Interview with Rod Martin, Jr

Why do you have two pen names?
Part of the reason has to do with branding. I use "Carl Martin" for writing fiction and astronomical science.

Growing up in a household with two people identified by the same name poses a special set of problems. My late father and I were both "Rod" or "Rodney." Sometimes, I was "Little Rodney."

After the family moved from West Texas to the D.C. area, I decided to use my middle name to help make things easier at home. I was starting at a new school, had new friends—the timing was right.

For the next forty-five years, I went by "Carl." My first science fiction novel used "Carl Martin." My 3D astronomy software, "Stars in the NeighborHood," used the same name.

In 2009, when I decided to get serious about a writing career, I decided to dust off my first name and to put it to use as my non-fiction pen name. I wrote blog articles and, from the feedback, developed some book ideas.

So, I use "Rod Martin, Jr." for most non-fiction.
Why do you write about so many different topics?
Throughout my life, I've been interested in many things—art, mathematics, archaeology, history, physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, climate science, mythology, anthropology, genetics, linguistics, spirituality, comparative religion, movies, literature and much more.

Through it all, I've been interested in the big stories behind civilization and knowledge. These fed my storytelling interests. Each field gave me ideas for new fiction drama.

But within the learning, I found that I could see patterns that few others—if any—had noticed. I felt like an Indiana Jones or Thomas Edison making discoveries.
Are you an expert on any of the subjects you write about?
Anyone can be an expert on a subject, if they study it well enough. There are plenty of people with honorary doctorates based on their work in a field. Some experts, though, don't contribute much to their field of study. Being an expert only means you've crammed a lot of facts into your brain so that you can think critically on the topic. That's only the starting point. The real question is: Can you create with a subject?

I've become sufficiently expert on a number of subjects. That doesn't mean I know everything about them, but I know enough to add something of value.

Some people rely on dry facts and tests by multiple choice. They rely on pieces of paper called diplomas. But multiple choice never tests for understanding or the ability to use what is learned. That's what's truly important. And diplomas? Sometimes they're not worth the paper on which they're printed.

Let me give you an example of using what you've learned. As a software engineer, it's easy to see if you know what you're doing. A piece of software code either works or it doesn't. If it only works some of the time or even most of the time, that doesn't count. Buggy behavior means it doesn't work. You can't depend on it. You either get it right or you don't.

With something like Atlantis, a geological hypothesis needs to be compatible with physical law and observed evidence. Every argument I've heard against Atlantis has included at least one logical fallacy—sometimes several.
You've had two other careers. Why writing?
I love to create and to explore ideas. My first career was that of an artist. I had a minor talent for form and color—enough to work for two-time Academy-Award-winning designer Saul Bass. There are far better artists than I, but I enjoyed painting landscapes of other worlds. Ever since I was a young boy, I've wanted to explore the universe. I did that with my art. And I wrote my first science fiction story at age eight.

My second career involved computers. Even before I switched from at to software, I had programmed a handheld calculator to figure out the distances between stars. As a software engineer, I helped businesses with various projects which made use of my creativity, logic, mathematics and reasoning skills. But my favorite was creating my own 3D astronomy visualization tool, "Stars in the NeighborHood."

Writing gave me a way to extend my creativity in ways my visual art and computer programming could not.
What drives your passion to write?
A hunger for truth. Some scientists will cop out and tell you that science isn't about truth. I disagree. Science may never reach truth, but it is always searching for something that is more true than current knowledge. Science is always aimed in the direction of truth.

Spirituality actually includes truth, so in that way, it's superior to science. That's a controversial claim, but it all has to do with the mechanics of creation, persistence and the artifact we call "time."

I also hunger to share what I've discovered. The discovery alone is rather meaningless. That's like building a house where no one lives. Sharing gives a discovery meaning and value.
You've made some controversial statements in your books; aren't you afraid of ruining your reputation?
No, not at all. Like a good scientist, I work with what I know. I remain true to that knowledge. If I ever discover something new that contradicts my earlier knowledge, then I adjust my viewpoint to match. The adjustment isn't automatic. A thorough investigation happens before I give up on a set of knowledge or a viewpoint. And the process has gotten easier with experience.

I've been wrong enough times that ego doesn't play as big a part in the process as it does with some people. Ego still exists, but it doesn't beat me up like it does some people. I can be wrong without falling apart.

Being attached to something like a reputation makes you vulnerable. Some people become too cautious—afraid of making mistakes. And some people who have been attached to their reputations have done horrible things when those reputations have become ruined—including suicide. And that's the most selfish thing you can do.

I'm not in this for any reputation. If people get value from what I write, then I've done my job. The public that clings to authority is not my target audience, anyway. I'm after people with far better critical thinking skills.
You write about both spirituality and science; how do you justify writing in two areas with such a broad gulf between them?
Both areas seek truth. That's their common ground. The logic of science and reason has come in handy analyzing spiritual effects like telekinesis, telepathy, remote viewing, and extraordinary miracles of the cause-and-effect, coincidence kind. The inspiration of spirit has come in handy analyzing science and in developing hypotheses.

Science studies physical reality—the products of creation and the continuity that makes it all predictable. Spirituality studies non-physical reality—the sources of creation and the discontinuity which allows for intervention and freedom. I've seen both sides and appreciate the rules by which each realm operates. What's truly fascinating is the interface between the two realms.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I hope it remains thought-provoking. I like it when a reader grows a bit and learns a deeper level of critical thinking. While each topic I write about includes hundreds of hours of research and study, I want the reader to let go of attachments to ideas, including my own. I want them to question everything. We all have our own working knowledge—our worldview. That's our current operating basis. Each person has their own unique version. But when we are free to consider new ideas, we learn more and ultimately contribute more. When someone becomes too attached to an idea, they blind themselves to new possibilities.

What I'm after is the truly scientific viewpoint—not skepticism—but restraint and humility. If we are humble to ultimate truth, then we can move closer to it. If, however, we think we know it all, we become stuck on the road to truth and become an impediment to ourselves and to others.

So, ultimately, I want to help others become explorers of truth who aren't stuck in a rut. And by viewing our reality from radically new viewpoints, sometimes we can free ourselves enough to make significant progress.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The latest book is "Red Line - Carbon Dioxide." In the early 70s, I started studying climate science. Originally, it was meant to give me a solid understanding of the science so I could write believable science fiction about other planets. It's like studying geography. You don't want your character to cross over the border from France into Cambodia. Those two countries don't border each other. Similarly, I wanted my planets to have realistic weather and climate.

Several weeks ago, while continuing my study of climate science, I ran across the work of James Lovelock on carbon dioxide. I had wanted to understand the limits of carbon dioxide. I found in Lovelock's work a limit of 150 ppm (parts-per-million by volume) below which some plants would die—go extinct. Lovelock wrote that a few decades ago, so I looked for other, more recent information on the topic. What I found is that 150 ppm is the start of extinction. Not every species will react the same way and to the same extent. But below 50 ppm all C3 species will be dead (C3 is a method by which plants use carbon dioxide). That will leave C4 species (weeds, two widely know crop species, and a few others) and CAM plant species (pineapple, some cacti and others). Looking through paleoclimatic charts, I discovered that CO2 levels had dropped to about 180 ppm about 3,000 years before our Holocene interglacial began. That meant that we dodged the bullet of extinction by about 30 ppm. That's razor thin. We could have started to lose 85% of all plant species and roughly 99% of all food crops. That's how close we came to disaster 15,000 BC.

I wondered what it would be like to have breakfast, lunch and supper using only corn (maize), sugarcane and pineapple—today, tomorrow, the day after and for the rest of our lives. We got lucky. And we helped plant life survive for several more million years.

It struck me as horribly ironic that humans saved all life on Earth by burning fossil fuels and the public-at-large remains clueless about what we've done. Too many people still demonize carbon dioxide. If they only knew that levels are dangerously close to extinction levels and still well within the range of starvation.

A few months ago, I had also read that C4 species had evolved about 30 million years ago. On a graph of climate proxies, including CO2 levels, I noticed that 30 million years ago, carbon dioxide had been becoming more and more scarce, reaching 800 ppm about the time C4 species evolved. Why would plants evolve into a different species? It's obvious that life does not move unless it finds a need. It seemed likely that plants had freaked out enough to evolve a new method of acquiring and holding onto CO2. And now, at 400 ppm, we've done a partial job of recovering. By burning fossil fuels, we've returned some of that vital gas of life to the atmosphere from when it came in the first place.
What are you working on next?
After a couple of fiction projects I had promised myself I'd complete, my next non-fiction project concerns the legendary island empire of Atlantis. The book's working title is "Mission: Atlantis."

I find it curiously ironic that scientists treat the topic with such emotional disdain. In fact, their treatment of the "A" word borders on the childish. It's almost as if their culture has been trained like some Pavlov dog to growl whenever they hear the word. They use logical fallacies to attempt to explain away any evidence which supports the idea that Atlantis might have been real.

We do have evidence which supports the possibility of Atlantis, but no direct evidence. Not yet. But the sad thing is, scientists won't look. They're afraid it will jeopardize their reputations or their careers. Ironically, this leaves the field wide open for someone like me.

I first became interested in Plato's island of Atlantis in 1959, when George Pal's Hollywood movie on Atlantis first came out. The movie was awful, but it provoked my imagination. In high school (1968), I even wrote a paper in Spanish class about the Basques and their possible link to Atlantis. For the next thirty years, I let the subject simmer on my own "back burner." In the late 90s, however, I started to dig back into my notes and ideas. I started to study geology, attempting to understand the science enough to formulate a plausible hypothesis not only for the island's formation, but also for its ultimate destruction. The first several theories were awful, and quickly discarded as unworkable. As I learned more and more, it became clear that Atlantis was a very real possibility. I discovered evidence marking its existence and the existence of side effects of the geological movements which had given birth to Atlantis. I learned about plate tectonics, subduction and plate boundaries. I found out that Plato's location for Atlantis was rich with clues and perfect for the geology.

I'm not sure when I'll be done with this next book—Mission: Atlantis—but I hope to give it several months to do the topic justice.
Published 2017-01-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Science of Miracles
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 28,480. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2018 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Research & Methodology, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Spiritual awakening
Using scientific method, researcher Rod Martin, Jr. discovered a method for creating miracles at-will—refining it into what he calls “Creational Mechanics.” This shows how science can study spiritual phenomena. It also details the journey of discovery that led Martin from childhood dreams of flight to the startling triple miracle on Wilshire Boulevard, L.A. that changed his life forever.
Red Line — Carbon Dioxide
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 16,420. Language: American English. Published: November 7, 2016 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Global Warming & Climate Change, Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Life Sciences / General
How could burning fossil fuels save all life on Earth? The idea that we currently have too much carbon dioxide is entirely wrong. Also, the notion that global warming is bad is also wrong. We live in an Ice Age. The current interglacial is already longer than average. Should it end, we will have another 90,000 years without summers, rain, crops, food and civilization.
Thermophobia
Series: Shining a Light. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 36,530. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2016 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Global Warming & Climate Change, Nonfiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Environmental politics
Did you know that Global Warming made civilization possible 12,000 years ago? What were the benefits back then? What changed? We live in an Ice Age and governments want to cool down the planet. That could trigger the next glacial period, and Ice Age glacials are brutal. Thermophobia means “fear of warmth.” It’s an unnatural, unrealistic fear. The cure is here.
Instant Happiness
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 15,360. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2016 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General, Nonfiction » Inspiration » General self-help
Everyone wants to be happy. And we can be, instantly, if we have the secret. Though this secret involves just one word, implementing this approach, without extra help, proves too difficult for most people. But this book provides all you need to know to overcome all of your barriers to happiness. Instant happiness can be yours, and it can be both profound and lasting.
The Spark of Creativity
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 12,170. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2016 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Creativity, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success
Have you ever been frustrated with a lack of ideas? This book gives you ideas on how to find ideas. Packed full of examples. No “how to” book is ever complete without examples, not only in how to accomplish something, but also in how to overcome the usual barriers. Creativity has its share of roadblocks and with the techniques in this book, you can blow those barriers to smithereens.
Favorable Incompetence
Series: Shining a Light. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 21,350. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2015 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics and Current Affairs » Terrorism, Nonfiction » History » Contemporary political
WTC7 fell at perfect free fall on 9/11, late afternoon. Free fall = Zero Resistance! Nowhere in the universe has solid steel ever offered zero resistance. Government scientists committed fraud. Mayor Giuliani, guilty of felony destruction of 9/11 crime scene evidence. Top Military responsible for massive 9/11 security failures all received promotions instead of courts martial.
Dirt Ordinary
Series: Shining a Light. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 24,840. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2015 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Conspiracy theories, Nonfiction » History » Contemporary political
Would it shock you to find that there are at least 489 new conspiracies starting every second? This is a conservative figure. From kids conspiring to steal cookies, to governments conspiring to go to war -- you will discover just how true it is that conspiracies are "dirt ordinary."
Watered Down Christianity
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 24,020. Language: American English. Published: April 7, 2015 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christianity
Subtitle: The Need to Protect Your Own Salvation from Ravening Wolves. This book explores a number of dimensions of the dilution of Christ's teachings and offers some possible solutions. There are many wolves in sheep's clothing. This book helps you to recognize the wolves no matter how sweetly they talk.
The Art of Forgiveness
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 11,590. Language: American English. Published: December 29, 2014 by Tharsis Highlands. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Spiritual inspiration
It took a miracle and more than three decades for Rod Martin to understand what true forgiveness is all about. The incident in 1977 changed his life. This book could very well change yours.