M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

Tales of a 6th-Grade Nothing (Apologies to Judy Blume)

November 26, 2021
MThomas

I started writing stories when I was in 5th grade. Our teacher gave us a list of vocabulary each week — about 10 to 12 words, I think — and said we had two choices: 1) write down all their definitions along with a sample sentence, or 2) work them into a short story to show that we understood the meaning of the words.

I chose the 2nd option. In fact, I was the only one who did out of a class of about 25.

The thing is, the teacher wanted us to read them at the front of the room.

Man, that was not something I was looking forward to. But somehow I managed.

I wrote nothing but detective stories, all in the first person. At some point, I borrowed my mother’s old manual typewriter (originally my grandfather’s, from the 1950s) and typed them all out. I still have most of them.

But my peak as an elementary school age creative writer came part-way 6th grade, when I attempted to write my first horror story.

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10 Cheesy Sci-Fi Movies That Deserve Remakes | Screen Rant

November 25, 2021
MThomas

Between a hated Marvel movie, a quarterback in space, and ‘the worst movie ever made,’ there are so many sci-fi flicks just waiting to be rebooted.
— Read on screenrant.com/cheesy-science-fiction-movies-that-deserve-remakes-reboots/

I agree with some and totally disagree with others.

A remake of Flash Gordon?

🙆‍♂️ Sure! (The original is campy, but the comic strip it’s based on was fairly dramatic.)

Logan’s Run?

🤔 Would make a much better series than a one-off (a movie remake is currently in “development hell”).

Howard the Duck?

🤢🤦‍♂️

Are you kidding? 🙅

What do you all think?

The DART has lift-off

November 24, 2021
MThomas

twitter.com/nasa/status/1463315612042678279

Technically, the two asteroids the DART is aiming at are a “binary” (they orbit each other).

The BBC’s explanation is pretty good.

They don’t even mention Bruce Willis until the final sentence.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59327293

Cowboy Bebop – from anime to live action

November 19, 2021
MThomas

I was lucky: I got to watch Cowboy Bebop (the classic anime) in 2000.

I had just moved to Japan to teach English as an ALT the previous year. Stuck in the countryside with no friends and very little to do when not working, I immersed myself in Japanese language study.

Part of that involved keeping the TV on in the background, even though I couldn’t understand any of it.

After a few months of studying, I got help from a student in the English Speaking Society (a club at the high school where I was working) in getting a membership card at the only video rental store in town. At the time, the owners weren’t so keen on allowing a foreigner to rent videos; they even asked how I could guarantee that I wouldn’t simply up and leave and take their videos back to my home country.

Over the three years I was in the town, I borrowed hundreds of videos from that little store. None of the Japanese-language ones had English subtitles (obviously), and Cowboy Bebop was a series I must have borrowed at least three times, understanding more each time I watched it.

In the anime, the primary characters all have katakana names – Spike, Faye, Jet, Edward – and their computer screens always show English. The opening credits are in English, and the text behind the credits is also in English, even as the characters use Japanese (it’s never said, but we can assume universal translators in action). The show features multiethnic interaction with no hints whatsoever of racism or prejudice. A show way ahead of its time.

As various websites have pointed out, it was originally designed to sell Bandai toys, but the director had other ideas.

Episode 5 explains, with text behind the characters: “This is not a kind of space opera.” It slips in references to shows and movies like Star Trek and Star Wars, but it’s really an angst-ridden, existentialist space western with misfits galore.

Based on jazz.

“Space jazz,” really, is a better description of the show (even though pop, funk, and even heavy metal are played — entirely made by Kanno Yoko’s band, which she specifically created just for the show).

The live action remake version was just released on Netflix on November 19th (EST; click on the link to see the trailer on YouTube), who I sincerely hope do it justice (most, if not all, of their recent remakes of anime have quite frankly sucked donkey).

It’s not supposed to have a happy ending. I hope it doesn’t.

And I hope there’s no second season. The anime is brilliant. Don’t ruin its legacy.

Hey, Russia, how about you try not killing your own cosmonauts?

November 16, 2021
MThomas

The test blew up one of Russia’s own satellites, creating debris that forced the ISS crew to shelter in capsules.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59299101

Thousands of debris fragments forced the astronauts/cosmonauts (and “taikonauts” in the Chinese-only space station) to shelter in their own separate modules.

“A kind of space madness,” is how one analyst phrased it.

Scientists around the world always have to deal with political maneuvering (i.e., bullshit). (Reference: 2010: A Space Odyssey – The Year We Make Contact).

Madness.

Earth has a second moon…for another 300 years, anyway

November 14, 2021
MThomas

Kamo’oalewa is one such piece of lunar rubble that spiraled away from the moon. But rather than landing on Earth or simply tumbling off into the void, it found itself a quasi-satellite in its own right.

https://time.com/6116644/earth-second-moon/

Dunno what’s cooler: the name of the Moon fragment or the fact that the grad student at Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona that discovered the ”moon” is named ”Sharkey.”

Also, the complete and utter lack of visuals is appalling…plus the repetitive politically-oriented automatic videos and random ads irritates me. Honestly, WTF is up with US-based websites these days. Unreadable.

Still, it’s telling that the ”moon” has a Hawaiian name. Much like the navigator in my story…

Bringer of Light, Chapter 28: Ceres – The Artemis

November 13, 2021
MThomas

Facing five Hunter ships surrounding the entrance to the Ceres mining station, Riss makes her decision.

“Well,” Enoch said, a note of urgency in his voice, “what do we do now?”

Riss stared calmly at the viewscreen. Five ships faced them. Four were those she knew well. The Sagittarius, the oldest, could not match the Artemis’s speed or shields. Gennaji could not use any nuclear weapons this close to allies, unless he wanted all of them to lose power as well as bathe all of Ceres in a wave of radiation.

The Corvus looked like it’d seen better days. Recent damage was still visible on its left side and rear. Idly, Riss wondered if it were captive, and not ally. Athene and Haephestis, she knew could not best the Artemis on their own.

But it was five against one. She didn’t like those odds. As strong as Artemis was, the battle wouldn’t last long. Especially with the Pleiades at point.

Surrender herself, or be destroyed. A simple ultimatum.

“If you do give yourself up, you know he’ll just destroy us anyway,” Sanvi pointed  out.

Riss nodded. “Probably they’ll try, at least.”

She sat back. Five more minutes to make a decision.

“Coop, are you sure one of those ships has ditrium on it?”

“Yes. And that’s the fourth time you’ve asked me, Riss.”

She sighed. Ditrium. She’d gone all the way to Transneptunian to find ditrium, in the hopes she could do for Mars what Sergey had done for Luna.

And make a tidy profit, naturally. But somehow now money didn’t seem as important.

Not important at all, she realized. Not to her. Not to her crew. But to Gennaji—

“Coop,” she said. “Do you know the chemical composition of gold?”

“What kind of question is that?” the geist responded, offended. “How could I ever call myself a geologist if I didn’t—”

He gasped, then grinned.

“Do you think you could give a demonstration for our friends out there?”

She could swear a slightly wicked gleam entered his eyes.

“As the Russians say, ‘When money speaks, the truth stays silent’,” he said with a grin.

Riss laughed. “And as the Sufis say, ‘Three things ruin a person: greed, envy, and pride.’ Let’s see if we can go for all three.”

“You’ve been reading my mind,” the geist said shaking his head. “I’ll never get used to that.”

She shrugged. That was, probably, what both of them had actually done inadvertently. Which apparently they could all do, if they concentrated hard enough. She needed to rely on that new ability now, more than ever.

“Enoch,” she ordered, “inform Sagittarius that I’ll meet them on Ceres to surrender myself. In the meantime,” she pivoted to Sanvi and Coop, “we need to find that ditrium. Coop, you need to put your heads together. Let Sanvi and Enoch know as much as you know about the composition of various heavy metals; copper, silver, gold, even iron and lead.”

She unstrapped herself from the command chair and swam to the corridor exit. “You may need to merge again.”

“Merge?” asked the geist. He looked back and forth from Sanvi to Enoch. 

The navigator shrugged. “Good a term as any, I guess.”

“When you’re done, join me on Ceres,” Riss said from the exit. “I’ll return the Hopper to you once I get close enough.”

“But then how will you—” Sanvi queried. “Ah.”

Riss laughed. It’d been a while since she felt free, despite the risk. Despite the danger. 

It felt good.

She stuck her head back into the command center and pointed at her ear. “Use the helmet comm to keep in touch. I feel like going for a walk.”


Next: Bringer of Light, Chapter 29: Ceres – Weng. Sam wonders (not for the last time) how he got involved and what his role is.

Bringer of Light, Chapter 27: Luna

November 13, 2021
MThomas

As Riss and the Artemis face off against the Ceres Mining Council, Sergey has been locked in a room in the Lunar Base during a coup, awaiting his fate…

Bardish sat down heavily and rubbed his ankles. After pacing the room for what seemed the tenth time, he began to wish there were a coffee machine. At least drinking soya junk would give him something to do.

The door opened. He immediately stood.

Three uniformed police officers entered, followed by Sanchez, then a plain-clothes woman he thought he recognized. Someone from the company where his good-for-nothing future son-in-law worked? Used to work, he silently corrected.

“Lieutenant Sanchez,” Bardish said, nodding.

Sanchez returned the nod. “Captain. My apologies for the delay. Please, have a seat.”

Bardish grunted. “I have been sitting for some time. I prefer to stand.”

“Have it your way.”

The lieutenant motioned for the woman to sit at the table across from Bardish. Two of other officers stayed on either side of the lieutenant. The third left, presumably to guard the door from the outside.

“Captain Bardish, we need to ask you a few questions.”

“About what?”

“It appears as if you have received an outside communication from an external belligerent hostile to Luna Base operations.”

“I—I received what?” Bardish sputtered. He could feel his face turning red, clenched his fists.

“Here is the evidence,” Sanchez said. He produced a pad and handed it to the retired captain. “There was a secret message. Buried in another message. It contained a Chinese quantum jùli jiāmi. Addressed to you, in the subroutine of a ping from Ceres to ask for supplies.”

“A Chinese quantum…what?”

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Procrastinate, work, repeat

November 12, 2021
MThomas

Where’s the Artemis?? What’s up with Mars? And Ceres seriously…?

Sorry I haven’t kept up the story posts, everyone.

I know it’s been almost a month since the last Bringer of Light episode. Work just got dumped on me, and I can barely find time to give my writing students feedback. We switched back to face to face classes…with live streaming on Zoom for students who couldn’t or wouldn’t go back to campus…which is definitely NOT a teaching style I would recommend to anybody, anywhere, ever.

It’s been like laying down tracks in front of an oncoming train. Every day.

There is lots more good stuff for Riss and her crew, I swear. I’ve got drafts up to Chapter 42, and plots to the end after that. Let me see if I can get the next one up for you all in a day or two…

Water Bears in Space! Uh. Again.

November 12, 2021
MThomas

Hang on, I think I’ve seen this before…

Oh.

Not such a great idea, then, to send them on an interstellar cruise

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