Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
"Every brain has a soundtrack. Its tempo and tone will vary, depending on mood, frame of mind, and other features of the brain itself. When that soundtrack is recorded and played back -- to an emergency responder, or a firefighter -- it may sharpen their reflexes during a crisis, and calm their nerves afterward."
Robert Burns of DHS' s Science & Technology Directorate is evaluating neurotraining or "Brain Music", using music created in advance from listeners' own brain waves. The concept is to use the frequency, amplitude, and duration of musical sounds to move the brain from an anxious state to a more relaxed state (or vice versa, though Burns is not too keen to write about THAT). Here is a sample brain music track from DHS said by them to trigger an 'alert' feeling.
While Emergency responders and firefighters may benefit by, or at least be obligated to take part in, this sort of brain muzakery, why would it stop there? Prisons may become oases of tranquility, if each inmate has his own personal pacifying music playing at appropriate times.
How long before arrestees must give a 'brainprint" as well as a fingerprint? You may have the right to remain silent, but your brainwaves won't.
Richard K. Morgan
Ballantine / De Rey 7.99
Taikeshi Kovacs is an X U.N. Envoy which can best be described as a mix between Batman and a T-800. In a future where RD (real death) is something only the very poor have to experience. Personality, memory, a person's very consciousness can be saved electronically and restored into a cloned body or a completely different “sleeve”.
Since humans no longer have to physically travel between the stars (one only needs to transmit themselves to their destination) they have now been able to inhabit far flung planets in the galaxy.
Earth, by contrast, has stratified and ossified along scocio-economic lines. However instead of pure wealth, the true elite of Earth (Meths short for Methuselahs) people who have, through their wealth, extended their lives by backing up then restoring themselves into newer bodies.
Kovacs, due to his previous line of work, is a pariah on many worlds and faces long term storage, finds himself given the chance to avoid hundreds of years of storage and possibly gaining a reprieve on his home planet, is called to Earth to solve a suicide, by the very Meth person who committed suicide. But within minutes of downloading and re-sleeving on Earth, Taikeshi is attacked. He soon finds that this is not an isolated instance as it would seem almost every group is bent on stopping Kovacs at any cost.
Altered Carbon is one of the rare books that starts on a high note and continues to escalate! The action starts within the first few pages and never stops. The experience is somewhat like learning to drive by being dropped into the drivers seat of an Indy racer doing 140mph! You learn the plot line and the characters while ducking punches and avoiding hails of bullets. All the while the plot continues to coil and twist . You quite literally learn nuances in the plot and characters in the final pages!
Morgan had postulated a future Earth that Robinson or Gibson would be comfortable with. The tech is well realized and the milieu is believable. I know I bandy the “couldn't put it down” a lot however you will understand after reading a few pages, when I say that you really can't easily close the book and walk away.
Altered Carbon is not for everyone. Kovacs is certainly every bit the anti hero. Not that he is written unpleasant, but Morgan made the choice to put Taikeshi Kovacs in the middle of what combat vets know as a shit storm, and has him familiar with the level of violence and able to dish it out every bit as well. If your tastes run to military / war science fiction then you will get a large uncut dose with Altered Carbon. But be forewarned, Morgan doesn't pull any punches and neither does Kovacs.
If your an action/adventure war sci-fi aficionado, I give this a recommended read.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Best Novel: Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin
Best Novella: "The Spacetime Pool" by Catherine Asaro
Best Novelette: "Pride and Prometheus" by John Kessel
Best Short Story: "Trophy Wives" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Now if you're a zombie fan then you have got to be interested in Eric's newest venture "War of the Worlds get Zombiefied" which is part of a growing trend of retelling the classics with a twist. Brown's book is "The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies" pretty much says it all!
The world's largest Saturn V "model" rocket leaped off the pad and into the record books on April 25th . The 36 foot tall model was custom built by Steve Eves. Here is an earlier Gizmodo article about Eves project
Saturn V Model Rocket from Gizmodo on Vimeo.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In the ongoing effort to make Abandoned Towers easier to use and easier to find stuff on, I've added a What's New page. I update that page every time I add something to the website (which is just about every day) so check it frequently.
In case you haven't found it yet, and don't know what you've been missing this month, here's a list of new items for April, 2009:
April 22, 2009
- "To Innocence" by Ashutosh Ghildiyal in the Poetry section
- "To Beauty" by Ashutosh Ghildiyal in the Poetry section
- "The Golden Treasury" by Ashutosh Ghildiyal in the Poetry section
- "Those Hills" by Ashutosh Ghildiyal in the Poetry section
- "Step Lightly" by Ashutosh Ghildiyal in the Poetry section
- "Looking for the future that was" by Shaun A. Saunders in the Science Fiction section
- Mike Grell Returns to The Warlord" by Eric S. Brown under Eric S. Brown on Comics
- "Marvel Zombies 4" by Eric S. Brown under Eric S. Brown on Comics
- "After October" by Apryl Fox in the Poetry section
- "(his name is j.uan)" by Apryl Fox in the Poetry section
- "The Biter's Bit" by Arthur Mackeown in the General Fiction section
- Page 14 of Hannible Tesla's Adventure Magazine is now online
- "Mirror" by Arthur Mackeown in the General Fiction section
- "Say Goodby" by Arthur Mackeown in the General Fiction section
- "Johnny" by Michael H. Hanson in the General Fiction section
- "The Eternity Compact" by James Benford in the General Fiction section.
- "In Memory of Homo Sapiens" by James Benford in the General Fiction section.
- "Frontiers" by James Benford in the General Fiction section.
- "It's Me" by Arthur Mackeown in the General Fiction section.
- "Lawyer Referral Service" by Peter Lukes in the General Fiction section
- "A Matter of Sheep" by Katherine McIntyre in the General Fiction section
New content added on a regular basis.
Visit Abandoned Towers at
Thursday, April 23, 2009
From my standpoint at least is is really starting to look like the next person to step on the Moon's surface will not be a NASA astronaut, but one of the other countries competing for the honor. There is every likelihood that it might even be a "private" consortium or company that might pull that hat trick. The Google Prize is still in play - so like the X prize, who is to say that the time for big government funded launches are at an end and the "for profit" business model may be heir apparent.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
A source was quoted by Reuters that Hawking:
- had been ill for a couple of weeks, with his condition deteriorating since he returned from a trip to the United States at the weekend......
Brings to mind the scale and scope of the proposed space elevator.
Read the complete Science Daily article
Apollo space program. In particular the largest rocket NASA ever built - the massive Saturn lifting system commonly known as Saturn V. Steve Eves has been interested in rockets since astronauts first stepped onto the Moons surface. This lead him to experiment with model rockets and will cumulate in the near future with the launch of the largest model rocket ever built. Eves has built a 1/10 scale model of the Saturn V that stands over 3 stories in height and weighs in at almost a ton and when all the engines are installed, the model will have eight thousand pounds of static thrust. This certainly isn't the type of rocket you launched as a child.
Check out Eves story in Rocketry Planet - it really is a fun read.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
For more on Ballard and his works, check out the BBC article here
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The plan, as purposed by NewScientist is to reduce:
- ...the risk to spacecraft from a collision with space debris by equipping launchers with a gossamer-thin "sail". The idea is to deploy the sail after the rocket has released its payload to amplify the drag of the last vestiges of the atmosphere, and so force the rocket out of orbit.
- engineers at the European aerospace firm EADS Astrium are devising ways to build a sail that would quickly remove a spent rocket from orbit.
< Complete NewScientist article >
Friday, April 17, 2009
From the article:
- The impact initially sends waves hundreds of metres high spreading from the impact site. However, the very height of the waves makes them prone to collapse even in very deep water: they start breaking immediately, like ordinary waves on a beach.
- By the time they are 30 kilometres from the impact site, they have shrunk to a height of less than 60 metres
Read complete article in IO9
Monday, April 13, 2009
But from the Airlock Alpha article:
- Tim Minear, a consulting producer on the Fox series, said that in all 14 episodes have been shot for "Dollhouse," with the Fox network committed to airing 13 of them.
That doesn't mean the show's order has been cut, or that cancellation is on the horizon.
The article states:
- sources at the network to Airlock Alpha suggest the show could still be in line for a second season pickup, and a move to a new night.
Keep your fingers crossed kiddies....
Friday, April 10, 2009
Dollhouse in fact scored higher than it's lineup partner The Sarah Connors Chronicles. If anything this starts to look pretty grim for another season of T/TSCC.
For an episode description and more on and the fate of Dollhouse, read the complete article
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Hell, shows how much I pay attention, I didn't even see a code in the weird images that would come up between segments. But there were. Warning, it might be a bit anti-climatic if you're a big fan (Remember Ralphie in A Christmas Story....yeah, that kind of disappointment...well maybe not that bad)
Click here for the details and what the codes mean
Because what we are raving about this evening my friends is from the company that gave us the anti theft device LoJack has ported the idea to people.
From the article in Natural News
- ...has developed an analogous system to track patients with Alzheimer's disease or other conditions that might lead them to become easily lost.
- LoJack SafetyNet consists of a Personal Locator Beacon wristband that gives off a radio signal capable of being detected even inside buildings, densely wooded forests or in the middle of large bodies of water. The signal can be detected by search-and-rescue teams with appropriate equipment at a range of one mile from the ground or five to seven miles from a helicopter.
Read more here
Monday, April 06, 2009
Things may not be all that rosy for Terminator: The Sarah Connors Chronicles. The series has struggled badly through it's second season and is due to end it 22 episode run April 10th. The producers of the series, Warner Brothers Television, made some major concessions to Fox in an attempt to bolster support for the program. This, according to Airlock Alpha, may be a way to help it promote its upcoming "Terminator: Salvation,"(movie) which premieres May 21. Which leads one to wonder if there will be this much support AFTER Salvation's release.
"Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. "Dollhouse" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Read complete article here
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Meanwhile, according to a posting on SF Signal, new genre publisher Angry Robot Books will be producing eBook versions of every title they publish. They are trying to determine a fair price. To that end, they have posted a survey.
So if you're interested in e-books and want to have a say, possibly, on the cost of future e-books, take a jaunt over to the questionnaire at
Saturday, April 04, 2009
The hope is that the site will now be much easier to navigate, prettier to look at and hopefully attractive to people who want books.
Speaking of books, they have several new releases:
Michael H. Hanson's Sha'Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse.
Sarah Ashwood's A Minstrel's Musings.
Abandoned Towers 1st Annual Challenge Anthology.
Get over to the CWP home page at http://cyberwizardproductions.com and check it out!
Friday, April 03, 2009
This year’s inductees to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame will be: Connie Willis, Michael Whelan, Frank R. Paul, and Edward L. Ferman.
Present therapy relies on drugs that block brain cells from making new proteins and this can erase fearful memories. The drugs have to be utilized during a critical phase in memory retention. Recent discoveries have found a quirky property of memories called reconsolidation. The process of jogging a memory – with an emotional or sensory jolt, for instance – seems to make it malleable for a few hours. The drugs used up to this point are highly toxic and it is felt that random wholesale erasure of memory may do more harm than good.
A far less invasive procedure is a therapy sometimes used to treat PTSD, called extinction which involves repeatedly delivering threatening cues – gun shots, for instance – in safe environments in hopes of drowning out fearful memory associations. Unfortunately this therapy only works up to a point.
Read more on this controvercial therapy here
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Crystalwizard at cyberwizard productions wrote me to give us a heads up on their newest project. Based on a story by Michael Hanson The Sha'Daa Tales of the Apocalypse are different stories by different authors based on Hanson's end of days tale.
What really caught my initial attention was the "trailer" that comes along with the book description. It is certainly an interesting way to promote the volume. Check it out, inventive.
Sha'Daa Tales is scheduled for official release on May 1, 2009
check out the complete listing here
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
- Tor Books has announced that the final volume of Robert Jordan's massive Wheel of Time A Memory of Light will appear as a trilogy. Volume one of the three books making up the final volume will be titled The Gathering Storm, and will be published on 3 November 2009. The second and third volumes will appear over a two-year period.
- Harriet McDougal, Jordan's widow and editor, expanded on the announcement, saying "The scope and size of the novel was such that it could not be contained in a single volume.