Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Guessing the Future with Physicist Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss explores the greatest unanswered questions at the forefront of science today, and likely for the coming century and beyond. Internationally known theoretical physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss explores science’s greatest unanswered questions. Three of the most important words in science are “I don't know.” Not knowing implies a Universe of opportunities—the possibility of discovery and surprise. Our understanding of science has advanced immeasurably over the last five hundred years, yet many fundamental mysteries of existence persist: How did our Universe begin? How big is the Universe? Is time travel possible? What’s at the center of a black hole? How did life on Earth arise? Are we alone? What is consciousness, and can we create it? These mysteries define the scientific forefront—the threshold of the unknown. To explore that threshold is to gain a deeper understanding of just how far science has progressed. Covering time, space, matter, life, and consciousness, Krauss introduces readers to topics that will shape the state of science for the next century, providing us all passport to our own journeys of exploration and discovery. 

 Q) Your book THE EDGE OF KNOWLEDGE is a look at where science is at the forefront of discoveries, and what the future may hold for physics. Another one of your books is about the fear of physics. How afraid should the average reader or listener be to understand all the terms and concepts, like “closed timelike curves,” and how much of your job is to insert lay language or definitions into a complex discussion that might otherwise be more technical? 
 A) There is no cause for fear.. Rather excitement. While mastery of these concepts requires significant mathematical knowledge, understanding their general perspectives and how they originate doesn’t. That is what I convey. It requires some thinking, but so does trying to understand anything worthwhile. 
 Q) You narrate the book as well. Of course you have vast experience in hosting discussions with colleagues, along with your longtime Origins podcast. Do you find producing and narrating fun, and what guests have made your endeavor most pleasurable? 
A) I love narrating the books. It is a tremendous challenge and rather daunting at the beginning, but working to create just the right level of excitement, and the right pace is very satisfying. I wouldn’t have anyone else narrative my books. As far as guests in my discussions, I have enjoyed almost all of them. I enjoy when guests confront me with questions, like Ricky Gervais did, or sometimes disagree with my reflections, as Woody Allen did. I love when they teach me things, as almost all of them do. 
 Q) The concept of the multiverse may be verified by examining data from gravitational waves related to eternal inflation. Are you hopeful that evidence will be found indirectly to suggest the multiverse is a reality? Or does that evidence already exist? 
A) It is more a matter of luck than anything else. If Inflation occurred at the right scale, we should see the waves, and be able to probe inflation, and indirectly prove the existence of multiverses. If not, alas, that might elude us forever. 
 Q) Dark matter and dark energy consist of most of the universe, but we have only clues as to what they are. So what do you think are the best avenues to reveal them? 
A) New observational techniques to begin with. Dark matter will, I think, be directly detected in my lifetime. Dark Energy is a much more difficult challenge, and I think it will probably require new theoretical ideas rather than new observations in order to understand it. 
 Q) Which series had the most believable physics—Star Trek, Star Wars, or The X Files? 
A) Hmm… Well, Star Wars really had no science, more fantasy. The X files was generally about violating the laws of physics. So I would have to say Star Trek. But I may be biased. 
Q) Are you more string theory or loop quantum gravity in focus? 
A) I think string theory is better motivated. 
 Q) What do you like to read for fun? 
A) I enjoy reading non-fiction, usually in areas outside my own expertise. I enjoy history and biographies, and I enjoy mystery stories. 
 Q) How far are we from having quantum computers with general intelligence? 
A) Pretty far, but things are changing fast. 
 Q) What’s next for you? 
A) Who knows? That is what makes life interesting. Have a few ideas for a new book. We will see.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Judge Jury Suspense stories

The audiobook version of this is CAT ON A COLD TIN ROOF, at Audible iTunes. Revenge can be sweet, or surprising. Here are tales of mystery and fantasy, science fiction and romance. The theme is revenge, but the twists are unexpected. First up, a hybrid that is both story and script, including artificial intelligence, beliefs, and fears. It begins with a drug unlike any other: a shocking disruption of the market. Next, a prequel to the Tom Cruise movie Collateral. Who was Vincent? Where did he come from? The Key to Vincent lies in the Florida Keys. Bonus tales will beguile and amuse, from the author of The Methuselah Gene and Lottery Island. ... Jonathan Lowe is author of Posrmarked for Death, which Clive Cussler called "powerful and accomplished...mystery at its best."

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Cozy Up to Terror

The Lone Star Family Fun Time is an amusement park where the plot of COZY UP TO TERROR, (book seven of the Cozy Up Series), plays out. The Texas attraction hosts a Witness Protectioner in a smelly mascot costume being chased by gangsters out for revenge. Doyle Flanders works as a custodian sometimes wearing a Yeti costume to entertain the kiddies—who can be demanding for photographs. This eccentric cozy mystery by Colin Conway is ably narrated by Damon Abdallah in this new Books in Motion release. Abdallah has a mouthful of characters to interpret, from naughty eight year olds to jaded criminals and clueless staff. It’s difficult to wrangle one’s mind and mouth around such a distracting coterie of people, but Damon is up to the task of keeping the accents and mannerisms in line. He keeps the attention fixed on the circus atmosphere the story creates, and propels the narrative, such as it is, with offbeat but appropriate audio renderings. 

If you can imagine a theme park far enough out of the way that such antics can occur, join Doyle and crew in a golf cart ride into thrilling improbability. And keep your ears open for more in the series, which began with Cozy Up to Death.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Interview with Mary Kubica

  1. In Just the Nicest Couple a surgeon goes missing, and a friend of his wife holds a secret about the disappearance. What idea inspired the book, and why did the story of two couples (one happy, one not) resonate with you? 

As with most of my books, it starts with a tiny seed of an idea that grows during the writing process. With Just the Nicest Couple, I was first drawn to the concept of writing about a missing man, because we hear so often on the news and in the media about women who go missing. I wanted to flip the script and see what would happen if the roles were reversed. My books are always domestic in nature, which was the draw for having two couples involved in this book. Not only was I diving into the lives of one couple, but the lives of friends and co-workers as well, asking that all important question: How well do we really know the people closest to us? 

  1. You began writing as a young girl, but what led you to the suspense genre? Why do you like it so much, and what authors influenced you?

My debut novel, The Good Girl, was the first manuscript I wrote that was in the suspense genre, though as a child, mysteries and suspense (such as books by Christopher Pike and Nancy Drew) were my favorites to read. Before The Good Girl, I wrote women’s fiction, though my manuscripts were only ever works-in-progress because I would get partway into the manuscript and then lose interest. With The Good Girl, I started adding suspense elements by accident and soon discovered how much I enjoyed writing in the genre. I knew I’d found my niche. I love watching a mystery develop over time and including things like unreliable narrators and red herrings. One of my favorite parts about the genre is slipping subtle clues into the text once I’ve discovered my twist. There are many talented authors in this genre, but a few who have set the bar incredibly high are Ruth Ware, Alice Feeney and Stacy Willingham.     

  1. I’ve heard you don’t work from an outline, but prefer to be surprised by character interactions. What are the best and worst parts about working this way?

Yes, I am definitely a panster, or the type of writer who prefers to fly by the seat of her pants, than a plotter. The best part for me is the spontaneity of it and not knowing on any given day when I sit down to write what will happen in the lives of my characters. I always learn something new about them and am just as surprised by the twist as I hope my readers will be. The worst part is that there are many times I write myself into a dead end and discover that an idea I was excited about simply doesn’t have legs and I have to delete pages. That can be frustrating, but it’s still an important part of my process!

  1. Of the two narrators in Just the Nicest Couple, which do you identify with, and why?

In Just the Nicest Couple, we hear from Christian, a man whose wife was the last to see Jake Hayes before he went missing, and Nina, Jake’s wife. Though Nina and I have quite a bit in common (she is a woman, like me, and is a teacher; I was a high school teacher before I turned to writing full time), I identified more with Christian. He’s a man deeply devoted to his wife and unborn child, who will do anything to protect his family. I appreciated that about him and found it easy to understand his motivations even when his actions were sometimes questionable. 


  1. What is the most suspenseful thing that has happened to you? 

For someone who writes suspense novels, very few suspenseful things have happened to me, which is a good thing because I’m actually a scaredy cat in real life! That said, I’m always on the lookout for strange things that can work their way into my novels, like the time I stayed in a hotel, only to discover that mine was one of two rooms with the same room number, or when I stayed at a bed and breakfast with a crawl space door in the corner of the room, and spent the entire night wondering where it led and who might be on the other side of the door. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Things that Go Bump in the Universe

The subtitle of this long but not long winded audiobook is “How Astronomers Decode Cosmic Chaos” by C Renee James. It is read by Wendy Tremont King. The author takes listeners on a grand tour of our search for the reasons behind supernovas, neutron stars, Gamma Ray bursts, and pulsars. Lots of history finds its appropriate way into the narrative, lightening the load of so much information with an earthy, even humorous sprinkling of anecdotes. Would you like to be an astronomer? This book gives you a look at how astronomers work, and you can define for yourself how boredom is and can be eclipsed by discovery. The author manages to cover immense ground with the ease of someone very familiar with the drudgery of finding those moments of exhilaration amid all the math. Recommended for anyone looking for an audiobook with an outstanding comprehension of what it takes to be a trailblazer. Plus just the breath of the science told in a way that can only astonish.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Interview with Boyd Morrison

AT) You wrote The Noah’s Ark Quest, which became an indie bestseller, but your experience is in industrial engineering, sometimes for NASA. Then you worked on X-Box games for Microsoft. How did you discover writing?
Boyd) I’ve always been a big reader, but I’d never considered writing until I took a science fiction writing class from Hugo- and Nebula-award winning author Nancy Kress. I wrote a terrible short story for class, but I thought I might have better luck writing a full-length novel. That’s when I got the idea for a chemistry grad student being chased by killers who are after a formula he created, which eventually became my thriller THE CATALYST.

AT) There are four novels in the Tyler Locke series, and you also have two stand alone novels. Then you transitioned into writing with Clive Cussler on the Oregon Files series. How did you meet him and come to working with him?
Boyd) I didn’t even know I was in the running to write with Clive. He was looking for a new co-author for the Oregon Files and read a couple of my novels. He loved them and particularly enjoyed how I crafted my endings. He called me out of the blue one day and asked if I wanted to write with him. I’d been a big fan of his ever since I read RAISE THE TITANIC!, so of course I jumped at the chance. Two weeks later, I was sitting in his home office, where we brainstormed ideas that would turn into my first novel with him, PIRANHA.

AT)  Did you ever see his car museum or the Confederate submarine museum in Charleston?
Boyd) Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to visit the Hunley in Charleston, but I’ve been lucky enough to see his car museum in Denver. The cars have been lovingly restored, and they’re all masterpieces of design and craftsmanship. I could see why Clive loved to include them in his stories, and I got to feature a few of them in our collaborations.

AT) What is Tales of a Lawless Land about?
Boyd) Tales of the Lawless Land is a historical adventure series written with my sister Beth Morrison, who is the head curator of medieval manuscripts at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and a world authority on the Middle Ages. We wanted to create a fun thriller series that captures the spirit of classic adventures like Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers. In the two stories we’ve written so far, THE LAWLESS LAND and THE LAST TRUE TEMPLAR, knight errant Gerard Fox has been unjustly ex-communicated, losing his land and his title, and is forced to journey through Europe in the aftermath of the Black Death and during the Hundred Years War. He is accompanied by a fierce and resourceful lady, and together they are on a search for justice, both for themselves and the downtrodden souls they come across.

AT)  You’ve had a diverse background with a lot of successes. What interests you most, and how has that changed over the years?
Boyd) I love storytelling in all its forms. It’s a way for us to learn about the world, what our place is in it, and how we can relate to others. I also enjoy how stories can give us a sense of justice and closure when the world around is often senseless, cruel, or random. I’ve been writing for a long time, and I plan to continue to do so, but now I’m also moving into acting to tell stories. I’ve performed in many plays, but I’d like to expand into screen work to reach a broader audience.

AT)  Do you listen to audiobooks, and what do you think of your narrators?Boyd) Since I work at home, I don’t get to listen to audiobooks on a commute, but I do enjoy them. I’ve had a number of different narrators for my stories, and I love hearing their unique approaches to narration. Someday I may even narrate one of my own audiobooks!

AT) What’s next for you?
Boyd). Beth and I are currently working on book three in Tales of the Lawless Land, which will take our characters to medieval Croatia, where many of the King’s Landing scenes in Game of Thrones were filmed. I’m also working on a contemporary thriller novel as well as a screenplay, in addition to my acting. So I’m not bored!