Glossary of Terms for TCOM Novels

After discussing TCOM 1 and TCOM 2 with friends (usually older than 65) it has become apparent that I've been living in another universe from them. They either don't know the acronyms or can't imagine them. OMG!! So here are the abbreviations, acronyms and weird words from TCOM 1 and TCOM 2

Ack - Positive Acknowledgement. See NACK

AI - Artificial Intelligence or Augmented Intelligence

AKA - Also Known As

ASAP - As Soon as Possible

A-types - AIs, for general management duties, their technology is generally unsuitable for outside service

ATV - All-Terrain Vehicle

BOD - Beneficial Occupancy Date

BTW - By the Way

B-Types - AIs, their technology is specialised for exploration/general purpose Worker Bees

C7 - a military rifle (Canadian version of the US Army AR-15), probably taken from Orion

C&C - Command and Control

C&S - Command and Status

CAO - Chief Administrative Officer

CB - Chasma Borealis

CERN - Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire

CHM - Command and Habitation Module

CPU - Central Processing Unit

CRT - Cathode Ray Tube, of the technological level of the Orion mission

CSA - Canadian Space Agency

C-types - AIs, their technology is specialised for the construction of Habs, roads, look-off, Condos, Wal-marts, etc

CV - Curriculum Vitae

dBm - decibel-milliwatts

DO - Duty Officer

DOB - Date of Birth

Ds - Diagnostics

D-Types - small AIs with limited intellectual capabilities, their design and construction specialised for inside maintenance, unsuitable for outside service

Emonths - Earth Months, approx half as long as Mars months

EMP - Electromagnetic Pulse

EMF - Electromotive Force

Epub - Electronic Publication

ESA - European Space Agency

ESMS - Environment Status Monitoring Systems

E-types - AIs, their design and construction specialised for inside domestic duties/services, unsuitable for outside service

ETD - Estimated Time of Departure

Eyears - Earth Years, approx half as long as a year on Mars

FF - Fast Fusion

FO - Fibre Optic (communications)

fread - functionally read, like MRI, except one’s thoughts, mood and intentions can be discerned

FYI'nA - for your information and action and, when desired, ‘effing a-hole

GDP - Gross Domestic Product

GM - Genetically Modified

GP - General Purpose (Computer)

GPR - Ground Penetrating Radar

to grok (verb) - how Martians understood others, each other and things, as per Heinlein's' Stranger in a Strange Land

GUI - Graphical User Interface

Habs - Habitations suitable for humans to live in for extended periods of time

HSP - High Speed Port

HMI - Human Machine Interface

HUD - Heads-up Display

ID - Identity

IP - Internet Protocol

IR - Infrared

K - OK

LA - Los Angeles

LIDAR - Light Detection and Ranging

LOS - Line of Sight, on Mars, typically less than 4 km to the horizon

LP - Local Port

LSU - Life Support Unit

MAPI - Major Aresologic (Martian) Point of Interest

Matrix - the Internet

MEC - Mass-Energy Converter

M-E-M Converter - Mass to Energy to Mass Converter

MGPS - Mars Global Positioning System

MHM - Main Habitation Module

Milliseconds - one millisecond (.001) is one thousandth of a second

MGS - Mars Global Surveyor

MPD - Multiple Personality Disorder aka Dissociative Identity Disorder

NACK - Negative Acknowledgement

NSV - New Silicon Valley

OMG - Oh My God, I think

OMFG IFRZN RFC here in FVB TTYL - really? Oh My 'effing God. I'm Frozen. Really 'effing Cold here in 'effing Vastitas Borealis. Talk To You Later

OPI - Office of Primary Interest

PDA - Personal Data Assistant

PO - Piss-off

PO'd - Pissed off

POB - Place of Birth

POF - Point of Fact

POV - Point of View

PTB - Powers That Be

R&F - Rich and Famous

RR&F - Really Rich and Famous

RRR&F - Really, Really, Rich and Famous

RadMon - Radiation Monitor

ROAK - Reservoir of All Knowledge (Wikipedia)

ROV - Remote Operated Vehicle

RV - rendezvous

SatCom - Satellite Communications

SBP - Standard Business Practice

SCADA - Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition

SETI - Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Sievert - a unit of radiation

SF - Science Fiction

SOB - yep, you're right

Sol - Earth's Sun

TBD - To Be Determined

TCP - Tenocyclidine, or did I dream it?

TMSN - Type Model Serial Number

TOC - Table of Contents

UFO - Unidentified Flying Object

VHF, UHF, SHF, and EHF - Very High, Ultra High, Super High and Extremely High Frequency

UP - Utopia Planitia

UT - Universal Time aka Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

VB - Vastitas Borealis

Visi-Stim or VisiStim - a 'virtual reality' system for human entertainment

VSWR - Voltage Standing Wave Ratio

WTF - yes, that's it


Music, Me and TCOM1

For me writing in general and in particular my first effort, The Colonisation of Mars (TCOM) has been a profoundly personal experience. Still, I am being educated by the experience. I cannot yet bring myself to call myself a 'writer'. For me, if you don't do it (or anything for that matter) for a living, you are an 'amateur'. I am therefore, an 'amateur writer'. It doesn't mean that amateur anythings can't do 'it' well (and better than some who are pros). Being a 'professional' anything is complicated and how well you do the core activity is only part of it. So is getting paid to do 'it' only a part of it.

The effect of the music I was exposed to, chose to listen to and have stumbled upon throughout my life has been another of those profound things.

There are numerous aspects of music in TCOM that manifest themselves in chapter titles, in direct references by Sam's sometimes drug and alcohol addled mind and inferences in the description of the events by the narrator. If you recognise the source these things are obvious but if you don't, they are possibly meaningless. Even less obvious are the snippets of lyrics that have been lifted from songs and dropped into the story, usually in total separation from any hint of music, again by the narrator. Why? Good question.

Certain of life's scenes, events, moments and actions beg for musical accompaniment. No? Well, they do for me! Just watch a Marvel movie!! Deadpool? Hard to tell what came first: the storyline or the musical score?

Music can move you. We all know that; we have all experienced it to some degree. Listening to some music while far from home in remote and often alien-seeming places has quite a different influence upon my writing than it does while I am comfortably ensconced in my home office. I know; I can see it in my writing. Sometimes when I've looked at it I cannot believe I wrote this or that. I wonder if maybe that is a common experience among writers of sci-fi stories, music and political speeches.

Mike Oldfield is not everyone's favorite but his musical works have definitely influenced my writing. I first heard his Tubular Bells Opus One (debut album, released on May 25 1973) on FM radio while staring endlessly (just like the song seemed to be) out the window of the long-since-demolished McLaughlin Inn in Resolute Bay in April 1976 while attending an Arctic 'Survival' course. 'Eerie' covers that moment nicely. I bought Tubular Bells on 33rpm vinyl in 1978, binge-listened to it (4x) and quickly lost interest in it. I never listened to the 'B' side. I didn't listen to it again until the mid-90s but since then I've re-experienced that Res moment whenever I've listened to Opus One. I bought Oldfield's Guitars (released in 1999), Tre3s Lunas (2002), a 'Collection' (2002), Songs of Distant Earth (2004) and Light and Shade (2005) all within a three month period in 2009. I listened to them on the road when I was writing the initial version of TCOM1 (2008-2011). The lack of lyrics (in most of it) allowed my mind to image Martian scenes without unwanted/un-needed/biased external influence. Try that with disco playing.

Pink Floyd has been an influence too (well, actually, mostly just Roger Waters), but (believe it or not) I wasn't aware of any of their 'stuff' except Comfortably Numb and The Wall (parts of it) until about 2004 despite their early career years lining up well with my youth. Their music is for me, about personal isolation, lost chances, lost time and regret. Hmmm.

Bob Dylan's 'Not Dark Yet' (1997), from Time Out of Mind (1997) is about the same things.

Shadows are falling and I've been here all day

It's too hot to sleep, time is running away

Feel like my soul has turned into steel

I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal

There's not even room enough to be anywhere

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain

Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain

She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind

She put down in writing what was in her mind

I just don't see why I should even care

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree

I've followed the river and I got to the sea

I've been down on the bottom of a whirlpool of lies (world full of lies, in some versions)

I ain't lookin' for nothing in anyone's eyes

Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

I was born here and I'll die here, against my will

I know it looks like I'm moving but I'm standing still

Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb

I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from

Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

For me, this single song summarised TCOM's main character Sam Aiken’s shared life on Earth and his isolation, alone, on a vacant and numbing Mars, for the last of his 'life'. I had a hard time resisting naming the TCOM chapter where the words were dropped (Life or Something Like it) after that song.

I have lately developed a fondness for "Melodic Techno", listening on YouTube. Usually lyric-less, it calms me, takes me where I want to go when writing, which is anywhere but here and allows me to imagine without being directed, as in directed to 'take the last train to Clarksville', or to 'love somebody, tonight' or 'get back to twerk!'

Back to TCOM. The all-pervasive ambient music (dare I say Elevator Music?) that is continuously there in the MHM (certainly), the Tube (certainly) and the Rollagon (possibly) is intended to subtly influence the Colonists' moods and actions. We are all aware that many 'expressions' from pop music have worked their way into everyday conversation. What? No? Well, they will have by 2040! Sam Aiken is, regardless, unable to escape the music of his life. Like all of us, he was exposed to, chose to listen to and stumbled upon music throughout his life, too. He suffers from several minor mental conditions (that are more common than most people believe): he hears voices and odd sounds; tastes words (piney, acid, bitter) and has the normal deterioration of memory that comes with aging. He is highly self-critical and unforgiving of himself; he suffers from being deprived of human companionship; the AIs are 'not enough, not enough'. 'His' music plays in his head continually, probably to drown out the multiple condemning voices he hears. When he goes off on a rant or gets hyper-emotional, you (I) can see 'his' music spilling onto the page. Given my life experiences with music it is perhaps not surprising that the main character of my first novel is like this.

The following is a list of musical references in TCOM. Many of the chapter titles come from what I was listening to when I wrote that part. There were more, but many were too personal to me or too vague to be easily understood even by a fan of that particular piece, so I took I them out. Page numbers are from the 2019 TCOM pdf version downloaded from Smashwords. Other ebook formats may differ slightly.

Pg 14 - '(Like) the club tie, the easy smile, the firm handshake, the sudden (a certain) look in the eye' from Dogs, Animals (1977), Pink Floyd - Roger Waters/David Gilmour

Pg 109 – Chapter title 'Light in the Tunnel', from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane

Pg 146 - Chapter title 'Surfing', suggested by Surfing, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 148 - Chapter title - Four Winds, suggested by Four Winds, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 169 – 'running down 101' (or ‘running down 401’ for me), from The Barricades of Heaven, Looking East (1996), Jackson Browne

Pg 170-172 – Chapter title – Gethsemane and chapter theme suggested by Gethsemane, from The Old Kit Bag (2005), Richard Thompson

Pg 175 – Chapter title - Summit Day, suggested by Summit Day, from Guitars (1999), Mike Oldfield

Pg 179 – Chapter title - Maybe It's Alright After All, from Maybe It's Alright After All, Sonora (2001), Sonora

Pg 193 – Chapter Title - Any Colour You Like, from The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Pink Floyd

Pg 195 – Chapter title – Watching and Waiting, from To Our Children's, Children's, Children (1979), The Moody Blues

Pg 227 - Sorrow references - Sorrow, from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), Pink Floyd

Pg 249 – Chapter title - Coming Back to Life, from The Division Bell (1994), Pink Floyd

Pg 263 – Chapter Title – Incantations, from Incantations (1978), Mike Oldfield

Pg 269 - Chapter title – To France, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 269 – Emotion Blue, “I read your letter, it must have been a hundred times, before the words fell from the page” (Ocean Blues), from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane.

- 'Nobody else could make him happy....', from You, from Best of Bonnie Raitt (2002), Bob Thiele

– 'The Untouchable One', “She's her own girl, her own design, she holds her head high, hides her scars just fine”, and “She's been through a lot, you can tell, as hard as it gets baby, she holds it well, don't try to change her, no, she will not bend.” from Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder (1986), Tom Cochrane

Pg 271 – Chapter title, theme of chapter, some text and lyrics, from Sky Blue and Black, from I'm Alive (1993), Jackson Browne. This one hurts.

Pg 274 – 'Miracle', from Divinity Burst (1993)

- 'star was light in a silvery night....' from Moonlight Shadow, Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

- 'big money.....', from The Big Money, from Power Windows (1985), Rush

Pg 275 Chapter title – The Gate, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 276 – 'isn't it strange how dreams fade and shimmer', from Moonlight Shadow, from Mike Oldfield Collection (2002)

Pg 277 Chapter title – Running on Empty, from Running on Empty (1997), Jackson Browne

Pg 279 – Chapter title – 'Clocks' and words, from A Rush of Cold Blood to the Head (2004), Cold Play and Keep Talking, from The Division Bell (1994), Pink Floyd

Pg 280-281 – theme and words, from Not Dark Yet, from Time Out of Mind (1997), Bob Dylan

Pg 289 – Chapter title - First Steps, suggested by First Steps, from Light and Shade (1995) Mike Oldfield

Pg 291 – Chapter title - Sunset, suggested by Sunset, from Light and Shade (1995) Mike Oldfield

Pg 292 – Chapter title - Coming Back to Life, suggested by lyrics of song of same name, from The Division Bell (1994) Pink Floyd’



Progress is not just a spaceship

Well, I went to Res 11 Mar 2019 and after getting turned around due to an aircraft malfunction and having to return to Iqaluit, got in on the 12th.

Nice weather - just a mere -28C, mostly calm winds and no new snow while we were there. Iqaluit was a stunner - so little snow that you can’t really (easily) go out of town on a dogsled/snow-mobile. The roads are virtually snow free. The rolling hills are largely snow-free too. Of course all that can disappear overnight and March is not spring. We’ll see how it goes. Lot’s of time for things to ‘get normal’.

Unfortunately the lack of trauma in Res resulted in no progress re what to write next, other than to work on Earth Abides but Snow…such as to make another version in which the world has for all intents and purposes, ended. Staring at the ice of Lancaster Sound and pondering crossing it, in any season, is a bit of an eye opener. I did that and it’s daunting to someone who wants to stay realistic in the stories.

In winter, you’d better be fully supported. In summer, you better be prepared to live off the land, for months. Not sure I need to do either right now. Well see.



Well it begins


Well at long last I have put up my own website. Not that Lulu and Smashwords are not good places to publish, but I guess advertising is not their forte (nor do I suppose is it free).

So here are my two Mars books and a collection of short stories. And some photos of my Mars on Earth - Resolute Bay NU Canada

Among a number of life type issues I have been going through these past few years is what to write next.

Projects I am considering are:

TCOM 3 - the third and hopefully final installment. Who shall I model my book after? Sheckley or Asimov? Me?

Orion - about the ill-fated nuclear bomb-powered Mars mission from the mid-seventies? Started it in TCOM. Added a bit in TCOM2.

Earth Abides, but snow comes and gets you - a full length novel based on the premise of the short story avail here. But only an idiot (or a sadly desperate man) would try and walk out of Res. Still, apocalypse stories are so much fun to write. Just watch Deadpool 2.

Well, I am going up to Res in Feb for ten days and hope to come back with the answer. Res has always been a source of inspiration for me. Well see.

Well see.


24 Jan 2019 (do I actually have to put the date in or is it….