Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being handicapped and chronic pain

Most people, unless they are good friends, see me walking around SF cons, and they usually don't realize I'm handicapped. Yes, that's right, handicapped. Officially. Car placards and everything. I have a congenital malformation in both knees that caused them to wear out at twice the normal rate. The cartilage is shredded and gone, and I am bone-on-bone in both knees. My orthopedist says it's only a matter of time before I need knee replacements.

Now, I know that's a very successful surgery and I've collected stories from people who've had it done, singing its praises, by way of research. The problem is, I've been cut on enough lately and am not over-eager to have more cutting anytime soon; and frankly, the idea of hacking out my bones and replacing them with metal and plastic gives me the willies. Yes, I'm a scientist. Yes, I think it's wonderful technology. But there is a psychological factor involved that I haven't yet managed to overcome. May never overcome.

In fact I went through a period of depression after he told me. I've never really considered myself athletic, per se, but I've always been very active in sports - everything from golf and tennis to karate and polo. Most of those have had to be curtailed. I fought it, tooth and nail, but these days my athletics come mostly in the gym. I eventually came out of the depression when I found I wasn't relegated to a rocking chair on the porch - yet.

When I bend my knees it sounds like a whole mixing bowl of Rice Krispies. It feels much worse. There is hardly a day that goes by that I am not in pain as a result. But you get used to it. You learn to deal unless something happens to really make 'em flare, and you learn to use other body parts to compensate. My arms and shoulders are stronger because of using them to assist; there are down sides to that, however. Like impinged rotator cuffs, which has happened something like 4-5 times since my knees were diagnosed. I no longer even see a therapist for that - I simply start the appropriate exercises. I have a nice collection of canes for the really bad days, too. Most people don't see those much anymore; sometimes they're more in the way than they are help.

Now, there are things that I do periodically to help the knees. One of the most normal and most regular is to get into the gym and keep my leg muscles strong. My orthopedist is in agreement that this helps stabilize my knees. But the most invasive, and most effective, of these things I do is to have an artificial lubricant injected into the joint to take the place of the cartilage that isn't there anymore. It used to require a six-week protocol, 3 weeks for each knee. Now that I'm used to it, they do both knees at once.

The first step in the process is to swab the injection site on the outside of my knee with alcohol, then hit it thoroughly with "freeze spray" to numb it. Next comes a novocaine injection directly into the joint. Leaving the needle in, my orthopedist swaps out the empty novocaine syringe for a full Synvisc syringe, and pumps that in. Back out, apply a band-aid, and repeat on other knee. Do this for 3 weeks, to give each blob of Synvisc time to spread out around the joints, and I'm good to go for anywhere from 6 months to a couple years. Yeah, it's kinda cringe-worthy. I don't watch while he's doing it. (I did once.)

But the cool thing is, between the novocaine and the Synvisc, there's a period of anywhere from 12 to 24 hours when my knees DO NOT HURT. At all.

This is an incredible blessing and it always surprises me. When you're used to living in pain, no matter how small (and this is not especially small, but like I said, you deal and you ignore) and that pain suddenly goes away, it's amazing. I had the first injections of the 3-week protocol this morning, and I am so relaxed I could easily fall asleep sitting here. There is a tension missing from my body, something I'd grown used to that's not there right now, and as a result I'm all but a puddle of Jell-O.

It's nice. I intend to enjoy it while it lasts. I'm not allowed to work out today or tomorrow, due to the potential of swelling. But I'm certainly not going to let this wonderful, relaxed, pain-free feeling go to waste.

I'm going to take a nap. The pain can wait until tomorrow.

-Stephanie Osborn

Friday, October 28, 2011

R.I.P Comet Elenin (and rumors, too!)

It's dead, Jim.

Comet Elenin is no more.

According to both NASA and Sky and Telescope, Comet Elenin has disintegrated. A first-time comet, meaning it had never been into the inner Solary System before, Elenin was predicted by astronomers to be a bright, beautiful comet, if not quite in the same league as Hale-Bopp. It was simultaneously predicted by some (who didn't understand orbital mechanics) to be the end of the world. Instead, its falling inward toward the sun proved to be the end of the comet.

Coming in from outside the plane of the ecliptic, it would have made for a gorgeous sight for Northern Hemisphere observers, who haven't had a bright comet placed for good viewing in some time. The inclination of this comet relative to the ecliptic (plane of the solar system) would have changed that.

Instead, by April it was showing signs of coming apart at the seams. In August, it was hit broadside by a large coronal mass ejection from the sun, which blew away much of the volatile material that would have made it a lovely comet.

(Contrary to some claims, there was no "energy shield" which protected it from the CME. Any "sightings" of such a thing were likely inadvertent misinterpretations of a bow shock between the cometary material and the CME. Tetrahedral "shields" are unlikely in any event due to the difficulty in producing such a shape - spherical would be much more likely, IF such a shield had existed. I love the way the "true believers" shifted from "natural object" to "alien spacecraft" as soon as evidence for the former vanished in a puff of dust and gas.)

Three weeks before perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) which would have been on September 10, it completely disintegrated. According to comet expert John Bortle, "The decline/fade of Elenin was abrupt and dramatic."

All that's left of the once and never "planet-killer" is a loose, wispy cloud of gas and dust, rapidly dispersing, according to photographs.

Hopefully, so too will be the rumors of its threat.

-Stephanie Osborn

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Book of a New Series!

Book 1 of the Displaced Detective Series, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival (for more information see will be released in November! The official release date is 15 Nov, but that's the day it comes from the printer. Books won't be available from stores (website or otherwise) until around 28Nov-1Dec. Currently Barnes-Noble is accepting pre-orders, and it will be on Amazon as well, but hold that thought for a moment.

Because I am proclaiming Thursday, 1 Dec, to be The Arrival Day!

I am asking all my fans to WAIT and place their orders/purchases on that day, 1 Dec, in the hopes that we can push it as high as possible on the best-seller listings! So please hold off ordering until that day, and then EVERYONE buy on that day! Also please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think will be interested in a science fiction spy mystery that INCLUDES Sherlock Holmes! That means SF fans, mystery fans, spy mystery fans, Sherlock Holmes fans, and anybody that likes a good read!

This story idea hit me and came spewing out in two months! I've never written so hard, so fast! I'm very proud of it and I think you're going to really enjoy it! So let's work together to ensure it does great!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years. Not Forgotten. NEVER Forgotten.

September 11, 2001. A day that will live in infamy, if I may make so bold as to paraphrase a famous speech - and one that launched us into a war just as surely.

For though time has dulled the memory for some, it has sharpened it for others. And perhaps, on this tenth anniversary, it is time to refresh the memory, so that all may have sharp, poignant memories of that day. So that all may never forget - whether the families of the victims, whose hearts were ripped out that day; the terrorist perpetrators, who assuredly will one day receive their just deserts, whether at the hands of those they attacked or those of a Just Providence; and the rest of us, witnesses to the events of that horrible, dreadful day.

Ten years.

Two weeks before the attack, I myself flew out of the airport where the doomed flights originated; there but for the grace of God went I. The morning of the attack, I rose to prepare for work, turned on the television, saw one of the Twin Towers already ablaze and gaped in horror. As I watched, the second plane crashed into the other tower and I understood sufficient to know that we were being attacked. Since I was then working on a space defense program, I promptly called in and left a message for my boss to ensure that he and my coworkers would know what was going on. There was, in my mind, the possibility that our program could be called into active operations at any moment, though I considered it unlikely. Still, it is best to be prepared. Desperate times. Desperate measures.

Then I did my utmost to perform my morning ablutions in front of the bedroom television. So I saw, watching on in horror, when the towers collapsed. I knew they were full of both innocents and heroes, emergency responders who flung themselves into the heart of the catastrophe with no thought for themselves. I was helpless to do anything but pray. But that, I could do; and that, I did.

I saw the Pentagon attacked; heard of the fourth plane somewhere in the air. Considerably later I heard about the bravery of the men and women aboard it who prevented the terrorists from carrying out their evil deed. I also heard that the son of a friend, attending Penn, saw that crash take place with his own eyes and was deeply upset.

Eventually I made it in to work. By then all flights across the country had been grounded, and remained so for several days. Since the main Boeing campus, where I was assigned, was between the ends of the runways of Huntsville International Airport, and we were used to hearing all sorts of aircraft taking off and landing through the day, the silence was eerie. And ominous. One part of my brain longed for the familiar sound, but the other part knew that if I did, it likely foretold my imminent death.

Descriptions began coming back from people I knew who had either been in NYC at the time, or had to travel there shortly after the resumption of flight. The smoke, the stench of death, of decaying flesh that could not be alleviated: the realization that there were no bodies, really, left to recover. The victims - thousands of victims - had become integral parts of the rubble.

And the anger. The injustice. Crazed zealots determined to kill innocent people, men women and children, and themselves as well - simply because they could. Just because they hated this country. I could see performing a suicide mission in an act of desperation, to protect my family and loved ones. But just because I could?! Just to lash out at someone I disliked, someone with whom I disagreed, someone who didn't believe as I did? Dear GOD! I ask You - what were they thinking??

What ARE they thinking?

Since then, my friend Travis S. Taylor and I have written a science fiction novel revolving around futuristic terrorism and homeland security, called Extraction Point! In some ways I think it was our way of trying to put things into perspective, at least for oursleves. For my part, I don't think it succeeded, although by all accounts it certainly makes for a roller coaster of a read.

What are they THINKING?

I will never understand the thoughts of the terrorists responsible for 9-11.

But I can assure you, I will never forget.

-Stephanie Osborn

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Extraction Point! Ch 1 part 3

Extraction Point!
by Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn

Ray turned the corner and nearly slammed face first into a brick wall, stopping just in time to scratch his right elbow up a little more on the rough brick as he caught himself against the wall. Ow. Really needed THAT. Quickly he scanned around for an exit. There was only one--a primer-coated metal staircase up the side of the building--and the man had a full story and a half head start on him. It was almost as if the man knew the route he was going and had known the staircase would be there.

Shoving his way through the pain and exhaustion, Ray threw himself up the staircase, keeping his pace steady and the man in sight. Twice he saw the man slip on the wet metal steps, and each time Ray made a slight gain on him, his treaded boots proving a better grip on the metal than the man's street shoes. Pushing harder than he thought he could, Ray closed the gap to only half a story behind the man as he went out of sight over the rooftop of the ten story building.

Ray crested the rooftop cautiously and there was the man, sitting on the edge of the rooftop barely a couple of meters away, looking over the edge at the street below and then at his watch–or one of them; for some reason, he was wearing two. Different ones, at that. His pale blond thatch, cut short enough to stand in upright spikes but not short enough to qualify as a buzz cut, wilted a bit in the rain.

"You… you are rather good," the man offered, wiped blood from his aquiline--though now slightly misshapen--nose, gasped for breath, and looked at his watch again with bright blue eyes.

"Listen, I've got backup right behind me. There is no way down and I can keep you busy long enough for 'em to catch you. What d' you say we just sit down, take a breather, and wait on 'em?" Ray panted and smiled at the same time, hoping to stall long enough that he wouldn't have to fight the guy any more before backup arrived.

"I've got a better idea." The man looked at his watch one last time and then leapt over the side of the rooftop, pushing off with his hands as he slipped gracefully from the lip of the ledge. There was a brief flash of white light--Ray assumed it was lightning--that caused him to flinch and cover his eyes for a moment. And the man was gone.

"NO!" Ray rushed to the edge of the building, peered over, and… saw… nothing. "What the hell!?" No blood on the street below, no screaming passersby, no squished and maimed body–nothing.

"Ray! You all right?" a voice from behind him gasped.

Ray stood there, confused--no, flabbergasted--peering over the edge of the building, visually searching every nook, cranny, alley, and pavement all the way down. Nothing. The man had simply vanished like a ghost. No body, no visible escape route, no sign.

The rain continued to wash the red blood from Ray's broken nose and swelling lip down the front of his already stained and ripped shirt and he could still hear the music off in the distance somewhere. He stood in a contemplative calmness, surveying the volume of space off the side of the building, and gasping for air as his heartbeat slowed. How in the. Bloody. Damn. HELL did he get away? This time, is it… nah, can't be.

"Your pistol, Ray." A young man in his late twenties with a blond military haircut and an athlete's build scanned the rooftop as he offered Ray his weapon.

"Huh? Oh, thanks, Jay." Ray took his favorite handgun, checked the magazine and safety, and slipped it in the clip holster on his waistband at his back. When he did, cold water squished from the holster, down his back and into his already soaked underwear, giving him a severe chill. He shivered violently for a second. He was still more than a bit dazed by what had happened moments ago--and the beating he'd taken--oh yeah, and the running.

"Uh, Dr. Brady?"

"What? I know, he got away." Ray panted, still having a hard time talking between breaths.

"Uh, no sir, uh, Ray, you've been shot." Major Sampson pointed to the bloody mess on his left shoulder. The young Army major said it nonchalantly as if he had seen the same situation before.

"Oh, that. It's just a flesh wound," Ray waved his hand in dismissal–right before he collapsed backwards onto the rooftop.

"Man down! Medic!" Sampson called over the radio.


Extraction Point! is available for purchase through Barnes-Noble and Amazon, as well as Twilight Times Books.

See other books by Stephanie Osborn at

Monday, August 1, 2011

Extraction Point! Ch 1 part 2

Extraction Point!
By Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn

Just as the thought occurred to him, the man regained his poise and his vision, and rushed at him wildly–at least it seemed wild, at first. So Ray sidestepped and attempted to Judo throw him. But the man countered the move with an Aikido circular motion that flung Ray around a full three hundred and sixty degrees and then downward and forward, sliding belly first and hydroplaning in the several inch deep rainwater. His belly slide splashed a double rooster tail of water out behind him. Ray tucked his right arm under his body--ignoring the pain caused from the street pavement peeling skin from his forearm--and used his momentum in a Judo roll to bring him back up to his feet just in time to be tackled from behind mid-back. I'm not doing too well with this guy, he thought, rueful. Jesus, this son of a bitch is fast.

Ray twisted and squirmed free, tossing the man backward, and barely missed him with a spinning back kick. In a flurry of elbows, backward head butts, punches, and blocks, the two men ended back in the exact same spot they had been a few moments before. Ray was face down in the same pothole struggling for his breath as his would-be assailant ground knees into his lower back and pummeled him from behind. But this time, to Ray's surprise, the man's grip let go sooner–much sooner.

As Ray forced his head up above the water again, he understood why. He could hear the semiautomatic weapon's fire splattering off the alleyway wall in front of them. The rain of bullets was obviously fired overhead as a warning, spraying yellow sparks and shards of brick ubiquitously, but it still startled the man and the break was all Ray needed to throw him forward. At first Ray covered, afraid of friendly fire, but the man he'd already chased for two solid freakin' miles into this alley entrance had bear-crawled his way to the turn in the alley and was getting away.

"Hold your fire," Ray heard someone call over the music and the rain and his pounding chest. With that, he lunged to his feet with all the strength he had left and headed forward in pursuit of the man, lungs burning, dredging endurance he didn't expect from some unknown, heretofore untapped place inside.

"You are NOT going to get away from me, dammit!" He sprinted around the corner in time to see the man climbing a chain link fence crossing the alley. "Shit!"

Over the fence, Ray said determinedly to himself. Ignoring various protesting bodily parts, he scrambled up to the top of the rusty fence and leaned over it, grabbing the other side of the fence with his hands, and then let his body weight flip him feet over head. He splashed down on the other side, already in a full sprint. Come on! Push it!

Ray was gaining on the larger man, but his heart was pounding at least two hundred beats per minute and felt as if it would explode at any instant. If only I hadn't dropped my damn pistol, I'd have him now!

Extraction Point! is available for purchase through Barnes-Noble and Amazon, as well as Twilight Times Books.

See other books by Stephanie Osborn at

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Extraction Point! Ch 1 part 1

Extraction Point!
by Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn

Chapter 1

Ray wasn't quite sure where the music was coming from, but it was loud. The second time he managed to force his head above the murky brown and gray water in the hubcap-deep tire buster of a pothole, he could hear the music pounding even louder than his heart AND the pouring rain–which was saying something. It was a remake of the old Guns 'n' Roses tune Perfect Crime–and from what he could tell, IT ROCKED.

The rain and the music and a chance to catch his breath gave him a quick burst of adrenaline to fight against the force of the two knees in his back, the hand grasping tight at the nape of his neck, and the fist beating into his left ribs. Ray flinched from the repeated jabs of pain pummeling into his side and could feel the adrenaline--and his hold above the water--slipping. So he took a deep gulp of air just before his face was slammed forward into the puddle, his nose bashing hard against the gravelly, broken asphalt at the bottom. The automatic gasp of pain that came next was inevitable. So was the water that filled his mouth.

Instinct engaged, and his body thrashed in wild desperation as he fought to avoid inhaling the filthy water. Despite his best efforts, he began choking, which in turn brought on a cough/gag reflex. Drowning, he realized, triggered bodily responses that were not only hardwired, but damn difficult to overcome.

I'm getting my ass kicked, he thought, verging on panicky despite himself. I've got to do something! Something Goddamned quick!

Using every ounce of willpower he possessed, Ray let his strength go and relaxed so that the man on his back could force him down and therefore be baited into a false sense of dominance–even, maybe, the notion that Ray was dead. Then he gritted his teeth and threw his right elbow up with all the strength he had left.

"Get OFF me!!" he yelled, muddy water gurgling from his lips as his elbow hit something hard–just when he lost his balance with his left hand, causing him to slip full face forward into the murky pothole… again. But the grip around his neck was gone.

Maneuvering both of his hands under himself push-up style, Ray managed to roll his body to the right, forcing his attacker off his back while continuing his roll over and then flipping backwards onto his feet. Ray shook the rain, mud, and blood out of his eyes, hacked slimy water from his windpipe, and made ready for an attack, but soon realized that his elbow had caught the man that he had been fighting square on the nose. The man was standing, briefly stunned and temporarily blinded, with bright red blood mixed with rain pouring profusely down his face. This gave Ray only long enough to catch his breath and scan the area for his handgun. He didn't see it anywhere. Shit. I liked that gun. Ok, hand to hand it's gonna be then, he thought to himself, easing into a shallow horse stance while really wishing he hadn't let the guy get the drop on him and knock his pistol out of his grip earlier.


Extraction Point! is available for purchase through Barnes-Noble and Amazon, as well as Twilight Times Books.

See other books by Stephanie Osborn at

Monday, July 18, 2011

My husband is a keeper

by Stephanie Osborn

I just returned from Libertycon, one of several major SF conventions in Chattanooga TN. There, I was delighted to be this year's Science Guest of Honor. These are good people, down-home, loving and friendly. As usual, they not only ran my standard bio in their program book, they also asked some people to give them their stories about me. Due to some crossed wires, they got two: one from my good friend Sara Harvey, and one from my husband, Darrell Osborn.

Now, Darrell and I have been married quite awhile, and like most married couples of long standing, we know we love each other and that's that. The busyness of life and the knowledge of belonging - as well as some reticence on both sides to be able to say the things that we feel deepest - means that the knowing is felt, not said.

Until the convention. And then my dear husband laid it all on the line for everyone to see. And I am so proud I can't stop reading it. So I'm going to share it with the world:

Let's start at the beginning. Decades ago, before many of you were born, my friend Danny and I were walking through the theater building on the campus of Austin Peay [State University] in Clarksville, TN. We were passing through the "Green Room" on our way to the stage when we saw an attractive blonde sitting on the couch. We looked at each other and then did what any red-blooded theatre geek would do. We hit on her. That was the first time I met Stephanie Gannaway. She was finishing her last year at APSU and preparing to graduate with a triple major in Math, Physics, and Chemistry. She was also picking up minors in Geology and Computer Science. My first thought was, "At last, someone I can talk to."

Fast forwarding a couple of years finds us married and living in student housing on the campus of Vanderbilt in Nashville. Stephanie was working on a Masters in Astronomy and I was creating havoc in the Live Entertainment Department at Opryland [back when it was a theme park -Steph]. One day word came down that Carl Sagan was coming to give a talk. You've got to remember, at this time Carl Sagan was a science rock star. Everyone knew "Cosmos" and he was a regular on Carson's Tonight Show. We later find out that Max, one of her professors, and Sagan were college buddies. The talk was great and we went to reception afterward. We progressed through the greeting line until we reached Max and Sagan. Max introduced Stephanie as one of the two astronomy graduate students. As Stephanie shook his hand, Max leaned over and whispered to Sagan, "She's one of the good ones." Sagan gave a knowing little smile and nod. That was our Sagan moment. Although brief, I think that short phrase and nod meant more to her than any of the degrees she had gotten.

A few decades have passed and so has Sagan. Now Stephanie has moved from science and her involvement in the space program to its symbiote science fiction. I have no doubt that the time will come again when she will stand before some sci-fi writer rock star and once again hear the words, "She's a good one." (That reminds me of the time we ran into Ray Bradbury; a story for another time.)

Last year I re-connected with Danny. He's now an Associate Dean at the University of Memphis. That's a great accomplishment, but I got the girl.

-Darrell "Doc" Osborn

Yep. I always knew Darrell was a keeper. <3

-Stephanie Osborn

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day, All!

Today is a special day in our nation’s history. Today, in 1776, the Second Continental Congress formally adopted what we now know as the Declaration of Independence. Two days before, they had voted to approve a resolution of independence, but felt that it was necessary to put out a statement explaining this vote. The resulting document is the Declaration, which in modern parlance would be considered something of a press release! It has been celebrated ever since, beginning on its first anniversary in 1777.

The American Independence Day is a fine day to remember what it is to be a citizen of this wonderful country. It is also a day to remember those who serve, who now and ever shall, I hope, maintain the freedoms upon which this country was “impelled to the separation.” Those who serve, not only in our Armed Forces, but as police, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency responders of all kinds.

I myself was briefly an emergency responder, a technical officer in the Department of Public Safety for a small Native American reservation. I provided security for the reservation during public events, ensured that animals were not mistreated, performed investigations, and responded to traffic accidents, the latter mostly occurring off the reservation when I happened upon them. I was present at death, though I cannot say I was ever blessed to be present at a birth. So I have some small feeling of what it is like to be on the first line of defense.

I have also worked as a government contractor, a payload flight controller for our civilian and military space programs, and in developing defensive measures for our nation.

Perhaps that is why invariably my writing seems to have the component of patriotism and service to country, and even planet. To me, heroes are those who do whatever it takes to ensure that people are safe and that right is always victorious. And I don’t mean that in political terms. I mean it in terms of morals and conscience. The guys in the white hats, as it were. It’s essential to me that my protagonists, while being fundamentally human and capable of error, always strive to do the right thing to the best of their understanding and ability. Because that same thing is essential to me, fundamental to my being.

After all, like so many before me, I, too, swore “To Protect and Serve.”

-Stephanie Osborn, July 4, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Extraction Point! by Travis S. Taylor & Stephanie Osborn

Brilliant scientist and government operative Dr. Reagan "Ray" Brady is a man with a shadowed, and painful, past. He should be dead. In fact, the man he was IS "dead," and the identity he now has is not the one with which he was born. Were it not for two faithful friends, now dubbed Jay and Ernie, all three men would truly be dead.

Instead, Ray has what he considers the perfect life: the three now work for an ultra-secret division of the Department of Homeland Security, on the lookout for invasion by rather unique sorts of illegal aliens - "Santa Clauses," or extraterrestrials, and "Easter Bunnies," or time travelers. This team includesnot only Ray, but his wife and team leader, Samantha Brady. The team's "mascot" is their one year old daughter, Abigail.

Things couldn't be any more perfect for Ray - until a mysterious man shows up, leaving several dead men in his wake. When Ray's team confronts the man in the Big Apple, Ray is nearly beaten to a pulp, then watches as the man leaps from the roof of a ten story building - and vanishes in mid-air. Meanwhile, Samantha is watching video from the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and seconds after his disappearance from NYC, sees the same man saunter calmly in for a full guided tour of the facility. A genetic scientist, whose work is on the cutting edge of research, disappears from his locked office. And large quantities of gold and other items are being stolen from within bank vaults and other secure facilities around the world. Most disturbing is the missing fissile material from Oak Ridge.

Who is this man? Why does his image show up through three centuries of Earth's history? How do he and his men manage to travel seemingly instantaneously? What does he intend to do with all of the stolen wealth and dangerous material he has amassed? And can Ray and his team stop him before Ray loses everything he now holds dear?

Travis S. "Doc" Taylor, New York Times best-selling science and science fiction author of the Warp Speed series, the Tau Ceti series, co-author of the first book in the Cresperian Saga, Human By Choice, and co-author of the Looking Glass series with John Ringo; and Stephanie Osborn, best-selling co-author of books two and three of the Cresperian Saga The Y Factor and The Cresperian Allliance, and the science fiction mystery Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, have collaborated on the first novel in the Point series, Extraction Point!, for Twilight Times Books.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Charity ebook for AL tornado relief‏

In the wake of the destructive tornadoes which ripped through Alabama on April 27th, 2011, I am proud to be included in Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction, a charity anthology ebook. All profits will be donated to The American Red Cross to aid disaster relief efforts.

To purchase, please go to and click on the ebook cover art or any of the title links. This will take you through to the publisher and links to Amazon and Smashwords, where you may select your preferred e-format.

Keep in mind, none of us that have works published in this ebook will be getting a penny - it all goes to the Red Cross for disaster relief. And in this time of disastrous storms, both here and in other states, it is much needed. Help us make a significant contribution to the disaster relief efforts, and enjoy some good writing into the bargain.

And thank you. So very much.

-Stephanie Osborn

(This blog entry also published at MadScience,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Airport Security - A True Story, Part 2

Having contacted my congressmen the evening I posted the original blog regarding my treatment at the hands (literally) of the TSA, today I received a reply - from one of them.

Congressman Mo Brooks, 5th District, Alabama, sent me the following email:

Dear Mrs. Osborn:

Thank you for contacting me to share your views concerning the Aircraft Passenger Whole-Body Imaging Limitations Act of 2011, H.R. 1279. I welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced H.R. 1279 on March 31, 2011. This legislation would limit on the use of advanced imaging technology for aircraft passenger screening. H.R. 1279 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee for review and consideration. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, please be assured I will keep your views in mind should this bill come before the Homeland Security Committee or to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Please feel free to contact me again in the future. You may wish to visit my website at for additional information about issues and legislation before Congress.

Mo Brooks
Member of Congress


Note also that Mr. Brooks wrote this himself and did not dictate it.

Unfortunately my attempt to reply to Mr. Brooks was bounced back. It would have read as follows:

Thank you, sir. So far you are the ONLY one of my congressmen who has replied to me on this issue. I am glad and appreciative you took the time to read my complaint and my blog, and even more appreciative that you will do something about it. For whatever it's worth, I put in my time as a government contractor, both for NASA on numerous Shuttle flights and ISS increments, and for DoD. I held a government clearance, and the safety of astronauts - and the populace - was entrusted to my hands. I was a volunteer/reserve police officer for a Native American community as well. Now I write full time as a novelist, but that does not negate the innate moral stance which allowed me to perform those jobs any more than retiring from the military negates a soldier's inherent morality or patriotism. I do NOT object to the safety and security of our nation, but feel it must be done with an eye to avoid eroding our freedoms and the inalienable rights guaranteed us as a free and independent people. The current procedures do not meet my standards of safety AND freedom.

Thank you for your time, and please stay in touch.

Mr. Brooks and other congressmen, I do hope you read this and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. It is shameful the way our citizens are being treated. May I respectfully suggest, as have many of my Facebook friends who have read my original blog on the event, that we emulate a country with highly successful, efficient, and non-invasive security measures such as Israel? They have no choice but to be the most efficient they can be, or they would not survive. They also do not abrogate the rights of their citizens in the process. This business of, "We must be politically correct and screen everyone, regardless of background, lest we offend someone," grows not only tiresome, but dangerous. May I remind you that the terrorists have no such compunctions.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Airport Security - A True Story

I recently had occasion to "check out" the new airport security scanning techniques while the TSA checked me out. And in the process found myself embarrassed, humiliated, threatened, and my privacy invaded.

I was traveling home from Penguicon in Troy, MI when I encountered the new "nude" scanners in the Detroit Airport. Images posted at the scanners plainly depicted the full extent of the scanners' capabilities: Unlike the television images, which were blocked out, it turns out, to MAINTAIN TELEVISION CENSOR STANDARDS, the scanner depicts EVERYTHING - buttocks, breasts, and genitals. The only thing it does not depict is the face of the "scannee." My alternative was an invasive, full-body pat-down. When I protested that this was a gross invasion of privacy, I was told that I "would not be flying, then."

Now, for those of you who don't know me, I had major surgery (as in removing a 25lb, 4-6L cyst from my abdomen) last August, and only a couple of months ago got the go-ahead to exercise at all, let alone fly. I have a full-abdominal incision scar that runs from my pubic bone up to only a couple of inches from my sternum. It is not pretty, and involves staple and large suture scars in addition to the incision scar. Because I could not use my abs or obliques for fully 6 months, and because the scarring is prone to forming keloids, I often wear a body wrap akin to the commercial "Spanx" products. This not only keeps the scar tissue relatively flat, it supports my back in its efforts to stabilize my torso. Had I not had this wrap, my back would have gone out months ago and I would be invalided. As it is, my back is chronically in pain.

But the wearing of this wrap also makes it difficult to keep my jeans up. My body is still changing shape as swelling, etc. decreases, and the wrap is made of slick lycra material. Belts are a necessity, but I usually wear woven cotton belts - which I did this day. Minimal bulk, minimal hardware.

So I stripped off jewelry, pocket contents, wristwatch, shoes, and cell phone, dumping them all into a tub with my carry-on. I stepped into the "nude" scanner (having been given no other choice to get home) and "assumed the position." (Yes, the position for scanning is the same as the one assumed when being placed under arrest - spread-eagled, hands in the air.) The scan took place, I stepped out...

...And was promptly detained.

I had to take off my belt. Scanned down to skin, but they took objection to my belt. My COTTON belt. I explained that I had had surgery and needed it to keep from losing my jeans, but it didn't matter. I was taken into a small room off the screening area, where two women in latex gloves stood and watched while I raised my shirt and removed my belt. One patted down the belt while another patted down my midsection. Finding nothing, of course.

THEN came the coup de grace.

"What's this?" the woman patting me down asked, tugging at my wrap.

"My surgical wrap."

"Does it come off? Is it down in your pants?"

"It comes off, but it goes down in my pants and it's difficult to remove."

"Let me see, please."

I was forced to unfasten my jeans, dig the bottom of the wrap out, and raise it up, openly displaying my badly scarred abdomen TO PROVE I WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. There was no chance that such a form-fitting garment could be concealing anything, but my privacy was invaded just the same, to prove some sort of point which I couldn't see.

Before I could get myself fully dressed again, the TSA agent who'd patted me down opened the door into the main area and walked out, calling back, "I have to go have the gloves checked. Keep her."

Once I was covered, I was led back through the still-open door by the 2nd TSA agent into the main security screening area, where I was held - still without shoes, jewelry, cell, etc - until the first TSA agent could have her latex gloves screened for contraband chemicals.

Only when that was okayed was I allowed to complete dressing and leave for my concourse.

Never before have I been submitted to a body search DOWN TO THE SKIN by anyone who was not a doctor. And then, only with my consent. I find this to be a serious violation of my rights as an American and as a human being. As a scientist and former reserve police officer, I can say that this is not a reasonable, efficient method of security screening - and it is sliding down a steep, slippery slope toward the abrogation of our rights and freedoms.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cresperian eBooks on sale!

An important message from my publisher, which includes some of my books!

ebook sale for book lovers

We appreciate our readers for making Tremolo: cry of the loon a breakout novel for Aaron Paul Lazar. Mazurka by Aaron along with several popular titles are currently available for 99 cents via Amazon Kindle.

Doggie Biscuit!, humor by Darrell Bain
Learning to Write the Easy Way for Fun, Posterity and Money, writing advice by Dorothy Ann Skarles
Mazurka, mystery by Aaron Paul Lazar
Sonora Wind, historical fiction by Florence Byham Weinberg
The Solomon Scandals, suspense by David Rothman
The Y Factor, SF by Darrell Bain and Stephanie Osborn.

Additional ebooks available at discount prices from $2.75 to $4.40 via Amazon Kindle.

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher
Twilight Times Books