What might have been: Could doomed Shuttle Columbia’s crew have been rescued in space?

Extraordinary read at Ars Technica.

As with every other task involved with the rescue, there was no room for error, and there would be no second chances. Atlantis would be launched with an all-veteran crew, with selection for the mission biased heavily toward astronauts who demonstrated fast adaptation to microgravity (there was no time to be space-sick) and high aptitude at EVA and rendezvous. The report names no names, but it does indicate that an assessment revealed a pool of nine EVA candidates, seven command candidates, and seven pilot candidates available in January 2003 whom NASA felt could have undertaken the mission.

The four astronauts chosen to fly Atlantis would have faced an extraordinarily compressed training schedule—and also a tremendous amount of professional and personal pressure. The tight timeline would mean that the two Atlantis astronauts selected to actually spacewalk between the shuttles for the rescue EVA would likely be training underwater at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab almost every single day of the two weeks, breaking the entire multi-hour spacewalk up into tiny component maneuvers and procedures and walking through each to commit them to memory. Simultaneously, the two astronauts selected to pilot the shuttle would have spent that time in the large motion-base simulators in Building 9 at the Johnson Space Center, working through every moment of the rendezvous, station-keeping, and landing from start to finish.

***

It’s also certain that the media would have exerted its own tremendous pressure, attempting to thrust cameras and lights into every corner of the preparation—as much as they would be allowed to do so, anyway. “Space disaster” and “rescue mission” are golden ratings words. Clear Lake in Houston and Cape Canaveral in Florida would have been swarmed with TV trucks; the Johnson Space Center sign on historic NASA Rd 1 would likely have been a constant backdrop on TV news both local and national.

And throughout the frantic weeks on the ground, Columbia‘s crew would wait.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sapphire Eye by David   Forbes

The Sapphire Eye

by David Forbes

Giveaway ends February 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

New Young Adult fantasy novel now available: THE SAPPHIRE EYE

Earlier this month I released my latest young adult fantasy novel, The Sapphire Eye. I really like how it turned out. It has a bunch of interesting characters (some of the not-human variety), an  interesting and rather unique mythology and backstory that drives the story, plus it’s laugh-out-loud funny in parts (at least I think so, and early test readers thought so too).

The blurb is below. If you’re interested, you can pick up a trade paperback or Kindle ebook from Amazon.

More than anything, Abbey Howard wants to be an ordinary seventeen-year-old girl—hang out with her girlfriends, gossip about boys, stay ahead in school, and keep on the right side of her mom. But there’s one thing that makes her different: a ghostly shape she calls the Shadow that’s haunted her since she was a little girl.

Her life gets even more strange when the new dreamy guy in school, Caleb Powell, claims he can also see the Shadow. He tells her that he and his family are guardians who protect ordinary people from the very real and very dangerous things that go bump in the night. He wants to know what the Shadow is and if it’s dangerous, and destroy it if he has to. But is he interested in her, or just the thing that haunts her?

They discover that the Shadow is more than a simple ghost. It’s part of an ancient plan to thwart an immortal empress who desires to conquer Earth. The empress was separated from this world untold ages ago by a Veil of power that bars her and her kind entry to our dimension. But over the millennia she’s worked tirelessly to tear down the Veil, and her work is nearing its completion. When the Veil falls, nothing will be able to stop her from reclaiming what was once hers.

Abbey has within her a secret power that can bring true death to the immortals—a fact that has come to the empress’s attention. She knows Abbey’s name, and the dire threat she poses to the empress’s everlasting rule.

Abbey and Caleb must fight for their lives against demons and undead soldiers sent by the empress to destroy them. Their only hope for survival lies in the hands of a shady spiritualist, and a mysterious occult artifact known as the Sapphire Eye.

Yes, it’s been a while

2013 was not a good year for me, for a variety of reasons. I won’t (and can’t, in some instances) go into the reasons everything was pretty crummy, but I’m hoping 2014 is a vast improvement. Though since I’ve been sick most of January it hasn’t started out in any great shape.

I do have a new book out, which I really like and hope you like it as well, assuming you take a chance and read it. I’ll post details about it shortly.

 

Qbots Kickstarter Project is now live!

Neurodome_Kickstarter_Logo 2

 

The Kickstarter Project for our computer game Qbots is now live!

What is Qbots? It’s a downloadable, sandbox adventure game with robots. The world is procedurally generated, which means it’s basically infinite. You can play alone or in multiplayer mode, dig and build things, go exploring, battle evil robots called Malbots, and try to solve a long-form adventure puzzle.

Head on over to the Kickstarter page for a more detailed description and videos of game play. And if you feel like contributing to the cause (donations start at $5), thank you for your support!

Qbots opening screen

Press release: Qbots computer game to debut at PAX East on Friday, March 22

That super-secret thing I told you I was working on? Here are the details.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Print

Qbots™ Adventure game to debut at PAX East

Procedurally generated sandbox game provides a rich environment for players to build, battle, share, and explore

Mechanicsburg, PA:  Independent gaming company Qbots LLC will debut its first product, the robot adventure game Qbots, at booth 495 at PAX East in Boston on March 22, 2013.

“We couldn’t be more excited about this title,” says David Forbes, the president and founder of the company. “We feel we have a unique game that will be a huge hit with a wide range of gamers around the world.”

Qbots is a procedurally generated sandbox game, meaning the world is randomly created as players move through it. “The game is essentially infinite,” says Forbes. “We have plans to deliver three unique environments for players to explore: a ‘standard’ ground-based world; an undersea world; and an airless, low gravity moon.” Forbes does note that the game is in the early stages of development and that at launch just the standard environment will be available. The game has been in development since the summer of 2012.

Once players have chosen a particular Qbot avatar — there are three primary models, with a variety of armor customizations available for each — they can largely do whatever they want inside the world. “The tagline ‘build, battle, share, explore,’ is exactly what we hope to accomplish with this game,” says Forbes. Qbots will blend the complete freedom of sandbox gaming with the loot and character progression of the modern action RPG. There are a variety of ways to earn currency in the game, which can then be used to buy items from the Store tab in the Qbots’ user friendly Bin system. The player can purchase items such as enhanced armor that will improve game statistics, weaponry, tools, and building materials.

Immediately after players have outfitted their Qbot they have the ability to dig for materials that can be used to build fortifications, other structures, or craft special items. Players will also find themselves battling aggressive, malevolent Malbots. These vicious bots were once Qbots but were infected with a brain- and body-altering virus that has turned them into fierce enemies.

Players are able to share their adventure with friends using a cross-platform multiplayer mode (Windows, Mac, Linux). Players can explore these vast worlds together utilizing mysterious wormhole gates and portable teleporters in search of treasure and clues, or gather information that will help the Qbots solve the mystery of their absent creators, as well as the key to  surviving the Malbot onslaught. Or not! Qbots offers players complete freedom to build, go on quests, or simply explore the world while accompanied by a  group of friends.

“The game that will debut at PAX is an early iteration of the product,” says Forbes. This version is a playable development build which will demonstrate the core of what the team will continue to build upon. “Upon release later this spring, the game will be on sale for a pre-1.0 version price of $10.” Forbes says he expects the final price of the game to be $20. “Any players who purchase the $10 beta version will automatically receive all future updates of the game at no additional cost. We want to reward anyone who takes a chance with us and enters the Qbots universe early.

A free unrestricted version of the game will be available for a two day trial period before purchase is required to continue game play. The registration and authorization process have been custom built by Qbots LLC to make the process as seamless and easy to use as possible for purchasers.

“There are so many things you can do with the game, we haven’t thought of them all,” says Forbes. “Qbots is a game of creativity and growth. That’s what’s exciting for us. To get this in the hands of players and watch what they do with it.”

Under the hood, the game has been built using the most recent version of the Unity Pro gaming engine.

To download the game, view production artwork, watch game play videos, or learn more about Qbots, please visit the company website at www.qbots.net.

# # # # #

For more information, contact:

David Forbes
President/CEO, Qbots LLC
1232 Cross Creek Drive
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Phone 717.503.7228
dave@qbots.net

What I’ve been doing for the past year

I’m not quite ready just yet for a full reveal, but the long and short of it is that I started a video game company last spring and we’re about to have the public unveiling of our first game at PAX East in Boston at the end of this month. We’re in a mad scramble to get things locked down and stable as possible before then. In the coming weeks I’ll be trickling out more bits of information and then a full-on blowout of what the game is, the thinking behind it, who’s involved in making it, what you can expect it to evolve into … lots of fun stuff.

So for now this is just a tease, but the wait for tons of details will soon be over. Promise!