Amazon Reviews

It’s right that Amazon is finally, publicly, dealing with the abuses in its system. These have been self-evident for longer than I’ve been writing (just over five years) and they belittle the efforts of the diligently honest. Amazon’s attempts to curtail these can impact the innocent; they blocked my one (unpaid for) review a year back for no reason and haven’t reinstated it despite my objections. It’s no good me telling potential readers that Guide is eclectic and multi-layered. They need to know what’s in it. Sometimes they get it wrong.

At the moment, the best I can do is give a sense of what those known to me have said with my observations in italics

• Makes the reader work.
– Not all the dots are joined; Guide is aimed at a more demanding audience; character motivations aren’t always spelled out readers may have to deduce these by their actions. There are plenty of skim-read books out there, this isn’t one of them (ref Goodreads). 

• Transitions between styles
– to suit events. 

• Ambiguous on God
– The debate (does he / doesn’t he exist) is left to the reader. Because of the contemplative / philosophical aspects, the Rapture gets a cameo (in the Apocalypse) and has Sufi influences.

I am currently finalising a new novel (not in the same universe as Guide)

The Tau Device


DNA Can Survive Re-entry Into The Atmospere

“DNA can survive re-entry into the atmosphere, raising the possibility of extraterrestrial life molecules arriving on Earth from space, research has shown.
The discovery came as a total surprise to scientists”
The Daily Telegraph 27, November 2014

This was discovered by a mission launched from the European Space Centre at Esrange in Northern Sweden; the TEXUS 49 mission. A ‘total surprise’ is overcooking things. Still, events have conspired to prove / disprove the hypothesis and we have a result. Space Daily (your portal to space) is somewhat less sensational: DNA may survive suborbital spaceflight, re-entry according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Cora Thiel and Oliver Ullrich from University of Zurich and colleagues. See their article here.
The TEXUS 49 rocket mission was March 2011, nearly  four years back.
ref: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018754

The idea of outer space biological contamination has been in the SF domain for years and in one form or another, it continues to fascinate writers. James White’s Sector General series (a hospital lab in space dealing with human and non-human disease) anticipates the mechanics of managing this. James White wrote his 12 ‘Hospital in Space’ themed books between 1957 and 1999.

Hospital Station by James White
Hospital Station by James White (part of Sector General)

The very first SF book I read Invader from Space (1963) by Patrick Moore had alien microbes as a theme

Dust jacket to Patrick Moore: Invader from Space
as did Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain (1969). In War of the Worlds (1897), H.G. Wells turns this on its head; alien invaders are defeated by Earthly bugs.

In Andre Norton’s works, plague space-ships are a must-avoid. Harry Harrison did Spaceship Medic (1970) – I confess to not having read it. The opening paragraphs of The Boosted Man (1974), see Tully Zetford’s anti-hero, Ryder Hook, escape a frenzied mob, desperate to flee a planet infected with alien disease. Tully Zetford was also know as Kenneth Bulner.

Hook: The Boosted Man by Tully Zetford (aka Ken Bulmer)
Hook The Boosted Man by Tully Zetford (aka Ken Bulmer)

At a macro level, this is what Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye (1974) deals with – an alien race that expands aggressively to fit the available space, at a high level is similar to fungus in a petri-dish, growing on a damp slice of bread. We all did that experiment in school. There are other variations on this, for example the energy forms in Peter F Hamilton’s The Reality Dysfunction.

Alien bugs coming to Earth is one of the ideas I explored in Guide (plus mutations, energy forms…)