Marcha A Fox

Biographies & Memoirs, Self-Help, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Author Profile

Marcha A Fox

Marcha Fox’s passion for science fiction began as a child. Her determination to write in that genre knew no bounds, such that she even went back to college in her 30s to obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in physics, after which she spent over 20 years working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Science and engineering experience notwithstanding, it’s the unexplained mysteries of the cosmos, such as the concept of a universal consciousness, which provide the setting for Beyond the Hidden Sky, first volume of a four-part series. Centered on the Brightstar family who has been torn apart by a storm of political and scientific intrigue, they will stop at nothing until they are reunited.

Books

Star Trails Compendium

Science Fiction & Fantasy

This is the companion volume to the Star Trails Tetralogy which includes a glossary of terms, expanded information about the Cyrarian star system, its weather, indigenous species and political structure. It also includes a section for educators or book club members who wish to explore the science and other concepts at a deeper level. Ideal for teachers who wish to provide advanced students with extra credit for reading the books and then completing numerous assignment and discussion ideas included on a chapter by chapter basis.

Book Bubbles from Star Trails Compendium

Example Lesson from "A Dark of Endless Days"

Cyraria is a planet with lethal weather extremes. It orbits two stars in a figure-8 pattern plus its rotation is on its side rather than closer to upright like the Earth. This results in complicated and extreme weather patterns which play an important part in the story. Many people fail to notice that the position of the Sun changes throughout the year. They notice the seasons, which are the result. However, they often miss the fact the Sun rises and sets in a different location each day and its elevation above the horizon at noon varies as well. Lessons regarding how the relationship between a planet's orbit and its host star affect its livability are inherent in "A Dark of Endless Days" and make Earth Science more interesting. This excerpt is an example of Compendium content that can be useful to educators in using Star Trails to stimulate learning.

Science Teachers, I'm on your side!

Learning should be fun, which is often antithetical for math and science. Yet kids and adults alike love science fiction. How many of today's engineers and scientists were inspired by the original Star Wars movie that came out in the late 1970s? So how can today's teachers, who are already overworked and challenged enough, not only teach these subjects but make them fun? How about a science fiction series that contains real science and demonstrates its relevance to life? And while we're at it, let's include a companion volume which expands upon a variety of principles introduced in the stories. Then let's throw in a special section for educators with chapter by chapter lesson plans and discussion topics, providing ready-made extra credit for advanced students. And best of all, let's make it FREE! (At least everywhere but Amazon who's a bit uncooperative and makes me charge $0.99.) Here's a small sample of the education section for "Beyond the Hidden Sky." But what are you waiting for when you can get the entire volume for free?

Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set

Science Fiction & Fantasy

This box set contains all four Star Trails volumes for a total of over 1500 pages of hard sci-fi. The Star Trails Compendium which includes a glossary of terms, background information on Cyraria, and a special section for parents and educators is part of the set. Discussion and lesson plan suggestions therein provide multiple ideas for using the science in the stories to stimulate interest in physics and engineering in an entertaining manner. Ready-made assignments designed for using the books as extra credit for advanced students assist science teachers by making science not only fun and interesting and relevant to life.

Book Bubbles from Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set

Culture Shock on Steroids

"Beyond the Hidden Sky" kicks off the Star Trails Tetralogy adventure when Creena, the Brightstar's teenage daughter, gets fired off in a supposedly malfunctioning escape pod from the starcruiser taking them to their new home. The family is leaving Mira III, a fog-shrouded planet of nearly perfect order where creativity and individuality were discouraged. This suited Creena's brother, Dirck, just fine. Not making decisions worked for him since it made life relatively simple and carefree. Creena, however, whose personality was not conducive to enforced control, disliked it tremendously, even more so because she was often in trouble for not following The Laws. As the family leaves this world behind, most of them will experience culture shock, an unsettling feeling accompanied by a variety of insecurities when a person's world changes in both subtle and dramatic ways. You get a glimpse of how how the changes are already affecting Dirck in this excerpt. The suggested discussion for this part of the story explores some of the effects, which may be familiar to those who have moved a significant distance from their original home, such as to another state or country. Download a free copy of The Star Trails Compendium to see the suggested discussion questions for this chapter.

Entertaining Hard Sci-Fi with a Bonus

Don't you hate serials? Doesn't it drive you crazy when you're deeply entrenched in a plot and its characters then abruptly thrust to the edge of a cliffhanger? Worse yet when it entails a wait of months or longer before the next episode is released? A box set assures that those frustrations no longer exist! No waiting, no additional purchases, everything is right there, all 1500 pages of hard sci-fi just waiting to transport you to another world! Each book has been released separately to 5-star reviews. In addition, this set includes the Star Trails Compendium with terms, definitions, and detailed background information on the stories' planetary setting. Science is an inherent part of this series which is exploited in a special section for parents and educators with ready-made discussion ideas and lessons plans tailor made to stimulate an interest in physics and engineering. Whether you're simply a hard sci-fi fan or a teacher looking for a ready-made science education extra credit package, this series is for you! So what are you waiting for? Join the Brightstar family now for a gripping interstellar ride across the galaxy!

Refractions of Frozen Time

Science Fiction & Fantasy

A discovery that links two dimensions of time. . .A prison ship’s dirty little secret. . .Esheron has answers but will they arrive before it’s too late? Creena Brightstar believes the crystals discovered in the caverns can bring her family back together at last. But before she can finish unlocking their secrets Integrator forces discover their underground hideout, forcing a harrowing escape loaded with unexpected consequences. The dark and lonely days that follow change Dirck forever as fate plays out a hand dealt on Earth years before. Will time relent and give everyone a second chance? Meanwhile, Augustus Troy is on the move again, this time armed with a weapon capable of wiping out anyone opposed to his despotic goals. Do the Brightstars have what it takes to survive their final battle? Or will the family’s longed-for reunion take place in another dimension of time and space?

Book Bubbles from Refractions of Frozen Time

Timestamp Discrepancies

When Dirck and Win arrive at Apoca Canyon their first assignment is to figure out why their conclusions based on the data they processed at the Caverns differed from those determined by the Intelligence Processing and Synthesis division at the base. As they compare the information, the inconsistencies produce more questions then answers. Why are the timestamps of the same intelligence items. a.k.a. double-i's, different at the two sites? Even more confusing, they received some earlier, some later, leaving them mystified. Finally deciding not to waste any more precious time trying to solve the mystery, they focus on what Win's new sorting program might reveal. What they discover confirms Dirck's worst fears regarding those left behind in the Caverns.

Meet Berenices Tucana, Woeyel Industries COO

Bryl's Chief Operating Officer at Woeyel Industries is another character who barged into the story, auditioned, and assumed an important role. Bernie's life has not been easy and, as we say here in Texas, this "ain't her first rodeo" as far as dealing with sensitive situations. When Antara and Spoigan arrive on Esheron it's up to Bernie to handle the situation in a manner that won't put her, Antara, or anyone else at risk. Spoigan's reason for the visit is to obtain a c-com which he believes will provide him with a considerable advantage personally as well as boost Integrator research efforts in the mind control arena. But who's really in control, Bernie, Spoigan or Friar Johann?

The Bezarna Express' Dirty Little Secret

Onboard the Bezarna Express, Laren's thoughts take a different turn. No longer thinking like a victim, he considers factors that suggest the prison ship may have a dirty little secret. One he may be able to exploit. . With blatant executions forbidden by the HIO, those worthy of a death sentence are instead exiled to Bezarna, a blackhole from which there is no escape. But the real question is do they ever arrive?

A Difference of Opinion

Integrator scientists are under considerable pressure to perfect a reliable technique for mind control. As with the development of any such technology, the only way to know for certain whether or not it works is to use human test subjects. As they close in on this ability, however, they accidentally kill off several individuals and leave others catatonic and apparently brain dead. Troy and his superior, Spoigan, have diverse views of this event which demonstrate two different approaches to world domination. Each has their own supporting rationale but Troy discovers that his own approach could possibly bring his own demise. In spite of what is sometimes an adversarial relationship, these two somehow manage to move the Integrator's agenda forward. Have you ever worked with someone with different beliefs yet still been able to work together in a beneficial way? What advantages can you think of for differing opinions?

Time in Different Reference Frames

Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity tells us that time is just that, relative. When you're dealing with a science fiction world where travel near the speed of light as well as warp drive are the norm, it's difficult to keep track of how much time is passing for the individuals involved. That is unless you simply ignore these effects, like most authors. Since I try to keep my stories reasonably accurate as far as the science is concerned, this is something I have to consider. In "Beyond the Hidden Sky" this problem was explained in detail and handled with "Time Adjustment Stations" under the strict control of the Hostii Intergalactic Organization. Otherwise, unscrupulous individuals could exploit this ability and cause considerable chaos. It's hard to imagine time going faster or slower, even in a spacefaring society, thanks to the HIO keeping everyone on the correct time flow. With Laren on a ship heading for Bezarna, a blackhole from which there is no return, however, those on Cyraria hoping to save him have to keep track of how much time they have to do so. In this sequence Creena discovers that their calculations for his arrival time were wrong.

The Heart of the Scorpion

This volume of the Star Trails Tetralogy introduces a few new characters as well as providing a closer look into Rohtik Spoigan, villain Augustus Troy's superior. Integrator forces have once again hijacked one of Bryl Woeyel's research teams, this one led by a gutsy young woman named Antara. Named for the star, Antares a.k.a. "the heart of the scorpion" in the constellation Scorpio, she emanates the warrior spirit of Esheronian women. Like most of my characters she just showed up and asserted herself in a winning way such that she didn't wind up on the author's equivalent of the cutting room floor (which of course these days is obsolete with the advent of strictly electronic media.) The interaction between these two exceptionally strong individuals is the start of something big, sparks definitely flying later as this confrontation takes its natural course. Where do you think this encounter will lead?

Commandos Raid the Caverns

When Igni finally returns to take everyone from their hideout in the Caverns to Apoca Canyon, Creena insists on staying because of her and Deven's recent breakthrough with the crystals. Thus, Creena, her mother, and Deven remain behind. Sometime later, Dirck discovers that Integrator forces have discovered the Caverns, so he and Win grab a transport and rush to the scene hoping to rescue them in time. The raiding party arrives first, however, leaving Creena and the others no choice but to use the malfunctioning Think Tank to escape. Suspecting complications, Dirck and Win await word of their safe departure a short distance away. The outcome is even worse than Dirck ever expected.

The Fickle Finger of Fate

Exactly why are Laren's terralogy skills such a valuable asset that Augustus Troy was willing to employ any means necessary to commandeer them? Then, upon failing to do so, see to it that no one else would ever use them, either? Onboard the Bezarna Express, Laren does some reminiscing along the path which led him to his current fate.

Beyond the Hidden Sky

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Laren Brightstar knew refusing to work for Augustus Troy would make him a target. Accepting the chief terralogist position on the other side of the galaxy seemed the simplest solution. Getting there, however, isn’t. Not with a teenage daughter like Creena. She’s intelligent. She’s a rebel. And now she’s missing. In deep space. Was it an accident? Or abduction? Either way he has to find her. Before Troy does. And somehow he knows life will never be simple again.

Book Bubbles from Beyond the Hidden Sky

Creena's Not the Only One with a Big Problem

What was supposed to be a simple move from one planet to another has become a nightmare. The Brightstar family is scattered hither and yon with Creena on a deserted planet being bombarded from cometary debris; Dirck and his father have lost a significant amount of time in a timebump; and Sharra and Deven's original plan to stay with Jen and his family until her bondling's return has encountered serious complications. In this excerpt the Aquarius arrives on Cyraria and the family proceeds through emigration where Sharra is confronted with the most difficult decision of her life.

The Flora Peda Telepathis

Everyone's beliefs evolve from various factors such as personality, culture, race, education, environment and experience. Anyone who has moved to a state or country other than the one they consider home notices cultural differences such as accents, slang, food, manners and communication protocol. If another language is involved there are even more since language defines our thoughts. Cultures evolve according to their heritage and numerous other factors, making it impossible to judge one fairly without understanding their origins and their customs' rationale. Lack of understanding causes wars, a fact that's apparent by listening to the news. If humans can't understand members of their own family, much less a neighboring state or country to say nothing of some culture across the globe; if they can't even connect with their own species, how will they ever deal with one that is truly alien? This excerpt provides a glimpse into the mind of Thyron, a telepathic walking plant, whom Creena encounters somewhat later in the story. It's not apparent from this clip, but Thyron not only uses psi to communicate but does so in rhyme. How would you react if you encountered such a being?

A Terrifying Alien World

At first Creena is relieved when the escape pod lands. Finding help, however, won't be as easy as she'd hoped. There's no sign of civilization and the planet is being bombarded by space debris as evidenced by smoking craters and devastated forests. Coming from Mira III, a sterile world where the primary ground cover comprises cement, Verdaris' jungles and wildlife are a terrifying new experience. Creena is also about to discover weather phenomena, another shocking difference from her fog-shrouded naterra or native world, where meteorological changes are non-existent.

Thinking Like a Robot

Humans multiplex, or do several things at once, all the time, even if it's as simple as watching a game on TV while texting a friend. But how would you code a robot or computer to do that? How could you break it down to a step by step process, especially when there is more than one action taking place at the same time? One clue is a technique known as parallel processing, which is what people and computers do all the time. Using different parts of your brain, or in the case of a computer, its memory and processing capability, makes doing more than one thing at a time possible. Computers have been beating humans at chess for years, but that isn't actual artificial intelligence because it is accomplished through an algorithm known as an "If-Then" statement. In other words, "If a certain condition exists, then do this." True AI goes much farther because it includes the ability to think and act beyond specific commands. In this excerpt you get a glimpse into the thought process behind the 'troid, Aggie, when Creena meets her for the first time. Note how Aggie analyzes the situation and responds.

Decisions, Decisions

Raising a family can be a daunting experience. Kids bring challenges but above all else they’re individuals following their own path. They make mistakes which can come home to roost and drive their parents to the brink of insanity. Yet when push comes to shove, parental instinct demands that you protect them, whatever it takes. Mira III offered a controlled environment where decisions as well as problems were minimized. Clearly that is no longer the case. With his daughter jettisoned into deep space through what only appears to be an accident, Laren contemplates not only his obligations regarding Creena’s situation but how much their lives have already changed as a result. Being a parent is seldom easy.

Consequences Can Bite

Everyone has made a decision that has not ended well. No intelligent person deliberately makes a bad decision, but, “Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.” Sometimes the consequences of a poor decision are worse than the initial situation. This is especially true when fundamental laws of the Universe such as the laws of physics are violated. In this chapter Dirck and his father, Laren, encounter one of the risks of space travel. Knowing that their vehicle isn’t going fast enough to get to Creena’s destination before she does, Laren tries to remove the inhibitor from the warp drive which results in a timebump, throwing them forward in time which further complicates an already complex and dangerous situation. Meanwhile, Creena has problems of her own. The pod had no gravity simulator which meant that her muscles deteriorated during her journey such that she is now unable to walk or move about, all because she refused to do the exercises she was told by the onboard tutor, DORAI. Now everyone’s situation, which was already serious, has become substantially worse. They didn’t fully understand the consequences until it was too late and then had to pay the price.

A Psilent Place Below

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Finding refuge in Cyraria’s underground network of caverns to survive Opposition, it doesn’t take Dirck Brightstar long to discover these are no ordinary caves. When he and his mother share a shocking veridical dream its clear his imprisoned father is in grave danger with immediate action required. Following a harrowing prison break the entire family plunges into a world of intrigue as the Integrator’s hold on the planet tightens. At long last Creena makes it home only to find her family still can’t be together because her father’s now a virtual prisoner in Cira City working covertly to oppose Integration. With the caverns located deep within enemy territory the risk of being discovered not only threatens their personal safety but assures Integrator victory if cristobalite crystals fall into enemy hands. Squabbling between Creena and Dirck resumes in short order, jeopardizing their ability to recognize yet another grave threat that leaves them reeling with regrets as this volume concludes amid technological challenges, political intrigue and culture clashes in yet another volume of high powered science fiction adventure.

Book Bubbles from A Psilent Place Below

No Second Chances

Dirck knows that rescuing his father from prison is a formidable task. Not doing so, however, will have dire consequences so he and Win try to figure out what to do. Dirck has a feeling that his father's physician brother, Jen, is a key player. Using the Think Tank, the pair teleport to Jen's clinic, hoping to gain not only another player but additional input toward developing a successful strategy.

"Okay. He's yours..."

Augustus Troy is a ruthless and persistent antagonist. He knows what he wants and doesn't give up. His original intent to convince Laren Brightstar to lend his talents and experience to his despotic aspirations, however, has repeatedly been defeated. Now he just wants him dead. His superior, Rohtik Spoigan, Epsilon's Deputy Territorial General, hasn't agreed. Until now.

Welcoming Creena

At long last Creena is back with her family though their reunion is not yet complete. Laren can't join them because the risk is too high that it would reveal their location in the Caverns, deep within enemy territory. Getting Creena to the Caverns is not simple, either. Aggie's and Win's electronic and hacking skills hijack a transport but it fails to get to their destination. As the darkness of Dead Drop Winter creeps across the planet power problems set in. Now they're not only stranded in the Cyrarian wilderness but they've been spotted by a patroller as well. Will Dirck and Win's fake ID's hold up to their scrutiny? And what about Creena, whose ID doesn't even indicate she's a human?

The Clique

Cyrarian politics are complex and unstable, which is typical of a newly populated world. Each territory comprises twenty-four regions which are independently overseen by Regional Governors, of which Augustus Troy is but one. The Territory functions as a facilitator, supporting the fledgling regions with services such as advanced healthcare, import/export regulations, immigration coordination, manning the territory's assigned Cyrarian Space Facility or CSF, provide general security and law enforcement and provide facilities for the territorial prison. Territorial Generals oversee the regions, arbitrate disputes between them and attempt to gradually bring them together as a cohesive, cooperating body. Laren has been appointed the Minister of Regional Development by, Bryl Woeyel, Governor of Delta, a competing region to Troy's Sigma. While he'd prefer to concentrate on economic development based on his terralogist skills, his participation in the political arena is part of his responsibilities. Thus, he's present at a regular conference of dignitaries which turns out to deliver much more than expected as far as his future is concerned.

Jen Brightstar, A Quieter Hero

Jen Brightstar is Laren's older brother who's a physician. Much different in temperament, he adapted more easily to the Miran culture of compliance. He was less inclined to rock the proverbial boat and more likely to follow the path of least resistance. When his brother is imprisoned as a political ploy he's annoyed but when Laren's sentence is about to turn lethal he's ready to help Dirck and Win stage a daring rescue. According to plan, Laren is rendered unconscious using the Think Tank's ability to amplify psi. Jen, who has volunteered to conduct health screenings at the prison as part of their escape scheme, is waiting for his services to be requested on behalf of his brother at which time he'll get him transported to the hospital, known as the ALSIC. This excerpt includes the sequence where Laren "dies" as part of the plan of which he is unaware, under the impression that his family has preceded him in death during a massive Cyrarian tornado that destroyed their meager ballome.

Thoughts Become Things

You’ve probably familiar with the concept “thoughts become things.” Of course this makes sense because everything starts as a thought before you could possibly create or accomplish it. However, many believe it goes even farther, proposing that your thoughts have some magical, god-like power which can create what you want. I’m inclined to believe this because it has worked for me numerous times. I decided I wanted to get two Bengal cats and the next thing I knew my daughter sent me a picture of two darling Bengal kitties looking for a home. I decided I wanted to retire to my lakehouse and within a few years I did. I wanted to get my books published and as you can see that, also, occurred. But what if you could go somewhere that gave you an extra boost? A place that magnified your thoughts such that they would manifest immediately, even to the point of taking you somewhere else via teleportation? A place that allowed you to see what was going on in other places past, present and future. Such is a place the Brightstars discover within the caverns where they take refuge far below Cyraria’s brutal surface. What would you create? Where would you go? What if that place was inside your mind all along?

The World of Psi

Psychologist Dean Radin specializes in psi research which includes telepathy, clairvoyance, prescience and other psychic phenomena. In his book “Entangled Minds” he has stated, “Psi is not tightly bound to ‘now’ in either space or time.” While some individuals are more inclined to these abilities than others, it nonetheless clearly exists. Proving it scientifically is not easy because these energies reside in a realm beyond what current technology can detect. However, the mysteries of quantum physics support psi as a very real possibility. What if you suddenly discovered a place where you could see the future, communicate telepathically and teleport to any location you could visualize? Would it solve all your problems? Perhaps. But what if, as they so often say, “restrictions apply?” What if you couldn’t use it directly to break the law or violate anyone’s free will? Even with your intellect greatly enhanced it’s still up to you to do the necessary work. This is Dirck’s predicament as he faces the formidable task of rescuing his father from prison. Even with this extra help it’s still all up to him.

A Dark of Endless Days

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Cyraria is a hostile world with weather extremes beyond imagination. With Opposition, the worst of the heat season on the way, Dirck Brightstar and his father, Laren take on the challenge of preparing their primitive shelter to withstand the hostile environment. Their attempt to build a heat exchanger (air conditioner) to maintain a survivable temperature is interrupted by Laren’s arrest in a midnight raid followed by incarceration as a political prisoner as part of Augustus Troy’s Integration recruiting efforts. Dirck is thus left on his own to fend for his family, more separated now than ever before. His friend, Win, proves to be a valuable ally though his little brother, Deven, becomes the real hero thanks to his strange alliance with an indigenous race known as the bnolar. Creena, another family member previously separated from the family, experiences increasing trouble as well when she and her ‘troid, Aggie and vegemal, Thyron, land on a planet seeking a more capable vehicle for the trip back to the family's homeworld to obtain assistance. Instead of helping, authorities impound their ship and separate them as targets for government scrutiny and investigation. Integrator attempts to abduct her continue, the evil purpose of which she senses but doesn’t understand. With no other choice but to adapt to a primitive and alien lifestyle, when it comes time to leave she discovers she’s grown more attached to this backward world than she ever thought possible.

Book Bubbles from A Dark of Endless Days

Never Put Off 'Til Tomorrow

There's an old saying, "Never put off 'til tomorrow what should be done today." Have you ever put off doing something you knew you should do? Of course you have. Everyone has. But have you ever done so and then lived to regret it? In our busy world it's easy to find something else to do when a task looms you don't like. Unfortunately, the task seldom goes away. If someone else has to do it for you, then you lose their respect as well as anyone else's who was impacted by your failure to meet your responsibilities. In some cases you may be genuinely occupied with another important task. Time may slip away from you so much that you forget about it entirely. The consequences, however, of not meeting an obligation may be harsh, regardless of how valid your excuse may be. In this excerpt from "A Dark of Endless Days" Laren ponders his current situation and how he should have avoided it. But now it's too late.

Welcome to Earth

The technology Creena grew up with is advanced enough to have achieved inter-galactic space travel. What she encounters on Earth is pitiful in comparison. Her arrival is anything but hospitable and it doesn't take her long to realize she has a bigger problem than she did before. In this excerpt, they've set down at Hill AFB and have just exited their ship, hoping to find help even though Thyron warned her it was a bad idea. Aggie, however, thinks everything will be okay once they find out they mean no harm and only want to repair their vehicle and leave. Guess which one was right?

An Entirely Different World

The Brightstars' home on Mira III was luxurious, a spiral tower overlooking an artfully sculpted city bathed in wisps of eternal fog. Everything was controlled or at least predictable, including the weather and seasons, which never changed from 19 degrees Celsius/66 degrees Fahrenheit. Their circumstances on Cyraria, however, are the antithesis of what they left behind. Everything has changed, their home now a primitive structure in the middle of nowhere where lethal weather changes threaten their very existence. In a child's eyes, however, change is exciting. Deven, the Brightstar's six year old son, has been exploring and his discoveries ultimately have a tremendous impact on the family's well-being. Join him and Dirck in this excerpt for a leisurely hike through the Cyrarian wilderness which holds more than a few surprises.

What are friends for?

Who's your best friend? Why? Have you ever had a friend who brought out your mischievous side , someone who motivated you to do things you wouldn't have done on your own, perhaps even getting you into trouble? Has a friend ever bailed you out, literally or figuratively? Conversely, what have you done for them? We all need friends, especially when things go wrong, and Dirck is fortunate that he met Win Sendori. When Dirck's father is arrested, Dirck knows that it's now his responsibility to take care of his mother and little brother, which is overwhelming and frightening. He doesn't know what to do first but knows he needs to tell Win. His first trip to the supply depot (SD) where Win works gives him another scare in addition to the one he's already suffered when his friend isn't there. Even worse, no one knows where he is. Needing to know, one way or the other, if his friend was also arrested, this is what happens when Dirck returns to the SD later, hoping to find Win and unload his bad news.

There are no mistakes, only detours

The theme for this story is reflected in the Ledorian proverb, "There are no mistakes, only detours." What exactly does this mean? Everyone makes mistakes. Some are well-defined, such as the incorrect answer to a math problem or misspelling a word. But when you make a mistake you learn from it and make sure you don't do it again. That is one benefit of testing. If you miss something on a test you are likely to remember it. Sometimes knowing what you don't know is more important than what you do. The characters in this story made mistakes. Sometimes big ones. Serious ones that had consequences that splashed all over other family members. But were they truly mistakes or simply another step along the way? Sometimes a small mistake helps you to avoid a bigger one. For example, a minor car accident can teach you to be more careful which could help you avoid a major or even fatal accident later. An expression here on Earth states "Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions." This captures the same idea, to look at your mistakes as a lesson that will prove valuable later.

Mingling with Earthlings

When Creena gets stuck on Earth she's quickly introduced to a variety of things she's never encountered before. Her naterra, or planet of birth, produced very limited quantities of food in structures referred to as biodomes, with most of what they eat imported. Thus, the sights, sounds, smells and labor involved with living on a farm in Northern Utah is mind-blowing to say the least. The routine of helping with everyday chores is comfortable, however, and takes her mind off her dilemma by giving her something to do. In this excerpt she's hauling hay with the Benson boys and telling them about Mira III, which they find just as strange as she does Earth. Some elements are the same in both worlds, however, like getting along with siblings. What occurs in this conversation with Allen comes to bear in an important way much later in the the series, in it's concluding volume, "Refractions of Frozen Time." See if you can figure out what it might be.

How Does it Work?

How many devices in today’s world do you take for granted? Your cell phone? Television? Transportation? What about something even more fundamental like air conditioning? I live in Texas where temperatures up to 108 degrees and sometimes higher for days on end are commonplace. I can’t imagine how people survived here without it but they did. But a hundred degrees is nothing compared to what the Brightstars are facing on Cyraria where temperatures can reach over 200 degrees for longer than an Earth year. Air conditioning is not a luxury, it’s required for survival and their primitive shelter doesn’t have one. They have only one choice: Build one themselves. But how? Do you have any idea how an air conditioner works? In this story it’s called a heat exchanger which is its official name based on its function. Could you build one if your life depended on it? There’s a saying that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” But you need to know the basic scientific principles first. Do you?

UFO Lands at Hill AFB

I had a tremendous amount of fun writing this sequence where Creena, Aggie and Thyron set down unsuspectingly at Hill Air Force Base, expecting to find interstellar transportation. It's set in the 1970s and written from the point of view of the officer in charge who is having to deal with the fact that a UFO has not only landed at the base voluntarily but in addition its primary occupant is a human, adolescent girl. Have you ever had to deal with a situation that was entirely off the charts? See how Colonel Jenkins handles it until something happens that blows his objectivity out of the water.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Everyone has had one of those impressions before. They usually come as a feeling though sometimes actually words come into your mind, as if from an outside source. These subtle nudges are your subconscious mind trying to tell you something important. The subconscious picks up an amazing amount of information beyond what you see, hear, taste or smell and deserves your undivided attention. Ignoring or procrastinating its direction can have serious consequences as Dirck and Laren are about to discover.

The Sapphiran Agenda

Science Fiction & Fantasy

What would it be like to be a telepathic walking plant? One of the characters in the Star Trails Tetralogy is just that and this back story explains how his life came to cross with Creena Brightstar's in "Beyond the Hidden Sky."

Book Bubbles from The Sapphiran Agenda

Pygmies

If you're familiar with "Beyond the Hidden Sky" where Thyron first appears, you may have wondered what he was doing hanging out with a disreputable bunch like the Sapphirans. This excerpt at least partially explains this unique yet mutually beneficial partnership between the flora peda telepathis and a race of cannibalistic pygmies.

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51

Science Fiction & Fantasy

In May 1978 a UFO lands at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah. NASA astrobiologist, Gabe Greenley, is called in to investigate a strange plant found onboard. Psi-sensitive, he quickly learns the specimen is highly intelligent and potentially dangerous. Taunted by a ground-breaking discovery he can never share, his security oaths eventually result in an ethical dilemma with treasonous and deadly implications.

Book Bubbles from The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51

Exploring Area 51

Thyron's thirst for knowledge cannot be thwarted, even though he's confined. Since he possesses an entire suite of psychic skills, he can observe his surroundings through remote viewing. Thus, he begins to investigate Area 51. In writing this story, I researched Area 51 extensively and what Thyron finds is based on actual descriptions of this infamous base.

Clearly a Prisoner

Thyron has no idea what will happen to him now. Naturally suspicious of omnivorous humans who routinely torture vegetation on this awful planet, he's now confined to an environmental chamber. What will happen to him now?

Psi-Games

[NOTE:--Telepathic communications are italicized in the original book, which failed to register in this version.] Thyron is not going to go quietly into the night. While the base commander thinks Thyron is little more than a suspicious plant, he's about to be out-smarted by a vegemal far more intelligent than he could possibly imagine.

Dream Job Gone Bad

Gabe's decision to protect Thyron as the moral thing to do doesn't set well with Area 51 commander, Colonel Franklin Watkins. Not only do they violate Gabe's research agreement and security oaths, but are interpreted as treasonous, leading to the scientist's arrest and incarceration in the subterranean depths of Area 51.

HIO Monitoring

The Hostii Intragalactic Organization keeps a close eye on civilized worlds for compliance. Some planets are full members, others affiliated by treaty. In this excerpt, Thyron finds some information regarding Earth a.k.a. Terra, and her status with this powerful galactic organization.

An Astrobiologist's Dream Job

There's nothing more exciting to a scientist than discovering something new and Gabe is no exception. Finally, he's in the lab examining Thyron's sequenced DNA. He has a host of questions: How similar is the vegemal to Earth's version of oxalis? And what about his other features, such as eyes and mobility? This scene depicts some of Gabe's discoveries and speculations that provide a glimpse of the science contained in the story, though his most exciting revelation would constitute a spoiler, so you'll have to read the story yourself to discover what that is!

Resurrecting Aggie

Thyron and AG4MI, commonly referred to as Aggie, have never liked nor trusted one another. If you've read "Beyond the Hidden Sky" or "A Dark of Endless Days" then you've already witnessed this ongoing battle between a highly evolved vegetal lifeform and advanced AI robot. When both are imprisoned at Area 51, Aggie is dismantled, Thyron charged with putting her back together. However, he was unable to resist the temptation of making a few modifications. This scene depicts the moment of truth when Aggie is activated for the first time following his efforts.

Experiment Ethics Present a Dilemma

Experimentation on animals is controversial enough. When humans are involved, it gets more complicated. But what about a sentient plant? What rights, if any, would one possess? Especially one from another world?

Mutual Scrutiny

While Gabe wants to learn everything he can about this new alien lifeform, Thyron is likewise learning about Earthlings. Human behavior is an enigma to him in spite of his high intelligence and ability to read their minds. He is thus subject to over-analyzing something as simple as gastric disturbances as he seeks for meaning and understanding.

An Alien Lifeform

Suspicions are elevated on both sides as Thyron, a flora peda telepathis from the planet Sapphira, meets Gabe Greenley, a NASA botanist called in to examine the strange plant found onboard the UFO that landed at Hill AFB. What would you do if a plant communicated with you?

The Family History Fun Factor

Biographies & Memoirs

If you're a genealogist, you'd give blood and pay money to go back in time and converse with one or more of your progenitors to find out what their life was really like. But what about your ggg-grandchildren? How are you preserving what makes life shine for you and your family? If you need some ideas, this entertaining and informative book is for you!

Book Bubbles from The Family History Fun Factor

Your Smart Phone is Your Greatest Ally!

When you think of a genealogist what image comes to mind? In days past it was typically someone who was contemporary with the dinosaurs hunched over yellowed documents with a magnifying glass. Today it can be anyone. Family History came in vogue a few years ago, supported by the scrapbook craze and the Internet which was the researcher's dream come true. Nonetheless, writing was still required to some degree, a skill that was intimidating enough to stop some people in their tracks. Fortunately today's technology is your new best friend!

No More Excuses!

If you don't think life is short then you need to ask someone who's a decade or so older than you. It is. Believe me. And often by the time you start to wonder how it was fifty years ago anyone who could tell you is dead and gone. Gathering family stories and such may seem like work but you probably have a device that makes it as easy as the touch screen on your smart phone. Literally. What are you waiting for?

What's Missing from your Family History?

Every family has a wealth of stories, traditions, habits and behaviors that make them unique and contribute to each member's identity. Whether they relate to ethnicity, cultural roots, economic class or DNA these are the heart of why we have family reunions and the memories that last forever. If you're not preserving these gems in some way they could be lost to those who would appreciate them the most. Doing so doesn't have to be work but can be tremendous fun, especially with the variety of helpful electronic media available, often as close as your smart phone. Don't let your family history scroll into oblivion on Facebook! Find out how to preserve and keep it starting today, not only for your family to enjoy but for generations to come.

The Definitive Guide to Astrological Reports

Self-Help

Will your career take off next year? Will your love life improve if you move to Denver? Are you and your latest flame a good match? When will you finally sell your house? Millions of satisfied customers and clients seek guidance through astrology. The advent of computers and the Internet have made astrological interpretations and predictions not only available but comfortably private for a reasonable price. This brief yet comprehensive guide describes several types of computerized reports typically available online, what information each will usually provide as well as any inherent limitations. Additionally it includes descriptions of some unique astrological readings for which computerized versions may not be available but can be provided through a trained professional. Also included is a handy table that directs you to which report you need for what as well as a listing of resources for finding a reputable professional astrologer in your area. Full length samples of eleven different types of reports are included in the appendix.

Book Bubbles from The Definitive Guide to Astrological Reports

Figurative Asteroid Collisions

Those familiar with astrology are usually aware that asteroids also have a strong influence on a birth chart as well as transits. These often explain individual characteristics which are not clear from looking at the basics such as planets in the various signs and houses. I have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil yet there was nothing in the planetary placement in my natal chart which explained that. Years after studying astrology I discovered that the asteroid, Kalliope, muse of writing, was conjunct my ascendant, which explained it perfectly. If you want to know which asteroids of the thousands out there that have a bearing on your personality, you can obtain an asteroids report which is described here.

Did you know your zodiac sign changes with time?

Nothing in the Universe is static, including human beings. They move, they grow, they learn and they evolve. While most people are aware of their zodiac birth sign, few realize that this also changes with time and reflects their progression as an individual. If you have ever woken up and felt like an entirely different person it's very possible that you experienced a sign change. No, I am not making this up. The degree of your natal Sun changes by approximately one zodiacal degree a year and will eventually move into the next sign which will introduce you to its characteristics. Your natal programming remains at your core, but you will find yourself gradually assimilating the world of a new sign. Your Moon changes signs every two and a half years and has an important impact on your emotional nature. If you want to know what your current zodiac sign is, this is the report that will explain it.

The "Birthday" Chart

Every year when the Sun returns to the same position as your birth chart a new cycle begins. The official astrological name of this event is a Solar Return. Oddly enough, this does not always occur on your actually birthday as far as the date is concerned, but may happen on the day before or after since the Gregorian calendar does not match up perfectly with the Sun's zodiacal placement. The cool part about this chart is that it maps out the cosmic plan for the year ahead. Obtaining a Solar Return report (which is my personal favorite and one of the most popular ones with my clients as well) will provide insights into what to expect in the coming year. Important life events such as a new job, moving, or financial issues will show up, which can help you plan accordingly. For example, on a positive note, you might go ahead and plan for a nice vacation if the financial prognosis looks positive. Conversely, you probably would pass on that new car if you knew your job was in jeopardy. Forewarned is forearmed and the Solar Return can provide a wealth of information.

How Can Astrology Help You?

The majority of people think those daily horoscopes you find online or in the newspaper are all there is to astrology. Not true! As crazy as it sounds, your life's path was set in the sky at your moment of birth. Skeptical? So was I. I have a physics degree and was taught in college that astrology was so much myth and superstition. Then I checked it out and much to my surprise found out it worked! During difficult times you want answers. You want to know what you can do, how long it will last and even why you're in such a fix. Whether it involves money, career, your children, a relationship or your health you have a lot of questions that it seems no one can answer. The answers are out there and this book will show you where to find them.

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