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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: lunar pioneers, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. Recommended viewing

Ken Murphy over at OutOfTheCradle.net has previously written glowing reviews of two anime series, Planetes and Rocket Girls (the latter winning a "Best of the Moon" award along with Lunar Pioneers), but there's one other series he hasn't mentioned. That's probably because it isn't commercially available in the US, although you can find it online if you know where to look.

Twin Spica (or Futatsu no Spica in Japanese) is the story of five kids who make it into the very first class at a special Japanese astronaut training academy. In this version of the near future, Japan has had its own manned space program, but suffered a disaster when one of its rockets malfunctioned on liftoff and crashed into a Japanese city. The main character, 16-year-old Asumi Kamogawa, lost her mother in the accident. Her father was an engineer in the space program, but now he works elsewhere. Asumi's dream since childhood has been to become a "rocket driver." Her main ally in her quest is the ghost of an astronaut who died in the accident - he always wears a big lion-head mask over his head, and so Asumi calls him "Lion-san."

Twin Spica is a "slice-of-life" drama - something you don't see in American animation. It takes its time moving the story forward, stopping to explore smaller, less-noticed themes along the way. It gives the characters a chance to develop and makes them more well-rounded. Their training at the space academy focuses on physical and psychological preparation as much as it does on physics and astronomy, which is probably a realistic depiction of what high school for future astronauts would look like. They get pretty creative with some of the tests the kids have to go through.

What I like best about this show is the way it depicts the dream of going to space. It's not a dream where everything's rosy - it doesn't hide from the fact that getting into space is difficult and not everyone will get to do it. But that just makes the dream more appealing, because the characters know what it requires and are willing to go for it anyway. Each of the five kids has a reason for being there, and we get to see what spurs them on.

As I watched this show, I couldn't help wondering how Asumi and her friends would get along with the astronauts in Rocket Girls. Asumi herself is very small for her age, which means she'd be a natural at the Solomon Space Agency. Her cheerfulness and never-say-die optimism might be too much for Yukari Morita, though.

Twin Spica also exists as a manga that is still ongoing, continuing the story well beyond the end point of the anime. I'll have to look for that and see how things turn out.

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2. "In the beginning..." - 40 years later

This Christmas season is a special one in space history. It was 40 years ago, Christmas 1968, when Apollo 8 sent the first human beings to the Moon. They didn't land - the Lunar Modules weren't ready yet - but they made ten orbits and sent back the first TV transmission from another world. For the first time, people could see the entire Earth as a planet floating in space. They also read from the King James Bible on Christmas Eve.

There are lots of online commemorations you can check out if you're interested:

National Public Radio ran a story on Morning Edition that you can listen to here. There's also an online video bonus story.

David Livingston welcomed space historian Robert Zimmerman to Monday's edition of The Space Show, to talk about Apollo 8 and the Bible reading in particular. You can listen to that here.

Finally, NASA-TV is running Apollo 8 coverage all day today and tomorrow. You can check out the schedule here.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

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3. Space Shows

The PBS series Nova has turned out some really great episodes about the space program over the years, and last night's episode was no exception. "Space Shuttle Disaster" took a look at the 2003 Columbia accident - not just the accident itself, but the social and political factors around it, through the past and into the future. They made a good case for the claim that the Columbia accident was a product of the environment that made the Shuttle what it was in the first place, and then explored the ways that the accident has changed NASA's plans for the future. If you missed it, you can look for your local PBS station to rerun it, or go here to watch it online:


Meanwhile, I've got a space show of my own to do. The Space Show, in fact:

I'll be on the air from 12:00noon to 1:30pm Pacific Time this Sunday, talking about Lunar Pioneers. You can hear the show streamed live from the Space Show website or download it as a podcast later. Be sure to check it out!

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4. We're Number One - but for how long...?

This is my author blog, where I write about things related to my books. With that in mind, my aim is to avoid politics as much as I can. If you want to know who I support for president this year, I've made that pretty clear in other places around the net. I don't need to repeat it here.

Nevertheless, I wanted to point out this new opinion piece in the New York Times - "Houston, We Have a Problem". It's about the challenges facing our next president, whoever he may be, if the US is to keep its leadership role in space.

The columnist asserts that, "Not since John F. Kennedy, has a president truly understood the incalculable value of space." It's a credible claim. Richard Nixon killed the Apollo program. Ronald Reagan gave us the International Space Station, but with so little support that today's scaled-down version still isn't finished. George H.W. Bush tried to interest us in Mars, but failed to follow up his initial proposal. Bill Clinton's NASA director tried to do things faster, better and cheaper, but mostly what that got us was a bunch of debris scattered across the Martian landscape. And now we have George W. Bush, whose Moon/Mars initiative is ambitious, but so badly planned that we're going to be left without our own means of getting to the space station we built for at least four years.

The Moon of Lunar Pioneers is an international Moon. My main character, Blair Kelly, is an American, but her mom works for a Chinese company, the ferry that takes her to the Moon has an Indian captain, and her best friends on the Moon are Russian and Japanese. I think that if humanity is going to settle space, we've got to do it together. But that means the US has to do its part. If we don't, someone else will - and then they'll be going out there without us.

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5. In the air / On the air

I'm working on lining up a guest appearance on The Space Show, and I seem to be making some progress. They read an email of mine the other night, and it sounds like they were interested in what I said:

Audio Clip from The Space Show

Meanwhile, this week I've also learned that junior high and high school students can now sign up for this year's Team America Rocketry Challenge. The goal is to design a model rocket that will lift an egg to 750 feet and keep it in the air for 45 seconds - and the egg has to be lying on its side, like an astronaut sits. Winners get to go to next year's international air show in Paris, among other prizes.

I had a great time with model rocketry as a kid, and even won a regional tournament once. It's definitely something all young space enthusiasts should look into.

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6. Kids in Space!

Okay, it hasn't happened yet, but that hasn't stopped kids from wondering what space is like, and it hasn't stopped teachers from wanting to teach them.

In the latest edition of the internet radio program, The Space Show, host David Livingston talks to the authors of a new book, Kids to Space Mission Plans: An Educator's Guide. As the name suggests, it's all about how teachers can put more space-related materials into their classrooms. I picked up a copy of the first Kids to Space book at Worldcon a couple of years ago, and it would have been really handy when I was writing Lunar Pioneers. The broadcast is available for download, so be sure to check it out.

And what will those kids do when they grow up and become astronauts? Space.com has a new article describing ideas currently floating around for the first permanent lunar station. The forerunner to Clementine Colony, perhaps? Be sure to check that out, too.

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7. Lunar Pioneers - Where to find it

Now that Lunar Pioneers is available, where can you get your copy? Unfortunately, you probably won't find it in a bookstore, although I'm going to pitch it to the bookstores near me, especially Vroman's in Pasadena. For most of you, though, the best place to look is online. Right now, there are three options:

(1) My publisher, Windstorm Creative, has it at their website:

(2) Amazon.com has a listing for it, although right now they say it's out of stock:

(3) You can get a signed copy directly from me. Just go to my own author website:

That's it for now, but as other opportunities come up, I'll be sure to let you know.

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