and thrusters are located. Our thrust will be provided by six Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters, which get their power from six turbo alternators which convert the thermal energy from two nuclear reactors into electrical power. So it will break down like this:
  • Drive - 2 nuclear reactors, 6 turbo alternators, radiators, radiation shield and assorted gizmos.
  • Propellant  - This is the Lithium propellant that our MPD thrusters will use.
  • Hull - this is the central core, the truss that connects the Drive and Habitat modules to the core, and guy wires, etc. In this particular design, our thrusters are also considered to be part of the Hull section, although they are commonly in the Drive section. This will also include the mass of our tanks that hold the propellant. You'll note the hull is nothing like an ocean liner or the Starship Enterprise. It is pretty much just a skeleton that connects the other parts of the ship. Ah, the elegance of space travel!
  • Payload - This consists of our habitat module, which is a self-contained, inflatable TransHab design.
First, we'll need to figure out how much mass our spaceship has...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Build A Spaceship - Part 2

Okay, so the Ferrari Road Trip from Part 1 showed us that we needed to know a few things to figure out the time and cost of our trip. And Flying Cars, Jetpacks and Video Phones showed us that just because something hasn't been done, doesn't mean it can't be done. And, if in space, no one can hear you scream, then no one can charge your credit card, either, right? So we're going to almost forget about cost for now, except for two terms: "Realistic" and "Sci-Fi." I'll define those two terms:

  • "Realistic Cost" - If enough people in the right places want to do it, and it's based on something that somebody really smart really came up with, then it can be done eventually.
  • "Sci-Fi Cost" - If Old Ben can buy two 1-way tickets (Droids ride free) on the Millennium Falcon for 17,000 somethings, then that's all that matters.
So forget about cost for now, except to say that we'll use "Realistic Cost" and that any power plant or engine that we consider would be something our Rocketpunk characters would willingly spend lots of time and money to develop.

So much for cost. What we're most interested in is realistic time frames for our trips in space. So that means we'll have to figure out our power and fuel and propellant requirements. We'll also need to know the distances involved. Pretty much just like our little jaunt in the 250 GT from LA to NYC, right? Surprisingly, yes. Hey, it ain't rocket science!

Monday, September 19, 2011

How To Build A Spaceship - Part 1

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California
So you wanna build a spaceship, eh? Well, first we are gonna need a car. A Ferrari, in fact.

That's what we'll use for this little opening metaphor, anyway. Don't worry, it will be a lot more fun than a typical "If Train A leaves Chicago at 50mph..." story problem. This metaphor will get us into space!

Let's say you want a fun road trip from from Los Angeles to New York City. Being a curious and thrifty person, you also want to know how long it will take and how gas you'll need. To determine these things, you need to figure out a bunch of other things. We'll simplify our trip (this is, after all, just a metaphor) and say that you will drive non-stop, Smokey And The Bandit style. We will need to know how far it is from LA to NYC, how fast your car can go, what kind of gas mileage the car gets at that speed and how much gas the car's fuel tank holds. We're going to say "who cares" to the cost of both gas and car and "borrow" a car, Ferris Bueller style.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Flying Cars, Jetpacks, and Video Phones

When I was in the first grade, I figured that by now, I would be working on a space station. After all, back then by now was an entire lifetime away, and my dad had a model of the lunar lander next to the TV in our living room. I mean, come on, if humans could land on the moon before I was born, then surely there would soon be a continual need for more than a dozen people in space at any one time. Surely by the second decade of the 21st century there would be at least thousands of people on huge space stations, lunar bases, and if all went well, even on Mars and beyond. As a matter of fact, by now we should be testing out Starships and deciding which exoplanet to visit first.

Let's see... Wright Brothers - 1903. Apollo - 1969. Moon Base Alpha - 1979. Clark County Space Station - 1989. Asimov Mars Base 1 - 1999.  Right? Right?!

Well, maybe not quite. As I mentioned in The Orion Battleship, Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we will. And conversely, just because we haven't done something, doesn't mean we can't do it. Yes, there is no Mars base. And the progress curve from Kitty Hawk to Apollo suddenly plateaued just when it looked like it was going to reach all the way to infinity. The problem, of course, is staring you in the face. That's right, blame it on your iMac. Or that box wired to your flat panel monitor. The trouble all started with the transistor.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Go Ahead, Punk...

So a while ago I came up with an idea... What if some of NASA's (and others) plans developed in the 1950's through 1970s actually came to fruition, instead of being cancelled? What would our world (and the solar system) now look like if projects like Orion and the Lenticular Reentry Vehicle and the original Space Transportation System were developed and put into use? And what if the natural progression beyond those projects had continued?

Naturally, I'm not the first to think of such a thing. In fact, there are already at least two really cool web sites concerning this idea. I've already mentioned one of them on this blog, called Atomic Rockets. The other is Rocketpunk Manifesto. The term for this concept, of course, is Rocketpunk.