Cover art by Jenica Cruz
ago during the last ice age, what is now White Sands National
Monument in southern New Mexico was then a 1,600 square mile lake
which geologists have named Lake Otero. Gradually the weather became
drier and warmer as the ice age retreated, and the gypsum that had
been dissolved in the lake deposited out as the lake dried up,
leaving the modern-day pure white dunes of gypsum sand.
At the southern end of this range of dunes on what is now part of the White Sands Missile Range, the sands have drifted, exposing something that should not have been there.
Read more about the book below.
Cousins is good, plausible, entertaining hard science fiction.
This is a science fiction novel set in the present day. It is hard science fiction, which should not be too surprising, given that Frederich Pohl, Larry Niven, and Joe Haldeman are some of my favorite authors. This book is about 60,000 words in length and is a story about the discovery of another, advanced civilization.
actually wrote this book in 1982 – 1983 while working at the Idaho
National Engineering Laboratories. Well, not while actually at work,
of course. I wrote it in the evenings at home in Pocatello. The book
began life on what was at the time a state of the art NorthStar
Horizon CP/M machine. No worries, though. I had it maxed out with 64
KB of memory. Yes, that’s old technology. I still remember how much
I paid for that machine in 1980: $5,000. Back then $5,000 was real
money. I finally finished the book after pounding away on it for a
year and a half’s worth of evenings and weekends, and then
proceeded to accrue a respectable number of rejection slips from a
variety of publishing houses, most of which are no longer around.
One thing followed another, and I ended up shelving the book for about 30 years, while still taking care to move it from machine to machine as my computing environment changed over the years. As far as I can recall, the book migrated from the NorthStar to a DEC Rainbow (DEC Rainbow? Whose idea was that?) Then to a Symbolics 3600 LISP Machine, followed by a Sun 260 Solaris workstation and then to about 7 or 8 Linux boxes before I finally decided to dust the story off again. Fortunately, I originally wrote it using the then state of the art WordStar application, which is kind of like TeX in that you saved your work as text with embedded formatting directives.
As a result of the long interregnum between the conception and the final realization of this story nearly three decades later, the technology described in the original version was hopelessly dated by the time I decided to try to make it publishable again. Can you remember the state of computer technology in 1982? How about cosmology? A lot has changed since then. So, as part of the rewrite effort I had to bring the computer science in the story up to date as well as the cosmology. In the process, I no doubt left a few anachronisms in the tale. Please feel free to find them and gleefully point them out to me.
One more thing: in this story I moved the Casa del Sol restaurant and the Manhattan Bar from Juarez Mexico where they used to actually reside to just across the border in El Paso, Texas. Thirty years ago spending a Saturday evening in Juarez at those two iconic places was a wonderful experience. Sadly, the drug cartels have ruined what little charm Juarez, a fairly sleazy border town to start with, had to offer.
2011 Douglas Roberts
Cover art Copyright 2011 Jenica Cruz
Roberts grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He spent 11 years in Las
Cruces, New Mexico during his college years, alternatively working on
a couple of degrees, rock climbing in the Organ Mountains just east
of town, and working summers to put himself through school. Since
then he has worked as a computer scientist at several national
laboratories including, of course, Los Alamos. He eventually ended up
living in Nambe, New Mexico.
These days, he plays his 1921 C-Melody saxophone several nights a week in Santa Fe, and rides a BMW GSA 1200 motorcycle to places like Alaska, the Yukon and other parts of Canada. He and his wife take care of the 15 parrots, 40 peacocks, and an ever-changing population of stray cats that call the 200 year old adobe house they live in home. Well, not the peacocks. They live outside. Except for one or two. But that's another story.