Joan's Blog

NASA + Cal Tec life imitates my art Print PDF


So, Nasa is finally asking the most important question: What happened to the Mars atmosphere. See story:,0,4861651.story#axzz2l4xY26zw

On the cover of my book Old Poison is this quote from astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Long ago Mars was an oasis of running water. Today, the Martian surface is a sterile, barren desert. Here on earth, who knows what climactic knobs we unwittingly turn, which might one day render the Earth as dry and lifeless as Mars."

Mr. deGrasse Tyson allowed the use of his quote because Old Poison speculates of what we might be doing that would render the Earth as dry and lifeless as Mars. That, however, is not the best part of the story.

Old Poison was published in May 2003. In June of 2003 a story was reported from Cal Tec Labs that announced fact that imitated my fiction.

In my fiction a petro-chemical company is creating an alternative fuel to replace gasoline. Unfortunately the fuel has a nasty side effect. Being lighter than air, the fuel rises swiftly to the stratosphere, makes chemical changes which cause all of the elements of the atmosphere to dissipate into space, including water vapor. This would eventually destroy the atmosphere and all life on earth.

In Cal Tec’s study they looked at the fact that billions of dollars are being spent on research that would make Hydrogen a replacement fuel for Gasoline. Scientist in the study built a computer model to see if large scale use of Hydrogen fuel would crate any environmental concerns. To their astonishment, the study revealed that Hydrogen, being lighter than air, rose swiftly to the Stratosphere made chemical changes that made the Ozone whole bigger. Loss of the Ozone layer would be deadly to earth's flora and fauna.

I was listening to NPR on my car radio when I first heard the report. I had to pull to the side of road and calm down before driving on. I was certain this information would cause a halt in the research on Hydrogen fuel. HA! There is money and power to be made and kept by those who control our fuel. The study was dismissed and buried, never carried in the nightly news. Damn the tree-huggers for their silly concerns. Full speed ahead.



Old Poison is an eco thriller with a woman PI, Diana Hunter, who searches for a murderer and finds a mystery touching on the Costa Rican rain forest, climate change, corporate culpability, and a mysterious book titled the Martian Diary. At the end of the story she is given the final chapter of the book. You can read this below in the Martian Diary Epilogue.

On the cover of Old Poison is this quote from astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson:

"Long ago Mars was an oasis of running water. Today, the Martian surface is a sterile, barren desert. Here on earth, who knows what climactic knobs we unwittingly turn, which might one day render the Earth as dry and lifeless as Mars."



For a moment the sound that drew me from slumber had made my heart leap for joy, but once fully awake I knew it to be just the wind. Then the stabbing sadness of loneliness overwhelmed me. I wished I could sleep or could die. Perhaps today I would have the courage to do it, to bring a final end.

Then I heard it again, sounding so like a human voice. She often fools me like that, the wind. Sometimes she whistles from the sky and makes me believe that by some miracle a great Taner still lives and flies the skies. Sometimes I even look up, not because I really believe any of the great birds escaped extinction, but because, for a brief moment, I can pretend I will see one.

Sometimes she scuttles along the ground sounding like a Mitmox following at my heels, waiting to be fed. On those occasions I do talk to her like she was a small pet. Of course, I am going mad. I actually did see a live Mitmox once when I was a child. One of the geneticists bred it, quite against the rules of course, but he was lonely for some companion critter. He made me promise never to tell.

Then I heard the sound again, and this time I also heard footsteps in the outer cave. I began to hope that there really could be another human being alive and here at Paus Tak.
Its been two and a half years since I heard the last human voice. I preserved Klal Mataks remains in the old science way, placing his stem cells, tissue, and all organs cells in the frozen zoology calesets along with the rest of the extinct flora and fauna of our sad, dead planet. This I had promised him, though for what purpose I cannot foresee, for I, Klal Tslak, am the last of the preservers at Paus Tak. When I die, there will be no one to perform this task for me; in fact, there will be no one at all, for I am the only living creature here. I could, of course, clone a new companion, but even if it were not forbidden by my vows, I would never be so cruel as to create another to sit in our solar-powered island and await the last morsel of food and final silence of our world.

But the voice. Somehow there was a voice. At last I knew it was real. I tried to answer but it had been so long since I had spoken aloud my voice failed me. I ran toward the caller trying to yell out. When I met him I threw my arms about him and cried until the poor man passed out in my arms, for he had arrived more dead than alive.

He is a Nomad called Choam who now eats and rests in my solar chamber after a harrowing journey from burrocity Zed. His mission was to bring news of the final rebellions and to request a written history and detailed scientific data regarding the purpose and product of the Preservers. He says the Hidden Ones wish to take this information with them on the last ship across the skies to Atland.

I do not believe there is any purpose to this because to my knowledge there is no one capable of biological preservation, much less capable of the biological restoration of all the species we have preserved at the cellular level. It took only two generations of withholding biology from the burro curriculum to turn science into superstition. The only remnant left is some sort of religious ceremony in which the organs are removed from the body and the whole saved in impure mummification. Deprived of true knowledge, they believe this ritual will bring life after death somewhere out in the heavens. Men descend to barbarity far faster than they ascend to science.

As to the rebellions, it is no more than I expected. The tunnels of the burrocities ran ankle deep in human blood, and all cities are by now airless, frigid, and lifeless. That leaves myself, Choam, perhaps a few isolated Nomads, and a small handful of scientists at the tiny outpost burrocity of Zed. We are the only living organisms on this planet that was once a lush garden of life.

The only news that surprised me was the cause of the outbreak. It wasnt the tragic, inhuman condition of life in the burrocities. It wasnt even the knowledge that only a privileged few would secure transportation to the new planet. It was the dissemination of an old environmental visual recording of the once living planet, its lush flora and fauna, its oceans and free-running rivers of water. It was the knowledge of what had been lost.

The extinction records Choam needs are ready; in fact, a list of extinct species was begun ages ago, even before the genetic preservation program was begun. The scientific methods of preservation are also well documented and detailed and have only awaited the call to be carried to the new world. It is the final thing he requested that I am helpless to supply. The Hidden Ones want a brief history of extinction. A brief history. How does one briefly recite the history of the destruction of an entire planetary ecosystem? If I could find the words, they would break my heart.

Choam returns in the morning to Zed, where the final ship waits to carry the Hidden Ones, the Caretakers of our peoples history. He takes this note from me, Klal Tslak, the last of the Preservers, who lived a life of hope for a hopeless cause. I pray someone comes back to the ice caves of Paus Tak and restores these bits of genetic patterns of the living flora and fauna that once graced this land.

If Choam can survive another round trip to Zed and back, he will join me here to await the final silence of all save the wind.

Five Minute Friend Print PDF

"Five Minute Friend" I will borrow a phrase from friend, True Nomads. "Five Minute Friend" was a term he used for folks he met on his travels, had a short conversation, and would probably not see again. I thought it was also a good phrase for folks you meet on the Internet and have a short conversation.

I started on Twitter and Facebook as a way to introduce more people to my books, but I have discovered something quite unexpected and great fun. I have found I can make acquaintances from all over the world, instantly. I love it when a new follower or friend greets me with a by-line from "from far away places with strange sounding names." For you youngsters out there, that last quote is from a beautiful old song of a few decades ago, BRR (Before Rock & Roll) Some of these folks are so interesting that I want to pass along their contact info so others may enjoy meeting them.

One of the most interesting "5 minute friends" I have met is a foot-pad traveler by the handle of True Nomads. You can find him on both Twitter and Facebook. He is doing what most of us can only dream of and writes interesting travel notes. Originally from Colorado, he has been seeing the world for over three years now, by walking, hitching, and couch-surfing. He posts beautiful and fascinating photos, both his own, and ones he re-posts from others. Check him out.

I will add other Five Minute Friends as I meet them. I will post on Twitter, Facebook, and my website blog at