The Rain of Stars … BEGINS 🌧+⭐️=🤩

This is one of my world-famous emails, originally sent Saturday, 1 June 2019. Get on the list here!

This week, it’s not about me

True story.

For the month of June, I’m bringing you a selection of five-star space operas for the bargain of … zero Earth dollars. Enter: the five-star space opera bundle.

Before that, a quick update from yours truly. I’ve been working for a very cool organization. It’s been quite exceptional, not least of which because they do stuff like this (click the first one).

Writing on Boundless continues to be good, clean fun: today I had Geneve slice a man in half, but from the groin up. Should that stay in the final cut? To be fair, I usually lop off arms, so this is a big departure for me.

I teamed up with four other authors to bring you a selection of highly-rated reads. The criteria of entry:

  • It’s gotta be a real book. No samples or other huckery.
  • It’s gotta have a 4.5 star or higher rating.

Head over to the page, and sign up for whichever authors take your fancy. If you’re a little gun-shy about appearing on a random stranger’s email list, I’ll introduce you to each of these heroes, one per week. You can either go directly to the page, or stay here and meet an actual mad scientist – dealer’s choice.

Dr. Saffy

Inmate Name: Saffron Bryant

Last known locations: | Facebook | @SaffronBryant

Book in the promo: Rookie (Book 1 of the Nova Chronicles)

Q: You have a degree in (checks notes) molecular nuclear chemophysics with a side of engineering the next race of super villains. What’s all that about? Have you ever blown up a lab?

A: That’s an interesting way to describe my qualifications; much better than the standard way so I think I’ll adopt it for all future job applications. But yes, my PhD project was looking at whether life could evolve without water (it can), but no, I’ve never blown up a lab (health and safety for the win!).

For those with a science leaning, you can read the ‘official’ work in my papers listed at the bottom of this page: but in summary, all cells are surrounded by a membrane – it separates the inside stuff from the outside stuff (one of the basic requirements for life). My project focused on making those membranes in liquids that aren’t water (imagine 100% ethanol for example). Turns out, it’s really easy and these things could be popping up all over the place! This is important, because in our ‘quest for alien life’ we usually focus on finding planets in the right temperature/pressure range to have water on them (the so-called “Goldilocks Zone”). But this is wrong – it’s applying terrestrial limitations to extra-terrestrial life. Just because we need water, doesn’t mean aliens do. So, I argue that any planet could potentially support life – whether we’d recognise it or not is something else entirely.

Q: Rumors tell me that you’e a dispossessed Australian, living in the UK, and trying to build a gravity elevator so you can get some work/life balance in with your SO. How do you find living & working away from your lair?

A: Dispossessed… I like that. It is unfortunately ‘expected’ in the science career track that you work in another country for a few years. Having said that, I was lucky enough to land in Bath – an absolutely beautiful city in the UK. I’ve very much enjoyed experiencing these things called ‘seasons’ which I can’t say I saw much of in the stifling heat of tropical North Queensland. It’s also refreshing not to have to worry about standing on a snake/spider/crocodile every time I step out of bed.

It also makes travelling to Europe much easier, compared to the 24hr flight and thousands of dollars it usually takes from Aus. I went to Venice a couple of months ago – amazing, and highly recommended.

It’s been an amazing experience, although a gravity elevator would definitely come in handy. Also, no wonder Tolkien was able to write such amazing fantasy stories – this place is like a living, breathing inspiration for classic fantasy: castles on every hill, ruins everywhere, manor houses, just incredible.

Q: Of the stories you’ve written: favourite character, piece of technology, and villain?

A: Hmm… I think my favourite character is always going to be Nova. She was written as a cross between Lara Croft, Doctor Who, and Mal (Firefly). She’s a kick-ass bounty hunter who shoots first and asks questions later. Her robot sidekick Cal is a bit of a crowd favourite with readers because of his sassy personality and he is the only one Nova will take crap from. My favourite piece of technology is the ‘food generator’. Basically, I hate cooking. I hate everything about it. And I didn’t want my characters wasting time with that nonsense, so BOOM food generator. It’s kind of like a 3D printer, but it uses proteins/amino acids/carbohydrates etc. to generate foods. The better models give you more food and taste options, while the cheap models will give you protein paste and not much else. I long for the day that food generators become a reality.

Favourite villain is a bit harder. I tend to lean toward a ‘villain of the week’ set up. I’ve had ‘space vampires’, ‘space zombies’, brain leaches… you name it. Space vampires were fun to write, I kept to some vampire tropes but tried to put a bit of an original spin on it (e.g. why they’re sensitive to wood).

Thanks Richard very much for having me 🙂

[Let me check out Dr. Saffy’s book]

That’s it this week. Next week, we’ll meet someone with an accent like an extra on Game of Thrones. Until then, keep kicking ass.


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