In The (SFF) News This Week…

A super-nerdy but awesome explanation of the Kardashev scale, which is ‘used to classify hypothetical alien civilizations according to the amount of energy at their disposal’.

‘This led him to speculate about a Type II civilization. For an [extraterrestrial intelligence] to reach K2, it would need to capture the entire energy output of its parent star. The best way to achieve this, of course, is to build a Dyson Sphere.

Conjured by Freeman Dyson in 1959, this hypothetical megastructure would envelope a star at a distance of 1 AU and cover an inconceivably large area of 2.72 x 1017 km2, which is around 600 million times the surface area of the Earth. The sun has an energy output of around 4 x 1026 Watts, of which most would be available to do useful work.’

As anyone who’s read Ascension Point knows, I’ve always been more of a Dyson Swarm kind of guy, but each to their own.

Next up, are you ready for season three of Game of Thrones? I know I am.

We should stop using nuclear weapons as a unit of measurement, says annoyed atomic historian.

“In general,” he added, “What I don’t like is … the idea that kiloton or a megaton is just an energy unit, that it’s equivalent to so many joules or something. Because you could do that. You could claim that your house runs so many tons of TNT worth of electricity per year, but it sort of trivializes the notion.”

Also at The Atlantic, a spectacular NASA video of three simultaneous solar phenomena.

…a solar flare, a coronal mass ejection (CME), and coronal rain, “complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun’s atmosphere,” NASA explains.’

Finally, in Dan-specific news, Venus Rising goes to my editor on March 8th, which means it should be out in just a couple of months!

Venus Rising Cover Reveal!

Hey there, folks. It’s been a while, what with the Carnaval vacation down here in Brazil and a particularly busy few weeks at the day job. But I’ve still found time to work with the talented Stephanie Mooney on the cover for my upcoming second novel, Venus Rising.

And here it is…

See more!

What’s Going On (Right On, Baby, Right On)

It’s been a little while. What have I been up to? There are a few strands.

Venus Rising is mid-edit. I’ve got feedback from a couple more beta readers coming in the next week or so, and then some edits to make. After that, the MS goes to Misti at Red Adept on March 11th for a good tearing apart and putting back together again. Stephanie is working on the cover, and I hope to have that ready to reveal in the next week or so. Can’t wait.

Meanwhile, I’ve pulled together the outline for the next book. It’s going to be a novella, and the third book in the still-unnamed series. I have a title which I love, but which I’m not quite ready to announce yet; I’ve got three parts, and a brief summary for all of the scenes. I still need to expand the character bios and write those up, and then I’ll be ready to start the first draft.

But before I do that, I’m doing something a little bit random. I’ve realised that it’s got to the point where I can’t quite hold all of the important details of the Ascension Point universe in my head. It’s crucial for the continuity and consistency of the other books in the series (and the trilogy I’ve got planned after that–watch this space) that I keep track of all of the people, places, factions, groups, landmarks and technology that I’ve created. So to help me do that I’ve started indexing everything in an already-massive spreadsheet. It’s pretty damn tedious, but it should mean that when I’m halfway through a draft of my sixth novel I don’t spontaneously change the canon I set up in the earlier books. That’s the idea, anyway.

So that’s my update. I’m still on track to release Venus Rising in April, so look out for that!

(P.S. If you didn’t get the reference in the title, it’s from ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye. Do yourself a favour, and familiarise yourself: Marvin Gaye – The Best Of Marvin Gaye.)

Venus Rising Update: Beta Readers Are Go Go Go

Phew. Just in time for me and the missus to bugger off for a week’s holiday over New Year’s, I finished my initial edit of VENUS RISING, and sent the latest draft off to my beta readers.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, beta readers come into the editing process after the writer’s first edits, but before it goes to the professional editor–in my case, the lovely Misti (Level 80 Dual-Class Grammarian and Sci-Fi Expert).

Betas give feedback on high-level stuff like plot continuity, characterisation, and plain-old whether they enjoyed the story. Invaluable feedback, for which they are paid not at all. Mwahahaha.

Anyway. I was pretty happy with the first draft, and how clean it was. My initial edit was mainly running through and tightening up the writing. I’ll find out if there are any more fundamental changes that need to be made when I get my beta feedback in a few weeks. Nailbiting!

Finally, there won’t be any posts for the next week while I’m away, so I’ll catch up with you all in 2013. Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. I considered using the holiday to outline the novella that’s next in the series after VENUS RISING, but I’ve decided to just read instead. I’ve got Old Man’s War and Zoo City waiting on my Kindle, among others. Can’t wait!

Venus Rising Update

Quick update: I just finished writing chapter eighteen of the first draft of Venus Rising. One more chapter and the epilogue to do, and I’m done!

I should be able to knock those out before we go away for our New Year’s vacation on the 28th, and then it’s editing time. If all goes well, and stars align with my cover designer and editor, we’re looking at publication in April.

Exciting!