Archive for the ‘#RandomNovelResearch’ Category

#RandomNovelResearch – Cryovolcano

February 28, 2013

Over on Twitter, I post an occasional topic with the hashtag #RandomNovelResearch. (Okay, just searched the hashtag and my old tweets and discovered that I haven’t posted a #RandomNovelResearch item in a couple of months – but that doesn’t mean they’re not pretty cool! I’ll post more, promise!)

Anyway, my point was that as I’m writing along, happily making stuff up, I occasionally find myself wanting to know if what I’m making up has the slightest chance of being believable. So I do a quick search on keywords that come close to what I’m writing about – and in the process, sometimes find some pretty cool *real* stuff!

Sotra Facula Ice Volcano, Titan (NASA image)For example, w-a-a-y back in December, I just read about a possible cryovolcano on Saturn’s moon Titan. A cryovolcano, if you didn’t already know, is a volcano that spews a mixture of slushy ice and minerals, rather than ash and lava. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool! (pun intended)

Is there a cryovolcano in the novel I just finished writing (yay!) and am in the process of editing? Sadly, no. But you can bet one is likely to show up in a future story – and if not a story of mine, probably one by another writer. And that’s the point of the #RandomNovelResearch hashtag: sharing ideas with anyone who might find them interesting.

If you stumble on a cool bit of info, use the #RandomNovelResearch tag to share the link with other readers and writers. Let’s grow this topic as a idea bank. ‘Cause you know that no two of us are going to write the same story, even if we use the same shiny topic as our jumping-off point.

What’cha think?

#RandomNovelResearch – Dark Fireworks

November 11, 2012

NASA Science News - frame from ultraviolet movie of the explosion shows a 'solar tsunami' wave

You have to visit this NASA Science News page – and watch the videos.

They’re awesome, just awesome.

Trust me on this. Have I ever led you astray?



This is going into a story… not sure when or how, but wow, how could I not use it?



Run for cover!

August 1, 2012

Mount Pinatubo - photo by Alberto Garcia/CorbisWatched a fascinating video recently – In the Path of a Killer Volcano, a NOVA special about the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines. Not only was it simply spectacular to watch (safely, from a distance of many years and many thousands of miles), but it also put me in mind of the scenario I’d envisioned when writing Memory at Lascaux, and the world-altering events in that story.

We live on an amazing planet, with forces we cannot begin to control. I am in awe…

Expect the unexpected…

April 9, 2011

I was very happy a few days ago when I read the NASA report that the Voyager spacecraft are at the edge of the solar system, and about to enter interstellar space.


Because I remember when they took off – I was in high school, and wrote a report for my English class. My report would have been much better if I’d had access to resources like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Voyager mission page; I had to rely on newspaper reports and what I could glean from faithfully watching NOVA on telelvision, hosted by Carl Sagan.

NASA_Voyager Golden Record CoverOf course, now reports of the Voyager missions make me happy for another reason. I’m a science fiction writer. And what’s cooler than to incorporate something real into a science fiction story? Well, that’s exactly what I’ve done – and it’s been a blast. (And no, I’m not taunting you – the novel, Synth: Gold Record,  will be coming out soon, so check back for the announcement!)

In the meantime, I loved the closing passage from the NASA report so much that I wanted to repost it here (but really, click on the links above and read the whole report for yourself – it’s “way cool!” as we used to say in the seventies):

“A billion years from now, when everything on Earth we’ve ever made has crumbled into dust, when the continents have changed beyond recognition and our species is unimaginably altered or extinct, the Voyager record will speak for us,” wrote Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in an introduction to a CD version of the record.

Some people note that the chance of aliens finding the Golden Record is fantastically remote. The Voyager probes won’t come within a few light years of another star for some 40,000 years. What are the odds of making contact under such circumstances?

On the other hand, what are the odds of a race of primates evolving to sentience, developing spaceflight, and sending the sound of barking dogs into the cosmos?

Expect the unexpected, indeed.