Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guess what? J. K. Rowling actually wrote Distant Cousin!

OK, she didn't, actually.

But we were amused, along with probably thousands of other indie authors, to hear that The Cuckoo's Calling received some excellent reviews but sold only about 500 copies in the United States.

But then, of course, once it was revealed that the book was really written by J. K. Rowling, whose other books threaten to throw Earth out of its orbit, then it sold out immediately, and can't be printed fast enough. (The Kindle edition could not possibly have sold out--not possibly!)

So we are tickled to note that (1) The Cuckoo's Calling has earned an average of four stars at Amazon over 126 reviews...and that's with a big-league publisher, editors, marketers, and designers, and (2) tickled to note that the Distant Cousin books have a higher rating (100 reviews, even including a few "trolls"), and (3), tickled to note that Distant Cousin costs less than a third as much!

What a funny business book publishing is. But there are still some wonderfully entertaining books out there waiting to be found for those willing to experiment a little!

From a reader at the KindleBoards: "'I'm another one of the ravers. These are 3 soon to be 4 books that I can't imagine anybody not liking. There is something for everybody in them."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Google salutes the Roswell alien but misses the real alien: Ana Darcy!

Today only (July 8, 2013) the Google Doodle commemorates the alien crash incident at Roswell New Mexico of 66 years ago (and the continuing festival which celebrates it).

Unfortunately, Google has missed a more interesting (and more verifiable) alien. Her  arrival and landing (in Texas, only a day's drive from Roswell), which bears some outward similarities to the cute little animated figure above, is told in Distant Cousin. On the other hand, readers have agreed, her experiences are vastly more entertaining, cute as the Doodle may be.

This is the perfect occasion to invite you to meet Ana Darcy, the first alien to return to Earth!

Reader comment: "What makes a book outstanding to me is that I am sad when I come to the ending and the characters stay with me for a long time after reading. This series is one of the few that is on my "Must Read" list when others ask me for book recommendations."  

In case the Google Doodle above is not cataloged somewhere, clicking on it on July 8, 2013 produced this search.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ana notes the Roswell UFO Festival: amusing but not impossible!

The 66th anniversary of whatever it was that happened near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 is being observed now at the Roswell UFO Festival. Something crashed on a ranch near the town, and what with one thing and another it got blown up into a huge alien "first contact" controversy.
We won't review the history. Most people are familiar with it. If not, you can look it up at Wikipedia, and check out the festival here.

Ana Darcy, our Distant Cousin, neither believes the "crashed and hidden alien" story nor thinks it ridiculous. For one thing she is, after all, an alien who came to Earth, and before 1947, in fact. She was born and grew up on a planet 25 light years away, and in fact came here in a manner not unlike the putative alien or aliens who crashed.

For another thing, her people still tell the story of their transposition from Earth to Thomo millennia ago. They KNOW there are aliens out there, or were: they've long since lost track.

So Ana doesn't find this legend nearly as silly as some of us do.


If you'd like to see what Ana first saw on Earth, it's here.

If you'd like to learn a bit about OUR winsome alien, it's here.

If you'd like to know why two readers have told Ana's chronicler "You suck!" that's here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why doesn't Ana know how old she is?

Ana Darcy, our Distant Cousin, has never been able to say exactly how old she is. There are, as she has been known to state in several of her chronicles, just too many variables. 

 First, her home planet, Thomo, has days (and years) slightly different from ours. More importantly, Ana traveled twenty-five light years to return to her people's planet of origin, Earth, and she did so mostly at the speed of light.

As we know, Albert Einstein was the first to point out that time slows down as speed increases. Ana's interstellar vessel took approximately a year to accelerate to roughly 96% the speed of light, which it maintained until it began slowing down, taking approximately another year to do so.

A physicist friend tried to answer the question of how that might affect Ana's age by imagining twins, one traveling between Thomo and Earth, and one staying behind, and comparing the relative difference the traveler experiences. His answer is below. (He thanks Wikipedia for its help. let us note.)

If you are math-challenged, as Ana's chronicler is, this will seem like Greek to you, and you are excused. If you are adept at mathematics, then this might answer the question that even Ana cannot figure out, as good at math as she is.

Difference in elapsed time as a result of differences in spacetime paths

The following paragraph shows several things:
Let clock K be associated with the "stay at home twin". Let clock K' be associated with the rocket that makes the trip. At the departure event both clocks are set to 0.
Phase 1: Rocket (with clock K') embarks with constant proper accelerationa during a time Ta as measured by clock K until it reaches some velocity V.
Phase 2: Rocket keeps coasting at velocity V during some time Tcaccording to clock K.
Phase 3: Rocket fires its engines in the opposite direction of K during a time Ta according to clock K until it is at rest with respect to clock K. The constant proper acceleration has the value −a, in other words the rocket isdecelerating.
Phase 4: Rocket keeps firing its engines in the opposite direction of K, during the same time Ta according to clock K, until K' regains the same speed V with respect to K, but now towards K (with velocity −V).
Phase 5: Rocket keeps coasting towards K at speed V during the same time Tc according to clock K.
Phase 6: Rocket again fires its engines in the direction of K, so it decelerates with a constant proper acceleration a during a time Ta, still according to clock K, until both clocks reunite.
Knowing that the clock K remains inertial (stationary), the total accumulated proper time Δτ of clock K' will be given by the integral function of coordinate timeΔt
\Delta \tau = \int \sqrt{ 1 - (v(t)/c)^2 } \ dt \
where v(t) is the coordinate velocity of clock K' as a function of t according to clock K, and, e.g. during phase 1, given by
v(t) = \frac{a t}{ \sqrt{1+  \left( \frac{a t}{c} \right)^2}}.
This integral can be calculated for the 6 phases:[15]
Phase 1 :\quad c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )\,
Phase 2 :\quad T_c \ \sqrt{ 1 - V^2/c^2 }
Phase 3 :\quad c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )\,
Phase 4 :\quad c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )\,
Phase 5 :\quad T_c \ \sqrt{ 1 - V^2/c^2 }
Phase 6 :\quad c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )\,
where a is the proper acceleration, felt by clock K' during the acceleration phase(s) and where the following relations hold between Va and Ta:
V = a \ T_a / \sqrt{ 1 + (a \ T_a/c)^2 }
a \ T_a = V / \sqrt{ 1 - V^2/c^2 }
So the traveling clock K' will show an elapsed time of
\Delta \tau = 2 T_c \sqrt{ 1 - V^2/c^2 } + 4 c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )
which can be expressed as
\Delta \tau = 2 T_c / \sqrt{ 1 + (a \ T_a/c)^2 } + 4 c / a \ \text{arsinh}( a \ T_a/c )
whereas the stationary clock K shows an elapsed time of
\Delta t = 2 T_c + 4 T_a\,
which is, for every possible value of aTaTc and V, larger than the reading of clock K':
\Delta t > \Delta \tau\,

What's unusual about Ana's notion of language and math education?

A reader writes:
Very well written and includes interesting tidbits about foods, scenery, events, etc which add to the story. I found it hard to put down and then thinking about the story while doing other things. Loved his writing style and imagination.