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Posts published in “Science Fiction”

The fantastic spaces of the Alliance!

[twenty twenty-four post nine]: failaka, tylos and dilmun to scale

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The star Dilmun, its planet Tylos, and the hypothetical exo-Io Failaka, to scale. For comparison, if our Sun, Jupiter, and Earth took those positions, this is what they would look like:

What's funny about the Dilmun system is that normally you have to say "planetary distances and sizes are not to scale". However, Tylos is so close to Dilmun, orbiting only 4 million kilometers away with a year of 1.25 days, that the top diagram IS to scale. And this is in real life, not fiction.

What an amazing universe.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day seven]: tylos and dilmun from failaka

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So! I'm working on a series of stories set on a tidally locked moon called Failaka, orbiting a "hot Jupiter" called Tylos around an even hotter star called Dilmun. I don't know if anything like Failaka exists, but Tylos is a real planet originally designated WASP-121b, orbiting a star called, um, WASP-121, about 850 light years from Earth.

Dilmun is a yellow-white star hotter and brighter than our Sun (itself white, not yellow), and Tylos orbits so close its parent star that its orbit takes one and a quarter Earth days, cooking the planet to a sizzling 2500 degrees Kelvin (about four thousand degrees Fahrenheit). Failaka is a cometary remnant, and if it exists, it could only survive in the shadow of Tylos, which itself appears as a bright orange, hot as a hot coal.

SO, to make the story more grounded, I worked out where Failaka would have to be (Tylos's L2 point, currently calcuated as about the distance from the Earth to the Moon), how relatively bright Tylos and Dilmun were, and how large Tylos and Dilmun would be in the sky, as well as their colors.

The above renders this in Mathematica. Tylos is the orange circle partially occluding the white disk of Dilmun behind it, and Failaka is the blue plain of ice below - ice which, if it really was this exposed to Tylos and Dilmun, would be rapidly sublimating away, as the plot demands that the planet "roll" due to an orbital shift, leading to plains of former darkside ice shifting into the light and rapidly disintegrating.

Oh, and the tiny dots to the right of Dilmun? The white dot is the Sun, in natural color. The next dot is the Moon, rendered in grey, as the moon's albedo is actually kinda like charcoal.

And now, a helpful safety tip: do not stand on Failaka where you can see this view of Tylos and Dilmun. The radiation would be thousands of times as bright as the Sun seen from Earth, and you would rapidly have a very abbreviated day.

If you see this unprotected, you will die.

The good news? Cremation is free.

-the Centaur

Sales for Dakota, Jeremiah and Nicole!

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So a number of sales are running this month featuring stories about Dakota, Jeremiah or Nicole.

First off, Dakota: on February 16-28 of this month, BLOOD ROCK will be back on sale for $0.99 wherever fine eBooks are sold - for example, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. BLOOD ROCK continues the story of Dakota and her weretiger daughter Cinnamon, facing their greatest challenge yet: getting Cinnamon into a good middle school. Oh, and there may also be magic graffiti, deadly fires, cranky werewolves, magical police investigators, and vampire romance. You should check it out.

Second, Jeremiah: the LATER series anthologies are on sale at DriveThruFiction through the 11th. Each features pairs of stories set in Jeremiah Willstone's time at Liberation Academy. We're adapting these for audio, so I feel this is a good way to get into this universe early!

Finally, Nicole. Everyone's favorite killer computer's debut story, SIBLING RIVALRY, is also on sale at DriveThruFiction: https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/372242/Sibling-Rivalry .

Also, a few of my friends who are published through Thinking Ink Press also have books on sale at DriveThruFiction:

The DriveThruFiction sales ends February 11, so strike while the iron's hot!

-the Centaur

P.S. Also, while I'm under the hood, let me point out that the new WordPress editor continues not just to suck, but to get worse over time, as it was markedly harder to write a blog post on the Library of Dresan than the Jeremiah Willstone and Dakota Frost websites, both on older versions of WordPress. It's harder to edit text, insert links, navigate texts, add lists, or add tags, and the tags no longer show the relative category sizes. "Modern looking" is not a substitute for usability, and never will be. End of rant.

Day 039

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More Space Hair Another attempt at space hair. I did a better job at creating dimension in the hair, I think, but fell for two classic blunders: first, the face is too large compared to the size of the head, causing the top of the head to appear cut off, and second, this first error was caused by me leaping too quickly from roughs to inks, which may not be a classic error for everyone, but is classic for me. Also the eyes are off angle: According to Google Image Search, this is also Zendaya. Apparently she would also make a good model for Porsche in addition to Cinnamon, up to heritage (while Zendaya has German, Scottish, and African ancestors - a good match for Cinnamon's mixed-race heritage - Porsche in contrast is Sino-Anglic, a Chinese/English derived centaur ethnicity which won't exist for another 500 years). Still, the exercise helped me expose a couple new art errors that I can now start to work on. Drawing every day. -the Centaur  

Day 038

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Porsche Face Redux Now that's more like it. Another exercise in making a face look like a face, except this time I was not using a real person as a reference, but older drawings of one of my own characters, centauress explorer Porsche Kirkpatrick-Saint George, from yesterday's entry. Here's a couple zoomed in shots: Porsche Reference Far Porsche Reference Near Differences in the new version: slightly narrower face to better fit what I currently understand about human proportions; slightly wider nose, because she's a frigging centaur and needs to breathe; slightly thicker neck, because even at 22-23 here she's supposed to be an exceptional martial artist (and lives in 1.7 gravities). Otherwise, I tried to abstract the older proportions and recreate the same person. I think I got close, but my faces are still not yet stable. I see I still have the same problem with the "errant pen" occasionally jerking and messing up my lines; I also see I could be making her giant mass of hair more dimensional and less flattened to two planes (though I note my time-traveling action archaeologist and her space hair predates River Song by quite a bit, even if Stephen Moffat beat me to the screen). Lots of work to do, clearly. Took me two hours. Need to do that in half or a third the time. Still ... ... drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 037

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Cinnamon Sketch As it says on the tin. Fell down a rabbithole trying to clean up my files prior to doing my art, decided to cheat by posting a sketch I did earlier today, then fell down more rabbitholes since I apparently can't not experiment with coloring a sketch. For reference, here's the sketch from earlier, the first entry in a notebook that I hadn't written in in over 18 years: Original Cinnamon Sketch I came across this notebook just trying to find an appropriate notebook for a science idea (my sketchbook is at hand, but the science notebooks are ... buried in boxes?? Not sure) and found this one, a "commonplace book" filled with various ideas, including a life review from almost 20 years ago. I'm ... actually pretty happy with how things turned out over the last 20 years, between my wife, my novels, my comics and Google, but there's so much more to do. Finally, for reference, here's a piece of art I found while I was re-organize my files. This is from 24 Hour Comic Day, mind you ... a bit ambitious, I think, but this pre-break art I think shows the kind of work that I'm intimidated by when I try to get back into drawing: Porsche from the first 24hcd Yes, there's a lot to be improved with this art, but (a) my inking was a lot better, and (b) wow, I had forgotten how much the Porsche St. George character was supposed to be a "knockout". So much of what I've written / drawn about her since then has been the workmanlike space warrior stuff, not so much the original romance between the twentieth-century time traveller and the thirtieth-century centaur. Ah well. Lots of work to do before I can get back to that level of quality, even though I see a lot of work I need to do to improve upon that once I get there. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 12

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Porsche and the Scythe at the Waterfall, Colored Day 11's drawing, colorized. Lots I would fix in the underlying drawing; many techniques of digital coloring I wished I had learned. But enough of that. Tired, going to bed now. Still ... Drawing. Every. Day. -the Centaur

Day 11

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Porsche at the Waterfall Hello, Porsche, my old friend; time to draw you again. Getting more comfortable with the Cintiq + Photoshop + Humanscale combo. But only had time for the inks today. Colors maybe tomorrow, or perhaps another drawing. Drawing every day. -the Centaur

Day 3

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Porsche and a Kettledrum Bit off more than I could chew this time, attempting to do full coloring layers. Had to give up about a third of the way through because it is way past bedtime, even for me. Not happy with the sketch or the result, didn't really get to flesh this one out the way I wanted to. Still, drawing every day. -the Centaur

My Dragon Con Virtual Mentoring Schedule

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I know it might be hard to believe, but I am not dead, despite 2020's best efforts! In fact, I am going to be at Virtual Dragon Con, participating in the Virtual Mentoring sessions!
2020 Dragon Con Writer's Track Virtual Mentoring Guests We have 30 established authors and other publishing pros who've generously donated their time and expertise to host 15-minute, one-on-one mentoring sessions with aspiring authors. If you're signing up for an acquiring editor or publisher, you are welcome to pitch your completed book! If you are meeting with an established author, the door is pretty wide open. You can ask about craft. If you're struggling with something specific, you can ask them about it. We have a number of indie authors, so if you're interested in self-publishing, you can pick their brains. Think about what you want to get out of this dedicated one-on-one session and choose your mentor accordingly.
So, who am I in all of this, if you're just encountering this link and haven't read my books or this blog?

Anthony Francis - Thinking Ink Press & Author

Session schedule: Friday - 4:30, 4:50, 5:10, 5:30

Secret origin: By day, Anthony Francis teaches robots to learn; by night, he writes the Dakota Frost urban fantasy series (FROST MOON, BLOOD ROCK and LIQUID FIRE) and the steampunk Jeremiah Willstone series (THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE). He's also an editor, and co-founded Thinking Ink Press. Genres & expertise: I'm a science fiction, urban fantasy and steampunk author with experience in space travel, general physics, artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive science, fictional magic and myth, and real and fictional military systems. Acquisition wishlist: we're looking for fresh voices in science fiction accessible to new audiences. We've recently published YA military science fiction and humorous cyberpunk novels featuring LGBTQIA characters, and have also published a series of steampunk anthologies.
If you're interested in talking with me about writing science fiction, urban fantasy, or steampunk, or would like to talk about a new book proposal of interest to Thinking Ink Press, the signup sheet for sessions is here: https://form.jotform.com/202435857025050. This is the first time we've done this virtually, but I've participated before in the live events (on the mentee end, rather than mentor :-D) and found it very valuable. So come on board, ask your questions, and help us make Virtual Dragon Con a success! Virtual Dragon Con is already running - and I've been on two recorded panels already for the Writer's Track, though I don't know when they'll air yet, just figuring that out myself - but please go check it out and help the world have fun in the face of the zombie apocalypse! -the Centaur