M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Finding the Tree in the Family Forest

August 31, 2018
MThomas

IMG_2197While visiting Montreal and Upstate New York for summer vacation, my family were greeted by an unhappy surprise.

My mother has Stage 4 cancer.

I’ve been spending the past two to three years researching my ancestry (at, you guessed it, ancestry.com) and I had already hoped to talk with my mother about her memories of our Irish and French Canadian heritage.

I’d already managed to find quite bit online via various databases, both public and private. But there’s no substitute for family stories. And now I have a time limit.

Continue Reading

An ex-Domer Forever: What on Earthside was I thinking?

July 25, 2018
MThomas

It’s the end of the spring term (finally) at my university in Kyoto, which means I’ll be getting ready for my yearlong sabbatical in Montreal soon. From September I’ll be back at a North American university for the first time since 1997.

Ah, Notre Dame. Mixed lapsed Catholic-cum-agnostic memories. Continue Reading

Farewell, Harlan, y’old so and so

June 29, 2018
MThomas

ellison1-e1530245486699.jpg

I remember the only time I met Harlan Ellison.

Well, “met” is perhaps too strong a word. Talked with. Listened to. Got a signature and shook his hand. I was nervous as all hell. Continue Reading

The extrasolar immigrants are/have been/will be here

May 29, 2018
MThomas

Though discovered nearly four years ago, an asteroid in orbit near Jupiter ( BZ509, or just “bee-zee” for short) is now said to be originally from outside our solar system. The aliens are here (have been here…). Continue Reading

In his house at R’yleh…

May 20, 2018
MThomas

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

In his house at R’yleh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming…

…because of course his ancestral DNA was brought to Earth aboard an asteroid, as part of an ancient bombardment that seeded life…

Well, maybe not. It’s a controversial idea only in the sense that octopi are not aliens and no DNA can possibly have survived an asteroid bombardment hundreds of millions (or even billions) of years ago.

Still, asteroids seeding the universe is a fun idea for fiction writers. Which is the germ of my novel in progress…

https://qz.com/1281064/a-controversial-study-has-a-new-spin-on-the-otherworldliness-of-the-octopus/

Marquez, the general, and his labyrinth

April 19, 2017
MThomas

labyrinth

When I first started writing the kernel of what ultimately became Adam’s Stepsons, the multiple/mixed genre story The General in His Labyrinth had just been published, by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I’d been searching for character names, desperate not to have them all sounding like the people I knew at the time (i.e., white guys in my rural hometown).

So “Marquez” sounded like a great name. I had a general in the story. General Marquez fit. Why not. Continue Reading

Adam’s Stepsons: The Professor and Sam Adams

March 28, 2017
MThomas

beerfridgeThe main character of my new SF novella Adam’s Stepsons, Dr. Johann Heimann, was modeled after a professor at my undergraduate college named…ah…let’s name him Professor R. He had the biggest office on campus, and he kept Sam Adams in a small fridge tucked under his desk. And he shared them liberally with students who stopped by. And he told great stories about Chevy Chase. A perfect model for a fictional scientist.

Prof. R. was a teacher of social economics. Which is why he spent all his free time keeping careful track of tiny pieces of paper from the 17th to the 19th century detailing who was responsible for maintaining what part of what county and state roads in nearby towns.

By “careful,” I mean of course hundreds of cardboard boxes haphazardly stacked around his office and often mislabeled or labeled with handwriting so cramped that medical doctors would be proud. Couldn’t help wondering if Sam Adams were to blame. Continue Reading

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