Humans on Mars – not “if” but “when” #Mars #explore

Still image from movie: Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

My favorite western – more complex than you’d expect – how did law arrive in the American west?

“It’s not science fiction. What if you had to write a legal code for Mars. Where would you start?”

Lots of scifi presents Mars as the American wild west and worse. If you want to go to Mars, and you don’t want to end up in a dystopian story, you need law.

Now that your staying-home, it’s a good time to ponder what law – what society – you’d want on Mars. No one is writing actual Martian laws, but private groups are thinking.

Send in your contribution to the Code

Space Lettuce a Success – But the Food Problem for Mars Isn’t Solved #NASA #Mars #astronaut #explore

Flower grown on the International Space Station

Lettuce isn’t the only plant that’s been grown in space. This growth medium looks like a gel of some sort.

Lettuce grown on the International Space Station looked so good, astronauts nibbled a taste before NASA declared it safe and nutritious.

Being an astronaut, food-wise, isn’t so bad in Earth orbit. Supplies arrive regularly and include fresh foods. But a mission to Mars will take years. Sending food ahead probably makes sense, but those meals could be five years old or more before the astronauts eat them. Talk about freezer burn.

If you’re prepping for the zombie apocalypse, you might accept that. Store uncooked beans and rice in a nitrogen-filled, sealed container, and they’ll last forever, more or less. So will properly-stored, pure, hard liquor, though you can decide whether sending alcohol to Mars is a good idea.

But, fresh foods will boost morale as well as nutrition, and add variety to what could otherwise be a depressing diet.

Efficient growing techniques must be developed. If astronauts have to spend half their time on cleaning and maintenance in their Mars base (like they’ve done on some ISS missions) they can’t spend a lot more time in a greenhouse instead of exploring, or there’s no point in going to Mars.

(Now, if you want to colonize Mars, the calculations may be different. But, I digress.)

At least Mars will have gravity. Only about a third of Earth’s, and there’s no way to test in that environment until we get to Mars, since the ISS only provides microgravity. If plants grow in Earth orbit, the surface of another planet (or maybe in orbit around another planet) should be easy.

You tend to get challenges in watering your plants,” Dr. Massa said. “Water coats your surfaces. It will clog the pores of things. It will even crawl up the plants if you have too much water.”

Inside the ISS Veggie chamber, the lettuce grew not in soil but in a porous ceramic clay that traps air and water around the roots. “It’s the same material that’s on a baseball field, what you have between the bases.

The researchers also performed DNA analysis to survey what microbes were living in and around the plants grown on the space station. That, too, proved reassuring. The microbes appeared to be similar in diversity to what was seen on Earth, and there were no signs of pathogens like salmonella.” NY Times

In my scifi Mars colony, I gave settlers soil manufactured from cleaned regolith fertilized with, well, whatever organic material was available. European-based settlers in Glory on Mars grew the familiar white potatoes (among other things.) But a second colony, arriving in Born on Mars, brought Chinese and Africans. Lots of today’s trends hint towards the ascendency of these groups, so they’re bound to get to Mars. What do you suppose they’ll bring?

Curious? Find the whole series of my Mars colony ebooks in a value-priced box set at favorite stores.)

NASA astronauts will focus on scientific research. What will Martian settlers do with their days? What would you do?

Mars Colony Covers – this is my new series – hope they’re thrilling, exciting, well – hope you like them :) #scifi #Mars #books


The new covers – start with Glory on Mars – something’s terribly wrong in this near-future Mars colony :O

Here are my new On Mars covers. Woo hoo and yee haw – a big deal for me. It takes a surprising amount of time for them to pop up in all the stores, so you may not see these in your favorite for a week or so. What do you think?

All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

I’m working on a collection of short stories, flash fiction stories, and excerpts from On Mars – I hope to publish in April. If you’d like a coupon for a free download of the ebook edition, sign up now at

Happy New Year – Best Wishes for 2017 #happynewyear

mexican-sun-400x300Hanukah and Kwanzaa continue, but after New Year’s Eve the holiday season winds down fast. Between publishing books and celebrating, my schedule’s been erratic. I guess it’s time to settle back into a routine.

I had a nice Xmas surprise – on Xmas Day all four of my On Mars novels were in the top half of their Amazon category ranks – with Glory on Mars in the top 13% and Water on Mars in the top 16%. For a newbie author, that feels good. Thanks to everyone who read about adventures in the first near-future colony on Mars. If you haven’t read all four stories, now’s the time.

Here’s wishing you a good 2017 and thanks for your support.

There are links for preview reads of my scifi and poetry , or for purchase from your favorite online stores, including Amazon, here.

Glory on Mars in top 6% of its #kindle #scifi category

GLORY Ebook 300 dpi (200x300)Forgive me if I brag.
I just checked the ranking of my book Glory on Mars in Amazon’s kindle store. It’s listed under science fiction in three categories: space exploration, colonization, and hard science fiction.
In its top category – hard science fiction – Glory is in the top 6%. Not bad in the other categories either – 18%
Yee ha – thrill for me! Thanks to you!
If you haven’t read it yet, download a free copy today – see how here.
Please post a review or rating on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you hang out. Reviews help keep my ranking up which means other readers can find my book. I really appreciate your help.
Thanks to all my followers and friends.
Amazon ranks are always changing, so I better hurry and post this.

Glory on Mars: A one-way journey to Mars may be fatal.

Colonization of Mars is in trouble when the colony psychologist, one of the first eight settlers, commits suicide. Four more settlers are now on their way, bringing renewed hope – and a cat. Emma volunteered so she could explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit. Even if she gets the chance, that may not make up for everything she left behind. Mars is a hostile planet, danger follows from Earth, and an inexplicable sense of desolation cripples the settlers’ efforts. Would you go? Read this first book in the On Mars series to discover if humans survive on Mars.

Stupid Worse Than Evil? #science #robotics #technology #artificialintelligence #AI

GLORY ebook with CAT EYES (201x300)

This is the old cover – click it to see the new one

In my science fiction stories about colonizing Mars, I send robots ahead to prove out construction methods and then work with the colonists. They have an Artificial Intelligence, too, to rely on. It seems unreasonable to write about humanity’s near future in space without robots and AIs.

But are they a good idea?

Some have speculated robots might kill us off even if programmed to create maximum happiness – since humans are a sorrowful lot, an AI might decide eliminating humans would make the world a happier place. Or maybe they’ll just decide we’re too stupid to keep around (which is sorta what happens in The Terminator.)

Or disaster may be our own fault.

HAL - not evil but deadly

HAL – not evil but deadly

Humans can be way too trusting of robots—and that our inclination to follow our robotic overlords could actually be a very dangerous human behavior that needs to be taken into account when designing everything from autonomous vehicles to emergency evacuation tech.

Scientists developing robots to lead people in high-rises to safety in case of a fire discovered people would follow the robot even when it made obviously dangerous and ridiculous errors. We seem all too ready to shift our brains into neutral and follow orders.

I see echoes of this problem in myself. I can no longer remember the date because my phone will tell me. I hop in a car without a thought to where I’m going because the GPS will tell me. I’m ready to hop into a self-driving car, too. Good luck to me.

How about you – ready to let an AI drive you to the grocery store? or fly you to Mars?

Thanks to

If Destiny Takes You to Mars, Beware – the Planet is Deadly #poetry #science #space #Mars

Spirit Rover views rocks on Mars

Spirit Rover views rocks on Mars

There could be solar flares
on the journey there,
Don’t forget crash landings
could happen, to be fair.

Water’s on the surface
but in a frozen brine.
Assume that you can boil out
enough to drink in time.

The atmosphere is toxic
but there is more to heed.
It’s less than one percent
of the pressure that you need.

Besides the lack of atmosphere,
no magnetic force surrounds,
So cosmic radiation
will force you underground.

Orange dust will be the bane
of your solar collectors,
Of moving parts and human lungs,
And of your airlock doors.

If your heating system fails
you will likely freeze,
And if you find your thumb’s not green,
Starvation adds to these.

You better hope you like your fellows
and avoid some fights.
It would be a shame to kill
each other in the night.

Your life’s a tough routine,
Your dangers aren’t a thrill.
Mars is unrelenting.
With its slow motion kill.

You’ve missed the deadline to apply to NASA’s astronaut program for Mars! GLORY eBook COVER OCT2017But, maybe that’s okay.

Join science fiction Mars colonists in my On Mars series. Colonists find all the dangers as they explore and build a home on Mars.