M Thomas Apple Author Page

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

Children of Pella — to post or not to post?

September 14, 2020
MThomas

OK, so I admit it — I’m way behind in finishing my SF novel, Bringer of Light (you can read the prologue here).

I had hoped to get the draft done by January, then work on edits in the spring and publish it in summer.

But a little COVID happened to the world, and believe it or not I got a little sidetracked by, uh, life. And a family history project about a love triangle (kind of).

(During our two-month quasi-lockdown-not-sure-what-this-is-stuck-home-with-two-kids thing, I did get pretty good at the Mars terraforming game. Highly recommended.)

So now I’m thinking, to kickstart my writing life back into action, why not post the chapters I have so far? There are about 35 of them, tend to be short, and since I’ve been struggling with the ending, might help generate some ideas for getting to the expected final scene.

Sound like a good weekly post?

Meet Arisa, our local “inforobo”

July 16, 2020
MThomas

IMG_2770

This is Arisa, the “Information Robot.” It was recently installed at Yamato-Saidaiji, a Kintetsu Railway station in Nara City that I travel through to go to work.

Actually, today I went through the station on my way to renew my driver’s license. Interacting with the robot was much easier.

She (oops, I mean “it”?) can speak four languages (Japanese, English, Mandarin, and Korean) at the touch of a panel. But the functionality is still only limited to basic phrases about where to change trains and which platform to use. Still, it’s a first step (toward replacing human-controlled info booths, so get started learning programming, kiddos!).

SF/F Magazines Wait Out The Great Pause—Part 1

July 1, 2020
MThomas

So how are things over at major SF/F mags?

Part 1 of 2 (I guess).

From Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (so “major mags” means basically “only in ‘Merca,” I suppose 🤷‍♂️).

SF/F Magazines Wait Out The Great Pause—Part 1: Submissions & Supplies – SFWA
— Read on www.sfwa.org/2020/06/30/sf-f-magazines-wait-out-the-great-pause-part-1-submissions-supplies/

SpooQy-1 action at a distance!

June 30, 2020
MThomas

“In the future, our system could be part of a global quantum network transmitting quantum signals to receivers on Earth or on other spacecraft,” says Aitor Villar, lead author of the study. “These signals could be used to implement any type of quantum communications application, from quantum key distribution for extremely secure data transmission to quantum teleportation, where information is transferred by replicating the state of a quantum system from a distance.”

OK, OK, so it’s not the first time quantum entanglement has been demonstrated. But it sure is the smallest. Only 20 cm by 10 cm!

Now we only need a few thousand of these things and a way of somehow making tangled photons actually carry encrypted messages…

(Sorry, thinking of the SF novel I should have published by now…still figuring out the last two chapters!)

See more at New Atlas (note: I seriously doubt the CubeSat actually looks like that picture when it’s doing its thing).

How should we treat sentient robots—if they existed?

June 14, 2020
MThomas

Asimo

One day, maybe sooner than we think, a consideration of the ethics of the treatment of rational, sentient machines might turn out to be more than an abstract academic exercise.

From last June, but still a worthy topic for debate, particularly as the use of robots increases for retirement homes, nursery school programs, hotel reception lobbies… (also the topic of a short story I wrote in 2000 but still haven’t published outside of a grad student journal…)

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2019/6/18/ethics-of-ai-how-should-we-treat-rational-sentient-robots-if-they-existed

When we fought against Nazis instead of being run by them…

June 6, 2020
MThomas

AllMyLove-FullCover NEW
 
Just in time for D-Day…
 
All My Love, Johnny: Memories and loss in Troy, New York
 

“Over sixteen million Americans served during World War II and this story offers in rich detail the story of two men in uniform and a woman they both cared about. A story of love and tragedy that is more representative of the experiences of many that served than the ones often told of generals and politicians. A story that needs to be told and remembered.”  

— Dr. Rick Derrah, Professor of Social Studies, Kindai University, Osaka; former US Army E-4 Specialist


“Not only is this a touching and interesting family story, it is a great snap shot of the war and its effects, as well as Trojans and Troy history connection.”  

Don Rittner, historian, former Albany City Archaeologist and founder of the Pine Bush Historic Preservation Project


(Paperback)  

https://www.amazon.com/All-My-Love-Johnny-Memories/dp/B089M2FNTW/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=  

 

(Ebooks)  

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1015969  

Jonesing for baseball? Read Approaching Twi-Night for FREE until May 31st!

April 19, 2020
MThomas

ATN-coverFULL-Apr2020The Smashwords “Authors Give Back” free ebooks for COVI-19 lockdown campaign has been extended to May 31st!

Since baseball (and all other sports and events) have been postponed until further notice, I decided to revisit my literary baseball novel, Approaching Twi-Night (published 2015). It’s now available in the following ebook formats for FREE: .ePub (Apple Books etc), .mobi (Kindle), .pdb (Nook etc.), PDF, text, and online reader.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1016359

NOTE: This is a story written for those who know who Mark Harris, Bernard Malamud, Ring Lardner, W. P. Kinsella, and Philip Roth were. It’s not a Disney movie. It’s not aimed at kids (don’t read it aloud with children under age 14 or 15, and don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Continue Reading

Authors Give Back Initiative = FREE ebooks for Self-Isolation

March 22, 2020
MThomas

Both my books on Smashwords (Adam’s Stepsons and Destiny in the Future – actually my mother’s book published posthumously as a tribute) are FREE downloads from now to April 20 as part of the Smashwords Authors Give Back initiative:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/931869

Formats include .ePub, .mobi, PDF, .txt, and online reader (browser-based).

Take it easy. Deep breaths. No panicking. Let’s get through this thing.

(See https://blog.smashwords.com/…/smashwords-launches-initiativ… for more information and links to other free ebooks as well.)

Pollen and COVID, 2020

March 21, 2020
MThomas

This time of year in Japan, the sugi (Japanese cedar) spew yellow pollen all over the balcony doors of our house.

All over the car and windows. All over any clothing hanging out to dry.

For some reason, my allergies stubbornly resisted this season. Until this past week. Then I enjoyed the new spring temperatures with two days of non-stop sneezing fits, followed by a day of throaty, mucusy coughs and stuffy nose honks.

Not ideal during a Coronavirus pandemic that has everyone in the world terrified of anybody within earshot. Even I, myself, couldn’t help a momentary feeling of panic. What if…I…??

But it’s just hay fever. Nothing more. But of course I can’t get a test. Not in Japan, where five-sixths of the test kits available simply aren’t used (for fear of driving up the number of the infected, thus dampening Tokyo Olympic chances and damaging the poor PM’s ego).

Should I self-isolate? What if I (and my wife, and kids, and all our friends, neighbors, and colleagues) already were infected and didn’t even know it? (Many people show mild or no symptoms, especially if they’ve been inoculated against seasonal flu already.)

What if it’s too late, we’ve already recovered, and the whole thing is just an overblown cold virus?

Or what if it’s just starting and the worst is yet to come?

With so many unknowns, it’s hard not to feel a real sense of fear, and dread. The world turned upside-down, our “leaders” selling us out while they run off to safe houses as the system they undermined collapses under its own weight.

Maybe it’s the beginning of a new Gilded Age. A new Roaring Twenties of wealth, prosperity, and debauchery.

Only we know what followed that.

It’s been three weeks since two doctors cut open my left shoulder and removed a 2cm-square benign tumor that looked like a tiny blancmonge. The same day my elementary-age daughters had to stay home because their school year abruptly came to an end, with little advance warning thanks to terrified, clueless politicians.

Were they all needless deaths after all?

In only three weeks, it has all been changed. From now and in times to be, wherever a mask is worn.

Changed, changed utterly.

A terrible beauty may have been born…

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