Monday, December 5, 2011

Echoes Among the Stars Released as a Kindle eBook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Echoes Among the Stars, the classic history of the U.S. Space Program by Patrick J. Walsh, has been released in an eBook edition for the Kindle eBook reader from Amazon.

First published by M.E. Sharpe Inc. (Armonk, NY) in 2000, Echoes Among the Stars has previously had two hardcover printings and a paperback edition. It has been widely praised for the beauty of its accounts of pivotal moments in the development of the U.S. space program, and Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has praised Echoes as “one of the best books on the space program.”

Patrick J. Walsh is an author and journalist from Peekskill, New York. His published work includes the three volume Spaceflight: A Historical Encyclopedia (2010, ABC-CLIO Inc.), and he is producer of the online video documentary series “Five Minutes in Space.” He has published hundreds of articles and authored multiple columns for a wide variety of publications since embarking on his full-time writing career in the mid-1990s, and has extensively covered the electronics industry, state and local government, and music and the arts.

M.E. Sharpe Inc. is an award-winning publisher of reference books, textbooks, general interest books, and journals.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Encounter in Autumn

by Patrick J. Walsh

A sliver of moon hung baldly in the sky, straining a weak fusillade of light through the moody blue and pale remnant of white that wrestled for the final moments of the fading day. He searched the trees along the water’s edge; darkness gathered, and marshaled itself for the approaching night.

... a mesh of tree branches made the bare moon appear
more lovely for the effort it took to see it clearly ...

Up a small slope, through a dense field of scrub, his mind wandered backward even as he progressed toward the road and the return to the car, and the drive home. In the gathering dark he fancied a shadowy image of Beowulf, and wondered at the thought of Grendel passing behind him in the shallow stream -- but it is a quite shallow stream, he argued; and it is quite quiet -- I can hear nothing roiling around in it -- as he moved onto the path’s final approach to the paved road.

But there was yet an odd feeling in the stillness of the woods. Quiet for a brief moment, he wondered what possibly could be disturbing the calm of the mild evening, with its weak moonlight and pleasant musk of fallen leaves... Then, chuckling inwardly at his own strangeness, he returned to his pace along the last of the path, with bits of branch and leaf crackling beneath the soles of his boots at each footfall.

And there she was: as if formed instantaneously out of the ether of the night, the precise epitome of nature’s finest grace. Still retaining the fine brown of her coat despite the lateness of the season -- perhaps because of the mild weather, he reasoned -- there stood a small deer. A doe.

She was tiny, for an animal of her kind, and yet still the size of a young horse. He often joked, when driving with friends along the back roads and coming upon a sudden gathering of deer: ‘look -- little horses’ -- and yet now, alone in the woods, with her frozen mutely on the narrow path, between him and the paved road homeward, he wondered anew at just how large a presence even a tiny deer can establish in the distinctive setting of her natural surroundings.

She stood, simply, staring. At first he thought to take another step toward her, perhaps leading her to turn aside; but he was brought up short by the gentle curve of the bones of her cheek and the dignified mien he thought he perceived in the way she studied him across the ten or so yards between them.

So he stood as well. And they each waited, quiet, the stillness of the night enveloping them.

He wondered: was there some way to move her along -- she had obviously been headed into the woods -- without frightening her, or causing her to feel threatened... but how exactly did one communicate any intention, good or ill, to a creature whose understanding of humans was even more limited than his knowledge of the inhabitants of the woods?

He looked up again at the thin crescent above the treeline, through a mesh of tree branches whose haphazard framing made the bare moon appear even more lovely for the effort it took to see it clearly -- and he was struck with an idea.

Taking care to step softly, he turned himself halfway around on the path. Facing entirely away from her, he listened; at first hearing no sound at all other than the suddenly apparent exhalation of breath through his own nostrils.

And then a slight rustle emanated from somewhere behind him on the trail, and a dainty but definite step, followed by another, and then several more...

When the fading sounds indicated a respectable distance between them, he again turned forward, and was relieved to see his way clear all the way to the opening onto the paved road.

He moved quickly, stopping only once, briefly, to see if there was any trace of her left to be gleaned from the darkness. Finding none, he moved on, to the road, and the car, homeward.

© 2011 Patrick J. Walsh