If the return and splashdown of NASA’s Orion capsule yesterday was of interest to you, you might be intrigued by the opening chapter of The Water Cure. It begins with a classified mission to investigate an object “winking” in and out of orbit, the disappearance of its commander and an unscheduled de-orbit and landing in a thunderstorm.
It’s always the last full week in September. This year, it begins today, September 18 and closes out on the 25th.
Here are three titles sure to be banned when they become more well-known because, you know, you can’t have characters who are of nonconformist sexuality who are freakin’ brilliant and have their own spirituality in books that impressionable young people could read and perhaps, in this fiction, learn more about being good and decent and accepting in the real world.
Once upon a time, there was actually a NASA Railroad. Then it was closed, and its switcher locomotives donated away. Then it was reopened two years ago to handle heavy equipment needed for the SLS (Space Launch System), of which the Artemis 1 mission later this month is a part.
Readers of the second book of the “People of the Water” Cycle may recall that two characters crossed paths with one of those locomotives, late in the narrative of The Crystalline Clarity. So far as I know, the NASA Railroad has never had a fatal auto collision accident in its history like the one described in the novel.
By odd coincidence, the former NASA switchers were EMD SW1500 locomotives, similar to the older EMD SW1 locomotive that pulls the luncheon and dinner trains at the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway. (But another post for another time about that.)
Readers of The Water Cure may recall that the secret Skylark mission’s purpose in the novel was obscured with the fiction that the launch would lift an unmanned, remotely-operated Apollo command/service module spacecraft to dock with the Skylab space station in orbit, providing an escape module for astronauts there in the event that their spacecraft were to malfunction.
There actually were plans for a Skylab Rescue Mission, if needed, using a Saturn 1B booster and an Apollo spacecraft to be flown by two astronauts with extra acceleration seats affixed within its command module.
This Wikipedia article summarizes the history of the effort which, fortunately, was never needed — in spite of some concern over one Apollo craft’s RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters, vital in turning and orienting the spacecraft.
Two characters attend the hotel’s grand opening ball in the first book, The Water Cure, and another spends a few nights there in its third book The Aqueous Solution, haunted in a different way than most of the overnight guests of the Crescent have reported.
The 1886 Crescent Hotel is still in operation, after several renovations restoring her to her original glory as the grand dame of the Ozarks, and you can reserve a room at this website e-mail address. With a little luck and good timing, you might even be able to reserve one of the known “haunted” rooms! You’ll definitely want to book one of the ghost tours and learn more about its haunted history.
Monday I walked downtown for a nice late brunch at Mud Street Cafe, my favorite veggie hashbrowns and a double latté. Finished the opening pages of a fourth book in the “People of the Water” Cycle (#PGAN4). Working title: “The Unwept Tear.” (This is the third working title so far!) But I think I have a good story to tell for what looks to be the final book in the series.
Their popularity doubtless stems from a long association of esoteric and scientific properties as well as innate beauty, even when unpolished. There is a local legend that one lady citizen, some years ago, petitioned and was granted permission to install quartz crystals in the well of Basin Spring in its city park.
And our two mountain ranges are blessed with mineral wealth. In the Ozarks, caves with flowstone formations and onyx deposits pock the hillsides. In the Ouachitas, quartz crystals abound.
So, naturally, quartz crystals found their way into the essence of the stories in the “People of the Waters” Cycle. They help the People of the Waters recognize each other, perfectly clarify their memories of the past, even distinguish between helpful and harmful waters.
This article describes a four-ton quartz formation of record size that was mined in the Ouachita Mountains (south of the Ozarks in Arkansas), and now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.
Nicole Aunapu Mann is scheduled to be the first Native American women to fly into space and the first female mission commander of a NASA commercial spaceflight next month. She will oversee the SpaceX Crew 5 mission to deliver four astronauts (including, at this point, one Russian cosmonaut) to the International Space Station aboard Crew Dragon.
If you’ve read any or all of my novels in the People of the Water Cycle, you’ll understand why I’m both overjoyed and feeling that this is LONG overdue.