Thursday, April 21, 2016

Moon, Mars or Bust!

It's time for the space human exploration advocacy community to get its act together. A change in U.S. Presidents, as will happen this year, almost always leads to a change in American space policy and plans. Whoever is elected this year will set the policy the country will be living with on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11: July 20, 2019. With that reality in mind, those of us who wish for mankind to make additional "giant leaps" can no longer afford the perpetual bickering amongst ourselves that has characterized the pro-space advocacy community since about the time Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. It is time for those of us who desire to see humans expand throughout the solar system (and then beyond) to come together, compromise, and unite behind a plan to get us again started down that path. The situation is complicated further by the very vocal disagreement between the “private” versus “public” space development communities; another distraction we cannot afford.

For the rest, please go to my article on the Baen Books website:

Les Johnson

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What have I read and liked? (I am often asked)

As a writer, I’m often asked, “What are you reading?”   Consider this a reading snapshot in time capturing the fiction I’m reading currently and what I’ve read recently – going back perhaps a few months.  I’ll capture the non-fiction in another post.

The Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven
This is an epic story of an interstellar colony ship departing Earth for a new world and encountering a truly massive alien ship along the way.  And when I say “massive,” I mean it.  The ship is a solid hemisphere surrounding roughly half of its parent star, made from the planets, comets and asteroids that once circled that selfsame star.  The encounter is fascinating and I can’t wait to find out how the book ends; but I really can [wait] because it’s such a good book and I am enjoying the read! **** so far.

A Call to Duty by David Weber and Tim Zahn
Not an epic, but a solid space adventure novel set in the early Honorverse.  It tells the story of a newly enlisted cadet in the Royal Manticoran Navy coming to grips with the technical, political and social aspects of (space) military service.  The book was rousing fun and I look forward to the next one in the series.  A solid ****

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
I’m noticing a trend here: books with multiple authors.  Apparently, not only do I like to write with a co-author, but I like to read books by multiple authors as well.  I had no idea (seriously).  This was definitely lighter fare than I’m used to from Stephen Baxter, but I suspect that is due to the influence of the late Terry Pratchett.  (This is the first Pratchett book I’ve read.)  Imagine a nearly infinite set of parallel Earths, mostly empty, that anyone can suddenly access.  That’s the premise and the authors spin an entertaining tale based upon it.  I’m not sure it was good enough to warrant reading the sequels though.  *** rating.

The Expanse Series by James S. A. Corey

Before you think I’ve broken my streak of reading co-authored books you need to know that James S. A. Corey is a pen name for… 2 writers collaborating: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  The trend continues.  I’ve read the first three books in this awesome series that can now be seen as “The Expanse” on the SyFy Channel.  (Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate)  How would I describe these books?  Awe Inspiring, Jaw Dropping, and Page Turning, filled with many OMG moments.  Of all I’ve read recently, these are clearly the best.  *****