A great review of my book Atmosphere (Slightly spoilery)

“David Scott Moyer must have visited Chara IV, the world described so immersively in Atmosphere. After reading it, the deer people mill around benevolently in my mind. I feel a deep connection with Prithya, Mags, Dayv, Manders, Dab and Cohl, the human crew of the mission, whom have been given life histories and characters that are so real to life, so believable, yet each unique. The ambiguously malevolent “All” telepathically pervades the thoughts of every sentient being on Chara IV. The plot is sprinkled with fascinating bits of nearly accessible, aspirational astrophysics and the action keeps the reader on the edge of their seat eager to find out what happens next, simultaneously hoping not to come to the end of the story. And if that wasn’t enough, a complete surprise, bombshell ending parachutes in*. Luckily, there are two more books in the series.
*P. S. The wording here in no way gives hints as to that stunner of an ending.”

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Machu Picchu, 2011

It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since I visited this awe-inspiring place. I was still married, still working freelance for McGraw-Hill Education as a photographer, still had a gallery in Tucson, and even still painted a bit. The thought of writing a novel, much less two or three, hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Now, I’m seven years divorced, my grandkids from that marriage are 14 and 19, I’m retired in Oaxaca, just published my second novel, and am working on my third. This year I allowed both my painting and my photography websites to expire. I rarely take photos except with my phone, and I see no paintings in my future (although no door is ever closed).

Many people feel lost when they retire. Their identity through life is wrapped up in and dependent upon their work. In the United States, very few of us have more than two weeks of vacation a year. We work all week and spend the weekend doing chores, watching TV, online, and occasionally socializing with family and friends. We cram so much into the two weeks off that we can’t even relax before we have to get back to work again. We spend our money on things we are told we need or should want.

In the end, it is empty. When we retire, what do we have except back to back weekends with TV, internet, and friends and family we don’t know what to do with after a few hours?

I feel lucky. My work was never my identity. I was an artist. Not a hobbyist, an artist. The only reason I had jobs was to pay for the basic necessities of life. My jobs were never my identity, except for my brief stint photographing for McGraw-Hill. I didn’t have children so I wouldn’t have the responsibility. Maybe I missed out, but I do have two wonderful grandchildren from my marriage. When I retired, I wasn’t abandoning my identity, I was freed to pursue it full time.

That identity has always been “creator”, whether it be painting, photography, or writing. That is who I will be until I die, hopefully a long time from now.

The Antisemitic origins of Pizzagate

Jordan Klepper is best known for following Trump supporters around and making them look stupid by asking seemingly sincere questions which expose either their ignorance or hipocrisy. This is a serious investigation and expose of the long history behind the Q-Anon Pizzagate trope and other conspiracy theories.

Ocean Has Arrived

Finally! Two years in the making, Ocean is here. The sequel to Atmoshphere picks up 10 years after the events of the first book, with a second mission arriving on Chara IV, an imaginary planet circling a very real Class G star (I researched).

Funny side story: I originally cast these two books and the upcoming third as The Chara Series. Yesterday, I went on Amazon and found that some guy named Ben Zwycky wrote a fantasy novel in 2016 and subtitled it “Book 1 of the Chara Series.” This didn’t show up when I published Atmosphere two years ago, so I have been using the title all this time. He still hasn’t published a second book. I assume his series name comes from a character in his book, rather than hours of research to find a plausible location for the setting of a science fiction novel. It’s annoying. Still, he had the name first, so I changed mine to The Chara IV Series. It doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as well, but the last thing I wanted was someone else’s book showing up in a search for mine. Then I discovered that my books were now connected to a bunch of cutesy Manga volumes. So I switched back. If Ben Zwycky Ever writes a sequel to Beyond the Mist, I suppose we can fight over the series name.

That’s why I chose such unique names for the three volumes in my series: Atmosphere, Ocean, and Moon. How may books could there be with those titles?

Search for any of them on Amazon: over 60,000 results.

Humor aside, I really am proud of this book. Both of them, actually, although I think the second is better. How could I not have learned and improved by writing the first? The third, which will probably take another two years, will hopefully be even better still. Here is a peek at its cover.

If you read Atmosphere, thank you! If you reviewed it, thank you even more! If you haven’t yet, I have reduced the price in all formats on the release of Ocean (to drive sales of the second volume, of course.)

Link to Atmosphere.

Link to Ocean.

Link to Janny Taylor who created the original artwork for all three covers.

Guanajuato

Guanajuato is an enchanting city. The historic center is perched atop a maze of tunnels, once used to channel rain and wastewater out of the city, and now pedestrian and automobile routes. Google Maps won’t help you down there. I drove in circles a few times before I figured it out. If you drive there, expect to pay a lot for parking. There is almost no street parking in the center. I paid a dollar an hour, with no discount for the day. Still, it was worth it. I felt every one of the 6700 feet of elevation walking up to my hotel and around the city. I was only there two nights, and spent the day in between exploring a couple of nearby archaeological sites, so I will need to go back at some point. In the meantime, here are a couple shots.

The Water Boils

Hierve El Agua, San Lorenzo Albarradas, Oaxaca

Hierve el Agua is a spectacular travertine formation outside of the capital city of Oaxaca. It is a very popular tourist destination. Like many, it was closed during the pandemic. Mexicans were and are much more sensible about Covid 19 than Americans. There was no politicization here. Early on, there was limited information, and access to vaccines trailed the US by about three months. Nevertheless, people waited hours in line to get their shots, and the percentage vaccinated is now equal or better to that of the United States. Masks are still worn by almost everyone except a percentage of entitled and often arrogant American tourists, temperatures are taken, hand sanitizer used. If you go by the NYT map, cases per capita are far lower than in the States.

Hierve el Agua was closed longer than most of the bigger tourist destinations, such as pre-Columbian sites like Monte Alban and Mitla. There are two communities who control access to the site, one via the autopista, and one by a dirt road over the mountain. They were in dispute for some time over whether to open to tourists. One did, the other didn’t. It got unpleasant for a while. I chose to stay away until they reached an accord. That finally happened in July, so I took a couple visiting friends up. We went in by autopista and (accidentally) left by the mountain road, which was gorgeous. Here are a few shots.

Taking the plunge!

I finally overcame my inertia/fear and upgraded this site, eliminating my long unused painting and photo websites in the process. I guess it will take up to 5 days (seriously? in the age of FTL communication?), but eventually this blog will be at davidscottmoyer.com. I’m not sure if davidscottmoyer.wordpress.com will still work. Anybody know?

Hey! Who Is This Guy, And Why Is He Showing Up In My Feed?

I’ve been busy writing on WordPress, but in the private blog I use to create my lastest novel.  I’ve also been reading a lot, 28 books this year to date. Some incredible, some solidly mediocre. I post music videos and the occasional personal note on Livejournal. I post pictures and interact with other authors on Instagram. I always intend to spend more time here, but never seem to make it. Once I get this book off to beta readers, I’ll likely exercise my need to write over here. Until then, here is an exchange I had with a writer on Instagram.

quote

There is much I agree with in this quote. I had one small difference of opinion. All is subjective!

quotereply

And there you have it, the meaning of life according to me and some other random author I hardly know on the internet. You are most welcome!

 

 

San José Mogote

Staircase of the partially excavated temple.

San José Mogote was the first major cultural center of the Zapotecs in the Etla valley of Oaxaca. There is evidence of a farming community as far back as 1500 BC, and significant political power with the attendant construction of temples, etc, beginning in 1300 BC, or 800 years prior to Monte Alban. Most of the site has yet to be unearthed, which is probably a good thing, as INAH, the Mexican governmental agency tasked with administration and protection of such sites, has barely enough to continue operating established tourist operations. There was no controlled entry here at all, and paths cris-crossed the entire site, with grafitti defacing some upper walls.

The top of the pyramid.
Trees and walls atop the pyramid.
Structural remnants.
New grafitti on ancient walls.
The corner of the main structure.

I chose to present these in B&W to accentuate the age of the site. Afterwards, we walked around the town of Guadalupe Etla a bit.

Carnival rides out to pasture.
Partial excavation of another structure from the Mogote settlement.
It is difficult to see from this photo, but this area above the new excavation very much resembles a typical ball court, shaped like a capital I with a V shaped center.
These last three are from the Templo de Guadalupe

I really hope INAH gets the funding they need to properly excavate and preserve this and other priceless heritage sites around Mexico. It would be a shame to lose this history.

Real de Catorce

Founded in 1779, Real de Catorce, named for 14 Spanish soldiers who were killed by the people whose land they were stealing, was a wealthy silver mining town until the beginning of the 20th century, when the price of silver tanked. At one time, it had a population of 15,000. Now it is around 1000, along with as many tourists as they can pack in on a given day.

It is accessed by a 27 kilometer cobblestone road and a 2 kilometer one way tunnel. Many people, as I did, stay in a hotel or B&B on the downhill side of the tunnel. These next few photos are from the small community there.

Ruins in the valley below Real de Catorce
The church in the town outside of Real de Catorce
Tienda
The remains of a mine building in the valley below Real de Catorce

My first day there, I drove up to the tunnel in the early afternoon. I had to wait about two hours, until sufficient tourists had left the town to allow parking inside.

The town itself was ridiculously full. I had to inch my way through the narrow winding streets to the far side and down a hill to park. Then, trudging back up at over 9000 feet elevation was a workout. I wandered around a bit and took a few photos, then had dinner and left. The next morning, I went to the tunnel early, before the people with walkie talkies got there. At that hour, you can drive through the tunnel, but you risk meeting someone half way, at which point one of you has to back up. I followed a pickup into the tunnel, and, no surprise, we did meet someone. I and the pickup reversed course to a slightly wider part of the tunnel, let the others pass, and then continued into the town. It was much nicer devoid of tourists. The day before had been Sunday, arguably the busiest day of the week. Even later, when the cars started pouring in, it was less crowded on a Monday. The following are photos from Real Catorce itself.

The Templo de Guadalupe, as seen from the panteon (cemetery).
Setting up the stalls to sell chotckis to tourists.
Up the hill to the ruined part of town.
The horses which give rides to tourists spend a lot of time in the ruins. There is also a giant, multi-story “horse hotel” hidden on the other side of the hill. The horses had better accommodations than I did, and a much better view!
Hi there!
I wheezed my way up the hill to get an overview of the town.
More abandoned mining buildings in the valley below.
I waited over an hour for the sun to come around so I could get this shot.
Inside the main catedral.
Another view of the remains of the community outside the tunnel.