Sunday, November 29, 2009

And so it ends...

2009, that is. Almost to the end and I swear the year just got started!

There's a whole raft of cool stuff for free sitting on the Abandoned Towers website, just waiting for you to come explore

And 4 print issues now!

What are you waiting for? I've got the sale's records, you know. And it pains me to say that there are very few sales of each print issue.

Everyone wants to be IN print, but no one seems to want to BUY the print issues once they're created.

It's not easy, putting a print issue together, you know. It takes a lot of work. A lot of time. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears! (stop humming, I don't mean the old rock band).

So, how about putting your money where your mouth is?

Wander over to the AT website at and pick up one (or more) of the print issues today. Show the authors that being in print truly isn't a guarantee that their stories won't be read.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Man-Machine Book 2 is online

Royce Lee sends in a note that he is still enjoying the blog and passes on the great news that Man-Machine book two is now online !

I have read through the second installment. Again the graphics are minimalistic almost jarring but if anything, they add to the surreal aspect of the storyline, which I think you will agree is very engaging.

Check book 2 out here

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Could Jupiter's Europa harbor fish-sized life?

According to the latest National Geographic,  the Jovian moon Europa -hundreds of millions of miles from the sun- may host something fishy. Something alive—right now. Below its icy crust Jupiter's moon Europa is believed to host a global ocean up to a hundred miles (160 kilometers) ocean currently being fed more than a hundred times more oxygen than previous models had suggested, according to provocative new research.

That amount of oxygen would be enough to support more than just microscopic life-forms: At least three million tons of fishlike creatures could theoretically live and breathe on Europa, said study author Richard Greenberg of the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

""There's nothing saying there is life there now," said Greenberg, who presented his work last month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's   Division for Planetary Sciences. "But we do know there are the physical conditions to support it."  Full Article Here.
Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona/UColorado

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We Are All Connected music video by Symphony of Science

Here is a neat site. It's called the Symphony of Science. It's a musical project by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here is one that really grabbed me. It is called "We Are All Connected" It contains quotes featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye sampled and mixed in with a musical score. Before you go off saying Nye singing? That's not play, it really is worth it.

For more go to

And thanks to the DIY blog for the heads up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

AntipodeanSF issue #138 sneak peak!

I didn't realize that issue 138 was having a problem, until Ion wrote and gave us the low down.
Here is the gist of his letter:
  • Hi all,
  • Just a short note to remind you that AntipodeanSF Issue 138 is now finally (after some extensive delays getting our broadband functional after a move) online. You'll find AntipodeanSF at the usual URL:

Nuke, Editor of the really entertaining Antipodean online flash fiction magazine has given us a heads up on the upcoming issue 138 and I can just look at this TOC and see this is going to be a great issue, how? well Suzanne Sykora? Shaun Saunders? Jamie Richter?! Yep Nuke... has a winner this issue!

"Apocalypse Hotel" by Marcelo Rinesi
"It Was A Monster" by Giovanni Piccolo
"Let Us Prey" by Suzanne Sykora
"A Matter of Perspective" by Shaun A Saunders
"Taken" by Christopher Elston
"Zombie Picnic" by Scott Wilson
"Forever War" by Timothy Miller
"Dog-E" by Jamie Richter
"A Quarter to Oblivion" by Adi Gibb
"Mirrors" by Kevin J. Phyland

Check it out this weekend on Antipodean SF

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: "The Fountain" DVD movie

The Fountain
Hugh Jackman Rachel Weisz
Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Talk about a total departure from the films I have been watching as of late! The Fountain is as far away as you can get from the high octane action science fiction movie as you can get I think. The Fountain is a thoughtful, emotional image laden treat for the senses.

I have heard the film described as one man's trip throughout the ages on a quest to save his true love. And you might be able to get though the film with just that mind set and be fully entertained. But what the Fountain really is, becomes apparent as the film moves along.

Hugh Jackman plays the lead in three distinct story lines. First as a conquistador on a quest to "New Spain" for his queen to find the "tree of life" said to grant the drinker of it's sap, life everlasting. In the second a research scientist bent on finding a cure for his wife's cancer before she dies, stumbles upon an extract from an old growth tree from central America and third a Dalli inspired trip through the universe with a monk and a life giving tree to a dying star called by the ancient Myan's Xibalba, or the Mayan underworld of the dead.

Each story line at some point will reference the other two, giving it a very intertwined feeling and you can see where the feeling of an ongoing tale through time.

The first two story lines (I say first two, but all three story lines are running at the same time) are easy enough to follow, but the third is every bit the last 20 minutes of 2001. What is the bubble that the tree and the monk are traveling in, is the tree THE tree, why does the monk show up in the first two story lines as the main character from time to time? The Wiki describes the third character as an "astronaut" in an "echospheric spacecraft" (whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Were they watching the same movie I was?) But when you watch the movie, I dare anyone to get that from the third storyline. It's mystical, almost hallucinogenic in the images that are shown.

The intertwining of the three storylines becomes almost frenetic. The Myan priest see the "astronaut" of the future, the conquistador finds the tree, dies seeing Xibalba and drops the ring his queen gave him, The doctor loses the ring too and reads a story written by his wife telling about the conquistador and the fire of Xibalba. Her book is called the Fountain...what fountain....fountain of youth? Tree of life? same thing? and then continues his research using the material from the central American "tree" and ends by planting said tree on his wife's grave, just as Xibalba novas - and now the astronaut/monk flies through the cosmos with a tree...the tree? undying because he is eating the bark of the tree, then we see that he has on the queen's ring as the star goes nova.

ok, but if the star novas in the future hundreds of light-years did the two other time lines see it in the past? huh? Oh yeah, if you have seen the ending of 2001 you know my analogy is apt. only I kept thinking that the music from the Disney movie "The Black Hole".

Don't get me wrong, the movie is good. But if you're looking for lots of action...ain't happening. The film is thoughtful, introspective and often visually stunning.

And the DVD is a treat as well! The special features included on the disk show the abortive first try at making the film earlier, the locals. sets, rushes, outakes, makeup....all kinds of short snippets that give you insight into how the film was conceived and executed. Which in my book makes it an excellent addition to your dvd library. I would give it a solid 9

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mainer wins NASA glove competition - Again!

NASA has awarded Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, Maine,  $250,000 for coming up with the winning design concept for more flexible space gloves intended to make it easier for astronauts to perform tasks.

It's the second time Peter Homer has won the so-called "Astronaut Glove Challenge" -- Homer bested the competition in the same contest in 2007.

Homer's design won first place in this year's competition, held yesterday at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida. The second place prize of $100,000 went to Ted Southern of Brooklyn, N.Y.NASA officials say the competitors demonstrated their glove designs by trying out a range of tasks in a pressurized chamber. "It is remarkable that two designers working on their own could create gloves that meet the requirements for spaceflight -- a task that normally requires a large team of experts," says NASA engineer Kate Mitchell in a statement.

In order to qualify for a prize, the gloves had to meet all of the basic requirements of NASA's current spacesuit gloves and exceed their flexibility. The gloves also were tested to ensure they would not leak.
Competitors had to develop a complete glove, including the outer, thermal-micrometeoroid-protection layer and the inner, pressure-restraining layer. In the 2007 competition, only the pressure-restraining layer was required.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skhizein by Jérémy Clapin

Hey, you have got to check out this short film. It's called Skhizein by Jérémy Clapin. It is about a meteor strike and it's effect on one man. I love the animation. Thanks to SF Signals for the original post.

Skhizein (Jérémy Clapin,2008) from Behemoth on Vimeo.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whedon's Dollhouse canceled

Mark Wilson of the SciFi Fantasy Blog writes:
  • Fox network has decided the Joss Whedon basement-rated drama Dollhouse has had all the breaks it's going to get.
  • Fox has committed to air all 13 episodes starting up again December 4. Four episodes had already aired in September and October, so nine episodes remain to be broadcast. To burn them off as quickly as possible, Fox will be airing two episodes a night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Clone Song

Have you ever see this? Its the Clone Song rumor has it that it was written by the good doctor himself. Found a copy....Wonder if John could voice this? lol

The Clone Song

By: Isaac Asimov

Tune: Home On The Range

Oh, give me a clone

Of my own flesh and bone

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And after it's grown,

Then my own little clone

Will be of the opposite sex.

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And when I'm alone

With my own little clone

We will both think of nothing but sex.

Oh, give me a clone,

Is my sorrowful moan,

A clone that is wholly my own.

And if she's X-X,

And the feminine sex,

Oh, what fun we will have when we're prone.

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And when I'm alone

With my own little clone

We will both think of nothing but sex.

My heart's not of stone,

As I've frequently shone

When alone with my own little X.

And after we've dined,

I am sure we will find

Better incest then Oedipus Rex.

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And when I'm alone

With my own little clone

We will both think of nothing but sex.

Why should such sex vex,

Or disturb or perplex,

Or induce a disparaging tone?

After all, don't you see,

Since we're both of us me,

When we're having sex, I'm alone.

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And when I'm alone

With my own little clone

We will both think of nothing but sex.

And after I'm done

She will still have her fun,

For I'll clone myself twice ere I die.

And this time without fail,

They'll be both of them male,

And they'll each ravage her by and by.

Clone, clone of my own,

With its Y chromosome changed to X.

And when I'm alone

With my own little clone

We will both think of nothing but sex.

Why Mile Wide Motherships Don't Make Sense!

Finally! Someone agrees with me! I never thought these mega-ship from E-T to Independence Day made any sense what so ever!

so I was reading on the Dvice blog and here was an article giving out some excellent static on these uber mother ships.

First ummm we could see them coming! In V they just appear! Granted sometimes we get a little bit of a warning, but as inefficient as NASA's NEO project is, if it's a kilometer across and inside of Mar's orbit, pretty good chance NASA can see your ass.

Something this big entering the Earth's atmosphere would raise havoc with the weather! According to the article, ships this huge
  • would be enough to cause "mesoscale" weather effects
  • storm systems ... a hundred kilometers across, encompass anything from thunderstorms to tropical cyclones, and have "an equivalent energy of multiple nuclear bombs
And what about the energy needed to keep something that huge in the air. Orbit is one thing, these behemoths are WELL into the gravity well! The author computes that in real world energy output, to keep a 3 kilometer craft in the air would take about 368 quadrillion joules of energy. That's one and a half times the power of the most powerful atom bomb ever built! And that's not total....that's EVERY SECOND!

Oh and remember in some of these movies we manage to shoot some of these things down? umm what would a 3 kilometer asteroid do if it hit the Earth? Exactly...DUH!

Check out the complete article...pretty damn interesting!

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Cheese, but there IS H2O on Luna!

CNN reports that NASA's LCROSS has indeed turned up water on the moon! Preliminary data collected from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite's October 9th impact, indicates a significant amount of water in the plume thrown up by the impactor.

Project scientist Anthony Colaprete, stated that the amount of water contained in the impact plume was about a dozen, two-gallon bucketfuls. This could be significantly good news for any future long term facilities to be self sufficient - when it comes to fuel and water, two of the most expensive commodities to transport from Earth to orbit and to the Moon.

CNN article

Monday, November 09, 2009

Guess what's going on here!

So again, I am reading my reader postings from the Make Magazine blog. I come to this cool photo from the Science Photo blog (and I start thinking...ummm why is this on Make...and then I began to suspect that their sensibilities may be similar to my own. )

So I study it...could it be coronal solar activity....sure does look like a flare.... could that be a cell wall? Is that some sort of weird microbial invasion of a living cell?

It seems that this photo is a thermogram. It depicts high temputure gas escaping under pressure.

How hot you ask? I suspect somewhere around a blistering 310 Kelvin I suspect.

Science is fun! If you can not make heads of tails from this photo, check out the article link below oh and please leave your conclusions as to the science in the comments.

Complete article...

US Armed Forces Listened for Messages from Mars

Yep, you read that right! Check out the story at IO9! I was reading down and there it was! What am I talking about? Well, from the article:
  • In 1924, ... US Naval and Army stations scanned the skies for extraterrestrial transmissions.
From where? Mars! Why? Well a couple of reasons.... The best reason, was that August 22, 1924, Earth and Mars were only 35 million miles from Mars during what is called in astronomical terms, opposition. This was considered by the military ideal conditions in which to receive radio communications from Martians wanting to get to know us better.... But this is only where the kookiness begins. It seems Amherst College professor David Todd persuaded both the US Army and Navy to listen for messages from Mars, and they agreed!
From the article:
  • Edward W. Eberle, the Chief of US Naval Operations, informed Naval stations of the possibility of Martian communications, and instructs them to report any unusual phenomena...

Check out the original telegram sent by Eberle here

Review: Transformer & Transformers Revenge of the fallen

Transformers 2007
Director Michael Bay
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro

Revenge 2009
Director Michael Bay
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro

Remember the old Saturday morning cartoon about robot that change into cars jets and trucks? Robot in disguise! remember? Well even though I was captivated by animation, I found the whole concept of transforming robots too big of a "suspension of belief" to swallow. And if they were alien robots, why did they have stupid names like Autobots and Decepticons? Decepticons? Hey they all changed into cars and stuff! And Optimus Prime? Who thought of these names? So you can see, I was not a fan of the cartoon, and transferred that to the movies.

I decided to watch both movies back to back just to get an idea of the CGA and see why they movies were so popular. In the first movie, rival autobot (autobots?!!!) try to discover the whereabouts of an ancient cube that will allow the Autobots to once again populate their war devastated world. Their only clue to its location is a pair of glasses etched with the location and belonging to the lead character Sam.

The observation that comes to mind with the first movie is that Bay took himself and the movie way too seriously. Perhaps overcompensating for the fact that he is making a movie about Saturday morning cartoon characters. While the action sequences are spectacular, the dialogue is ponderous as the robots are large and verging on dogmatic. Heavy handed comes to mind quite easily. The only person who seems to be camping their character is Turturro.

Bay telegraphs the movies climax that you are left wondering why he drags it out so long.

The movie is by the numbers geeky guy in high-school, buys car (or whatever) that has weird powers, and is drawn into a conflict way beyond what he ever expected and (I swear I am not giving anything away) becomes the hero in the end. Star Wars anyone? Harry Potter? Back to the Future?

The film is diverting, the action is good, the DVD has bupkus for special features.

So lets talk about Revenge of the Fallen

And Bay loosens his sphincter and quite possibly has fun with Transformers 2. The movie is for all intents a carbon of the first. The hero is tired, dispirited and wants nothing more than to have a normal life, but is pulled back in by the original conflict.

With the last movie, we were lead to believe that the Autobots on Earth were fighting the few Decepticons left but since the cube was destroyed there was little left to fight about. But now there are shards! No Kidding! Who woulda thought! Kidding aside, Revenge is just plain more fun. Nowhere near as heavy handed as the first. Humor and campiness is in ready supply. If anything, Turturro is allowed to run wild with his character and that alone would have been worth the price of the movie. He brings to life this maniacal conspiracy theorist recluse living with his mother in a New York deli. He can deliver a line like "remember the sacrifices I have made for my country" and make that and other one liners something especially funny. The action sequences are if anything even more spectacular. You completely buy into 50 foot robots beating the crap out of each other on busy city streets. The plot is no less formulaist than the first movie, but the humor quite literally ties the move together and keeps the flow going. Scenes like the little demon decepticon that changes into an RC truck? Found that he could switch sides, clings to the girl friend's leg and then pantomime some pretty rude behavior. Sam says..."you do realize what its doing to your leg right?" and the girl friend replies "yeah, but he is so cute!" all done with a falsetto voice saying things like "oh yeah, who's your daddy now?" and "oh you like that don't you!" I know...bathroom humor but it demonstrates a director willing to have fun and be a bit less pendatic with his material. I know I laughed.

So if you have been sitting on the fence with this DVD, the movie is entertaining enough to make at the very least a rental worth it. But forget about any extras. If there were any, I couldn't find them. Which means I guess I am seeing a trend now. No one it seems is bending over backwards to make the DVD value added anymore. It really is a shame because that is how the format was promoted. You could have so much more than what a vhs could offer. The commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers what have you. Perishingly few DVDs seem to be offering anything anymore.

Friday, November 06, 2009

LHC down again!

From Dvice blog I read that the large Hadron Collider is again offline. However this is no magnetic ring losing containment no this time it was caused by something almost beyond comprehension!

Would you believe a piece of bread? I am not making this up, one of the world's most complicated machines was brought low by a bread crumb. Oh and it gets weirder! The crumb did not come from a careless workman, sandwich in one had and a welder in the other, no - said crumb was thought to have been dropped by one of our feathered friends.

From the article:
  • The morsel found its way into the doomsday device's outdoor machinery, sparking a temperature differential that triggered an automatic shutdown sequence....
It shouldn't hurt the schedule too much, but it is going to take a couple of weeks getting the LHC restarted.

What newborn weighs a billion tons a spoonful?

A new born Neutron Star does. Neutron stars, the ultra dense remains of a collapsed super giant star after going super nova. The neutron star is so compacted by immense gravity that all of an atom's components are crushed into the atomic core and those neutrons so dense that a square centimeter weighs millions of tons.

A new neutron star has been observed for the first time. Just 330 years old the star has been located in the supernova nebula Cassiopeia A. It's age isn't the most unusual part either. It's just 12 miles across.

And it gets stranger! From the article:
  • This neutron star was born so hot that nuclear fusion happened on its surface, producing a carbon atmosphere just 10 centimeters thick.

Read more: at Mail online

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wana buy Gareth Powel's The Last Reef? You name your price!

Hey do you remember that great story that Gareth Powel let me read for Beam Me Up called "The Last Reef"? Well if you have forgotten it, let me remind you. It was about a man who goes to Mars to find out what happened to the woman that he loved very much. When he gets there he finds that she was one of a very small group that has "joined" with a computer communications system that has become self aware. What's more she has managed to walk out and remain virtually unaffected.
Anyway, the story evolves to the point where to save the girl, the sentient system and himself, he must join the machine as well. Not everything is as it appears though and I am not going to ruin the ending.

Why I am bringing this up is that this story is in the collection "The Last Reef & Other Stories" that was originally published in hardback and paperback by Elastic Press in August 2008. It contains 15 short stories, and received great reviews from Interzone, Prism, Sci-fi Online, and The Fix. (here is a link to the reviews ) and now if you would like a pdf of this book Gareth tells us that you can go to his page and make an offer!!!

If you're interested or want more information, you can click on this page link here

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Abandoned Towers November Update

Happy November!

Here in Texas the weather has finally decided that summer is almost over. We've actually had a few cool nights and mild days. Wonder how long that'll last?

Texas is a country of extremes it seems, with weather that stays confused. But at least we don't have earthquakes. Yet.

Abandoned Towers #4 is packed full of all sorts of goodies you don't want to miss. The third print issue of 2009 (and the last one for this year) is now available to purchase. We've created a nice flip book preview for you at

Once you finish looking through it, you can scroll on down the page and find previews of all the other issues as well as the first annual Artist's Challenge Anthology. The second challenge'll kick off in Dec... but more on that when it gets here.

Now, here's a taste of what's waiting for you in issue #4:

Starting with the front cover with is a very cool painting by M.D. Jackson based on the featured story, A Warm Welcome By Rob Mancebo. Here's an excerpt:

Looking down the ugly barrels of that bartender's scattergun sort-of made me reassess my craving for a drink.
"Are you planning on going hunting, ol' hoss?" I inquired politely of the whiskered gent with the cellulite collar at the other end of that twelve gauge.
"Naw, I think I done found what I was looking for," he replied with an irritating amount of smugness in his voice.
I looked around the Number One saloon like some sort of an idiot. It was vacant except for him and me, so it was pretty obvious just who he thought he'd found.
"Say now, you couldn't be hunting me." I wasn't overly articulate because the business end of that sawed-off shotgun looked as big as a pair of stove pipes!
I was sure ready to try to talk my way out of getting my head blown off so I added, "I haven't been in town long enough to bruise nobody's feelings."
"We hang thieves in this country!" he informed me with a wave of that shotgun. "Drop them guns and hoist your hands!"
I hadn't a clue as to what he was talking about. I put my hands up, then remembered he'd told me to drop my guns so I began to lower them again, at which point he objected in the crude vernacular such as a body is liable to hear in saloons.
"Well do you want I should drop these Colts or not?" I demanded.
"I'll get them," he came around the bar in a huff and put those cavernous barrels under my nose while he fumbled at my left-hand gunstock. It was something of a tactical error on his part. When he glanced down to find that gun, I dropped my left hand across the action of his shotgun and took hold.

Other fiction pieces include Recall by Shawn Scarber, The Final Wave by TW Williams, Penderfyn's Goal by David M Pitchford and Central Park by Badley H. Sinor.

In issue #4 you'll also find a nice selection of poems such as Forgotten Friendships: A Voice of Arthur Pendragon by Chad Weiss and Goya’s Painted Faces by John William Rice.

Nonfiction articles include a short piece by Lyn McConchie that discusses the creativity of New Zelanders entitled Number Eight Wire and a scrumptious set of recipies that Jaleta Clegg calls Sherezade's Repast.

Remember you will never find anything that's in one of the print issues online, so if you don't want to miss out on all this coolness you gotta buy the issue.

Don't wait. Don't put things off. Get several copies and give a few as gifts. You can purchase AT #4 at