Kepler’s Cowboys Cover Reveal

I have nearly finished selecting and editing stories and poems for Hadrosaur Productions’ new anthology, Kepler’s Cowboys. I hope to have the process wrapped up this week. In this anthology, the authors imagine the daring men, women, and even machines who will travel to the stars, explore, and settle planets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. My co-editor on the project is Steve Howell, who is also project scientist for NASA’s K2 mission, which is the extended Kepler Space Telescope mission. Recently, artist Laura Givens turned in her cover for the book.

keplers-cowboys-display

Physicist Stephen Hawking has been in the news recently saying he believes humans only have about 1000 years left on Earth due to factors such as climate change, nuclear terrorism, and even the rise of artificial intelligence. Like Hawking, I believe humans need to move out into space in order to survive as a species. That said, there’s a part of me that worries his 1000-year estimate is optimistic.

Results from the Kepler Space Telescope suggest that almost every star we see has a planetary system around it. Earth-based telescopes and the recent K2 mission have been finding planets ever closer to Earth, many of which are in their stars’ habitable zones, meaning that liquid water can exist if all other conditions are right. This gives me hope that future generations can, indeed, push out into the stars and find new homes for humanity.

Kepler’s Cowboys follows our anthology A Kepler’s Dozen which presented tales of thirteen words discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. In the first anthology, we invited authors to participate and worked with them closely as they developed their stories. The new anthology has much more of a “wild west” feel, not only in the stories themselves, but in the sense that we opened it up to anyone who wanted to submit to tell whatever story they desired. We did this because there are, in fact, so many worlds out there that the number of possible futures is endless.

Even though we have allowed authors to submit whatever stories they wanted, Steve and I have still worked closely with the authors to make sure they present worlds that are within the realms of possibility as we know them. In fact, this has been part of the process I’ve enjoyed most. It’s been an aspect of editing that I missed in the last days before the Tales of the Talisman hiatus. I spent so much time reading and selecting stories, then creating issues of the magazine, that I never really had a chance to help authors with their story craft. I hope Kepler’s Cowboys captures some of the excitement that comes seeing what authors present when allowed to explore a theme and tell the stories they want, but also maintains a high level of quality and consistently good storytelling throughout.

I hope to announce a formal publication date for Kepler’s Cowboys soon, but we’re currently shooting for publication in February or March 2017. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out A Kepler’s Dozen.

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2 comments on “Kepler’s Cowboys Cover Reveal

  1. Jack Tyler says:

    Looks like a tasty morsel, my friend. I, too, have been reading about all these planets being discovered in their habitable zones, and have wondered something that maybe as a professional astronomer, you can at least begin to answer: Is there any evidence that leads you to believe that these inhabitable planets do or don’t already have their own civilizations functioning at some level between, say, Rome and Star Trek? I mean, I have also read for most of my life that where life is possible, life “finds a way,” to quote Jeff Goldbloom. I know that if a colony ship full of aliens arrived here to set up shop, I’d be a bit peeved about that. Any thoughts, or maybe a future blog post?

    • Thanks, Jack! The short answer is that we don’t know. However, I’d say it’s a safe bet that our technology will be such that we would be able to tell before we sent any kind of colony ship in a particular direction. The longer answer is that there’s a new generation of spacecraft and ground-based instruments in development that will be able to measure things like atmospheric gasses around these planets and give us a better idea of whether they’re habitable than simply “water likely remains liquid on most of the surface.” Even now, building a catalog of habitable planets gives us specific targets for projects like SETI to listen to — won’t necessarily tell us about civilizations like Rome, but would tell us about civilizations that have at least reached a 20th century level of technology. Anyway, I agree, I hope we will have the wisdom to steer away from inhabited planets and only look toward those where civilization isn’t developing yet.

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