Author: John Picha
Edited by: Matthew Davies and Suellen Picha
Rating: Five out of five stars
Chip is an idealistic young man who tends to get lost in daydreams from time to time. He and his fellow Skyracos are armored super-cops, thinly scattered on many worlds, in an imperfect future.
Destiny City is a remote colony owned by the Arkon Mining Company. Chip is a junior part of the Skyracos wing brought in to assist the company security forces in quelling a riot.
It doesn’t take long to discover there is much more to the story than the mining company would have them believe. Sheer greed quickly overcomes compassion and common sense as the Skyracos are ordered to betray their ideals.
A saucer-shaped blimp hovers over Destiny City. The Painwell Pharmacare laboratory team within this floating research facility scrambles to find a plague cure while the Arkon Mining security teams battle the terrified colonists below.
The reader is given a peek into the minds of each of the major characters as the situation reels out of control. Chip’s idealism is put to the ultimate test as John Picha weaves an exciting tale.
I must admit I expected a lightweight space opera. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Skyracos unfolds in a manner reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut at his best. I found myself relating to Chip’s pain as he is tested under fire and learns some hard lessons. Skyracos is a dark story, well told.
You can find out more about this multi-talented author by visiting his website at:
Pick up your own copy of Skyracos: The Mining Mess on Amazon.

Selenaphiles is the second book in the Multiplarity Trilogy and it focuses on the problems of building a permanent human colony on the moon. The tagline for Selenaphiles is: “Even with the perfect health and longevity of Omniphage, the moon will not be settled easily.”

Although the storyline and direction of the tale was in my head, I did a tremendous amount of research before actually starting the tale. Much of the research was accomplished on various NASA, JPL, and USGS websites. I understood from recent news articles that water had been found in the bottom of lunar craters. This has been an incredible stroke of good fortune since water, coupled with an unlimited amount of electricity via solar cells, will provide most of the raw materials needed.

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Space Travel

Fair Warning: This segment and the next one of An Author’s Journey are going to wax a bit technical.
Robert A. Heinlein stated that “Once you reach Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO), you are halfway to any place else in our solar system.

Jerry Pournelle goes into much more detail on why this is a truism with his page on Getting to Space.

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A Peek Into a Novel

September 22, 2012

I’ve been working on a novel that includes a plot line of colonizing another Earth-like planet. One of the problems that I’ve enjoyed working out has been the means for delivering large groups of colonists to the new world, known as Micasa.

Initial exploratory expeditions required small groups and the ability to both land and return to orbit while the follow up colonial ships need only one-way capability. Additionally, a colonial ship must provide tools and emergency shelter for the colonists after they arrive.

In my tales, we have discovered a working warp-drive system. There is a major drawback, however. The warp transit wipes out the entire nervous system of any mammal, including humans. The problem was solved by placing them into cryogenic sleep chambers called CryDox, that essentially shut down the nervous system and then restart everything after transit.

The CryDox are environmentally sealed boxes about a meter and a half wide, one meter deep and three meters long. Without external power sources, they can maintain the cryogenic state for up to a couple of weeks.

Since the planet Micasa is very similar to Earth, two types of colonial landers are used. The Type One is designed for a parachute-assisted vertical landing on dry land. It holds one hundred and twenty eight CryDox to be decanted after landing and four crew chambers that are decanted after warp, but prior to landing.

The Type Two Colonial Lander has a fuselage shaped like a much larger version of the NASA space shuttle with the addition of biplane wings and twin vertical stabilizers. It is designed with the highly-reinforced bottom hull of a seaplane. Once safely landed, the crew will beach it and unload above the high-tied mark. It holds ninety six CryDox to be decanted after final landing and four crew chambers that are decanted after warp, but prior to landing.

Since these spacecraft will only be used once, they waste no space on monster main engines and fuel tanks. While in orbit, they use small thrusters for attitude control. Plasma Magnetosphere Aerobraking is used for re-entry and upper atmosphere manuvering. The Type Two lander uses normal aircraft control surfaces for final approach.

In both cases, the interior of the spacecraft are disassembled to provide some of the initial building materials for the colony.

After working these ideas out in my head, I decided I needed a break from being a wordsmith and fired up my favorite vector graphics program, Inkscape. The result is this simple, 2D CAD image of the two spacecraft. The green rectangles simulate CryDox. A discussion of Buzzards and Skeeters will have to wait for another post. As usual, comments and questions are welcomed.