Chapter One

30 12 2018

Exactly a month back, I posted an interim progress report on A Reappraisal of the Circumstances Resulting in Death, the second of my Guerline Scarfe SF murder mysteries set on Titan. (The first, for those uninitiated in such things, is Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body.)

 

A Reappraisal of the Circumstances Resulting in Death is nearing completion, and so as to provide a taste of it, here’s chapter one of the story:

*

The ride from Turtle had been sufficiently challenging, for both her and the skid-bike, that Prabha’s servo’d wrists ached by the time she pulled to a halt outside the installation.

The W&E Afekan Command Centre was a thirty-metre-diameter prefab geodome, heavily stained and almost completely devoid of windows. It was crouched on the broad, weathered eastern rim of the crater. In wan full sun, as now, the track leading up the crater wall was wide enough that the ascent didn’t intimidate so much as tire, but she wouldn’t have liked to negotiate it during the week of night. The access road hewn into the ice-rock of the crater’s outer wall had been marred and rutted by the repeated passage of heavy tracked vehicles—as generally happened, she supposed, with mining operations—and the road’s inner shoulder, where the surface was generally smoother and thus more accommodating to the skid-bike, was frequently choked by drifts of umber-coloured, coarse-grained hydrocarbon sand.

Looking westward, the tholin-stained, intermittently sand-choked crater wall sloped down unhurriedly, in a haphazard, age-eroded jumble towards Afekan’s dark floor, a couple of hundred metres below. Prabha thought she could just espy a couple of lighter, blocky, artificial obtrusions in the intermediate distance. It wasn’t apparent whether they were vehicles or buildings. There were other obtrusions, larger, less regular—weathered hillocks and ridges, she presumed, daubed in the false shade of their tholined crusting—scattered elsewhere across the crater floor. Distance, or the staining on her helmet’s visor—or possibly a conspiracy of the two—robbed her of any hint of the crater’s far wall, more than a hundred kilometres away.

In the absence of any apparent visitor parking, she pushed the skid-bike across to the geodome’s western perimeter, voice-locked it, and went in search of an airlock.

*

The air stank. She should probably have expected that.

“Khalil, can you please get me those—Oh.” The woman who emerged through the front office hatchway was big, not so much tall as solid, her shortsleeved tunic displaying the most heavily muscled arms Prabha had ever seen. Broad face, green eyes beneath thick brows, soot-black shoulder-length hair. Orca tattoo on her right arm. Voice higher-pitched than seemed in keeping with her build, her bearing.

Prabha stepped forward, awkwardly holding her daypack—its handle still carrying some residue of Titan-chill—in her left hand while she extended the other to shake. “Agent Prabha Braun, Turtle pol,” she said. “You’d reported some kind of problem?”

What followed, Prabha felt, was less a handshake than an exercise in digitally-mediated constriction. “Ulla Frick,” the older woman explained, releasing the pressure. “Supervisor. Are the others still outside?”

“Others?” asked Prabha. “I don’t—”

“Is it just you?” asked Frick. “No offence, but …”

“Just what kind of problem had you reported?”

Frick’s eyes narrowed, and she gave a small quick exhalation before breathing in, more deeply and slowly. “You’d better come through to the lab.”

“Right.” Prabha followed Frick through a hatchway to the right of the office, and along a short corridor. “My suit’s still in the airlock. Is that likely to pose a difficulty?”

“I doubt anyone’s going to steal it,” Frick replied, not bothering to turn around. “If that’s what you mean.”

“Fine. And is there anywhere around here I can get it freshened?”

Ulla Frick’s answering laugh was, Prabha thought, more symptomatic of derision than of mirth.

*

The hatchway they stopped at bore on its door the inexpertly-stencilled label ‘GEOCHEM’, as well as several scuffs and scratches of sufficient prominence for Prabha to harbour doubts as to its continued utility as an emergency pressure barrier. Frick gave the briefest of courtesy knocks before pushing her palm against the admit panel.

Prabha wasn’t sure what she had been expecting from the laboratory—probably something like the stereotypical scene in sims she’d partaken of—but this wasn’t it. A couple of large, and by no means new-looking, black cabinets dominated one side of the room. A hip-high workbench, on which were sprawled flimsies, reagent canisters, and a pile of emergency masks, stretched the length of the opposite side. Pipes, ducts, and cables ran up the far wall and across the ceiling. Above all this—overlaid upon it, suffusing it, helping somehow to define it—was the sharp sweet stink of Titan ice.

A small man, in vividly varicoloured clothes that seemed too tight to contain him effectively, stood hunched over some blockish-looking instrument at the far end of the workbench, worrying it with an oligotool. He did not look up as they entered.

“You seen Khalil anywhere?” Frick asked.

Now he did glance up, double-took at the sight of Prabha. Elfin features, stubble, a scar on his left cheek that ran almost up to his eye. Big meaty hands. “Thought he’d been to see you earlier.”

“He didn’t find me,” said Frick.

“And this is …?”

“Agent Braun, from Turtle pol.” Frick turned briefly to Prabha, as though to confirm these particulars, before turning back to the figure at the workbench. “She’s here in response to the … incident.” With this, the supervisor turned and walked out of the room.

Well, thought Prabha, wondering what happened next. The lab’s heating kicked in with an aggressive whirr.

“How much has Ulla told you about this?” the lab worker asked her after a few awkward seconds.

“Not much,” replied Prabha, raising her voice so as to remain audible over the heat-pump’s turbines. “Suppose you just tell me everything you think is relevant, in your own words? And I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name …”

“Bo Culbertson. Geochemistry.” He placed the oligotool on the bench and moved toward her, hand outstretched.

What is it with these people and death-grip handshakes? she wondered. “Look, to be perfectly frank, I haven’t been briefed on this at all. Whatever information may have been transmitted to Turtle pol about this incident hasn’t been relayed to me. So I’d be grateful if you can tell me why pol attention was sent for.”

“It’s probably best if I show you,” he said, pausing the climate control before crossing to the farther cabinet. Opened, its black door (emblazoned, she now saw, with a contrasting decal that declared ‘Frozen Oceanography Practised Here’) almost completely blocked the gap between cabinets and bench. The cabinet door also quite eclipsed Culbertson, of whom the only trace, for the moment, was a sequence of shuffling and scampering sounds as he searched for something among the cabinet’s shelves. “Ah.” He placed an object on the bench, closed up the cabinet—the heat pump rumbled into action again—and then he gingerly carried his find over to Prabha. Resting in the slight concavity of a disposable plastic sample tile was a rough chunk of something—some mineral, she guessed—about two centimetres across, a light greyish-brown, and with a crumbled texture to much of its surface. He prodded it gently with the oligotool, revealing darker brown shading on its underside. “We pulled this out of the masticator runoff, down on the crater floor. There was a fair bit more of it, too, as well as the other stuff you’d expect.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t … what is it exactly, that you’re showing me?”

His eyes flicked from her, to the sample, back to her again. “It’s bone,” he said. “Human bone.”





A reappraisal

30 11 2018

Last year, alongside the release of Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, my Guerline Scarfe SF / murder mystery novella, I somewhat rashly promised, within the confines of said book and alongside a first-chapter teaser, that a sequel would be appearing this year. That, alas, won’t be happening.

Matters_Arising_cover_small

In essence, I realised quite far into the writing of said sequel (which somewhat ironically has always been called A Reappraisal of the Circumstances Resulting in Death) that the new SF / murder mystery I’d outlined didn’t really cut it: it didn’t resonate the way I’d hoped it would. So I scrapped it, stripped the story back to basics, and have had it sitting up on blocks for the past year or so while I sought to find the keys to its salvage. On this front there has been, recently, significant progress.

A Reappraisal of the Circumstances Resulting in Death is currently over 16,000 words, up from just 6,000 a week ago. There’s far to go, yet; it’s not yet half written, even in first draft. But I’m pleased at what is coalescing. The first-chapter teaser is still canonical, and should remain so. And steam is up.





Some recent Titan-flavoured review activity

8 04 2018

There have been a couple of recent reviews of my work in the last week or so. As is my wont, I’ll quote a snippet from each review, while referring you to the reviewer’s site for the full deal:

Matters_Arising_cover_small

NZ author Barbara Howe (whom I met at Conclave 3 in Auckland last weekend) has reviewed Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body on her blog. She describes it as ‘a classic detective story with a savage, high-tech twist’.

WBL_frontcover_draft_midres

And astrophysicist, writer, editor and book blogger Tsana Dolichva has contributed the first review of Wide Brown Land: stories of Titan on her blog. She concludes a detailed review to say ‘I highly recommend this collection to fans of science fiction, especially those intrigued by human life on Titan’.

(It occurs to me that I haven’t yet spruiked purchase options for the new collection. That, I’m hoping, will happen within the next day or so.)





‘Wide Brown Land’ print proof sighted …

18 03 2018

Oh, look! The printed proofs of my Titan-themed short story collection Wide Brown Land have now turned up:

Wide_Brown_Land_proof_pic

I’m biased, of course, but I’m really pleased with how Shauna O’Meara’s cover art has come out. I also like how well the cover meshes with Lewis Morley’s (Ditmar-shortlisted) artwork on its smaller cousin, last year’s novella release Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body:

WBL_and_MA

(That’s an artificial backdrop, though with heat, high wind, dust and distant bushfire smoke, the Canberra skies seem to be unusually titanian this afternoon, so perhaps I hardly needed the backdrop.)

I should be able to provide links for purchase, etc., a bit closer to the release date of 2nd April, so, in the time-honoured tradition of self-promoting as much as I think I can get away with, there’ll be another update or two between now and then.





Book review: Titan Unveiled, by Ralph Lorenz and Jacqueline Mitton

14 03 2018

Ralph Lorenz is a British-born planetary scientist now working in the USA, with active involvement in several interplanetary missions including the Cassini / Huygens mission to Saturn and its moons. Jacqueline Mitton is a science writer and science consultant who has written or co-written numerous nonfiction books for both adults and children, often with an astronomical focus. Titan Unveiled (2008) is the second of their jointly-authored books on Titan and the Cassini / Huygens mission; the earlier work, Lifting Titan’s Veil (2002) was written (and published) before the mission’s arrival at Saturn.

TitanUnveiled

It’s the nature of newly-uncovered fields of study, or those to which useful access has only recently been acquired, that any book on such a subject will already be at least slightly obsolete by the time of its publication, and Titan Unveiled (Saturn’s Mysterious Moon Explored), published a decade ago now, is certainly not immune to this failing. (Nor, indeed, does it claim to be, with the text having been completed in 2006, approximately midway through the mission’s planned four-year duration and before the contemplation of much of the additional flybys and observations that would be made in the nine extra years the mission’s controllers were able to wring out of Cassini before its demise, last year, in Saturn’s cold and crushing embrace.) The most obvious now-more-well-characterised grey areas within the book are in the maps of Titan, which are still not what one would call ‘high resolution’ but feature many more well-resolved tracts than was the case a decade ago, notable especially in the book’s decidedly sketchy reference to the numerous large lakes and seas (of some blend of methane and ethane) that dominate Titan’s north polar region: these reservoirs, substantially the largest known bodies of surface liquid on Titan, were tentatively discovered only as the book was going to press.

So, one shouldn’t expect Titan Unveiled to be the final word on Titan. But with that proviso, it’s an entertaining and carefully informative work which focusses as much on the task of getting an elephant-sized spacecraft (and the howdah-sized probe to be jettisoned from it) to a large planet a billion miles away, and then have its movements so tightly choreographed as to know exactly where it is at every point in the next several years, as it does on the planetary knowledge gained from Titan and the other moons in Saturn’s retinue. There are useful and intriguing examples of on-the-fly problemsolving—a large and complicated mission of this type never goes entirely to plan—and numerous personal anecdotes giving a scientist’s-eye view of the planning and execution of a mission of this type. This vicarious immersion into the world of observational space science is one of the book’s strengths.

If I have a criticism of the book, it’s that the figures and illustrations come across less well than the text. This is partly a matter of production values—the uncoated paper used for the bulk of the book displays black-and-white diagrams well enough, but greyscale photographs reproduced on the page (and often, intrinsically, not of particularly high contrast to begin with) have a tendency to appear murky and indistinct—and partly of captioning, with the eight-page colour insert (displaying several of the B&W images of the main text in admirably clear colour) completely uncaptioned, and therefore requiring the reader to recollect whereabouts in the book to refer for the analogous (captioned) B&W figure.

Images aside, it’s an interesting document. Lorenz and Mitton communicate often-complex scientific concepts with clarity, and with sufficient explanation and background to ensure that a scientifically-literate generalist reader is not left behind in the complexity. (A good memory for acronyms is an advantage, with devices such as HASI, DISR and VIMS repeatedly referenced; if you’re allergic to acronyms, then spaceflight probably isn’t for you.) It’s an effective and detailed introduction—though necessarily incomplete, as noted—to Titan’s still-somewhat-mysterious terrain, structure, and composition.





Keeping the lie plausible

9 03 2018

All fiction writing, on one level, is concerned with making the lie plausible. (On another level, for the most part, it’s concerned with making the lie interesting, but that’s another matter.) But the art of lying takes many different forms across the different genres, and each genre has its own set of requirements for what constitutes a believable untruth.

Much of what I write, when I’m not in thrall to my inclinations towards humour, falls into the category of hard SF. Now, ask ten people what hard SF is and six of them will say they’ve never heard of the term, while the other four will argue vehemently about its boundaries and principal characteristics. Which, obviously, is as it should be. But I think it’s fair to say that what distinguishes hard SF from other forms of science fiction is its greater attention to, and attempted adherence to, the laws of nature. (This, I hope, is uncontroversial. The contentiousness generally concerns whether hard SF’s focus is limited only to a subset of those laws—most often, those that fit within the confines of physics and chemistry, at a stretch also including biology—or whether a broader range is appropriate, extending out to psychology, anthropology, and sociology. Personally, I take a broad view for definition purposes, though my own hard SF writing most usually concerns itself with the physical and natural sciences.)

Even within the limits of hard SF—whatever they might be—there are different limitations and different dangers for particular styles of story, depending on what is known at the time of writing versus what is known at the time of reading.

If your story’s setting is Earth, twenty million years into the future, or some vaguely-terrestrial planet orbiting a broadly Sun-like star eight thousand parsecs towards the Galaxy’s centre, then you have a considerable degree of what I’ll call ‘safe lassitude’ in your fiction: so long as you adhere to the known laws of physics, chemistry, biology and whatever else your story depends on (tempered respectively, perhaps, with sensible speculation on the far-future biospheric, climatologic, and tectonic evolution of the Earth, or on the implications of higher heavy-element abundances towards the Galactic centre for your setting’s planetology and biology), there’s not a lot of danger of your story suddenly becoming in breach of new knowledge.

If, in contrast, you set your story on Sedna, or on one of the planets of Gliese 581 or TRAPPIST-1, your safe lassitude is distinctly smaller. These are objects about which comparatively little is currently known, implying considerable scope for intriguing speculation, but at the cost—or the risk—of near-future astronomical observations which might be expected to yield new knowledge of your chosen system, some of which will almost inevitably falsify elements of your story. (Suddenly, that planet you insisted was face-locked, a feature which allowed you to extrapolate an entire alien biology adapted to such conditions, doesn’t look so face-locked anymore.) This is a clear occupational hazard, perhaps best typified by Larry Niven’s early story ‘The Coldest Place’ set on face-locked Mercury, a planetary detail universally accepted as correct at the time of the story’s writing, but proven wrong before its publication … and think, too, of how few of the mid-twentieth-century stories set on Mars, or the Moon, or (especially) Venus, still hold the form of plausibility. Their artistry as fiction may well be more-or-less uncorrupted, but their status as hard SF is, inevitably, tarnished.

Chesley_Bonestell_Titan

The image above is Chesley Bonestell’s classic artwork Saturn as seen from Titan, painted in the 1940s shortly after Gerard Kuiper’s discovery that Titan possessed a methane-containing atmosphere (hence the sky’s non-black coloration in Bonestell’s painting). It’s a wonderful (and justly celebrated) image, but there are several details that would now be regarded as unrealistic: the white ‘snow’ (which in actuality would be coated with orange-brown tholins), the apparent rocky obtrusions (almost certainly tholin-crusted ice on Titan as we would understand it today), the relatively clear blue sky (which should be shrouded with nearly-opaque orange-brown haze, particularly close to the horizon). One comparatively subtle error in detail (and this is something you’ll see time and time again in renditions of Titan’s landscape, often to a more exaggerated degree than in Bonestell’s painting) is that we’re given a partial view of the upper face of Saturn’s rings. The rings are thin, Titan and the rings orbit within the same plane (within a very small rounding error), and Titan’s radius (2576 km) is only around 0.2% of its distance from Saturn (1 222 000 km), ensuring that whenever Saturn is visible from Titan—and it won’t always be, with that atmospheric haze—those rings will appear as a razor-sharp line across Saturn’s equator, and will never be seen in an oblique view such as this. Such are the perils of depicting extraterrestrial landscapes.

I focus quite a lot, in my fiction, on Titan. I’ve set eleven completed short stories and one novella there, and I have more than that again in false starts and work awaiting completion. We currently know much more about some characteristics of Titan—its detailed atmospheric composition and structure, its topography, its mean surface temperature etc—than we did, seventy years ago, about Mars or Venus, and this provides some useful constraints on the types of stories that can be set there. On the other hand, there is a staggering amount we do not yet know. Much of Titan’s surface has only been radar-mapped at very low resolution, so there are likely to be significant surface features of which we’re currently ignorant. The detailed composition of its surface material, sampled (briefly) in one location by the short-lived Huygens probe, is not well established; the depths, and in some cases the boundaries, of its hydrocarbon lakes remain somewhat uncertain; the composition of its long belts of hydrocarbon sand dunes is ill-defined. Such details are unlikely to be well nailed down within the next decade, but may well be exhaustively addressed within the next two (contingent on outer-planet mission funding and the like), meaning that my Titan stories very probably have an intrinsic shelf life. Does this concern me? I can’t honestly say. I think it’s true to say I’d rather my Titan stories were accurate rather than fanciful, but I also know that there is something about Titan and its current status as an imperfectly-characterised world that I find intriguing in a fashion not offered by other settings. Maybe it’s that slow-burning falsifiability, meshing with my training as a research scientist: for, just as I have the opportunity to get wrong things about Titan that are not yet known, I also have the opportunity to get some of them right. I suppose we shall see.





Tethering Titan

7 03 2018

There are two types of space elevator. This may sound a little counterfactual, given that, to our knowledge, there are currently zero types of space elevator; but I’m speaking, as you may have surmised, in a conceptual sense.

The first type of space elevator, which plays off gravity against orbital angular momentum, requires a reasonably rapidly-revolving terrestrial planet. Now, ‘reasonably rapidly revolving’ is a somewhat nebulous term, but it signifies an object with a rotation period of, say, no more than a few of your Earth days. The ‘midpoint’ for a space elevator of this type will be at the altitude of geostationary orbit, so the planet in question must have a geostationary orbit which is not prohibitively large. (Of course, ‘prohibitively large’ is also a nebulous term.) Earth, with a rotation period of almost 24 hours (note, though, that ‘rotation period’ and ‘day’ are not precisely identical concepts), has a geostationary altitude of approx. 35800 km, which ensures that objects orbiting the Earth at this altitude, and in an equatorial orbit, appear to hover over the same surface location. For Mars, with a rotation period slightly exceeding 24 hours and a weaker gravitational field than Earth, the corresponding altitude is ‘only’ around 17000 km. If a column or cable is extended from the surface to this altitude, the cable’s apex will be in balance between angular momentum and gravity. But all of the cable material beneath this will have significant weight—because it is not revolving sufficiently rapidly to attain true orbital velocity at that altitude—and this weight needs to be counterbalanced by an extension of the elevator beyond the geostationary point, either with more thousands of kilometres of cable or with a comparatively shorter cable terminating in a sufficiently large counterweight (often, a suitably-sized asteroid) to attain the balance.

Elevator type 1 trimmed

Earth and Mars aren’t the only objects in the Solar System for which such an elevator is conceptually feasible, but they’re the only significant ones. (Other objects are too slowly rotating [Mercury, Venus], too gaseous [Jupiter, Saturn etc.], too small [asteroids], or too hot [Sun] to be worth the effort.) Note, also, the requirement that the elevator must be anchored at the planet’s equator. Singapore, if it wished, could have an elevator on its doorstep. Svalbard could not.

What happens when such a space elevator fails? Kim Stanley Robinson explored this scenario in Green Mars, where the Martian elevator has its counterweight severed by, appropriately enough, Martian separatists. The cable falls, essentially wrapping itself around the equator (or as far around the equator as it can reach) with devastating impact. Woe betide anyone standing in the vicinity.

The second type of space elevator, which plays off gravity against gravity, requires a facelocked planet or moon in orbit around a more massive body. Here the ‘centre point’ of the elevator is the L1 point, where the gravitational pull of the facelocked object—say, for example, the Moon—is exactly balanced by the more massive body’s opposing pull (in this case, Earth). The location of the L1 point necessarily depends on the masses of the two opposed bodies and on the distance between them. For the Earth-Moon system, L1 is slightly more than 54000 km above the Moon’s surface. A lunar space elevator would need to be anchored to the lunar surface directly beneath L1, passing upwards through L1 and extending sufficiently far beyond this to counterbalance the weight of the elevator’s lower reaches. Note that, although this is a taller structure than the Earth elevator, it’s not necessarily more challenging from an engineering and materials perspective, since the Moon’s gravitational field is only one-sixth that of Earth.

Severing the counterweight on an elevator of this type would not (I think) turn the headless elevator into a planetary whipper-snipper, but a cascade of plummeting cable. The catastrophic impact in this scenario, therefore, would be localised around the point of surface anchorage.

Elevator type 2 trimmedClearly, our own Moon is one body that meets the criteria for a space elevator of this type. Titan, facelocked towards Saturn, is another. The separation between Titan and Saturn is much larger—approx. two million km—than that between Luna and Terra (four hundred thousand km); Titan’s mass is almost double the Moon’s; Saturn is much more massive than Earth. The takeout from all this is that Titan’s surface-to-L1 distance is only marginally shorter than the Moon’s, at just under 50000 km. Consequently, the engineering challenge involved is presumably not more significantly difficult than the requirements for constructing a lunar elevator, or a martian one, although consideration would need to be given to the particular physical conditions (principally temperature and ‘space weather’) with which the material of the elevator would need to contend, as well as the hazards of weathering and corrosion of the elevator’s lower reaches in the martian or titanian atmosphere.

Of course, there isn’t yet an elevator on Titan, neither in actuality nor in my fiction. It’s nonetheless a bit of a background presence in a few of the stories in Wide Brown Land: with only one location possible for such an elevator, at the ‘sub-Saturnian point’ defined as zero longitude and zero latitude, the construction of an elevator (or even the plans for its construction) gives one geographical region—in this case, the eastern fringe of the Quivira plateau edging into the dunefields of western Senkyo—an intrinsic industrial and commercial advantage over other regions. In my stories, I’ve posited the shift from rocketry to an elevator (as the primary means of shipping offworld) as a driver of dramatic social upheaval, with those in less-favoured settlements on Titan’s far side disgruntled and aggrieved at the loss of local opportunities while economic attention is focussed on the construction of the elevator a hundred kilometres northwest of the sprawling arcology of Sagan. I will, I suspect, actually need to build the thing at some point, though whether it features strongly in subsequent stories remains to be seen.

In any event, some of my characters will not be happy.

 





‘Tholin’ is not a Dwarvish king …

23 02 2013

My first Titan story, ‘Storm in a T-Suit’, appeared back in 2010, in Aurealis 44. I drew, to the extent that seemed practical, on my prior knowledge of research on Titan, to try to build a credible fictional world, but I also pantsed it, to a degree. Titan isn’t a world that gives up its secrets willingly–even mapping its surface is a considerable challenge, because of the dense and almost completely opaque atmosphere that envelops it–so pantsing, even after almost a decade of Cassini’s periodic snooping, is definitely necessary. One of the things I pantsed was the occurrence of windstorms: I needed a crisis to drive the story’s action, and since Titan is one of the few solid bodies in the solar system to experience what we’d consider weather, a storm seemed like an appropriate choice for a crisis. Not being able to find any reliable research on Titanian storms, I just extrapolated, and hoped my extrapolation wouldn’t, in hindsight, appear too extravagant.

I concocted, for my protagonist, a ‘shit-storm’ with winds of up to 20 kilometres per hour: gentle enough, on Earth, but on a satellite with much lower gravity, intrinsically poor visibility and a much denser and innately toxic atmosphere, 20 klicks per hour is plenty. I worried, though, that I might have overdone it: the Huygens descent measurements suggested the near-surface windspeed was very low, only a couple of kilometres per hour or so.

It doesn’t sound, now, as though I did overdo it. According to a report in New Scientist, Tetsuka Tokano at the University of Cologne has determined that Titan’s large northern seas are capable of generating cyclones with windspeeds of up to 20 metres per second, i.e. 72 km per hour, significantly more fierce than anything I’d conjectured. It’s kinda reassuring to learn that I wasn’t overstepping the mark …

It’s also very good to have learnt of this in the same week I sold my fourth Titan story (actually my fifth, but the fourth hasn’t yet found a home ). ‘Emptying Roesler’ has been accepted for Random Static‘s upcoming anthology, Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction II.

Now, if I could only finish that novel …