Welcome!

Welcome to my new official website.  In the future, this website and blog will be the home of my books and short stories, as well as an encyclopedia of my science fiction world.

For now, please visit my blogs:

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun – My writing and book review blog.  On this blog, I also talk about many other subjects from science to current events.  The name of the website comes from my childhood hobby of reading encyclopedias.  It really was for fun.

Jay Dee in Japan – This is my first blog and most popular.  It’s about living in Japan, and it showcases my photos.

Foreign Dad in Japan – This blog is much more limited in scope.  If you enjoy baby pictures, this is the place to go.  I also discuss what it’s like to be a foreign parent in Japan.

365 Rotations – An experimental photo blog featuring pictures taken every day from the same locations.  Interested in seasonal changes?  Check this blog out.

Come back for more in the future!

Journey to Ariadne – Part 1: Standby (revised)

March 17, 2163

Ariadne Project Mission Control

Hellas City, Hellas Basin, Mars

A quiet alarm sounded in the mission control of the Ariadne Project and the main screen turned on.

TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 24:00

Without looking at the screen, Ben Taylor, the system specialist working that night, turned off the alarm. He drew his thin lips downward in a frown and rolled his blue eyes. He quietly grumbled, hoping it wasn’t another false alarm. He turned toward the main screen and stared at the message. Ben hesitated a moment before finally tapping the intercom icon on his screen. “Gianni, you better get in here,” he said briskly.

“What’s going on?” a man said over the intercom.

“We have a message.”

“What kind of message?” There was a hint of impatience in Gianni’s voice.

“Endurance. It looks like it’s the real thing.”

“Shit. Are you kidding me? This better not be a joke.”

“No joke, Gianni. Get over here and see for yourself. It’s the standby message with the twenty-four hour countdown.”

“Got it. Be there in a moment.”

Ben looked at the screen again. TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 24:00. It was a static message. Standby. It was giving them twenty-four hours to prepare for the deluge of surveillance information.

Gianni Marino, the night-time supervisor, strode into the room with heavy footsteps and fixed his brown eyes on the screen. His typical unkempt hair gave the impression that he had just woken up. He nodded at Ben and sat at the command terminal in the centre of the room, swiping the screen with his hand to unlock the security program.

”Status on the receiver?” he asked Ben.

Ben accessed the radio antenna network and called up the status report. “Fully operational. Directing all available receivers toward Beta CB.”

“Signal strength?”

His eyes scanned the data as he scrolled down. “Forty-seven percent. Well within the expected range.”

“Incredible. Almost thirty light years away and we can hear it call home.” Gianni’s mouth slowly curved into a smile. “We did it, Ben! We’re going to another solar system!”

Gianni’s elation infected Ben immediately. Their ancestors’ dreams were being realised. Ben curbed his celebration before it started and went to work on the system checks.

“Data encryption key confirmed. It is Endurance. I’ll try get the signal strength above seventy-five percent by the time data starts coming in. I can’t guarantee it, though. I need to clear up some noise from satellites and other radio sources. The interstellar medium is likely to give us some data loss, but not significant.”

Gianni nodded. “Next transmission will be in forty-eight minutes. I’ll wake up Paolo and Mari. They’ll want to see this immediately.”

* * *

Ben had never imagined that he’d meet with the project’s head scientists to participate in a briefing of the mission status. He followed Gianni to the conference room’s plain door, wondering glancing around at the walls. He couldn’t think of what he was going to say when spoken to. The night shift suited him, as he worked alone.

“Are you ready?” asked Gianni with a lopsided smile.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” said Ben.

He’d met the scientists on several occasions, but had never had to speak with the entire group. He felt like he was about to enter an interrogation room.

Gianni opened the door and Ben followed him through. He glanced around at each of the scientists sitting around the table, talking with excitement. He recognised each of them. The conference room was a modest room with grey walls and a large white table in the centre. There were ten high-backed chairs around the table and a large view screen on the wall at one end. A window on the opposite wall was dark, but would have provided a view of the vast Hellas Basin during the day. At the head was the project leader Paolo Fernandes, a middle-aged man with greying hair and a neatly trimmed moustache.

“Thanks for joining us, gentlemen,” said Paolo as they entered. “Have a seat.”

Ben and Gianni sat next to each other, across from Malika Said, the head botanist. Ben glanced at her quickly, noticing her black hair was done up in a tight bun. She had olive skin that hinted at her middle eastern heritage.

“I’d like to start this briefing off by thanking Ben and Gianni for their tremendous work and patience on the night shift. It’s a lonely job while the rest of us are sleeping. It paid off very well.” Paolo looked around the room at the project members that attended the meeting. “Let’s get down to business. As you all know, we have received a message from Endurance. That was three hours ago.”

Ben looked around the table at some of the other scientists. Seated next to Malika was Gary Fitzsimmons, the exobiologist. He was a short man with round features. Ben found the man friendly in his past conversations with him. Gary briefly returned Ben’s gaze and smiled. He turned his attention back to Paolo.

Paolo turned the view screen on and switched to the feed from the control room’s main screen.

TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 21:00.

“As you can see, Endurance transmits a standby message every hour. In twenty-one hours, we will begin receiving the main transmission from the probe, starting with an overview image of Ariadne. Then the real science begins,” said Paolo. “For now, if you have any updates that we don’t know about, please share what you have now.”

“I have something,” said the head astronomer. Mari Watanabe stood up and walked to the screen, her long black hair barely moving. She brought up a computer-generated animation of the system on the view screen. “I’ve been studying some recent observations that presents some very exciting information. I hope it’ll be confirmed tomorrow when we receive the data. It appears it may have a large moon.”

“Any idea how large?” asked Gary, his eyes wide with interest. “The size could have a large influence on how life could have evolved.”

“Sorry, Gary, the error in the data gives us anything between twenty-five percent of the size of Earth’s moon to fifty percent larger.”

Gary nodded. “Thanks. I’ll have to wait until the surface probe data.”

As Mari sat down, Paolo asked, “Anyone else? No? Okay, here’s our timeline for the next few days. In twenty-one hours, we’ll receive our first picture of Ariadne. I want all of you in the control centre an hour before then so we can prepare for analysis. Endurance will still be a couple days from orbit, but we should have plenty of data for everyone except Gary.” He nodded in the biologist’s direction. “Once it’s in orbit, the surface probes and weather satellites will be released. There are three probes, a high altitude flier and two low altitude hover-fliers. We should begin receiving data from those probes within a week, while the weather satellites will all be in position in three days. That’s a bit of waiting, and I’m sure you all want to discover something new right away. Do you have any special requests?’

“I’d like any solar data from Beta CB, as well as pictures of the moon as soon as possible,” said Mari.

“It’s likely we’ll see that moon of yours in the first few pictures,” said Paolo.

“Pictures would be nice,” said William de Boer, the lead geologist. “I’d also like to get some atmospheric data. We’ve already confirmed that there are volcanic gases, but some direct evidence would be great.”

“Same for me,” added Malika. “It should be easy to see the plant life from pictures. Since the star is similar to the sun, I’m assuming they’ll be green.”

“Me too, obviously,” said Jean Fourier. The meteorologist had a permanent smirk on his face.

“I’ll be very happy when the surface probes return pictures of animals,” said Gary.

“The first few days will just be observation for you,” said Paolo. “But I’m sure it’ll be exciting nevertheless.”

“It seems most of us want more direct atmosphere readings,” said Carol Parent. Ben saw the openness in the oceanographer’s smile.

“All right, I believe we’ll want pictures and atmospheric data first,” said Paolo. “Those will be our priorities. Now, on to some brief personnel matters, then we can be done for the night. Anything else?”

Silence. Gary and William shook their heads.

“So, our final business for the night has to do with Ben and Gianni,” said Paolo.

Ben looked up at the project leader. He’d anticipated giving a status report of the facility’s systems and the readiness of the antennas.

“Gianni, I’d like to move you to the daytime shift to aid with the operations of the mission control centre. It will be a very busy time, and we need all the help we can get,” said Paolo.

“It would be my pleasure,” he responded.

“And Ben, for the outstanding and reliable work you’ve done as system specialist on the night shift, you will now be working with us in the daytime. You’ll be a lot busier,” said Paolo, smiling.

“I look forward to it,” said Ben with a small smile. He wasn’t good at working with large groups, but he would share in everyone’s discovery.

Paolo smiled at everyone and said, “Well, let’s get some sleep. We have many months of hard work to do, but we need to be rested. See you back at the control centre in nineteen and a half hours.”

Ben stood up and walked to the door. He looked back at the screen. It showed the the countdown screen again.

TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 21:00.

He felt a tingle in his spine and understood that he was going to be part of a historic mission. A member of the Ariadne Project. A colonist of the first Earth-like extrasolar planet ever explored. He smiled.

The Original Ariadne Map

The year was 2000.  I was a student at the University of Victoria studying physics and astronomy, and I had an idea for a story.  The idea was the basis for what is now Ariadne.  I drew a map of the world and it grew from there.  Originally, it wasn’t called Ariadne.  That name came about in 2012.  I was still trying to decide on a name for all those years.  It was one of the most difficult things to figure out.  Since the original map, I’ve drawn several others, including a large map on 16 sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.  But I would like to present the map that started it all, even though it’s faded and stained from years of being packed in boxes, transported from place to place, and even stored away for a while.  Here it is, Ariadne.

20130829-225237.jpg

Facebook Author Page Now Open

I’ve started an author page on Facebook.  If you use Facebook and would like updates that way, please head on over and like my author page.

I’d also like to take the time to remind you of other ways of interacting with my via social media.  You can follow me on Twitter, as well as on Google Plus.  If you use Goodreads, please send a friend request there.

In case you’re wondering, Journey to Ariadne is coming along, albeit a bit slowly lately.  It’s been outlined completely, with most characters established.  But keep watching, as new parts will come out soon.

You deserve an update

I apologise for the lack of new content lately.  A lot has happened in the past couple of months.

I had very little free time due to my daughter’s illness, or I should say multiple illnesses.  She spent most of the past 2 months sick with something, including a week in the hospital with pneumonia.

She’s healthy now, so I can finally get things back on track with Journey to Ariadne and Ariadne Origins. I have some exciting things planned for the Ariadne Encyclopedia as I write, so don’t worry, everything is moving forward.

Journey to Ariadne – Part 1: Standby

March 17, 2163

Ariadne Project Mission Control

Hellas City, Hellas Basin, Mars

A quiet alarm sounded in the mission control of the Ariadne Project and the main screen turned on.

TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 24:00

Without looking at the screen, Ben Taylor, the system specialist working that night, turned off the alarm. He drew his thin lips downward in a frown and rolled his blue eyes. He quietly grumbled, “I hope this isn’t another false alarm.” He turned toward the main screen and stared at the message. Ben hesitated a moment before finally tapping the intercom icon on his touch screen panel. “Gianni, you better get in here,” he said briskly.

“What’s going on?” came the answer over the intercom.

“We have a message.”

“What kind of message?” There was a hint of impatience in Gianni’s voice.

“Endurance. It looks like it’s the real thing.”

“Shit. Are you kidding me? This better not be a joke.”

“No joke, Gianni. Get over here and see for yourself. It’s the standby message with the twenty-four hour countdown.”

“Got it. Be there in a moment.”

Ben looked at the screen again. TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 24:00. It was a static message. Standby. It was giving them twenty-four hours to prepare for the deluge of surveillance information.

Gianni Marino, the night-time supervisor, strode into the room with heavy footsteps and fixed his brown eyes on the screen. His unkempt hair gave the impression that he had just woken up from a night’s sleep. He nodded at Ben and sat at the command terminal in the centre of the room, swiping the screen with his hand to unlock the security program.

”Status on the receiver?” he asked Ben.

Ben accessed the radio antenna network and called up the status report. “Fully operational. Directing all available receivers toward Beta CB.”

“Signal strength?”

His eyes scanned the data as he scrolled down. “47 percent. Well within the expected range.”

“Incredible. Almost thirty light years away and we can hear it call home.” Gianni’s mouth slowly curved into a smile. “We did it, Ben! We’re going to another solar system!”

Gianni’s elation infected Ben immediately. Their ancestors’ dreams were being realised. Ben curbed his celebration before it started and went to work on the system checks.

“Data encryption key confirmed. It is Endurance. I’ll try get the signal strength above 75 percent by the time data starts coming in. I can’t guarantee it, though.”

Gianni nodded. “Next transmission will be in 48 minutes. I’ll wake up Paolo and Mari. They’ll want to see this immediately.”

* * *

Ben entered the office, a modest room with grey walls and a large white table in the centre. There were ten high-backed chairs around the table and a large view screen on the wall at one end. He saw eight other people, including Gianni, seated at the table. At the head was Paolo Fernandes, a middle-aged man with greying hair and a neatly trimmed moustache.

“Have a seat, Ben,” said Paolo.

Ben sat next to Gianni, across the table from a serious woman with her black hair tied back in a tight bun.

“I’d like to start this briefing off by thanking Ben and Gianni for their tremendous work and patience on the night shift. It paid off very well.” Paolo looked around the room at the project members that attended the meeting. “Let’s get down to business. As you all know, we have received a message from Endurance. That was three hours ago. I’m glad all of you could come on such short notice.”

Ben watched the scientists seated around the table. Some were familiar, others were not. He thought most of them must have been working on their own without coming in to the control centre.

“Please look at the screen,” said Paolo. He turned the view screen on and switched to the feed from the control room’s main screen.

TRANSMISSION INITIALIZED. THIS IS ENDURANCE. STANDBY. 21:00.

“As you can see, Endurance transmitted a standby message every hour. In twenty-one hours, we will begin receiving the main transmission from the probe, starting with an overview image of Ariadne. Then the real science begins. I’d like to turn this over to Mari Watanabe, our lead astronomer.” He smiled and sat in the chair at the head of the table.

Mari stood up and walked to the screen. Her long black hair flowed halfway down her back, barely moving as she walked. She was tall for a Japanese woman, and her fifty years didn’t show her age.

“Thank you, Paolo. I’ll briefly give you an overview of the system we are studying. Ariadne is an Earth-sized planet in the Beta Comae Berenices system, as you know.” She brought up a computer generated animation of the system on the view screen. “It’s the fourth planet in the system, which has a total of ten known planets. The planet is estimated to be slightly larger than the Earth, and it has an orbital period of 348 Earth days. The star is a G0 V type star, meaning it’s slightly cooler than the sun. It’s also slightly smaller and about three billion years old. It’s 29.78 light years from our sun, so the data we will see is nearly thirty years old. A moon is suspected for Ariadne, but hasn’t been confirmed. Based on infrared data and expected cooling rate, it’s estimated that it has a rotational period of roughly twenty-five hours.”

Paolo nodded at Mari and said, “Thank you, Mari. Next, I’d like our lead geologist, William de Boer, to speak.”

William, a short balding man with brown hair and a thin face, remained seated. “Thank you. I’ll be very brief, as we don’t have much data on the geology of the planet. However, with spectroscopic data, we have ascertained that Ariadne is geologically active. There is evidence of volcanic activity based on occasional changes in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Other than that, I can’t give you much information until we see the planet.”

“And now, let’s hear from our lead meteorologist, Jean Fourier.”

Ben noted that Jean had a permanent smirk on his face. He was a man in his thirties with a little added weight around his waist and dirty blond hair.

“We have a lot of information about the atmosphere of Ariadne. As you all know, we chose this planet because of the spectroscopic data that showed a very Earth-like nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. The oxygen level is slightly higher than the Earth’s. The average temperature is also similar to Earth, at 15.5 degrees Celsius. There’s a significant amount of water vapour in the atmosphere indicating a water cycle. The carbon dioxide level is also similar to Earth with occasional changes suggesting active volcanoes, as William mentioned.”

“Thank you, Jean,” said Paolo. “Next, let’s hear from our lead botanist, Malika Said.”

Across from Ben, Malika smiled at Paolo. She had black hair tied in a bun and olive skin that hinted at her middle eastern heritage. “Since we don’t have much to go on at the moment, all I can say is that Ariadne most likely has green plants. And judging from the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, there are definitely plants. As for animals, I’ll leave that for someone else.”

“Thank you, Malika. We’ll soon get a chance to see if you’re right.” The tension in the room had eased a bit since the time Ben entered the room. He realised that everyone was relaxing a bit more. “And now, let’s hear from the lead biologist, Gary Fitzsimmons.”

Gary was a short man with round features. His nose was short and he had full lips and large earlobes on his spherical face. “Thanks, Paolo. My task today is simple, since it hasn’t even started. I can’t even begin to say if there are animals or not. I hope so. Ariadne is only three billion years old. Considering that it has an earthlike atmosphere, there has been ample time for plants to provide oxygen to the atmosphere. I have no idea how fast evolution happens on other planets. We’ll see soon.”

“I hope that will be within the next month, Gary. Finally, we have our lead oceanographer, Carol Parent.”

Carol nodded at Paolo. Ben saw the openness in her smile. She was a tall blonde woman with short hair and large teeth. Ben thought it was an odd combination.

“Thank you,” she began with her Australian accent. “While we don’t have good direct images of Ariadne yet, I believe that the evidence points to a wet world, as was mentioned before. It has a water cycle, based on the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. How much is the question we need to answer. “

“Great, thank you, Carol,” said Paolo. He looked around at the members of the project as he spoke. “We will see an image of Ariadne in the first transmission from Endurance after standby. We’ll know immediately how much ocean there is, what kind of cloud cover it has, and we’ll be able to see the green of plant life. I hope you’re all as excited about this as I am.” He paused as the others nodded in agreement. “So, we will follow the directives of the project founders as best as we can. Once we see the first image and ascertain the planet’s habitability, I will officially become the first Governor of Ariadne. Any objections?”

Ben looked around the room and observed the approving smiles of the team members.

“You have our support, Paolo,” said Mari.

“Agreed,” said William as he nodded.

Paolo smiled at everyone and said, “Well, let’s get to work. We have many months of hard work to do and a new society to create.”

A new society and a new world. Ben felt privileged to be present at the very beginning.

Journey to Ariadne

Leading up to the eventual release of the first book of Ariadne: Origins, I present to you Journey to Ariadne.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be posting short stories in the form of personal experiences of the people involved in the colonisation of Ariadne.  I will begin, quite remarkably, at the beginning.  You will get to know some of the characters that will appear in the first book, as well as see how they achieved their incredible journey.  These stories won’t be very long, so they’ll be easy to read in a short sitting.  They’ll all be collected in the Ariadne Encyclopedia, which I will create soon and continue to add to as the stories develop.

As a bonus, I’ll put all the stories together to release as a free eBook for anyone who wants to read it in one easy format.  This will be done when I’ve finished all of the short stories.

Keep an eye out for the first installment of Journey to Ariadne: Standby.

Ariadne: Origins

I’m happy to finally announce the title of my upcoming duology, Ariadne: Origins.

In the 22nd century, humanity has finally traveled to the stars.  The search for the ideal world to start a colony lead to an Earth-like world orbiting the star Beta Comae Berenices, nearly 30 light years from Earth.  That world was called Ariadne.  Facing an uncertain future in the Solar System, the colonists wanted to create a new society in which they could escape the growing unrest and conflict that was beginning to tear the Earth apart.  Ariadne was that world.

In the beginning, life was wonderful, although it involved a lot of hard work.  However, the children born on Ariadne started exhibiting unusual abilities.  What was causing it?  How would it affect the future of the new generation?

Ariadne: Origins will unravel the mystery behind these abilities and set the stage for a life they had never imagined possible.

The title of the first book will be announced when I’ve finished writing it.  In the meantime, I will be giving you a sneak preview of the world of Ariadne through short stories that will be available for free from this website.  Keep an eye out for future updates, and please subscribe!

Debut story update

The short story that I’ve been developing to introduce my world to everyone is no longer going to be a short story.  The story is bigger than I anticipated.  It’s looking to be more like a short novel.  The initial story didn’t feel complete.  It needed something extra, and a lot more action and suspense.  I feel it’ll be a much stronger story that way.

I have a few ideas for titles, though nothing is final.  I do know what the final name of the world is, though.  But I’ll leave that for you to guess.

The more I work on outlining and planning, the more I realise how much story there really is.  It evolves before it’s even written.  One thing I need to develop is the technology, including the spacecraft.  Part of the story will involve a spacecraft, though it’ll mainly be on the planet.

The tentative title will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as the name of the planet and star.  I’m also considering commissioning cover artwork, as I’m not particularly confident in my ability to create an attractive cover.  Sometimes I underestimate my artistic abilities, but I’m confident with pencil and paper, not with graphics editing software.  I will have sketches of animals and spacecraft on this website in the future, though.  And of course, the maps.

To receive future updates, please subscribe and follow in the sidebar.

Future books update

Recently, I’ve been debating whether to write a series of three short stories or a full novel.  I was settling on having three stories in one book, but after a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that combining them as a novel with three acts is the best way to go.

I have updated the Books page with this information.  So please head on over there and check it out.  Let me know what you think!

Inspiration comes in interesting places

When I’m thinking about plot and story ideas, I tend to get them in unusual places.  I don’t get them very much in front of my computer.  I’ll occasionally think of something before I go to sleep or while I’m riding the train.  But my best thinking place is private.  I can think without being interrupted.  Yesterday, I had a great idea for my science fiction book that’ll change how I look at the entire world.  It’ll be more exciting with more possibilities.  Where did I get my inspiration?  The shower.

Where do you get your inspiration?

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