NASA Reveals Space Weapon, then Undetected Asteroid Nearly Hits Earth

asteroid.jpgYou’d think with all the satellites and space-viewing devices that exists in this modern age that you wouldn’t hear about “undetected asteroids” popping up. That’s exactly what happened a couple weeks ago (July 20, 2017). The beaut, roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty, passed between us and our moon.

Deemed Asteroid 2017 001, it was detected on July 23, 2017 by the ATLAS-MLO telescope at Mauna Loa, Hawaii and was nearest to Earth on July 20th (Source: Eddie Irizarry/EarthSky).

predator.jpgSo, what the heck astronomers? How’d this sneaky bastard get by all of you? You all didn’t even notice it until three days after it had passed closest to us? Short answer: it’s not their fault.

Apparently, Asteroid 2017 001 has a non-reflective surface, which allowed it whiz between Earth and our moon at a brisk 23,179 miles per hour (37,303 km/h). It’s like the Predator of asteroids (or so I like think). Holy camouflaged Near Earth Objects (NEOs) Batman!

Our visitor was somewhere between 82 feet and 256 feet in length. No clue what the means? Let’s offer some scale.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid (the one that exploded over Russia in 2013) injured approximately 1,500 people and caused millions of dollars worth of property damage. It was between 55 and 65 feet long, and when it exploded in the atmosphere 12 miles above Earth, some experts have calculated it released 500 kilotons of energy (Source: Deborah Byrd/EarthSky). That’s 30 times the yield of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Remember, our recent visitor was between 82-256 feet. Yikes!

That’s pretty scary, right? It’s especially useful information for me because I am writing about post-apocalyptic worlds. Sometimes the real world makes for the best fiction. Speaking of this, plot twist time!

At the start of this month (July) there was a rash of stories about NASA getting the green-light to develop an asteroid destroying/diverting weapon. Basically, they’d hit the incoming NEO with a fridge-sized spaceship traveling nine times the speed of a bullet. I’m imagining some sort of cannon that shoots ice-boxes. Here’s what it really looks like (Image Source: NASA/Planetary Defense page).

DART Spacecraft.png

A quick stop over at the NASA website, and boom, I’m introduced to the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission. Badass acronym, NASA. To be fair, this isn’t the first mention of this program. Nope. But it is a bit tasty that they would update the info for the DART Mission on July 18th.

Now, let me be the first to say that I’m not a conspiracy theory person; it’s not my thing. But man, what a bunch of coincidences. There’s a stream of news articles regarding DART at the start of the month. Then, the NASA Planetary Defense page updates the DART mission page two days prior to an “undetected asteroid” just missing the Earth…

Like I said earlier, the real world makes for the best fiction. That’s it from me; I’ve got writing to tackle. I like to use the blog page as an idea journal, and this idea was worth recording and sharing. Keep your eyes to the sky and your refrigerator cannons loaded.

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Wasteland Wednesday #6

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday is potentially full of foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.

Wasteland Wednesday

 

It’s time for another update from the Wasteland.  As the author, I’m pounding away on rewrites. If I can hold my pace, I should have it out to my alphas by the end of the month. When it goes out to my alphas, I’ll do the rewrites of the novella.

I‘m planning on finishing one of my more time consuming client projects here in mid-December (not a bad thing, just a bit of work), and when that happens I’ll pound out the discovery draft of the next book in the series. This next book will have whoever survives book one, moving north to face a bigger threat—and maybe even escaping Middle America. The Lost Word, mentioned last week, will play a larger role in the next book as well.

Today, meet Jim.

Name:  Jim

Age: 14

BackgroundFrom birth, Jim lived in a bunker. His father told him the outside world was a barren radioactive wasteland, and if they would leave the bunker they would die. Despite his isolation, Jim’s father provided him a superb education (even by pre-fall standards). This education was heavy in classic works of literature, language, and some technical skills like medicine and electronics.

When Drake meets Jim, his familial background is ambiguous. They meet “accidentally” outside of Stanley Station, which is a coal plant that was converted into a settlement.  Jim admits little about his father and family.  Outside accounts indicate Jim is an orphan that wandered into the station.

vegetables-italian-pizza-restaurant.jpgBasic Physical Description: The wasteland doesn’t provide salad bars, or all you can eat pizza, so Jim is a skinny boy. Acne has began to spring up among his freckles.  His eyes are described as bright blue, and his hair is shaggy and brown.  He is very pale—apparently the bunker didn’t have a tanning bed.

Personality: Jim is very clever and optimistic. This is likely a result of his education and lack of exposure to the wastes. With no “real” experiences to rely on, Jim often attempts to apply classic works of literature to things he experiences.  The boy is particularly fond of Treasure Island and sees Drake as swashbuckling pirate of sorts.

treasure island.jpgAs classic works of fiction are basically extinct, Jim references people, places, and things that most people have never heard of.  On the other hand, the most common of wasteland information is often a foreign concept to the boy.

Drake considers himself to be a master of manipulation and understanding what makes people tick, and Jim has managed to pull a few fast ones on him. In this way, Jim quickly endeared himself to Drake (thought Drake would never admit that).  Both Drake and Lex are very protective of children, and this cements him into the party—that, in addition to some wasteland happenstance.

When Drake looks at Jim, he imagines what his dead son Jonathon might have become.  When Lex looks at him, she sees the innocence she lost. When Preacher looks at Jim, he sees the future of the wasteland. Due to all of these points of view, Jim because a central character to the groups unity.

Abilities: Jim is clueless and vastly intelligence at the same time.  Especially in a time when most children, and even adults, are knuckle draggers in terms of brainpower.  This cuts both ways for the boy.  He is also a sponge, quickly picking up on information and training.  Drake notes that the boy learned the steps to effectively fire a pistol faster than some of the people he trained while he was in the military.

suture.jpgJim is also a whiz when it comes to first aid.  Drake owes his life to Jim’s fast action with a needle and thread.  Drake has noted Jim knows aspects about medicine that could have only been taught formally, not just picked up at random.

Motivation:  Jim’s motivations shift throughout the book. At first, he hears a story about Drake Nelson, who had rolled into Stanley Station.  Jim puts a lot of stock in stories and maneuvered himself in a way to be close to him.  Being naive, one motivation is to share in Drake’s adventure. This perhaps, as the story unfolds, wasn’t the best course of action.

Jim is also motivated by something higher, something even Drake can’t put his finger on. To Drake, Jim seems to be running away from something and toward something else at the same time.  Preacher seems to believe Jim is the future of the wasteland…which to Drake is the kind of idiotic rantings he would expect from someone like Preacher.

Jim is driven to prove he isn’t just some dumb kid.  While he knows he is probably the most intelligence kid out there, he understands there is a lot of things he is ignorant of.  Any opportunity he gets, he attempts to prove himself and his worth.

 

Sig-mosquito.jpgEquipment:  Jim, much to his horror, is largely Drake’s pack mule.  The boy bears a heavy burden, literally. He is a novice with the pistol Drake acquired for him, a Sig Sauer Mosquito, but becomes more and more proficient with each passing firefight.

Author’s Note: I say this for all of my characters, but Jim is one of my favorites. He is comic relief, a source of bonding, and has a natural way of cutting through characters and revealing their motivations.  For Drake, Jim’s character reveals his humanity to the reader.  It also acts to tie Drake back to the person he was before the fall, when he had a little boy named Jonathon. I also like how dynamic Jim’s character is.  His arc is very rewarding and there are a lot of important plot points tied to his evolution and growth.

question-markThat’s it for today’s wasteland news!  I hope you all enjoyed this sneak-peak into Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  I’d love to know what you think about Jim.  Until we cross quills again, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always—stay alive.

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Wasteland Wednesday #2

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday will include foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.  I’m talking f-bombs, men with tentacle appendages, and joy-puking.

Wasteland Wednesday

Welcome back to Wasteland Wednesday!  Last week we tipped our hat to Michail Mamaschew and revealed his progress on the kick-ass cover artwork he is doing for Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  Also, Drake knocked down the doors of my imagination and raised a tiny bit of hell.  I wanted to talk about the world today, but I know for a fact Drake is currently occupied, so let’s take a Wednesday and peel away one of Drake’s layers.

Before we do that, let me share some updates with you all.  I’m happy to report that the cover artwork is finished.  Michail couldn’t have done a better job.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to give it to you all at once.  I’ll give it to you all in snippets and explain the relevance.  Can’t an author get a little foreplay?

Secondly, I’ve managed to snag Michail for illustrations in the complementing novella: The Wastelander Survival Guide.  I’ve taken a couple weeks off from my writing projects to recuperate, but during my “free” time I have been sketching out storyboards and will be passing those along to Michail so he can get cracking on the line art.

All right, let’s talk about Drake.  Here’s the original concept cover featuring Drake if you missed last week where he explained what he was doing in this scene.

Wastelander Concept Art
The concept cover art for Wastelander: The Drake Legacy. This image is owned by Corey Truax. Any manipulation or use of this image without written permission from Corey Truax is not permitted.  Do you have a first-born?  Maybe we can barter – contact me

Today I wanted to direct your peepers to Drake’s left hand.  You’ll see something there.  A malformed snowball? A thirty year old puff pastry?  Nah, it’s a baseball.  Not just any baseball though.  A baseball named Sammy.  Here’s a better look for you.

Sammy (the baseball)

When Drake’s journal was converted into books, Sammy was introduced to the reader in Chapter 1 of both.  Here is an unedited excerpt from Drake’s journal.

“On a side note, some people might think it strange to include a baseball in your wasteland survival loadout.  Some people are idiots.  Why huck a rock when you can sling a baseball?  What if you can’t find a rock?  You gonna toss some other piece of gear?  Why not always have an item with you designed to be thrown?  Anyways, I digress.  So with Sammy in hand, yes my baseball is named after the late Sammy Sosa, I tossed a nice high ball straight up into the treetops to garner some attention from the clueless hunters.”

-Drake

So now we have a name, Sammy, and a little bit of backstory from Drake.  Now Sammy is an important item to Drake.  Beyond basic function (throwing), the baseball serves other purposes.  If it didn’t, why would this Sammy be the 17th of its kind?  The first Sammy had an original signature on it from Sammy Sosa.  All the following baseballs had Sammy’s signature on them, too.  The only difference is Drake forged all of those.

I‘ll let you sort out the value of a baseball in the wasteland if/when you read the book.  But today, let’s look at how the wasteland can bust your balls (or lady parts), both literally and metaphorically.

  • Sammy #1 Stolen when shot in head.
  • Sammy #2 Fell into a fire.
  • Sammy #3 Boiled and eaten to survive winter.
  • Sammy #4 Discarded while Sammy #1 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #5 Blown up.
  • Sammy #6 Lost him.
  • Sammy #7 Stolen while asleep.
  • Sammy #8 Stitching gave up and he fell apart.
  • Sammy #9 Fell into river.
  • Sammy #10 Got drunk and wagered him.  Lost the wager.
  • Sammy #11 Destroyed while Sammy #10 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #12 Modified into explosive and destroyed.  It was glorious.
  • Sammy #13 Inbreeder ate him.
  • Sammy #14 Traded him for food.
  • Sammy #15 Destroyed while Sammy #14 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #16 Was crushed into a million tiny pieces.
  • Sammy #17 Current Sammy.

That’s your sneak peak into Wastelander today.  I’m enjoying sharing some of this trivial information with all of you.  It’s tricky revealing information that is intuitive, but not going to spoil the book.  I’m doing my best to keep it entertaining though.

question markI‘m not sure what we’ll talk about next Wasteland Wednesday.  Heck, the world may be a wasteland by then.  Who knows.  Drake has his baseball and some other bits and bobs.  If the world was going kablooey tomorrow, what items would you take with you into the wastes?  Until then, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always – stay alive.

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