NASA recently reported that the global dust storm on Mars, which has lasted a month, is starting to die down but may take weeks or months to completely disperse.
Imagine being a resident in a Martian settlement through that.
Sure, the settlement will almost certainly be underground, as long-term human residents will need shelter from the radiation that penetrates the feeble atmosphere and magnetosphere of the Red Planet.
But surely there will be periscopes, surface observation domes, and surface excursions.
Not during a dust storm.
Solar power will be difficult to come by during one of these storms, too. Sure, it could be generated in orbit and beamed down. But what will the dust do to the microwave laser that would do that?
Mars will need nuclear or fusion power to weather dust storms.
And I wonder, will being stuck under a skyful of dust bring on cabin fever in people already confined to tunnels and domes?
Something to think about.
(This post originally appeared on my Patreon page on 14 February 2016. Becoming a patron means they get to see almost all of my posts three days before they appear here, and when I publish a short story they get to read it THIRTY days before anyone else, PLUS they can download a FREE .pdf copy EVEN IF I CHARGE FOR THE EBOOK. So if you’re not already part of my Patreon crew, you should be!)
2364: Jedi Heir to Crowdfund Mars Orbital Habitat
AP-MARS (Thoat Crossing Domeplex)
15 April 2364 UT-Earth
Mars-born asteroid-mine heir and ordained Church of The Force Master Jedi Arianna Musk-Aguinaldo announced the establishment of a systemwide GoKick crowdfunding campaign in an effort to construct a habitat devoted exclusively to members of the Church of The Force. Late last year Musk-Aguinaldo made headlines with her purchase of Mars-sychronous orbital rights from her own private funds, with the purpose shielded by a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with a maximum duration of three years and early disclosure limited to her and not to the government or officials of Mars.
Some financial and political experts believe that Musk-Aguinaldo intended to develop her orbital habitat concept in secrecy for the entire term of the NDA, but was prompted to take earlier action in response to a March 23rd security breach of MarsGov intranet, for which the infoterror group Full Transparency took credit.
The scope of the project is ambitious for a private effort, with a habitat ecology capacity of 250,000 individuals and plans to invite 25,000 initial occupants. Those occupants are expected to consist of individuals with strong networks within the church hierarchy, as their number represents only a small fraction of the Church of The Force’s estimated thirty million members throughout the solar system. When asked if the habitat would be open to skeptics or nonadherents to the church in the future, Aguinaldo-Musk stated that skeptics directly related to church members in good standing would be welcome, but individuals designated to be Dark Side by official action of the church would be excluded or exiled without exception. Also excluded would be members of or adherents to the schismatic Congregation of Lucas, Prophet, whose doctrines differ with the Church of The Force on doctrine regarding the divine inspiration of Star Wars movies beyond the Holy Sextet (Episodes I-VI) or inclusive of the Old Expanded Universe.
The Church of The Force’s teachings on shunning of those designated Dark Side have been controversial both historically and at present, as church Writs have been issued commanding the faithful to sever all contact with employers, spouses, and parents, or even to abandon adolescent children to foster care.
Habitat plans include a hydroponics district and wildlife preserve designated as “Dagobah,” a mixed urban and recreational parkland district of “New Alderaan,” a vacuum and cryonics laboratory named “Hoth,” and a contract with Mars Orbital Utility Solar (MOUS) to provide primary power (in addition to onboard fusion reactors) to the habitat via microwave laser.
This experiment was prompted by a blind relative who wanted to hear my stories. I decided to give a free text-to-voice program a crack at ‘reading’ a few of them out loud and put them up on YouTube for anyone to hear. Various family members visit her often with various internet-enabled devices in tow, so this seemed like an interesting way to go about it.
Sure, I could read them. And I might go that route one day. But money is tight and I can’t really justify (or find!) the money to provide a good microphone, a good webcam, and a quiet recording space free of the banshee wails of my two toddlers at the moment.
So for now, give the robot voice a listen.
If you’d like to hear more, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I plan on putting new ones up regularly.
Available now on Smashwords, and via the distributors in the right sidebar within a week or two of the date on this post.
I arrived at that cover art by fiddling around with a picture I took today in GIMP, trying different effects, until I hit upon something pleasingly trippy and retro. For a moment I thought, ‘hey, that’s sort of weird looking’… but a little weird is GOOD for science fiction. So I went with it.
Here’s the blurb for He Shot First:
Dan Tippdale is a human among aliens on an unfamiliar world. A bar fight lands him in jail — and he shot first. The charge might not be murder, but that might not matter — from the looks of things, he might not live to stand trial. And then there’s the matter of his lawyer, who has something big in common with the alien Dan shot…
Also available right now on Smashwords, and elsewhere within a week or two of this post.
Plus, this one is really short, under 2000 words, and therefore I’ve made it FREE.
The cover art for this one is much more straightforward than for the other, but the dark sky and rising rocket reflect some key imagery from the story very well. And when my covers aren’t trippy, they’re straightforward.
The blurb for Waiting For:
Rudy has the honor of being one of the first permanent human colonists on Mars. Sonya plans to follow him in a year so they can be among the first to be married on the Red Planet… but Rudy’s brother Aaron has been keeping a secret that may throw those plans into a cocked hat…
So, there you have it, my newest two offerings, self-published titles #61 and #62. Both science fiction, one (Waiting For) in a nearer future, much closer to home, and the other set far away in a future where humans haven’t just encountered alien life, but are familiar enough with aliens to run afoul of their legal systems.
Am I the only person who feels a little bit of disappointment along with the excitement of reading about various plans, achievements, and speculations of NASA and other space agencies around the world?
I’m glad there’s talk about the next Mars probe and the possibility of a manned Mars mission sometime…soonish…maybe…in the nebulous indefinite future. I’m glad there are people tinkering with rocketry still, seeking ways to refine current technology. I’m glad there are people researching ion drives trying to make them stronger and more efficient.
But it’s all kind of pale compared to what might have been.
We in the USA like to say, “we put a man on the moon”. Well, we did. And then we didn’t go back. The moonwalkers are dying of old age and we still haven’t been back. Well, what good is that?
If the US isn’t going to do it, I hope someone does. Maybe it will be a private effort and not a national one when it happens.
However it happens, I hope it’s soon. If there’s anything humanity needs, it’s the return of the frontier. There really aren’t any left on Earth, and we’re a restless people. When there’s nowhere new to go, we start to jostle. Sometimes the jostling turns to fighting. We really don’t need to be fighting. Not when we’ve nukes to toss around if we get really mad.
- NASA refuses funding Inspiration Mars’s manned mission to Mars in 2017 (dnaindia.com)
- Details of 1st Private Manned Mars Flyby Mission Unveiled (space.com)
- Space Agencies Of The World, Unite: The U.N.’s Asteroid Defense Plan (npr.org)
- International Space Station Turns 15 (sys-con.com)
- How Greenhouse Gasses Saved Mars (science.time.com)
- Gold rush in space? Asteroid miners prepare to prospect (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Asteroid miners go after most precious resource: water (mining.com)
- Examining Buzz Aldrin’s roadmap to Mars (nasaspaceflight.com)
- To the moon? NASA passes the torch for space commercialization (nbcnews.com)
- NASA shelves fuel-efficient tech, effectively slashes outer planet exploration (slashgear.com)