Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Ten Unexplained Phenomena

And starting off the spooky season is a submission by Shaun Saunders. Here from the pages of the Live Science's blog is the Top Ten Unexplained Phenomena.

Here is the list
  • 10 The mind body connection, understanding the placebo effect
  • 9 Psychic powers and esp
  • 8 Near Death experiences and life after death
  • 7 UFOs they do exist, but are they alien spacecraft?
  • 6 Deja Vu
  • 5 Ghosts
  • 4 Mysterious Disappearances what happened to Amelia Erhart Jimmy Hoffa and more
  • 3 Intuition: gut feeling, sixth sense or something else?
  • 2 Bigfoot - different cultures, different names but always huge hairy ape - like creature
  • 1 Taos Hum many residents and visitors to Taos NM hear the mysterious hum, but there isn't any explanation as to what it truly is....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Review: Hancock DVD

Director: Peter Berg
Staring: Will Smith Charlize Theron & Jason Bateman
Theatrical run-time 93 minutes

Hancock is a bit of an anti hero or anti super-hero. Something Hollywood has not been comfortable dealing with in the past. They want clean cut, truth justice and the American way super hero. Watchmen might have been a try at that, but then you had the driven almost psychopathic or sociopathic mentality as in the Batman motif, but, a true I don't give a rats ass superbeing? That is just too close to the bone. And I am not talking about a rough edged Wolverine I mean hard drinking, do what I want, don't care about the consequences kind of thing. That's Hancock. Hardly ever seen without a bottle in his hand. Yeah he can fly and is super strong, but destruction and mayhem are the rule of the day. Even though he catches the bad guys, he is on the very fringe of society, society is disgusted by him and often openly loathes him. Even in his most private moments, its clear that he clearly isn't human and doesn't fit anywhere. Being the only one of his kind doesn't make the situation any better.

Hancock has no memory of who is is or his life any further back than 80 years ago when he awoke in a hospital critically injured, where soon after he awakes, invulnerability and immense strength started manifesting itself.

Jason Bateman play a public relations person who devises a plan to change the public image of Hancock which leads to some of the movies funnier moments. Charlize Theron plays Bateman's wife but without giving away too much, is so much more and one of the pivot points of the movie.

Hancock's ending is as close as Hollywood comes to producing an unhappy or untidy ending. Hancock doesn't get what he thinks he really wants, but finally realizes that he gets to do the thing he loves doing best... but given that it's Will Smith in the title role, even that ending is watered down with the trade mark grin into the camera before the smart Alex one liner...oh well.

Now lets talk about special features!

This movie (even though I rented it and didn't get the 2 disk dvd) was jam packed with snipets and movie shorts, comments and behind the scenes. This really shows the value of the dvd format over the defunct VHS format. This is as you know for me a serious value added. If I just wanted to watch the movie I would download it from the rental but if I am going to buy a hard copy I want more than a couple of languages and commercials. Hancock adds that value.

The movie has many things going for it. The special effects are good, the writing is much better than basic formalistic with action that doesn't lag and character development that holds your interest.

I would give it a good solid 8 recommended viewing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Water found on the Moon!

Though it is far drier than any Earth based desert, new observations from three different spacecraft have "unambiguous evidence" of water across the surface of the moon. This according to an article in sent in by Shaun Saunders.

The new findings, of lunar polar water, are detailed in the Sept. 25 issue of the journal Science are back by evidence of lunar polar water ice by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Further evidence should be available in just a few weeks when the planned lunar impact of NASA's LCROSS satellite. LCROSS will hit one of the permanently shadowed craters at the moon's south pole in hope of churning up evidence of water ice deposits in the debris field.

Researchers are not saying that there are vast quantities of ice - One ton of the top layer of the lunar surface would hold about 32 ounces of water, but finding water on the moon would be a boon to possible future lunar bases, acting as a potential source of drinking water and fuel..

Yahoo news article from Tim

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams

Implied Spaces
Walter Jon Williams

Night Shade Books
pb 375 pp

First thing to consider is what exactly is an Implied Space. Williams waits until page 70 before he hints at what is really going on. As he describes, an implied space is a space of sorts that are an accident "implied" by a builder or architect making decisions concerning the other attributes of a structure. As in a dome, which has support by way of arches, the space "BETWEEN" the arches are Implied Spaces". Now you know why he waited until page 70 to share that little nugget with us.

Implied Spaces is certainly cyberpunk fiction taken to a totally new level. Williams has created a world within a world. By that I mean that humanity has developed a method of constructing pocket universes where in they can have their own completely different set of natural laws or not, depending on what the need might be.

In the universe that Williams has created death is all but non exsistant, everyone is backed up to a master file and should they meet with misfortune, can be reincarnated. The Solar System now is managed by massive orbital AIs massing as much as small planets. The main protagonist goes by the moniker of Aristide and is companioned by Bitsy, an avatar of one of the orbital AIs. Aristide it seems is several thousand years old and moves among the pocket universes at will. Aristide also seems to be one of the original creators of the first orbital AI.

With no death or ailments, people able to choose which version of paradise universe they want to live or play in, you would think suspect that all was well. But when people start disappearing` from the pocket universes and odd cyber-diseases start striking people on Earth, we soon find out that there is a malevolent force at work not only in the pocket universes but in our universe as well.

As Aristide investigates he discovers somethings about himself that could effect the rest of the universes and our own as well. And his final discovery is the most mind twisting of them all.

Implied Spaces never lacks for action. The start comes perilously close to being a Sword and Sorcery novel until Aristide's real life starts to leak in. Once up to speed it has all the monikers of a space opera - larger than life heroes and bad-guys. High technology that on one hand seems plausible while still being totally fantastic in nature.

The only drawback? It's got to be those first 70 pages. If S&S is not your thing then these pages fall flat for you. Until we get some weird aliens that shouldn't be here that things start to turn, so my advice is give the book a chance. The milieu is fascinating. Over the years we have seen bits and pieces in other people's works, but Williams pulls it together from many different venues. Its my guess that you won't be long falling into the spider web of intrigue and double dealing that Williams weaves. It's worth the patience.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

12 Shocking Ideas That Could Change the World

Shaun Saunders sends in this thought provoking article found in Wired Magazine. It is in fact 112 Shocking Ideas that could change the world. Shocking...yeah, that's a good euphemism!

Who remember's "The Minority Report"? Three mentally challenged people used to ferret out future crimes? Well Thorkil Sonne wants to Recruit Autistics for various positions in business and government. Sonne already has founded Specialisterne (Danish for "Specialists"), an IT consultancy that hires mostly people with autism-spectrum disorders. Sonne's "specialists" have already demonstrated proof of concept finding software errors for Microsoft and Cisco.

John Arquilla want to go on a Cyberoffensive. He'd like the US military's coders to team up with network specialists abroad to form a global geek squad. Together, they could launch preemptive online strikes to head off real-world battles. Today's armed forces around the world depend on digital communications. Such an attack would cripple a countries ability to communicate with it's forces. It is suspected that some countries already use this method in secrecy, Arquilla says, do it openly in the hopes that countries would think twice about progressing with ANY attack.

Gregg Easterbrook says "Embrace Human Cloning" Do you know any clones? How many? I know several. Far from being "monstrous perversions of nature" somehow "less than human" however clones in nature are common place. Twins. Far from being unnatural cloning is the pinnacle of the natural process of passing on one's genes. As Easterbrook suggests "In vitro fertilization was once seen as depraved God-playing and is now embraced, even by many of the devoutly religious. Cloning could be a blessing for the infertile"

How about the story "With folded hands"? Well Ralph Keeney suggests that we can cheat death. How? Well Keeney suggests that most people are the agents of their own demise. "A remarkable 55 percent of deaths for people age 15 to 64 can be attributed to decisions with readily available alternatives." What does that mean exactly? Many deaths in the US are due to personal choices—things like smoking, overeating, or unsafe sex. Keeney states that we are facing an epidemic of ignorance. Keeney says that some workplaces disqualify smokers as job candidates and alcoholics are often denied liver transplants. Kenny suggests we could deploy costlier health insurance for the obese, or criminalizing texting while driving.

These and many shocking and or frightening suggestions from radicals, heretics, agitators—big thinkers with controversial, game-changing propositions. Click here for the complete Wired list

Is Time Disappearing From the Universe?

In a mind bending alternative explanation to the apparent acceleration of galaxies at the edge of the universe - Professor Jose Senovilla, and his colleagues at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain suggest that there is no such thing as Dark Energy, which conventional theory has at it's core for the force driving these galaxies apart at an ever increasing pace. Instead Professor Senovilla theorizes that time itself is leaking out of the universe!

Scientists today base their models on the red-shift that far reaching galaxies present, demonstrating that as these galaxies move away from us, they stretch or shift light to a lower energy level making them appear redder. The farther away, the more pronounced the red-shift. The lynch-pin however is that for this theory to work, time must remain constant across the universe.

Senovilla however posits that time IS NOT constant and in fact is slowing down. The net effect would present itself in exactly the same manner. With time slowing down, far reacihng galaxies would indeed appear to speed up.

Professor Senovilla explains that the universe IS indeed expanding, just that it is NOT accelerating.

The team's proposal will be published in the journal Physical Review D.

For more on this mind bending theory, click on the article title for the complete Daily Galaxy post

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Is Mars Red?

Tim Sayell sends in a very interesting take on the red planet.

Conventional wisdom has it that Mars gained its' red hue from water that once flowed on the surface of Mars, oxidizing elements which over time left the planet with it ruddy coloring.

But according to the article in Yahoo News
  • after the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on the planet in 2004, they found evidence of certain minerals that would have been destroyed by water, suggesting that the red dust on Mars never came into contact with flowing water.
  • (New research) implies that the red tones on the planet are a relatively recent development. A simple grinding down of rocks from erosion could produce a red mineral that stains the dust on Mars, the new thinking goes.
Very interesting! click here for more

61st Annual Emmy Award Winners for sf/f/h nominees

Sfscope report the Emmy Award winners in the catagories of science fiction fantasy and horror.

Here is a partial list of some of the winners:
  • Battlestar Galactica: * Sound Editing (Series) for "Daybreak, Part 2"
  • Chuck: * Stunt Coordination for "Chuck Versus the First Date"
  • Heroes: * Special Visual Effects (Series) for "The Second Coming/The Butterfly Effect"

This is just a partial list of the awards. For a full listing click the article title to go to the complete story.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Skull Discovery Could Rewrite Human History

Conventional views of human evolution and expansion has held that modern humans evolved in Africa and slowly expanded into Europe and Asia already possessing a modern human body structure and large brain and sophisticated tools.

But in recent discovery, Scientists found a handful of skulls at an archaeological site in Europe, near Tbilisi Georgia. These discoveries suggest that humans evolved in Europe and Asia, possibly simultaneously with African counterparts.

One possible explanation for the ancient skulls might be that proto-humans may have moved out of Africa far longer ago than the conventional 1 million years, spread out over Europe and Asia and then slowly moved back into Africa.

Whatever the history, the bones have been dated to 1.8 million years, making them the oldest human remains found outside of Africa.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Caprica to Air 01/22/10

According to the Science Fiction Buzz page
  • Syfy has announced the US air date for its Battlestar follow-up, Caprica... Friday, January 22nd 2010. Caprica will start with a two hour premiere.
The program will take the usual late Friday slot.

Caprica's storyline follows two rival families – Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) - but as far as I can see the Adama name and Caprica are the closest ties we will see to the BSG series.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review: 9


Shane Ackers Director
Tim Burton Producer
90minutes pg-13

9 is the feature length version of the 11 minute short film Ackers produced in 2004. As with the shorter work, the world has be been driven to destruction by a long war between humans and machines. Knowing that humanitie's time is short, a scientist creates small puppets and imbues them with the essence of his own humanity. 9 wakes up some time after all of this has taken place and though various back stories he learns of what happened to humans at the hands of the machines and what "machines" are still active and hunting.

Director Ackers won a great deal of recognition for the short work and as such Burton pretty much left him to create the feature length version. As such, those of us that are familiar with the original short, ( 9 short on YouTube) well see many of the connecting themes in the longer version. Matter of fact I would have to say that the 11 minute movie IS the cinematic studio version with some changes that allowed the original idea to be expanded on. The one major difference is 9 and his compatriots speak where they were mute in the short. A fellow viewer suggested that 90 minutes with no dialog would have been too much, but then that was almost the case with Wally was it not? I am almost wondering if the voices were this movie's version of say Deckard's Blade Runner voice over. And much for the same purpose. Another complaint by a fellow viewer was the ending which has religious overtones, but this is a case of not seeing the short. Ackers was allowed to maintain much of his original story and the ending sequence is integral in both versions.

So, 9 is good honest science fiction. It comments on many of the touch points of a good movie science fiction or otherwise but most certainly Sci-fi. Concern for the environment, political extremism, fear of technology and one of my favorites, imbuing humanity into an otherwise inanimate object. So is 9 a robot in the truest sense or maybe an, not in the true science fiction sense, more of a high functioning puppet perhaps... But so much more and maybe less. But overall the movie does what a good science fiction movie should. It extrapolates. It introduces tech that is on the fringe enough to make you think and together you are either forced or led to reexamining preconceptions.

I would give it a good solid 8, mainly because I thought some of the additions detracted from the original. My reservations match another viewer in that Hollywood arbores an untidy ending which the short may have had to a point. So everything must be wound up nicely and everyone must be happy which I think says more about the viewer than the producer.

Watch the short first, then DO GO SEE the movie and then do yourself a favor and go view the short again... Yes it will hold up that well! 9's website click here

Thanks to Flagship Cinemas for sponsoring this blog/podcast/radio program. Check out their site here

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Land that Time Forgot Found!

Hey, check this out!!! Sent in by Tim Sayell is an article from The Guardian recounting biologists that discovered a world untouched by man or anything else for that matter, for 200k years!!

Discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea were such things as fanged frogs and rats the size of...well dogs! Check out the pic! They named this monster the Bosavi woolly rat. It had absolutely no fear of humans at all.

From the article:
  • (in) just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world.
More great stuff here

Is Human Enhancement Always a Good Idea?

Shaun Saunders sends in a thought provoking article / opEd, from Time online / health sciences. The brunt of the article asks the straight forward question - in light of the fact that:
  • Modern science already offers ways to enhance your mood, sex drive, athletic performance, concentration levels and overall health. But is such medically driven self-improvement always a good idea?
The question is posited by Nick Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University - Bostrom believes it's time to open the ethical debate surrounding human enhancement.

Be it medical, genetic or bio-tech - given that this technology will continue to grow and to improve, and who amongst us has not read the stories of run away mods taken to such a level that one finally questions the humanity of the person availing themselves of it.

The q&a in this article is facinating and well worth your time reading. It certainly will get you thinking and it might change your mind....

click the article title or here

New Research suggests your brain never forgets

From Wired Science comes this article describing an action by the brain that is poorly understood. Why does the brain"forget" and what happens to "forgotten memories"?

Well, according to neurobiologist Jeffrey Johnson of the University of California, Irvine - in a study he co-authored, which was published in the magazine Neuron - forgotten memories may be hidden from your conscious mind, however, they might not be "gone".

  • "Even though your brain still holds this information, you might not always have access to it,” says Johnson.

That a memory stimulates neurological patterns encoded when the memory was formed, is a well understood science. Less, however, is known about what happens to these patterns when memory fades.
  • It’s not known whether those details vanish from the mind altogether, or are subsumed by some larger pattern, or remain intact but inaccessible.

Johnson says that it is still unclear what happens to memory patterns.
  • “But even when people claim that there are no details attached to their memories, we could still pick some of those details out.”
read the rest of the Wired article that describes the experiment on retrieving forgotten memories

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Short Animated Film "The Cat Piano"

I suppose I could make the case for this being some sort of alternate reality science fiction, and it does have that aspect. But whatever the case, the animated short of the poem "The Cat Piano" is dark story telling at it's best. Set back, hit play, and enjoy!

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

The Cat Piano is a poem written and directed by Eddie White and brilliantly narrated by Nick Cave. This and other great videos can be found at

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

DVD Review: Watchmen

Directed by Zack Snyder

The movie is set in a parallel time-line set around the date of 1985. Many things are recognizable so people that are not exactly interested in this type of science fiction device, won't be put off too much.

One major difference is Richard Nixon has been re-elected to the presidency for a 5th time! Also with lighter than air craft apparent in the sky, disasters like the Hindenburg/Graff Zepplin didn't happen.

Costumed heroes or vigilantes are common place (you really can't call them superheroes because there seems to be no powers evident in most of the people. Dr. Manhattan may be one of the most striking exemptions however) Most it would seem are very much in the “Batman” class of crime fighting.

The real twist is as the movie opens, it's apparent that these heroes have fallen on disfavor and are no longer practicing their craft. But it would seem that there is a conspiracy to eliminate each and every one of them. Plus the Nixon administration has outlawed the practice.

Most of the movie revolves around a small group of “Watchmen” trying to uncover the conspiracy and dealing with their past which in some cases went well off the path for some to be considered heroes.

One thing that can be said is that the film is long. The theatrical cut was 162 minutes and the directors cut 186. After about 90 minutes you find yourself, this is a long movie. But the plot doesn't fall down. It's dark, moody, introspective at the same time violent and hard edged. It earns it R rating hands down.

The dvd doesn't seem to be any great shake though. No extra features that I could find. And once again if I am going to be asked to lay down money for content, I would expect some premium extra which are lacking. Though the longer cut, does have its appeal. So its a great rental DVD but I would question its value as a purchase ...not quite enough value added in my mind. I do see though that if your inclined to rent Blu-ray you do get the special edition director's cut that does run 186 minutes.

StarTreckin like you ain't never seen it before!

Remember the song Star Treckin? Well here it is again mixed up with some clay animation. The results are sure to enrage pure Treckies and for the rest of us? Well be prepared to be entertained in either case!

Thanks to JL for the heads up

HiRISE releases new pictures of Mars

Hey check out these pictures that Shaun Saunders just sent me the link to. They are in an article at on the technology page.

The pics are from the University of Arizona, Tucson, using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, have just released a bunch of pictures, which show the surface of Mars from the perspective of a plane flying over the surface. Not computer generated, but what it would REALLY look like if were looking out the window of a plane.

The picture in the post is Victoria Crater. There is a link on the article for more pics...spectacular.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Researchers build an 8bit pneumatic processor!

Hey, who read Ted Chiang's Exhalations? Did the idea of the pneumatic brain (and for that matter the whole physiology of the stories beings) that the main character found out that every person contained, trip your trigger? Did it seem a bit improbable however? Well check out this article that I found on Make Magazine's site:
What is even wilder is they have videos of logic states, (flip flops and what have you) working!
Check out this link here for videos

Friday, September 04, 2009

Researchers believe human brain replication in 10 years

From ScienceDaily: Neuroscientists from the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland say that a model that replicates the functions of the human brain is feasible within ten years.

Professor Henry Markram claims that the complexity of the human mind is not a barrier to building a model. The brain contains trillions of synapses and billions of neurons, but it is still a finite number. Given the sophistication of today's technology, it is now possible to conceive of "reverse engineering" the brain.

The problem today is that no one even knows what we already understand about the brain.
  • For Professor Markram, the most exciting part of his research is putting together the hundreds of thousands of small pieces of data that his lab has collected over the past 15 years, and seeing what a microcircuit of the brain looks like.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Japan looking at space based power generation

Now here is a theme that has been bandied about the science fiction community for some time and now looks like someone is seriously looking into implementation. Shaun Saunders sends in an article from concerning a power project being considered by the Japanese. This power plant, if constructed, would power 300,000 homes and being solar, would have a very very low carbon footprint. But what truly makes this plant unusual is its location - Earth orbit.

According to the article:
  • The satellite will have a surface area of four square kilometers, and transmit power via microwave to a base station on Earth.
The cost of the project is slated at about 21 billion with a majority of funding coming from Mitsubishi.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Trailer for Marvel's Astonishing X-Men motion comic

Hey, are you an X-Men fan? The comic? How about this "motion comic"? I was reading this article in Topless Robot. Here is an excerpt:
  • Here's a trailer for Marvel's next motion comic, based on Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's well-received run on Astonishing X-Men, due on iTunes on October 28th.

I know, the style is familiar, but the subject and the overall feel work for me. I will most likely take a look, being an X-men fan.

AntipodeanSF, #135 now online!

Ion, editor of AntipodeanSF the online flash fiction magazine, writes to tell us some good news!:
  • Just a short note to say that the latest issue of AntipodeanSF, #135 is now published on the net for your enjoyment.
  • You'll find AntipodeanSF at the usual address:

Good news indeed. I took the initive to go over and get a short description of some of the stories available in this month's issue. Check it out!

Figment By Matt Tighe

When Bob woke a tree was growing in the corner of his bedroom. The carpet around it had turned from white to green, and it sported large green leaves that turned the sunlight into shadow patterns on the bedspread. At its base was a small wooden door.

A small man stepped out. "Ah," he said. "You're awake."

Robotron Strikes Again By Jake Wickenhofer and Greg Wickenhofer

"Remind me again what we are doing," Robotron said. "It's some kind of human bonding ritual, right?"

"Sure." I said, handing Robotron the jacket.

"This garb is positively ridiculous."

Traitor By Gitte Christensen

JazJay packed his things with a heavy heart. Music thumped out an invigorating beat threaded with life-affirming lyrics (messages mixed by Gr8Boy12 specifically to blast sense into his defeatist friend), and the tribe buzzed about him.

"Don't let those fascists win," urged GoChas, "Fight the good fight."

Dark Past Midnight By Jan Napier

"Bad blood," my mother winced, extracting my milk teeth from her ankle. I think not!

I was too young to tender an explanation to the woman — a mere foster parent, and not my natural parent at all. However, if she persisted in lurking around corners then jumping out at me, there could only be one result. For one of my race it is a typical reaction.

Demonstration By Shaun A. Saunders

"So you'd like to stage a 'demonstration', is that correct?"

I nodded. Yes. It is my right after all, living in a democracy.

"All right," said the court clerk, "please fill out this application form."

Perimeter By Ashley Hibbert

I looked up from the mangled bulkhead and into the distance between the ripped hull.

It was some explosion that had created the gap, yet the Brigand's sensors hadn't worked out what had caused it. Our mission. Yet the team's presence and purpose had ceased to be of any importance.

The Day They Won By Lee Giminez

"Mr. Smith? We need a decision today."

Smith stared at his assistant. Sweat beaded on his forehead. "I know..."

It was just the two of them in the board room: NASA Administrator Michael Smith and his assistant, Andy Stevens.

Teslar's Wonderful Electric Incapacitation Pistol By Liam Thorpe

For as long as me or mine can remember, the Bobbies 'round London had walked the beat with nowt but twelve inch of Bully Stick at their side. But since the Great Exhibition they've got a little something extra up their sleeves.

I were told some Russian bloke, name of Teslar, went and invented a pistol. Called it the Wonderful Electric Incapacitation Pistol.

Some Things Never Change By Stephen L Thompson

Standing on the bottom step, Kyle Cooper took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Ever so slowly he lifted his right foot, inched it forward, and set his spacesuit boot down into the red dust. With his eyes still closed he said, "I've taken a small step into a giant future."

Time To Sign Off By Francis Conaty

Assessor Williams disliked his job. The rigid rules under which he worked made it impossible to offer these people any hope for the future. Williams returned his attention to his present applicant. "You must remember, Mr. Sanjay, that when this country accepted you as an environmental refugee the conditions of that acceptance were clearly conveyed to you."

"Of course I remember. It is not every day that one is sterilized.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Spring has Sprung... no, wait. Wrong end of the year.

It's September, not May. What a shock!

I guess it only feels like spring because of all the housekeeping I just did on the Abandoned Towers website.

A brand new review by Oddcube is up. This month, he review... Dungeon Keeper!

And a new article by Eric S. Brown. This month he delves into The Micronauts.

And there's a brand new site design too. The site was getting a little cluttered so I rearranged things. It should be, I hope, a lot more user friendly.

Now, for those of you that haven't been visiting us regularly, you're missing out on all kinds of goodies. But just to whet your appetite a bit, here's an excerpt from something posted during August:

Three Wishes in the Iraqi Desert

By Stephen Patrick

“Spider Hole, boss,” called out Patruno. He never looked back at Connor, but kept his eyes on the black hole in front of him. They were scouting the cold desolate mountains for signs of an Iraqi stronghold or a cache of weapons.

“Blow it!,” yelled Connors, never taking his eyes from the mountainside.

“Fire in the hole!”

Patruno called out for the others to take cover as he pulled a grenade from his belt. He pulled the pin and dropped the grenade into the small hole. The grenade fell for a few moments before striking bottom with the shrill plink of metal on stone. A second later, the grenade exploded and the ground beneath them shuddered. Smoke billowed from the hole and rose into the sky.

Conner moved over the hole and peered in. His flashlight illuminated the bottom, but he saw no signs of any life or any evidence that the hole had been occupied. Satisfied that it was not a hideout or stronghold, he made a series of hand gestures to his team and they moved on.

They continued this routine for the remainder of their twelve-hour patrol. They had worked the mountainous areas of northern Iraq with this same procedure for weeks, looking for evidence of hidden weapons or small cells of resistance hidden in the rocks. These multi-week missions allowed them to get into the most remote and inaccessible areas of the mountains, the most likely hiding places for an enemy intimately familiar with this terrain.

Late one Thursday in July, the team was making its way home down a steep, rocky face. Karow, their scout, was busy scanning the face of the opposite hill for snipers. His scope never fell on enemy soldiers, but he did find a series of small caves that could conceal an Iraqi stronghold. He radioed to Connor and the team made their way down the craggy mountain, across the sparse valley and up the other hill.

They approached cautiously and then found the caves Karow had spotted. There were three entrances to the caves. One was large and tall enough for a grown man to walk through. The second was a bit smaller and would require a grown man to crouch to enter. The last was so small that a large man would have trouble crawling through it.

Famosa, the demolitions expert, and Connor, the team’s leader, quickly cleared the two larger caves and found nothing. Karow stood guard over the third hole and thought he heard something echoing in the tiny cave. When the others finished their search of the other caves, Connor knelt at the opening to the third cave. The echoing was rhythmic, almost musical. He tossed a flare into the cave. The flare went about six feet into the mountain before striking the back of the cave and dropping out of sight into a deep hole. The flare echoed for some time, bouncing around as it fell down into the hill.

Of course, if you want to read the entire story from Stephen, you'll need to go visit Abandoned Towers magazine. You'll find it in the General Fiction section.

Dutch "Moon Rock" discovered to be fake

I wasn't going to give this any airtime, mainly because it is such a major embarrassment, but then Shaun sent in the BBC article. I got to thinking, at what time or point did this EVER seem like the thing to do? Huh?

Here are the details, in case you missed them from the bbc article:
  • A treasured piece at the Dutch national museum - a supposed moon rock from the first manned lunar landing - is nothing more than petrified wood.
  • It was given to former Prime Minister Willem Drees during a goodwill tour by the ... Apollo-11 crew.