These free novels, Creative Commons licensed Green Comet, and its sequels Parasite Puppeteers and The Francesians, tell an expansive story of love and adventure on an inhabited comet. To learn more about the trilogy, and for samples, visit the Welcome Page. To download the books, visit the downloads page. The novel The Plainsrunner is available for purchase at these outlets.
The Apostrophe Protection Society website was created in 2001, and it looks like it. Never mind. It’s the content that matters, not the style. Right? That’s how it used to be, anyway. In the good old days when substance mattered more than appearance. And (coincidentally?) people knew how to use apostrophes. Go to the site and have a look. It has examples of badly used apostrophes. It even has a song called Apostrophe Apostasy.
They took a light-hearted approach to the fight to save the apostrophe, but they were serious about it. John Richards, the founder of the society, was appalled at the indignities being done to it and he and his many supporters fought hard to defend it. But Richards is getting old and the problem is only getting worse. It seems he has lost hope in the prospect of success. As he said in his resignation message, uncaring ignorance and laziness seem to be prevailing.
With regret I have to announce that, after some 18 years, I have decided to close the Apostrophe Protection Society. There are two reasons for this. One is that at 96 I am cutting back on my commitments and the second is that fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English Language. We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!
The Prime audiobook is showing up in stores. It will be available for purchase December 1, 2019. (Link to the ebook) I’ll use this post to keep a running list of them. Go ahead and shop around for the best deal. Or go post a few reviews.
I’ve just finished reading the book Factfulness by Hans Rosling. It’s a lesson in how wrong we are about the state of the world, and an attempt to teach us how to be more right about it. Rosling spent his life as a teacher, from students to world leaders and heads of international organizations. A feature of his talks was the quizzes consisting of a question with three possible answers. Although random guesses would result in a 33% success rate — he uses chimpanzees for this — educated people regularly score worse than that. People who in many cases should be expected to know, do worse than chimpanzees.
The questions have to do with things like how many of the world’s children are getting vaccinated against crippling and killing diseases, what percentage of girls are going to primary school and how many people live in extreme poverty. Our tendency to get it wrong is the result of the many fallacies and blind spots we have affecting our ability to think rationally. Rosling takes us through them, showing how they work and suggesting how to overcome them. He presents ten of them, including our tendency to generalization, our propensity to want to lay blame and our irrational reaction to a sense of urgency. He believed that we could control them by learning how to identify them and how to counteract them. He was not optimistic that we would learn in time to deal with the five big potential problems he thought we face: global pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change and extreme poverty. He was not optimistic, but he did think it was possible.
One of the big things he wanted to show us is how it’s wrong to divide up the world population into two groups: us and them, rich and poor, developed and developing. He thought four would be more accurate, with 75% of us in the two middle groups between extreme poverty and extreme wealth. Us and them is one of our great fallacies. One of the good features about Factfulness is how it helps us see through the veil of our paleolithic filters. It’s not us and them with a big gap in between. You can’t generalize about people based on their ethnicity or religion or nationality. There is more variation within each of those groups than there is between the groups. We have more in common with the people in those other groups who share our economic status than we realize. Here’s a link to Dollar Street, a website that helps to make that clear. I was fascinated by the pictures of hands. I found that when you look at a lot of pictures of hands, they start to look weird.
Factfulness is a good book that shows us where we’re getting it wrong and that shows us how to work toward the better possibilities in our future.
At the Universidad de Costa Rica they have been studying Green Comet, the first novel in my Green Comet trilogy. As a result a student, Monica Feng Wu, an undergraduate in English as a Second Language, has written an essay analysing chapter thirteen of the book. Her teacher, Professor Roberto Savaria, advised me and sent me a copy of the essay. Ms Wu has kindly agreed to allow me to share it with you.
Chapter thirteen is the one where the people slowly collect data on the Visitor, a mysterious object observed in space, but ultimately learn little about it. It’s one of the chapters written without dialogue, and in the dispassionate language of historical reportage.
Ms Wu has hit upon the essence of the chapter, and by extension the whole book. I wanted to use clear language to tell a simple story, and it looks as if it worked. From the essay:
Although the story mentions the comet and scientists, it is easy to read and understand; it does not use complicated terms to describe the studies done by the scientists therefore the comprehension of the plot is smooth.
The author uses simple words to describe the process that the scientists did. In such a way the reader is easily engrossed into the text.
Additionally, the chapter enhances the curiosity of the readers by giving out a mysterious perception; it talks about an unexplainable visitor and leaves a cliffhanger for the reader at the end of the chapter.
All in all, the story is alluring since it is easy to follow; it intrigues readers about scientists’ mindset while creating a sense of mystery about the comet.
Also, as it happens with Bowering’s chapter, readers put into action their imagination by depicting the events and speculating what follows next in the story.
Thank you Ms Wu. Thank you Professor Saravia. It is a pleasure to see my book through other eyes.
Readers can find the chapter and the full essay here.
Hola. The Green Comet trilogy might be getting a Spanish translation. If it works out, we should see it next spring. David, at Artifacs Libros, has contacted me through the Green Comet website and asked my permission to undertake the project. Of course, he doesn’t need permission since the books are licensed Creative Commons, but he was nice enough to ask anyway.
This is what David has said about the Spanish titles for the books:
Green Comet = Cometa Verde
Parasite Puppeteers = Titiriteros Parásitos
The Francesians = Los Francesianos
I assume this word “Francesians” is after the character name “Frances”, so I’m adopting here the same Spanish relation.
David has already translated other works, and you can see them on his website if you’re interested. His stated reason for doing this work is to make the titles available to his fellow Spanish speakers, when they otherwise might not be. In his words:
Well, because I’m fond of reading and writing Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Fiction and I’m having fun doing this website… and because many of these works would probably remain unknown for the panhispanic community (which wouldn’t or can’t read English), otherwise.
He’s always on the lookout for more good CC licensed novels, so if you know of any, let him know. Or tell me and I’ll pass it on.
It’s quite a change from last spring when streams and rivers were running low and we were being warned of drought conditions. Now the map is almost all green, indicating “normal” conditions. A wet September — more than 25% over average precipitation — and an average October have allowed the ground to soak up some water and the rivers to return to more normal flows. That’s good or Droughtman might have had to tell us to carry our buckets down to the big lakes because they have lots of water. That’s his definition. If there’s water in the lakes, there’s no drought.
It has been a lovely couple of months. Such a nice change to be closer to normal temperatures and levels of precipitation after being hotter and drier for so long. The vegetation is loving it. Our lawns are almost uniformly green, and the grass that we’ve allowed to go natural also has a lot of green in it. Usually it is dry and golden and waving in the breeze. As an added bonus, the restricted irrigation schedule that we adopted earlier in the year has been more than adequate, saving both water and money while giving us a green lawn.
I could go for more of this. It’s nice to not have to worry about water.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary site has a tool that you can use to find out which words were first used in print in the year you were born. Of course, you can use it to find out which words were first used in print in any year you choose. It doesn’t have to be your birth year. It could be the birth year of your cat, for all they care. Let’s try 1905, the year Albert Einstein published his paper on the photoelectric effect. He got the Nobel prize in Physics for that in 1921. One of the words for 1905 is pinspotter, which is another word for pinsetter — an employee or a mechanical device that spots pins in a bowling alley. I was a pinsetter in my youth. Small world, eh?
Let’s try another year. How about 1955, when the world population was 2,755,823,000? Also the year Albert Einstein died, sadly. And the word is: weirdo — a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric. I don’t think I’m a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric, but I might qualify as a quasi-weirdo.
One more. Let’s go with 2005, when the first ever YouTube video was uploaded. The word: sexting — the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. Not something I’ve ever done. Count yourself lucky.
Go ahead. Go to the site and try some years. The time you waste will be your own.
PS That YouTube video from 2005? It was called Me at the Zoo. Eighteen seconds of transcendental wisdom.
". . . it's begging to be made into sequels . . ."
"Green Comet won me over with its relentless
hope and happiness."
"It gave me an appreciation for science fiction in general. Ordinary fiction can not stretch your mind as much. Meticulously written and edited. It was obviously a labor of love. I really enjoyed it!"
"BRAVO! You have done the rational thing -- you're getting your book out here! WE CAN READ IT! . . . I liked the feeling of being in a somewhat "classic" scifi novel that was character-driven, and not all "plot." . . . If you weren't consciously inspired by Heinlein . . . well, then you're some kind of psychic channel, medium, whatever."
I just finished your book. WOW! What an ending! I want to read more about what happened to Elgin and Fran. You better have a sequel coming, or make it into a trilogy. You can't just leave it there.
"This is an excellent read! You construct plot well, and the reader is intrigued to keep reading. I enjoyed it very much, and appreciate your making this available."
"Unquestionably the most enjoyable Sci-Fi read I’ve had in a very long time. +1 recommendation for anyone who’s a fan of quality science fiction! Thanks rjb!"
"I highly recommend this book to all who have an interest in science fiction, medicine, even if it is ever so slight. This book is acceptable for the younger readers for it does not contain any offensive or gratuitous sex or offensive language. The violence that is contained is no stronger that what would be found in the reading of a history book."
"I really enjoyed the read. It took me back to the style of Science Fiction of a number of years ago, and it had a young adult feel to it."
"I have finished listening to the first set. It really makes a difference with your reading the story. I understand it so much better. I follow along with the text. Your voice is clear and pleasing."
"I am thinking of using chapter 13 in one of my courses to illustrate enquiry as a discourse. . . . (In chapter thirteen) you wrote a great example of language portraying the scientific method in action to establish new knowledge...right from the empirical observation to the hypotheses tested and the results obtained. All that in a solid and enjoyable narrative frame that keeps readers interested in the phenomenon and lets them wonder what can be done next. . . . Thanks a lot for giving us the access to your fine work!"
Get Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers on BitTorrent