In Sputnik’s Orbit

A few thoughts to tide you over…


How Did Apollo Astronauts Get Through The Van Allen Belts?

Speed and trajectory.

It is a common misapprehension that all radiation is some sort of magic death ray. It isn’t. Type, dose, and duration of radiation make all the difference. We evolved on a radioactive planet. Sunlight is a type of radiation. Nuclear radiation can kill–or be stopped by our outer layer of dead skin cell. Even our bones are weakly radioactive, and we evolved to handle the gamma rays they produce within our bodies just fine.

Long before Apollo, NASA launched a fleet of probes to map and characterize the Van Allen belts. The belts primarily consist of an inner band of energetic protons and an outer band of electrons, all trapped from the solar wind by the Earth’s magnetic field.

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Comicpalooza 2017


Comicpalooza 2017 is upon us!

I will be in booth 2632, in the middle-rear of Hall C, smack in the middle of the convention center, right next to NASA:

It’s going to be a great year.Image result

This Felicia Day will be there talking about the new season of MST3K, cosplayers will abound, and there will be something for everyone, from celebrity audographs and photo ops to art, to “working” light sabers. If you’ve never been, come on out, it’s a thing to behold.

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Meet The Winners – Ziporah Hildebrandt

Next in this year’s interview series, say hello to Ziporah Hildebrandt, who joins us from Hollywood during her workshop week.

Stuart: Ziporah, hello, and welcome to the Writers of the Future family!

Ziporah: Hi Stuart, thanks for inviting me to visit.

Stuart: To start us off, what can you tell me about yourself that would surprise your friends?

Ziporah: Well, I don’t know about friends, but I have a Post-it with “Surprise!” written on it that I move around the house to make my husband laugh when he opens a drawer or picks up the dustpan.

Stuart: (Laughs)

Ziporah: I grow heirloom garlic, breed tree peonies, and dye silk with homemade plant dyes from my garden, using traditional Japanese shibori methods as well as my own designs. I also like to take photos of flowers and ice and clouds.

Stuart: Neat!

Ziporah: I grew up down the road from the estate used in The Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn.

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Our National Bird on the Mend

As a science fiction author, I spend more than my fair share of time thinking of all the ways the world can go to hell in a hand-basket and ruin everything for everybody–that makes for dramatic stories.
But in fact, science is about understanding and progress, and we need to take time for that too.

This morning, just as I was sitting down with my second cup of coffee, a bald eagle flew past my 35th floor window, not twenty feet away

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Meet the Winners – Andrew Roberts

Readers! Friends! Countrymen! Lend me your…er..please welcome Writers of the Future winner, Andrew L Roberts to Meet the Winners!

Stuart: Andrew, congrats and welcome to the family. Tell us who you are.

Andrew: I am from San Lorenzo California. I live in the house I grew up in. When I was growing up, I had a backyard with a huge tree and an older brother with which to share it. My favorite hiding spot was and remains my imagination. You should come and visit sometime. It has lots of interesting rooms.

Stuart: (laughs) Do you have any hobbies?

Andrew: I’m an experienced potter and used to play ice-hockey at the most ungodly hours of the night.

Stuart: Ice hockey? In San Lorenzo?

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How to Handle a Telemarketer


Silence. Sounds through a mistreated microphone..Related image


“Oh, sorry. My headset was giving me problems. Is this Mr. Hardwick?”

“Speaking, and with whom do I have the pleasure?”

“My name is Emily! and I’m calling on behalf of–[some outfit or other that sells something unwise to businesses who have just registered to pay taxes to the state of Texas, like the credit card processor who pretends to actually be the state of Texas and gets around to offering an “absolutely free of charge” credit card reader (skimmer included at no extra charge) and “for a limited time” credit card processing at the “special low price” of three times what Square or Paypal charge for exactly the same service]–“and we’d like to offer you–”

“Emily! Stop!”

“a– um…”

“Before you go any further, Emily, you have to pay.”

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Meet the Winners — David VonAllmen!

Greetings readers! You may or may not know that frequently, one or two of Writers of the Future contest finalists are selected to appear in the anthology even through the didn’t win, per se. It’s a high honor, because it basically means the contest judges thought they were pro quality, even if another story edged them out, and they still get to attend the prestigious week long workshop in LA.This year, the published finalist is my good friend, David VonAllmen.

Stuart: David, welcome. Thanks for dropping by. Why don’t you start by telling my readers a little about yourself.

David: Okay. I live in St. Louis with my wife and two kids, and I am the only person ever to be Collegiate National Cycling Champion in all three disciplines: road, track, and mountain bike.

Stuart: Wow! That’s amazing!

David: Two of my former teammates rode on Lance Armstrong’s team in the Tour de France, and yes, one of them got suspended for performance enhancing drugs after winning an Olympic gold medal.

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Meet The Winner – Jake Marley

Next in this year’s Meet the Winners series, please welcome Jake Marley!

Stuart: Welcome Jake!

Jake: Hi Stuart!

Stuart: Introduce yourself. Tell us something that might surprise your friends.

Jake: Well, I’m Jake Marley, and I’m from Orange County, California. While I think that by now my friends and family know I like to write, I don’t believe any of them realize how obsessed with books and stories I am. I’m always reading or writing. Always getting better. I only ever really talk about my stories with my wife, so most people in my life might think it’s a hobby rather than an obsession.

Stuart: What do you like to write?

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In the Running!

I can now announce that I am a finalist for the 2017 Jim Baen Memorial Award.

At the same time, it was announced today that my first Jim Baen award finalist, which became my first sale to Analog, is now an Analab Readers’ Award finalist!


In The Running — Again

For three years, the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award competition has been a regular feature of my writing life, and I’m honored and proud to announce that I am once again in the running.

Each time I’ve entered, I’ve been a finalist, which I am rather proud of. The competition is judged by Baen Books editors Hank Davis, Jim Minz, Tony Daniel, David Afsharirad, and best selling Baen author David Drake. Four years ago, I’d have been ecstatic just to have my work on these folks’ radar. Well, it’s still pretty awesome, but four years ago, I’d have been counting the seconds till the big reveal, praying that I win, readying myself for disappointment. No more. This year, I’m happy to be listed alongside these talented authors

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