To-Read: Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America

America’s cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation –such as SC-TUSCA LLC, CNS1975 LLC – registered to law offices and post office boxes miles away. New glittering towers filled with owned but empty condos look down over our cities, as residents below struggle to find any available housing. 

All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, “totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,” the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network – the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN– noted in a 2017 news release. Thanks to the Bank Secrecy Act, a 1970 anti-money-laundering law, the agency is able to learn who owns many of these properties. In high-cost cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, it’s flagged over 30% of cash purchases as suspicious transactions. But FinCEN also cites this bill to hide this information from the public, leaving the American people increasingly in the dark about who owns their cities.

1/2/20 Newsletter: Free Mil-SF from Scott Moon and Galactic Law coming fast and furious

This is from my mostly weekly SF Update. If you’d like to get these in your inbox, use the form here:

Hey, how are you?

I hope the holidays have been treating you well.


Today I’m leading with updates, since I’ve got a new book coming out soon.

Galactic Law 1 is coming really soon on 1/12/20. This is the first book in the Galactic Law series, which will be coming fast and furious across the next two months.

The story follows Gage Walker, a new Sheriff’s Deputy on Taurus Station. Think Las Vegas on the edge of known space.

Galactic Law by James S. Aaron and JN Chaney


Lethal force is authorized.

In the wild space of the Deadlands, Taurus Station is where miners and tourists come to play, and the ravager gangs follow close behind. Out here, far from the civilized world, the Law has a name.

Gage Walker is the son of hard-nosed asteroid miners. Brash, rough, and crude, he’s one of the few deputies working the station.

Still a rookie, Walker is tasked with the security of a mining magnate’s daughter, an easy job that quickly takes a turn for the worst.

The ravager gangs want her, and it falls to Walker to find out why.

In a chase across Taurus Station, Deputy Walker must prove he’s fit to wear the badge and issue his own form of justice…one body at a time.

Experience this exciting beginning to a brand new series set in the Renegade Star universe. If you’re a fan of Judge Dredd, Renegade Star, or Borderlands, you’ll love this epic, scifi thriller.


This series draws on my own experience working with law enforcement, as well as a love of westerns like Young Guns, Tombstone, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and a strong dose of Star Trek, Buck Rogers and Star Wars.

I’ll send more info on the launch day.

//Free Mil-SF!//

Another cool thing I have to share is a free novel from Scott Moon. If you love mechs and mech battles, you should check out his Shorty series. The first book is currently free for a short time:

Shorty by Scott Moon

Shorty: A Mech Warrior’s Tale

by Scott Moon

Free for a short time

Bravery isn’t built. It’s forged.

On a planet plagued by perpetual war, where a mech is a prerequisite for survival, there is one simple rule: Be bigger than the other guy or get your ass kicked.

At just seventeen measly tons, Shorty doesn’t measure up. His enemies can level cities and punch holes through mountains. They can reshape the world on a whim. They wouldn’t be caught dead in an overgrown trashcan like Shorty.

But Shorty isn’t interested in the rule of size.

He knows heart isn’t measured in pounds of steel. Bravery isn’t found in the finest machined parts. Glory isn’t just for giants.

Shorty has a new rule, and he’s about to teach it to everyone.

Ass-kicking doesn’t have a size requirement.

Thanks for being a reader!


Graffiti Yoda

(Artist Unknown)

Dave Malan

(Dave Malan)

'Kaanturs City' by Doug Chiang

‘Kaanturs City’ by Doug Chiang from the book Robota

12/10/19 Newsletter: Have Space Suit, will travel a lot

This is from my mostly weekly SF Update. If you’d like to get these in your inbox, use the form here:


You may have heard about the all women space walk on the ISS recently. It was delayed due to a shortage of the correct size space suits. I wasn’t aware of how limited our inventory is of space suits, since each is basically its own space vehicle that must be maintained, repaired and shipped to the ISS when crews change. (I should know this, I just hadn’t really thought through the process.) 

Those two stories led me down the rabbit hole to finding this amazing gallery of the evolution of US space suits. I’m excited to share it: Be sure and click on the “See more Images” to get the whole gallery. There are probably 75 images.

Please allow images to see the photo

This suit, built in 1935 by BF Goodrich, was the third such suit made for aviator Wiley Post. The first practical design, it featured an inner rubber bladder and a rubberized fabric outer layer which was glued to a frame with joints to facilitate movement. Post used his suit to fly to an altitude of 50,000 feet, where he discovered the jet stream. Post’s suit is the predecessor to all modern pressure suits, which operate on the same basic principes.


My first book with Variant Publishing (Renegade StarRuins of the Galaxy and the Last Reaper Series) is in the editing pipeline. After three years of working with Mal Cooper and Aeon 14, it’s an interesting experience to work with a new team and get a feel for how they make their books the best they can be. I’ll be working with two editors on this project. In Aeon 14, I’d work with Mal, then an editor, then back with Mal. 

The new series is called Galactic Law, and features some elements of Judge Dredd but with more humor and adventure. Some of my six years’ experience with a police department went into the characters, so I’m really exited about this one.

I’ve also finished a first draft on a novella I plan to give away for free in January. It’s a space opera featuring a vagabond spacer and an ex-military AI (who may be a recovering psychopath). I’ve got an energy-based alien species in the series, so that’s been a lot of fun to think through. If folks like the story, I plan to continue with novels in between these other projects. I’m loving the characters, so I’m looking forward to writing more.

I hope December is treating you well. Thanks for being a reader! 


Concept Art by Xu Zhang

Hot Launch by Raphael Lacoste

Spaceport by John Wallin Liberto

11/27/19 Newsletter: Thanksgiving in Space

//SF Author James S. Aaron Checking In//

Hey, how are you?

I’m sending this letter a bit early. I wanted to share a couple neat things I found before the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

A couple things to talk about during Thanksgiving

I was amazed to learn recently that the holiday is celebrated internationally. Seth Godin shared the factoid in his recent episode of the Akimbo podcast:

11/26 – “Cohesion and Commerce” 


Apparently, the origins of Thanksgiving are murky, but its cultural relevance has resisted changes to its dates, foods, and what the holiday even means. According to Godin, this has all been reinforced by powerful marketing forces that tied commerce to the cultural cohesion of the event. It’s an interesting listen, and only 20 minutes.

Funny name, awesome recipe

He also talks about Spatchcocking your turkey, which I recommend to everyone. You’ll cut your cooking time in half and everything comes out evenly cooked. (Sharing this recipe is another reason I wrote early. It took most of the stress out of cooking a turkey for me.)

So what does this have to do with space?

It got me thinking about what Thanksgiving, or the coming together to give thanks, might look like in the future. Seth talks about why we cook a turkey the way we do, why cranberries became part of the meal, and a few other “must have” parts of the holiday that have been added over time for different reasons. We also have Norman Rockwell to thank for cooking turkey the way we do, rather than sensibly spatchcocking it. 

Future Holidays

How will holidays play out on Mars, Luna or out in the asteroid belt? I’m sure they would want to create a new bit of the tradition while hanging onto a few old parts. What if you have to buy different apps for your protein assembler to get just the right centerpiece for your meal? What if somebody hacked those apps? How much fuel would it cost to meet up with other space craft and celebrate out near Neptune? Who controls the calendar? Would pirates take advantage of so many ships meeting in a single spot? Don’t forget how vast and empty our solar system really is.

Here’s how they do it on the International Space Station.

Fun stuff to explore and talk about. Being me, I have to figure out how to turn dinner into a space battle, but there’s a lot of cool culture you could create along the way.

If you celebrate, I hope this gives you something fun to talk about around the table.

Other cool stuff

Until next time, I want to share some awesome SF art I’ve been finding from across the web. I’ve been collecting a ton of it on my facebook page (I’ve cut my facebook feed down to mostly art, and it’s much more relaxing to me.) I hope to share more as I send more updates.

Hope you have a great holiday,


Please allow images to see the art!

“Repair Mecha, Eryk Szczygieł” []

Please allow images to see the art!

“cruiser spine, Colie Wertz” []

Please allow images to see the art

“Soviet space art by Andrei Sokolov, 1974” []