## Monday, December 31, 2012

### The Old Year Ends; A New Begins

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

I wanted to do something kind of special for this New Year's Eve. When I discovered the poem below by the celebrated William Cullen Bryant (who may or may not have been my kinsman), I knew I had found my "something special." Sit back, sip a cup of something hot and soothing, and reminisce over the year 2012, as you read this lovely, thoughtful goodbye.

~~~

# A Song for New Year's Eve

by William Cullen Bryant

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.

The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.

The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.

Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day's rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.

Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.

Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.

## Monday, December 24, 2012

### Christmas Thoughts

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

It's Christmas week, and my family and I will be celebrating it together, as we have ever since I can remember. Each Christmas Eve night, my father gets down his Bible and reads the Christmas passage from either Luke or Matthew. It's a tradition in my family, and a very special time. This is, after all, what Christmas means - the word derives from "Christ Mass." Yes, yes, I know that it's celebrated at the time of the winter solstice, and I know that many of our customs and traditions have their origins in pagan festivals of the season. I know that Jesus almost certainly wasn't born at this time of the year.

But it turns out that one theory may be able to place the arrival of the Magi at this season, during the Jewish celebration of Chanukah, no less. And one of the passages I mentioned provides data from that theory. And so I thought that I'd share my family custom with you by "reading" that passage with you.

* * *

### Matthew 2

King James Version (KJV)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

* * *

To my family, my friends, and my fans, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, God Jul. Peace on Earth, and goodwill to men.

-Stephanie Osborn
Christmas Eve 2012
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, December 17, 2012

### Excerpt - The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings

Time for a Christmas giftie to my fans! Book Four of the Displaced Detective series, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, is now available in print, just in time for the holidays! Here's a peek inside!
-Stephanie Osborn
~~~
Chapter 1
Skye was sleeping peacefully in their bed in Gibson House, and Sherlock was deep in her hyperdimensional equations, reviewing them with all the grey matter he possessed, when a whiff of ozone reached his nostrils.

“Good day to you both,” he said into the air without raising his head. “How are matters progressing?”

“We have hopes,” his own voice came back to him. “The experiment devised by the firm of Chadwick & Chadwick, Limited, looks to prove successful.” Holmes’ voice was tinged with humor. “Or perhaps I should say, Chadwick & Chadwick-Holmes, Limited.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Sherlock said softly.

“Speaking of Skye, where is she?” Chadwick wondered. “I wanted to give her the experimental setup and double-check for updates. We told her we’d come back at this time.”

“Oh, I am sorry. I am afraid she did not mention that,” Sherlock raised his head and shot a regretful but firm glance in the direction of the voices, knowing that the other Holmes would read his thought in his expression. “She is in bed, soundly asleep. She worked most of the night and barely ate at all today. I finally convinced her to take tea with me, and then discovered she was too inflexible to even stand upright. She permitted me to manipulate her musculature sufficient to release the kinks, but by the time I had done so, she was in a deep sleep. She is nigh exhausted.”

* * *
“He has a point, Chadwick,” Holmes observed quietly, referring to the refusal to awaken Skye he had noted in the other man’s face. “It does us
no good if she exhausts herself on our behalf, and falls short of the mark when her body and mind cannot take any more.”
“I know,” Chadwick agreed. “That’s what I meant, not, ‘damn, she didn’t get the work done.’ She’s me, remember? And she’s pushing herself as hard as I do.”
“It appears so,” Holmes agreed. “And that is saying quite a bit.”

* * *

“Can you make anything of it?” Holmes wondered.

“I can,” Sherlock confirmed. “And it looks good, insofar as it goes. But it is incomplete. And as I have not been in this continuum as long as you have been in yours, I do not have sufficient knowledge of the science as yet to consider even attempting to complete it for her.”

“You are the expert here, Chadwick,” Holmes admitted somewhat grudgingly. “What do you wish to do?”

“Might I make a suggestion?” Sherlock offered.

“Dial back in around noon tomorrow,” Sherlock advised. “It will not delay your experiment overmuch; for you, it is a matter of minutes. And this will give Skye time to ‘catch up’ her sleep—she has slept scarcely more than ten or twelve hours total in some three days—and I will see to it that she eats properly whenever she awakens. Then she will have the morning to complete her calculations here,” he waved the notebook at them, “and she can give them to you at noon, then eat lunch.”

“Ha! I know what you are doing,” Holmes discerned with amusement. “Just as I—just as we—once managed Watson’s finances to ensure he did not come to ruin, you are taking control of her schedule to ensure she obtains adequate rest and nourishment. I have been known to do that once or twice with Chadwick, here.”
“And, I would suspect,” Sherlock retorted with the faintest hint of a smile, “she has likely done the same with you, on more than one occasion.”
“She has,” Holmes admitted, and this time Sherlock did not hear begrudging in the other man’s tone. “We four can become amazingly single-minded when need drives us.”
“Indeed,” Sherlock nodded.
There was a brief silence, and Sherlock could picture Chadwick gazing at Holmes with a sort of grateful, wistful expression.

Open your eyes, man, and see the treasure you have in front of you, before it is too late, he thought with some vehemence.

Eventually Chadwick spoke again, and this time there was a soft smile in her voice.
“That sounds like a plan, Mr. Holmes, and we’ll follow it. Tell Skye we’ll see her at noon tomorrow. Meanwhile, you take good care of her, okay?”
“As much as in me lies,” Sherlock nodded.
The air crackled, another surge of ozone wafted through the room, and they were gone.
~~~
Hope you enjoyed it, and check out my website for purchase links as they become available!
-Stephanie Osborn

## Monday, December 10, 2012

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Why, it's the eagerly-awaited sequel to the Prometheus Award Winning Darkship Thieves, in which Thena discovers the worst tyranny might be one that happens so slowly you never rebel, and also that home is the place you’ll fight for. (With burner battles, spaceships, a hot red-headed girl engineer and a mad cyborg.)

According to Baen's website:

After rescuing her star pilot husband and discovering the dark secret of her own past on Earth, Athena Hera Sinistra returns to space habitat Eden to start life anew. Not happening. Thena and Kit are placed under arrest for the crime of coming back alive. The only escape from a death sentence: return to Earth and bring back the lost secret to creating the Powertrees, the energy source of both Eden and Earth whose technological secrets have been lost to war. But that mission is secondary to a greater imperative. Above all else, Thena must not get caught. If she does, then suicide is to be the only option.

With the odds heavily stacked against not only success, but survival, Thena comes to understand what her cynical accusers do not: it is not merely one woman's life on the line anymore. For it's on Earth where the adventure truly begins, and a secret is discovered that must be revealed and exploited, else humanity's days are most certainly numbered. Thena realizes that what is truly at stake is the fate of Eden and Earth alike, the continuance of the darkship fleet—and freedom for all in the Solar System—and beyond.

The cover art is as cool as the book, and is by David Mattingly.

Wanna buy the first one, Darkship Thieves? That's here. Unless you want it in ebook format, and that's here.

To buy Darkship Renegades, go here for print, and here for ebook.

Now, if you want something REALLY cool, I have authorization from Sarah to have a contest for a Darkship Renegades t-shirt! There won't be very many of these, folks, so this is primo! It's going to be a trivia contest. Send your entries to steph-osborn@sff.net!

Here we go:

1. Name at least one book I have co-authored with Travis S. Taylor. (points for more than one)
2. Name at least one book I have co-authored with Darrell Bain. (points for more than one)
3. Name the artist who does the covers for almost all my books.
4. Name another book of Sarah A. Hoyt's that is NOT one of the Darkship books. (points for more than one)
5. Name my three principal publishers.
6. Name one fiction book I have written entirely by myself. (points for more than one)
7. Name one nonfiction book I have written entirely by myself. (points for more than one)
8. What series did Travis start, but I am finishing?
9. On what television show does Travis star?
10. What network is it on?
11. In what city does Sarah live?
12. What is the song based on my hometown?
13. Name one genre other than SF in which Sarah writes. (points for more than one)
14. Name another author Travis has collaborated with. (points for more than one)
15. Give one of Sarah's pen names. (points for more than one)
16.
Remember, copy, paste, answer, and send to steph-osborn@sff.net ! All entries must be sent before Christmas Eve!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, December 3, 2012

### Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

I was recently tagged as part of The Next Big Thing, a writers' blog journey, by Herika Raymer. Her blog can be found at http://herikarraymer.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/new. She, in turn, was tagged by Selah Janel, at http://selahjanel.wordpress.com/.

As per Herika, who gave it to me:

Hey there! Here are the questions for The Next Big Thing...your post will go up not this Monday, but next Monday. :)

Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Well, this could keep me busy for awhile, since I have several works in progress.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

1) What is the working title of your book?
Work in progress #1 is book 4 of the Cresperian Saga, and the working title is Heritage.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Travis Taylor and Darrell Bain started the series, and I've inherited it, so I'm kind of following along from there as best I understand it.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction – military science fiction, mostly.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That's a good question. I think that Robert Downey Jr. would probably do a very good job of the male lead in this book (each book has different “stars” in the same universe and events). Maybe Reese Witherspoon for the female lead. She has the right “pixie-ish” look for how I envision that character.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“Earth's first contact wasn't quite what we thought.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. I will deal directly with the publisher, Twilight Times Books.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Heh. I'm still working on it! As I “inherited” it, it's proving a bit more difficult to write than I would have expected. Finding my own footing in that world, my own ideas, and making them work within someone else's world can be hard.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oy. These questions.
Probably some of Travis Taylor's work, since he started the series, and I'm trying to keep it in a similar vein. Also he and I have comparable writing styles.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I would say Nikola Tesla. I've been using a lot of Tesla's concepts in the series once I stepped into it.

This one actually HAS Tesla in it!

* * *

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing, Take Two:

1) What is the working title of your book?
Work in progress #2 is book 5 of the Displaced Detective series, and the working title is A Case of Spontaneous Combustion. Work in progress #3 is book 6, A Little Matter of Earthquakes, and #4 is book 7, The Adventure of Shining Mountain Lodge, which is complete but being polished.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
You know, I really don't know where the Displaced Detective books are coming from. I get these ideas and they just sort of develop on their own. The characters are so real to me, I just have to watch how they react and then describe what I “see and hear.”

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction and mystery. A touch of action, a hint of thriller, a soupçon of romance.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Johnny Lee Miller, the Sherlock Holmes of CBS' Elementary series, looks a lot like how I envision “my” Holmes. But he'd need to clean up a bit. My Holmes is clean-shaven, neat and tidy.
To play Skye Chadwick? That's tougher. Cameron Diaz is about the right age and height, I think. I'm not sure if she's how I “see” Skye or not, but she could do the part readily enough.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Let's go with series instead of book. “Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Sullivan-Maxx Literary Agency represents the Displaced Detective books.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Heh. I'm still working on books 5 & 6! I don't recall how long it took on book 7.
Now, if you're talking about the very first book of the series, that's different. I wrote a 215,000 rough draft in two months. A normal novel length is about 80,000-100,000 words. We ended up breaking it into two volumes, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival and The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed. When the plot bunny bites, I can but write.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That would be kind of hard. Not a lot of people blend science fiction and mystery in the way that I do. That's not to say that the two genres haven't been blended; they have and quite effectively by some of the grand masters. But none of them seem to have quite my “take” on such things. Maybe someone else could come up with a comparison, but off the top of my head, I can't.

My hope is to, using my own style, evoke a hint of Conan Doyle in the background, though. I even go to the extreme of having Holmes' dialogue and thoughts written in British English, as well as any other Brit characters, such as the MI5 lot. It gets confusing from time to time, but I have a great editor who understands and likes what I'm doing with it, and she's a huge help.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was a kid. I started this whole series with the concept of, “What if?” What if Holmes got dragged into an alternate future and couldn't go home again? What would he do? How would he react? How far can the great detective stretch before he breaks? What sorts of things would he be interested in? So really the reader should be aware that these books are character-driven as much as plot/science-driven. I'm constantly adding things to poke around in Holmes' psyche, so don't expect to just jump into the usual action, and expect an extended denoument as Holmes and Skye [Chadwick, the co-protagonist] wind down and assimilate matters after a case.

Holmes has found, in Dr. Skye Chadwick, a woman who is his equal in almost every respect, and whom he can trust completely into the bargain; a woman that he can, and does, make an integral part of his life.

* * *
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing, Take 3:

Well, this one is my (counts on fingers) fifth work in progress, and it's the sequel to Burnout, tentatively titled Escape Velocity.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
From the realization that, after the Columbia disaster, I couldn't let the story end in Burnout, couldn't let it be a one-shot. I had to create some sort of closure.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction and mystery, once again. I have a tendency to like combining those two genres. Strong element of suspense and thriller too. A good mystery has to have some suspense, in my opinion.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
When I was originally writing it, I had in mind a whole cast of characters – Tommy Lee Jones for Crash Murphy, Hugo Weaving for Dr. Mike Anders, Sissy Spacek for Gayle, and so on. The movie project for Burnout is probably going to go with a revamp and younger actors; that's out of my hands now.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“If you don't take 'em out the first time, better keep looking over your shoulder.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. It's already under contract to Twilight Times Books.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
How is it a work in progress if I've finished it...? Still working. Taking awhile, unfortunately, because of my own emotional involvement in the Columbia disaster, and the fact I worked in the space program for so many years. Please be patient; I WILL get there.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, Burnout got compared to Michael Crichton, E. E. “Doc” Smith, and Robert Heinlein. I'm not sure what to draw out of all that.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well, like I said earlier, I wrote Burnout, and then lost a friend aboard the Columbia disaster, which Burnout predicted in detail saving that the real historical event was truly an accident, and the fictional disaster was sabotage. I had planned – up to that point – to make Burnout a standalone novel, but after the disaster I couldn't do it. I had to have, needed to have, more closure than the end of the book provided. And so I decided to keep on writing the story and see what happened.

Oh, there are always surprises when I write a mystery...

I'm tagging Maria De Vivo, Leia Barrett Durham, Grady Glover, and Dellani Oakes!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Saturday, December 1, 2012

### A New American Space Plan launches!

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

On November 27, Travis Taylor, Pete Erbach, and Rog Jones of the Rocket City Rednecks appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno! Among other things they did, they promoted the new book, A New American Space Plan, by Travis S. Taylor with Stephanie Osborn!

Now, Travis is one of my best buddies. He's also my writing mentor and (obviously) occasionally co-author. We communicate one way or another not infrequently.

That sneak Travis did not EVEN tell me!

I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

Per one of my publishers November 29th: "Now # 4 in Aeronautics & Astronautics and # 9 in Astrophysics & Space Science. # 45 in Physics"

I checked, and found it was currently #29 in ALL of Science & Math! It had moved up to #3 in Aeronautics & Astronautics! (My old friend and colleague Homer Hickam had the #1 spot there, I'm pleased to say.)

We're still high on the lists! Travis will be appearing on Fox & Friends Monday morning about 8-ish, and will be promoting the book there too! Look for him and our book!

Folks, let's keep getting the word out! I think we have a science best-seller on our hands!

To purchase, go here!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, November 26, 2012

### Children's Book Excerpt - StarSong

Here's another little holiday treat for my fans! This is an excerpt from my first children's book, StarSong. It is intended for students from advanced 3rd grade to 7th grade. (But I've had adults telling me they liked it, too!) It's a fantasy, blending elements of Native American lore, European fairytales, and a hint of Tolkienian influence. It's available in Nook, Kindle, and print, and purchase links can be found on my website, along with more information about the book.

-Stephanie Osborn

~~~
﻿

Chapter 1

In the Far West, in a cheerful little farming village in the midst of a broad, green plain of great and unknown size, lived a girl. She had long, beautiful dark hair, big, sparkling bright eyes, and a smile that made people happy just to see it. Her name was StarSong, because she loved to sing to the heavens at night, and her voice was, so the villagers said, as beautiful as the stars themselves.

As she grew older, however, she became aware of her beauty, for all the young men began to court her. And she knew she had a lovely voice, for everyone said so. Thus her thoughts turned inward. But where the mind goes, the gifts follow. Therefore, so, too, did her songs, which became all about herself. She became vain and self-centered. Her dresses always had to be colorful and adorned with embroidery, her hair elaborately braided, and her songs were always sung from the flat, patio rooftop of her home so that the entire village could hear.

"Creator has greatly blessed you," her father would tell her. "You should sing for Him."

"No," StarSong would reply defiantly. "I will sing what I please." And she did, singing every night of her own beauty and worth.

This had gone on for many years, since she became a teenager, and as she grew older, near the time of marrying, her worried parents despaired.

"StarSong’s vanity grows worse each day," her mother wept. "Now, none of the young men of our village are good enough for her, according to her. And they are all becoming tired of being spurned by her, and they are marrying other girls. The other girls scorn her, for she scorns them first. She will soon be left alone. And she has refused to learn the skills needed to fend for herself. She is ‘too good for such as that,’ she says."

"I know," said her father sadly.

"Now she is even saying that the village is beneath her," the mother cried. "She desires to go elsewhere, where the life is more exciting, and more befitting her gifts."

"I know," her father said again, even more sadly.

"What did we do wrong?" Starsong’s mother wailed with grief and guilt. "How could our lovely child become so self-centered and vain? What did we do?"

"Nothing, my dear," Starsong’s father said wisely, taking his wife into his arms and comforting her. "Every person must make choices, once they are old enough to understand them. Our young StarSong has chosen, and there is nothing that we could have done differently. We must pray that, someday, Creator teaches her different choices."

And so day followed day, each the same. StarSong sang her own melody, growing more and more self-absorbed, and her parents prayed.



Until one day, when a black speck appeared on the western horizon. It grew swiftly as it fast approached the little village, eating up the sky with darkness as it went. Soon the villagers started to run, screaming in terror.

For it was a giant, spinning windstorm, black and angry, such as none of them had ever seen before, and it overtook the little town in seconds. The villagers, their animals, even their houses, disappeared in the horrible storm, which tore the very grass from the earth. Terrified, poor StarSong stood, frozen to the ground, her normally beautiful voice raised in an ugly scream of fear, until the whirling storm was upon her, and she, too, was swept away.

I am going to die! the poor girl thought in horrified despair as she felt the ground disappear beneath her. I shall never have the chance to have my beauty looked upon, or my voice heard, by those who are worthy to enjoy them.

Far, far, over tree and stream, poor frightened StarSong was carried high in the air for a long, long time, expecting each moment to be her last. Finally the whirlwind beneath her began to weaken and fade.

Oh, no, she thought in horror. Now I shall be dashed in pieces upon the ground, far below. She hadn’t thought it possible, but if anything, that thought left StarSong even more frightened than before.

But instead, she drifted down like a feather, floating along, until she landed gently atop a high, steep mountain with a flat top. StarSong sang in relief.

"I’m safe! Safe, safe, safe!

Down I shall climb,

Be home by bedtime,

And no longer be a waif!"

But her glad relief soon turned into worry, for StarSong could find no way down. The flat top of the mountain was small, and the mountain’s sides were sheer cliffs, made up of odd columns of rock, and there was no way for her to climb down. She was trapped atop the mountain.

As the sun went down in the west, and the stars came out, little StarSong — feeling very little, indeed — sat down on the ground. But instead of singing, she cried.

~~~

I hope you enjoyed it! I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for the kids in your life!

-Stephanie Osborn

## Monday, November 19, 2012

### Excerpt - The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings

Time for a giftie to my fans! Book Four of the Displaced Detective series, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, is now available in ebook formats! It will be released in print December 15, just in time for the holidays! So I thought you might like a sneak peak!

-Stephanie Osborn

~~~

Chapter 1

Skye was sleeping peacefully in their bed in Gibson House, and Sherlock was deep in her hyperdimensional equations, reviewing them with all the grey matter he possessed, when a whiff of ozone reached his nostrils.

“Good day to you both,” he said into the air without raising his head. “How are matters progressing?”

“We have hopes,” his own voice came back to him. “The experiment devised by the firm of Chadwick & Chadwick, Limited, looks to prove successful.” Holmes’ voice was tinged with humor. “Or perhaps I should say, Chadwick & Chadwick-Holmes, Limited.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Sherlock said softly.

“Speaking of Skye, where is she?” Chadwick wondered. “I wanted to give her the experimental setup and double-check for updates. We told her we’d come back at this time.”

“Oh, I am sorry. I am afraid she did not mention that,” Sherlock raised his head and shot a regretful but firm glance in the direction of the voices, knowing that the other Holmes would read his thought in his expression. “She is in bed, soundly asleep. She worked most of the night and barely ate at all today. I finally convinced her to take tea with me, and then discovered she was too inflexible to even stand upright. She permitted me to manipulate her musculature sufficient to release the kinks, but by the time I had done so, she was in a deep sleep. She is nigh exhausted.”

* * *

“He has a point, Chadwick,” Holmes observed quietly, referring to the refusal to awaken Skye he had noted in the other man’s face. “It does us
no good if she exhausts herself on our behalf, and falls short of the mark when her body and mind cannot take any more.”

“I know,” Chadwick agreed. “That’s what I meant, not, ‘damn, she didn’t get the work done.’ She’s me, remember? And she’s pushing herself as hard as I do.”

“It appears so,” Holmes agreed. “And that is saying quite a bit.”

* * *

“Can you make anything of it?” Holmes wondered.

“I can,” Sherlock confirmed. “And it looks good, insofar as it goes. But it is incomplete. And as I have not been in this continuum as long as you have been in yours, I do not have sufficient knowledge of the science as yet to consider even attempting to complete it for her.”

“You are the expert here, Chadwick,” Holmes admitted somewhat grudgingly. “What do you wish to do?”

“Might I make a suggestion?” Sherlock offered.

“Dial back in around noon tomorrow,” Sherlock advised. “It will not delay your experiment overmuch; for you, it is a matter of minutes. And this will give Skye time to ‘catch up’ her sleep—she has slept scarcely more than ten or twelve hours total in some three days—and I will see to it that she eats properly whenever she awakens. Then she will have the morning to complete her calculations here,” he waved the notebook at them, “and she can give them to you at noon, then eat lunch.”

“Ha! I know what you are doing,” Holmes discerned with amusement. “Just as I—just as we—once managed Watson’s finances to ensure he did not come to ruin, you are taking control of her schedule to ensure she obtains adequate rest and nourishment. I have been known to do that once or twice with Chadwick, here.”

“And, I would suspect,” Sherlock retorted with the faintest hint of a smile, “she has likely done the same with you, on more than one occasion.”

“She has,” Holmes admitted, and this time Sherlock did not hear begrudging in the other man’s tone. “We four can become amazingly single-minded when need drives us.”

“Indeed,” Sherlock nodded.

There was a brief silence, and Sherlock could picture Chadwick gazing at Holmes with a sort of grateful, wistful expression.

Open your eyes, man, and see the treasure you have in front of you, before it is too late, he thought with some vehemence.

Eventually Chadwick spoke again, and this time there was a soft smile in her voice.

“That sounds like a plan, Mr. Holmes, and we’ll follow it. Tell Skye we’ll see her at noon tomorrow. Meanwhile, you take good care of her, okay?”

“As much as in me lies,” Sherlock nodded.

The air crackled, another surge of ozone wafted through the room, and they were gone.

~~~

Hope you enjoyed it, and check out my website for purchase links as they become available!

-Stephanie Osborn

## Tuesday, November 13, 2012

### Woops!

Well, between multiple conventions, elections, and various other travel, researches, and the like, I missed getting a blog post ready for this week. Dr. Woosley has also been on travel a lot in recent weeks, so his next installment about the Higgs Boson is not ready. I apologize for missing this week and promise I'll have something interesting for y'all next week! Maybe later on this week AND next week if inspiration strikes!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, November 5, 2012

### General news

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Well, Dr. Woosley has been on travel and hasn't been able to follow up on his Higgs boson guest posts, so I thought you might enjoy hearing about how the writing world is going for me lately.

It's been going pretty darn good, actually.

I mentioned in a post here that Eric Flint's wife and many of the 1632 authors were very "into" my books, and continue to be! That in itself is quite exciting. (I hope Mr. Flint likes them too!)

Travis S. Taylor (aka "Doc" Taylor, aka Ringleader of the Rocket City Rednecks) and I have a new nonfiction book being released through Baen in just a couple of days! That book is A New American Space Plan, and it's a look at the space programs of the world, where they've been, where they are, where they're going, and where our national space program ought to be aimed but ain't. It's written from the point of view of people who have worked the program (Travis and myself), in language the non-rocket-scientist can easily comprehend. That doesn't mean we don't get technical, it just means you can understand it because we didn't use a lotta technical jargon in it, we used regular words. Preliminary copies are already finding their way into some rather distinguished hands, and we have hopes that the words we wrote will be taken to heart.

Book 4 of the Displaced Detective series, The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings, should be released in ebook form through Twilight Times Books sometime in the next week also. Print versions should come out in December - JUST in time for Christmas gifts!

Recent releases through Chromosphere Press include the SF ebook, The More Things Change, and the children's fantasy, StarSong. The first is a fun little romp that will hopefully stretch your reality a little bit. The second is rather exciting for me; I've never written a book specifically for children before. It's also a first for Chromosphere Press, which heretofore has only released ebooks, because StarSong is available in print as well as ebook! The publishers and editors were pleased enough with the way it turned out that they thought it was time to strike out into print. I've already been asked about sequelae, but I think we'll wait and see.

And last but by NO MEANS least, The Fetish (a short story from the Burnout universe) has become an EPIC Award Finalist! What's that? EPIC is the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, and the EPIC Awards are their marks of achievement for ebooks! It's quite possibly the most prestigious international award of its kind, so much so that just becoming a Finalist is a considerable honor. The Fetish is one of only four finalists in the Short Story category. And I'm fortunate enough to have been a Finalist twice, because The Y Factor with Darrell Bain was an EPIC Award Finalist for SF Novel in 2010! (It was also an ebook best-seller when it was released!)

Sometime in the next month or two, I should be releasing another ebook short or two through Chromosphere Press, and yes, folks, I'm working as hard as I can on the 4th book in the Cresperian Saga (tentatively titled Heritage), and the sequel to Burnout (tentatively called Escape Velocity). You'll have to be patient with me on that last, though, because in the last year I've had some experiences that have sort of ripped open the emotional wound from the Columbia tragedy, and it's proving harder than I anticipated to write Escape Velocity. This past week a musician I met at this year's Con*Stellation contacted me to let me hear some songs she had written at the times of the Columbia disaster and Neil Armstrong's death. I was very deeply touched, and asked and was given permission to place a link on Burnout's webpage to the Columbia song. I hope to have this up soon; Catherine Faber, the musician, is setting up a hosting site that I can link to from my page. I cried like a baby when I heard them; I think you'll appreciate it too.

And that's more or less the state of things in my world. I'll be attending the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Con at the Hilton "soda can" (LOL!) this coming weekend, and then I believe I'm off for the holidays (except for writing, of course!), only to return at ChattaCon next January! Oh, friends, look for me at a specfic convention near you next year; the schedule looks to be hot and heavy!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, October 29, 2012

### Stalking the Higgs Boojum, part 2

This is the continuation of the discussion about the Higgs boson by my friend Dr. James K. Woosley, who is one of my scientific advisors and one of my beta readers. This is some of the science that he and I tossed about in order for me to write the Displaced Detective books, as well as Extraction Point! with Travis S. Taylor. It's about to get a little deep, so put your thinking caps on tight!

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com
~~~

Elementary (particles), my dear Watson

The next step to understanding the Higgs boson is to explore the other elements of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics, to provide the necessary context.

The story of the development of the standard model is pretty much the history of twentieth century physics. The story actually begins a few years early, in 1896, when the British physicist J. J. Thompson discovered that the "cathode rays" which had been observed over the previous twenty years in gas discharge tubes were actually individual particles (corpuscles), which eventually came to be called electrons. These particles were shown to have a negative electric charge — meaning they moved in the direction of increasing electric voltage — and to have a mass less than 1/1000th of a hydrogen atom.

Then in 1912, Ernest Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus, which when stripped of electrons was shown to have a positive electric charge, and by 1917 realized that the lightest atomic nucleus, that of hydrogen, appeared to be an indivisible, positively charged particle which came to be called the proton. The problem of more massive atomic nuclei was solved in 1932, when James Chadwick isolated the electrically neutral neutron as the particle which contributed
to nuclear mass without affecting nuclear electric charge. Wolfgang Pauli had earlier postulated the neutrino to explain the slight loss of energy associated with nuclear beta decay (the neutrino was not discovered as an actual particle until 1956), which led to the identification of the beta decay mechanism,

$n \rightarrow p + e^- + \bar{\nu_e}.$
Note the bar over the Greek letter (nu) representing the neutrino. In the late 1920's, British physicist Paul Dirac had developed a complete quantum theory for the electron which introduced the possibility — indeed, the necessity, of antiparticles, particles which possessed electrical charges of the same magnitude but opposite polarity as their partner particles and which reacted with them to decompose into hard radiation.
Dirac's prediction was cemented by the discovery of the anti-electron (positron) by Carl Anderson in 1932, the discovery of the anti-proton (very rarely called the negatron) in 1955 by Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, and the discovery of the anti-neutron (at which point nobody bothered to give it its own name) in 1956 by Bruce Cork. The anti-neutron was particularly puzzling, because the neutron is electrically neutral, but the anti-neutron was discovered to have the opposite magnetic polarity of the neutron. Also, since the anti-neutron decays into an anti-proton, a positron, and a neutrino, the convention was developed that an anti-neutrino (hence the bar in the equation above) is associated with the electron. Together, the electron and the neutrino are called leptons, and a quantity called "lepton number" as assigned so that the net change in lepton number in a beta decay is zero. Hence, the electron and the neutrino (emitted with the positron) have lepton number +1, and the positrion and the anti-neutrino (emitted with the electron) have lepton number -1.
It should be noted that all four of these particles have one-half unit of spin1 (which can be measured relative to the direction of the motion of the particle, and is aligned either in the direction of, or opposing the direction of, motion). This means that, when collected together, they observe the so-called Fermi-Dirac statistics which grew out of Dirac's theory of the electron (designed to account for spin). For practical purposes, these particles, call fermions, resist being packed tightly together. Conversely, particle with integral values of spin (0, 1, …) can be packed to high density. These are called bosons, being based on Bose-Einstein statistics.2
This nice, cozy picture of four fundamental particles, together with their anti-particles, was shattered before it was even fully formed with the discovery of additional particles, starting with the muon, which behaves like an electron, in 1936, and of two classes of particles: a class of bosons (the mesons) and a class of fermions (the baryons, which included the neutron and the proton), beginning in 1947.3 This increasingly crowded "particle zoo" was brought to a semblance of sanity beginning in 1964, when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig postulated that the then-known mesons and baryons were made up of three types of smaller particles called quarks. A fourth type of quark was discovered in 1974, and an additional pair of quarks have been confirmed in more recent experiments. A third electron-like particle, the tauon, and neutrinos corresponding to the muon and tauon, have also been identified. This picture of three generations of quarks and leptons is summarized in the table below.

 Charge Type/Anti 1st Generation 2nd Generation 3rd Generation + 1 Anti-lepton Positron, e+ Antimuon, + Anti-tauon, + + 2/3 Quark Up quark, u Charm quark, c Top quark, t + 1/3 Anti-quark Anti-down quark, Anti-strange quark, Anti-bottom quark, 0 Lepton Electron neutrino, Muon neutrino, Tauon Neutrino, 0 Anti-lepton Electron antineutrino, Muon antineutrino Tauon Antineutrino, - 1/3 Quark Down quark, d Strange quark, s Bottom quark, b - 2/3 Anti-quark Anti-up quark, Anti-charm quark, Anti-top quark, - 1 Lepton Electron, e- Muon, - Tauon, -

In this picture, the mesons are found to be made of pairs of quarks and anti-quarks; while the baryons are composed of three quarks. These compositions obey mathematical rules which look very much like the much more comprehensible concept of spin, which results in beautifully symmetric structures. In the graphics on the left below4, chart (a) shows the composition of scalar mesons (quark and anti-quark with opposing spins that cancel to zero net spin) composed of the up, down, strange, and charm quark, while chart (b) shows the corresponding vector (aligned spins adding to one unit of spin) mesons. The central octets represent the particles known at the time the quark theory was formed. The graphic on the right5 shows the basic spin one-half baryons (two quarks with aligned spin, one with opposing spin) on the bottom octet, and then the structure as one, two, or three bottom baryons replace the lighter quarks (a similar structure has been defined with charm quarks, and additional combinations with both charm and bottom mesons have also been discovered).

The quarks have been found to be very tightly bound together; although there have been a few tantalizing hints, there is no firm evidence that quarks exist as free particles outside of the elementary particles which are composed of them. Similarly, there have been hints, but no confirmation, of more complicated particles, such as meson-like particles composed of two quarks and two antiquarks, or hybrid meson-baryons with four quarks and one anti-quark. The significance and/or rarity of such events remains a subject of study.
The most notable difference between the three generations is the mass of the particles. This is illustrated graphically below, where the mass of the three generations of particles, excluding the neutrinos (which are now known to have mass but are very light), is given in the conventional units of high energy physics, MeV/c2.6 As can be seen, the mass of particles increases more or less exponentially between generations. This is far from fully understood.

1 "Spin" is a quantum property of elementary particles which behaves mathematically in many ways like spin in ordinary life, from an ice skater twirling to the Earth's rotation about its axis. However, as a quantum property, it only occurs in discrete values: 0, 1/2, 1, 3/2, 2, etc. However, while spin at the quantum level behaves like spin in real life, we cannot directly observe elementary particles to see if they are really spinning, or if something else is happening that we can't observe. When particles with spin combine to form composite particles, the spins can be aligned with or against each other; the particles can also have quantized (values of 0, 1, 2, etc.) orbital angular momentum from their orbits around each other. This is not the most confusing thing about elementary particles.

2 Satyendra Nath Bose was an Indian physics professor who developed his theory of boson behavior in 1924 and sent it to Einstein, who was so impressed he translated it into German himself and submitted it for publication.

3 For the sake of simplifying the discussion, I will not discuss the confusion of meson and baryon physics in the 1950's, as almost a hundred different particles were discovered and quantified, and the muon was not yet fully distinguished from the true mesons.

6 One MeV is the kinetic energy of a charged particle which has accelerated through a volatage of one million volts, about the scale of most lightning generators found in high school physics labs. The effective accelerating voltage of a facility such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is about 10 million MeV. The division by c2 is reflective of Einstein's equivalence of energy and mass.
~~~

The next installment next week!
-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

## Monday, October 22, 2012

### Stalking the Higgs Boojum, Part 1

It's been noted by a number of people that I am a polymath. This means I have a broad knowledge over many subjects. That does not necessarily presuppose that I know all details about those subjects. To that end I have several fellow scientists expert in those subjects to help me out. Dr. James K. Woosley is an old friend from our graduate school days, and his specialty is particle physics. He's helped me out with a number of books, by looking over my scientific work and pronouncing judgement. So far the judgement has been, in the main, good.

But I thought I'd take the opportunity to let him talk a little bit about the science behind the science fiction. We've all heard the hullabaloo regarding faster-than-light neutrinos and the possible discovery of the Higgs boson (yes, the two are related, because if FTL neutrinos existed, the Higgs couldn't, or likely wouldn't). Let's hear some stuff about it from someone who knows.

-Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

~~~

“ ‘But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!’

The Hunting of the Snark, by Lewis Carroll

The recent announcement from CERN about the possible discovery of the Higgs boson, called by some the God particle for its supposed role in providing mass to the elementary particles, has stimulated unprecedented interest in particle physics but also a lot of questions about just what it means.

In this article I will discuss what the Higgs boson is, why it is important, and where the particle physics community will go from here. In order to get there, I will take some apparent detours, as well as saying some potentially outrageous things. Well, outrageous to physicists.[1]

The article is divided into sections on the meaning of mass, the standard theory of elementary particles, why the Higgs boson is considered important to the origin of mass, how the search for the Higgs boson was conducted and the results obtained so far, and the future direction of Higgs boson research and the consequences for both physicists and non-physicists.

What is mass, and why do I need to lose weight?

Before we consider how the Higgs boson generated mass, we need to have an understanding of exactly what mass is in the first place.

Ask a classical physicist what mass is, and you will likely get a blank stare. The problem is that, even since the days of Sir Isaac Newton, physicist have had two answers to that question. First, mass is known to be inertia, the resistance of a body to a change in its state of motion. In the simplest form of Newton's laws, the mass m of a body can be defined as the ratio of the quantity of force applied to a body, F, to the acceleration a of that body generated by the applied force; or algebraically,

m=F/a.

However, in classical physics, two (or more) bodies generate a force on each other which seems to exist simply because the bodies possess inertial mass. This force, the gravitational force, is such that the force on one body, of mass m, directly proportional to the mass M of the second body in the system, and inversely proportional to the square of the distance r between them,

Fgravity=GMm/r2

In this equation, the constant G, called Newton's constant, serves primarily to make sure that the units work out properly. If the two masses are in kilograms (kg), and the distance is in meters (m), then to yield F in the self-consistent metric system units of newtons (N), the constant G has the value of 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/kg2. This number seems absurdly small (written in decimal notation it is 0.0000000000667), until you realize that it is defined so that, if M is the mass of the Earth, and r is the radius of the Earth, the acceleration experienced by the mass, m, is equal to the acceleration of gravity on the surface of the Earth, 9.8 m/s2. This really just shows how weak gravity is in conventional use, if it takes the entire mass of the Earth to generate just one "g" of gravity.

The identification of two different types of mass, inertial and gravitational, does not answer the question of where mass comes from. Much less the question of why, in consistent units, inertial and gravitation mass are equal. When it came time for Albert Einstein to ponder this question, while developing the general theory of relativity, he just accepted that the two types of mass were the same, a simplified statement of what is known as the principle of equivalence.

However, relativity introduces other concepts necessary to understanding the essence of mass. First, there is a relationship between kinetic energy, or energy of motion, of any material body, and its mass; this is the origin of Einstein's best-known equation, E=mc2. Second, this leads to the definition of rest mass, or the mass of any material body when it is not in motion relative to an observer, usually designated as m0. Third, this also means that the mass of a body in motion (relative to an observer) appears to increase — in particular, part of the energy which a force imparts to the body results in an increase in speed, and part of the energy results in an increase in mass. As the body approaches the speed of light, the mass increases without bound, and so it takes infinite energy just to reach the speed of light, at which point the body has infinite mass.

However, this assessment doesn't apply to photons, the individual quantum particles that make up light. Since, by obvious definition, light travels at the speed of light, photons are very different from any material body. Photons are thus considered to be massless - they have no mass, and thus are constrained to always move at the speed of light to maintain their existence. (In principle, the other force carrying particles of the standard model — the intermediate vector bosons of the weak force, the gluons of the strong force, and the gravitons of the gravitational force — are also expected to be massless. This is clearly not true for the intermediate vector bosons, as we will discuss in the next section; the gluons and gravitons will be considered in the final section.) However, photons still possess energy, by virtue that they also possess momentum, and one central tenant of Einstein's general theory of relativity is that gravitational forces can also affect photons. In the theory, this is because the gravitational forces act by warping space-time, which changes the pathways along which the massless photons travel, leading to such phenomena as gravitational lenses which are becoming a useful tool in astronomy. However, the same effect would be encountered if the gravitational force is assumed to act on energy densities, rather than on masses, and Einstein's theory also makes that assumption.

And thus, we come to the classical "handle" on the origin of gravitational mass: any concentration of energy reacts to gravity, and thus gravity maybe a phenomenon of energy concentrations rather than of masses. All of this is true, but it is well hidden in gravitation theory. The relevant equation, which is what physicists refer to as Einstein's equation (not the much better known and much simpler; it is provided here primarily because it has recently appeared (bizarrely, and with a small error) in a popular movie[2]

Rμν-(1/2)gμνR=(8πg/c4)Tμν,

where the quantities R (a 4 x 4 matrix in the dimensions of space-time) describe the curvature of spacetime, the quantities g, called the metric, defines the coordinate system used to describe space time, and the quantity T is the energy density which causes the gravitational field.

But as noted, gravity is not the only force. The electromagnetic force is significantly more powerful; the electromagnetic force between two electrons is stronger than their mutual gravitational force by a factor of 1040 or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Other than the direct effects of gravitation — falling bodies, the unsightly numbers we observe every time we step on the scale (if we can look down that far) — everything else we observe on a macroscopic scale on earth is due to the electromagnetic force. We feel the shock when we pick up static electricity walking across a carpet - that shock represents only a very small number of electrons. The forces that hold all of matter together, from the table I am keyboarding this on to the cells in my body, are the result of slight imbalances in electrically neutral matter due to the distribution of negative (electron) and positive (proton) charges therein.

And how massive is a single electron? Well, consider the electric field, the field which measures the strength of interaction between electrons, of an electron at rest relative to the observer. I won't write the equation, except to note that it is similar to the gravitational force equation above, only it is expressed in terms of the electric charge instead of the mass. The force generated by this field causes changes in kinetic energy of the particles which pass through it, and so it is said to have a potential energy which balances the kinetic energy changes. This potential energy can be summed to obtain an overall energy density, and a total energy of the field. By a surprising coincidence, the total energy of the field of a single electron, is equal to the mass of the electron, multiplied by the square of the speed of light.

Astonishingly, that coincidence is not assumed to have any relevance to the Standard Model as described next week.

1 In his column "Best of the Web Today" for Friday 24 August 2012, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal paraphrases physics professor Jerry Peterson of the University of Colorado at Boulder, discussing changes in Colorado laws regarding concealed carry of firearms on campus, as saying "… he simply wants his students to feel safe to engage in discussions that could become controversialreiterated that the presence of guns in his classroom 'would destroy the learning environment.'" Taranto then asks, "What in the world are they talking about that is so controversial it would lead to gunfire in a physics class?" (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444358404577609343602510960.html) I don't intend that this essay should be an answer to his question, but you never know.

2 Expendables 2, where the alcoholic mercenary is stated to be a chemical engineer by training, with a corresponding level of scientific knowledge.

~~~
We'll continue the discussion in the following weeks. I can say, however, that he helped me immensely in writing the Displaced Detective series by verifying that my interpretation and implementation of M theory in those books was a legitimate one, thereby preparing me to write Extraction Point! with Travis S. Taylor. Jim has also helped me develop concepts for compact power supplies for the Displaced Detective series, but that hasn't been published...yet.

-Stephanie Osborn