Untethered Realms Welcomes Alex. J. Cavanaugh

The Realities of Space Travel

Speculative fiction provides us the opportunity to explore beyond our world. Writers get to imagine what’s beyond the edge of our solar system while trying to infuse as much reality as possible. Just what are the realities of space flight though?

Travel time isn’t as fast as portrayed in the movies. We haven’t achieved light speed. Not even close! The space shuttle traveled at a rate of 18,000 mph/29,000 km/h. It can circle the Earth in ninety minutes, but getting all the way to Mars would take over six months. With current technology, it just isn’t going to go much faster.

That leads us to the next reality - ship requirements if we’re to travel farther than the moon. It would take a much larger ship than the space shuttle. It would need to store more supplies, possess a stronger propulsion system, more shielding against radiation, and larger accommodations for the crew. They would also need room to carry equipment for Mars or whatever planet was their destination. They are working on a ship that can travel to Mars, but that’s a lot of things they need to consider when constructing it.

Perhaps the scariest reality is the effect of space travel on the human body. Without gravity, an astronaut’s bones lose minerals at a rate of 1% a month. On earth, the average is a little over 1% per year. Astronauts also experience pressure in their heads and vision problems, along with mental difficulties resulting in depression or sleep disorders. Radiation is a problem–on the space station, humans receive ten times plus the amount of radiation as they would on Earth. This increases the chance of cancer, radiation sickness, and nervous system damage. After six months on the space station, astronaut Scott Kelly’s skin became super-sensitive and he developed a hive-like rash whenever he touched anything. These issues would compound during a long trip, bordering on life-threatening.
This is where the freedom of being a speculative fiction writer comes into play. Unless we are writing about current or near-future situations, we can circumvent these issues. We can invent things in our minds that will not only solve these problems but propel us beyond existing projections. Set a story in another solar system or galaxy and we can blow past all imagination. The boundaries of space no longer apply.

We need to be aware of the limitations of today’s space travel, but we don’t have to be confined by them!

About our awesome guest: Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Find Alex on his website, Twitter, and the IWSG.


Drink & Be Hairy, Scary, Merry?

There are plenty of things in this world to look forward to:

  • The weekend
  • A great movie release
  • Your birthday

The list can go on and on. Instead, I'd like to focus on one of the things that many of us look forward to in different ways...and it isn't just a human or earth thing either...

It's our drinks.

See, most folks look forward to that first cup or three of coffee, cappuccino, or cafe au lait in the morning.

Another drink that some folks look forward to is a nice shot of whiskey. Best be careful, it might put hair on your chest.
Credit: The Art of Manliness
Getting supernatural, blood is the drink of choice for those of the vampire persuasion. If one is of the "let's not drink up all the blood of our neighbors" mindset, there's Tru Blood.
Credit: True Blood online
If you have a god-like need to quench your thirst, ambrosia is said to give satisfaction and immortality.
If you're ever out on the spaceways, zipping from one planetary system to the other, take a tip from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and be careful of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. I understand the effects of this drink can cause you to be merrier than anything or anyone in your wildest imagination.
Mixing instructions
As for me, a nice glass of wine will do.
What about you? Do you have a special drink that you look forward to, perhaps a concoction of your own making that friends enjoy at gatherings, or something that brings that long, exhausting day to a nice closure? Heard of any "out there" drinks of interest?

Please share in the comments :-)


Untethered Realms Welcomes Graeme Ing


A new sci-fi adventure by Graeme Ing

Hello everyone, Graeme here.

I’m a huge fan of a particular sub-genre of sci-fi which inspired this book, but it would be a complete spoiler to say which, sorry. :) Let me know if you figure it out after reading the book.

I had another goal when writing Emergence too. I’m particularly fond of books that keep you guessing. Where things are not what they seem, and you suspect that from the beginning. Have you read that type of book? Like the layers of an onion.

You find yourself attempting to figure out the true reality, and form a theory. Then there’s a revelation in the book that either confirms or betrays your theory. At this point, you’re like “Oh, okay, I think THIS is happening.” Then the author drops another bombshell. “Oh! No, I bet it’s THIS.” And on it goes, you trying to predict the final revelation. It’s exciting to wonder if you interpreted the clues correctly.

It’s this type of mystery that I set out to capture in Emergence, though it’s more an adventure tale than a true mystery. And it was a huge challenge for me to pace the revelations, without doubt the toughest book I’ve written so far. I hope I pulled it off, but only you, dear readers, can answer that. :)

A dying world has many secrets.

Porl's world is dying. Crops fail. Birds fall from the sky. Is this a repeat of the Cataclysm that decimated the Ancients’ world a thousand years ago?

Porl loves to fix things and is compelled to solve the mystery - and save his people no matter the personal cost. Disobeying the will of the town Elders, Porl uncovers a secret they want hidden. When caught, the Elders banish Porl into the wilderness, alone against the savage Mad-Ones.

As the Mad-Ones hunt him, Porl discovers the world isn't what he believed. The more he learns about the mystical Ancients, the more he unravels an incredible reality he never imagined.

Nothing is what it seems. The harshest truth he uncovers is that in seven days everyone he loves will die. Yet the final secret of the Ancients, on how to save his people, still eludes him…

(Paperback coming soon)

If you want to contact me, I love discussing books and hearing recommendations.


Book Review: Disposal (Pop Travel #3) by Tara Tyler


In the future, many problems are the same, but cool gadgets make chasing the bad guys more fun.

Cooper and Geri are finally in a good place, but their bliss is short-lived. When Cooper's rebellious nephew Jimmy comes down to stay with them in Atlanta for a summer internship. Now he thinks he's found the girl of his dreams in a fiery, exotic beauty. Pursuing her against all words of warning into a dangerous underground world, he ends up getting kidnapped by her powerful Drug Lord father. Geri tracks him down, but gets herself kidnapped as well.

Now it's up to Cooper to use all his resources to save them, including the hot homicide detective Geri secretly despises, and the latest sketchy gadgets his genius friend Hasan needs field-tested. Sure, why not? Cooper will try anything to get his family back.

Christine's review:
In this third book of the thrilling Pop Travel series, Cooper and Geri's home life is disrupted by a visit from Jimmy, Cooper's unruly nephew. Jimmy pursues a beautiful young woman whose father turns out to be a drug lord. He finds himself kidnapped, and when Geri goes to save him, she ends up in the drug lord's clutches too. Cooper enlists the help of his genius friend Hasan to find them, but will he end up captured like his family or worse?

This sci-fi series is so much fun. It's a fast-paced ride in the not too distant future where people can travel through teleporters and still sometimes get a little sick from it. Cooper and Geri are a wonderful team. Neither of them will back down and will do anything to save those they care for. Of course I still love the parts with Hasan. His geeky quirkiness and immense intelligence have him coming up with all sorts of strange gadgets. Most untested, of course. Cooper gets the fun of that!

I highly recommend the Pop Travel series to sci-fi and thriller fans alike.


Read, Write and Relax

Congratulations! If you're reading this, then you survived 2017 and the holidays. I don't know about you, but by the end of the year I'm ready to wrap it up and move on. Completing another year is quite the accomplishment, and moving into a new year brings a special kind of hope for the future.

As a writer with a day job, I'm busy juggling and balancing things in my world. The day job satisfies my financial needs, while the writing life satisfies my soul. Both are necessary to my happy existence. Inevitably I get to the point in the new year when things get hectic. Sometimes I'm so busy reacting to the next "thing" that comes my way that I forget to breathe. Then anxiety sets in. For someone who once suffered from Panic Disorder (it's a real thing), it's not the way to go.

The world is such a busy place these days that we're all in a mad dash to get things done. The good news is that people have recognized the human need to decompress. And in typical modern fashion, we're only fingertips away from instant gratification. So I went in search of some quick go-to options for de-stressing and decompressing. 

I find the sound of running water soothing (as long as it isn't a broken pipe, overrunning toilet or flood!) And I adore rain! There's actually a name for people who love rain: Pluviophiles.

But it doesn't have to be rain. I love the sound of ocean waves too. Preferably from a hammock, sort of like this one... 

~~~~~~~~~~HERE ARE SOME APPS YOU CAN TRY~~~~~~~~~~

If you love the sound of water, try one of these:

You can meditate anytime you have a few free minutes at either of these apps:

Or, if you don't go in for meditation, but need to unwind, try these breathing exercises:


There are so many apps these days to help with stress and anxiety. There's even a Psychiatrist app! 

I'm not a great one for exercise, but a short walk helps me to unwind and gets my creative juices flowing. I get my best ideas during walks. 

BUT, of course my favorite way to relax is snuggling down and getting into a good book (sometimes with whisky and chocolate!)

What is your go-to technique for relaxing?


Happy Holidays From Untethered Realms


(Image from Pixabay)

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

We here at Untethered Realms hope to share with you something a little bit more this holiday season. These books are our favorites, near and dear to our hearts. Perhaps you already love them too, or you may find the gift of a new tale to sweep you away.

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M. Pax: My all-time favorites: Man O' War by Walter Farley, A Wrinkle in Time, Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dune, The Valor series by Tanya Huff, anything by Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy, and Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. This year, some of my favorite reads were Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman, Horizon Alpha by D. W. Vogel, Hidden by Linda Berry, The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott, Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn, and World Without End by Ken Follett.

Meradeth Houston: My all-time favorite read is A Wrinkle in Time, but this time of year I remember The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot with quite a lot of fondness. My mom used to read this to my sister and I around the holidays, and as big animal people (we always had some creature or other living/recuperating in the kitchen) this story always hit home.

Christine Rains: I'm with many people when I say I can lose myself in the Harry Potter series again and again and again. But here are a few you might not have heard about. The Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman is such beautiful and dark alien fantasy. For horror fans, The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman is amazing.

Catherine Stine: Wow, I have so many favorite reads... okay, here are a handful: Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (for kids); Paula Brackston's witch novels like Winter Witch; and almost any novel by Don Delillo - for instance Libra or Point Omega.

Cherie Reich: It's hard to narrow down my favorite reads, but let's see if I can. For people who enjoy the classics, I loved reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. For fantasy, my all-time favorite is the Harry Potter series, but I also really enjoyed Rachel Morgan's Creepy Hollow series. For science fiction and thrillers, I love anything by Michael Crichton. For writers, I recommend Story Genius and Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. For mystery and historical, I thoroughly enjoyed John Maddox Roberts' SPQR series.

Gwen Gardner: My all-time favorite Christmas read, hands down, is, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. He knew what he was about when he wrote it. The social aspects of the novel are still valid today. But my favorite line is when Mr. Cratchit tells Mrs. Cratchit what Tiny Tim said in Church: He hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.

Some of my other favorite reads this year were In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear, The Seagull by Ann Cleeves, and Rather Be The Devil, by Ian Rankin. 

* * * * * 

From our family to yours, we wish you a happy holiday season and a fantastic 2018.

Don't forget we're seeking author guests for the new year. If you're interested, please leave a comment below.


Meet the Neighbor... Ross 128 b. Another world close to our own #astronomy

By ESO/M. Kornmesser (https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1736a/) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Eleven light years away, orbiting a small, faint red dwarf, is the Earth-like planet Ross 128 b. The star, Ross 128, is one of the quietest stars in the solar neighborhood and is located in the Virgo constellation. Most red dwarfs are prone to flaring, which can blast nearby planets with lots of radiation, stripping away their atmospheres and making them uninhabitable. But Ross 128 b doesn’t flare very often, which makes any planets in its habitable zone candidates for hosting life.

The planet was detected by the HARPS instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is the second-closest known Earth-size exoplanet and is calculated to have a minimum mass of 1.35 times the Earth. Ross 128 b orbits 20 times closer to its star than Earth orbits the Sun, but intercepts only 1.38 times more solar radiation than Earth, increasing the chance of retaining an atmosphere.

It's year (rotation period) lasts about 9.9 days and is most likely tidally locked, meaning one side of the planet has eternal daylight and the other eternal darkness.

As of 2017, Ross 128 b is the best candidate for a potentially habitable exoplanet, if it has an atmosphere and if it has the right chemical balance for life to thrive.

Would its inhabitants be like us? Or wildly different? What do you imagine they're like?