Life meets fiction

I try not to write badass characters. Rather, I strive to write real characters dealing with real problems as best they can. Sometimes, however, this very effort makes them badass and there’s nothing I can do about it.

In my most recent book, Water, one of the characters suffers a broken lower leg due to a fall, and she must deal with her rescue and first aid herself. Speaking from experience, now, after the fact, she is an undeniable badass.

Image: The author after a recent fall

On the rim

Nour guided the rover to the south side of the crater. A natural gap in the rim here provided access to the inner crater, and a road had been cut that ascended to this gap then descended the rim in several broad switch-backs. The kids oohed and cooed as the rover tipped and swung its way up the road. A couple of them looked a little ill from motion sickness.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: illustration (color version) by Luis Perez for Water, Generation Mars, Book Three (please note: book interior illustrations are grayscale)


School bus

Once the kids were buckled into their seats and the cabin door was closed, Nour started the rover. It ran on an internal combustion engine burning methane, a fuel that was made on Mars from the water and atmospheric gases available. Most of the kids had never been in a rover, and the vibration of this engine was unlike anything they had experienced.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: public domain (,_Utah_c_1912.jpg) with a few added tweaks



The kids did not know what to make of Nour. The right half of her face was badly disfigured by a burn, and none of the muscles worked correctly on that side. The eye there was exposed only through a narrow slit of scar tissue, and when she spoke or frowned (she never smiled), only half of her mouth was involved. The left side of her face would have been handsome except that the expression it carried was one of arrogance. Or maybe it was defensiveness. She tended to look at the ground and was hesitant to make eye contact, but when she did, she looked fierce, like she had just been challenged. When she spoke, her voice was low and serious in tone. The kids found her a little scary.

“First things first,” said Nour, “I’m sure you all want to know about my face.”

None of the kids spoke. Of course they wanted to know about her face, but they weren’t going to say that out loud.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: developmental concept art generated by AI with further tweaks of my own (please note: no AI was used in the actual content of the book)

So stand up

“Here’s the thing,” he said. “You want to stand up on that little ledge, but you can’t see where to move your hands when you do, and you think you’ll fall without hand holds. Right?”
“Yeah,” she grunted.
“If you stay put, you’ll fall.”
“Yeah,” she grunted.
“If you stand up, you might fall.”
“Yeah,” she grunted.
“So stand up.”
She gave him a side-eye look. She took a deep breath. And she stood up.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: Modified from (Jarek Tuszyński,

What is water like?

Parents sometimes have moments in which they are caught speechless by a realization about the world as their child sees it. In this case, the realization was this: her daughter had never known water as anything beyond something to drink or to rinse off with in the shower. Cas wanted to know what it was like to have so much water available that you could jump into it, sink into it, be in it. This required a well-considered answer.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: Modified from (Reg Mckenna from UK, )

Made of Mars

It’s important to remember that life, in the collective sense, is made up of an uncountable number of lives, in the individual sense. Two such were those of Cas, the first child born on Mars, and Ori, her little sister. These sisters, like all humans, required oxygen to breath. On Mars, much of that oxygen came from the ice the colonists mined. The body of each sister, like the bodies of all humans, was 60% water and required frequent hydration. On Mars, that hydration came from the ice the colonists mined. The sisters, like all life, were composed of the elements available in their environment. Mars was their home, and they were made of Mars.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: illustration by Luis Perez for Air: Generation Mars, Book One

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It is a truism that where life exists it will expand to use every resource available. Three and a half billion years later, back on Earth, life had left the oceans, evolved to exploit all the resources of the planet, and had been merrily going about doing so until the Earth had little more to give. Luckily, that life had also evolved into a form that no longer required a random collision to leave the surface of its planet. That life looked up and thought, “We could go out there. We should probably go out there.” So that life returned to Mars in machines of its own design, set up shop mining the frozen ancient water from whence it had originated, and began to build an existence for itself on this now strange and desolate planet of its birth.

Flirting with panspermia in Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at

Image: illustration by Luis Perez for Shelter: Generation Mars, Book Two

Shelter on sale

On sale now for $0.99! Get your copy of the Kindle edition of Shelter: Generation Mars, Book Two.

Water: Generation Mars, Book Three is coming October 22

In anticipation of the release, I am putting Kindle editions of each of the first three books on sale in October. Each book will be available for $0.99 for one week.

Scratching the Surface – October 1-7
Air – October 8-14
*Shelter – October 15-21*

Shelter, on sale now!

And be sure to pre-order your copy of the Kindle edition of Water: Generation Mars, Book Three for the special pre-order price.