Sunday, February 28, 2010

Was Enrico Fermi Half Right?

In this Discovery New online article, the Fermi Paradox is again addressed. Well not the paradox directly which asks with all the supposedly populated planets in our galaxy, we should have been contacted by intelligent lifeforms by now. Since we haven't, where are they? - Instead the Discovery article is a good new bad news affair.

From the article:
  • The good news, the Milky Way could be abundant in intelligent life forms. The bad news, we may never hear from them.
Kinda grabs your interest huh?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science met recently and were asked,
  • ... how long will it be before we receive an interstellar greeting from an extraterrestrial civilization?
Responses varied widely from it may have already happened and we missed it to 250 years in the future. One wonders what these estimates are based on. Simply the estimates are based on the fact that the number of stars being reached in SETI optical and radio searches is growing exponentially because there are more and better telescopes dedicated to the search.
In fact, the article states that in the next two years more stars will be scanned than in the first 50 years!

However some scientists have said that we should hope to see something by 2035. Saying that if we still haven't seen a signal within 25 years then there is something wrong with our fundamental assumptions. Then there are those that agree that life is likely to be very common but that intelligence is an evolutionary crap shot and therefor very rare.

From the article:
Rare Earth hypothesis proponents say we'll never hear anything because (we're) .... likely to be the only sentient life in the galaxy.

Then there is the argument that evolution has tried twice for intelligence in two different branches therefor making intelligent life common place. hummmm

Anyway, this article does make some very interesting points, but at times reads like a rant on wildlife parks (currently in the news) so I would suggest reading with a critical eye and take away what you like.

Read the complete Discovery News article here

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Gamer DVD


Staring Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall Amber Vallentta, Logan Lerman

Gamer unabashedly lets you know that you're about to watch a science fiction movie based at some point in the near telling you. Oh yeah, I almost shut it off right then. What...we are to damn stupid to know the difference?!

So that aside, the movie opens with what appears to be the ultimate in massive online role player first person shooter. We are treated to ultra violent shooter plenty of blood and guts and people blown up and graphicily dismembered. My first HUH? moment comes with how the game is depicted. Grainy, washed out color, and almost constant data drops and latency. Now excuse me, it would seem that any uber gamer with ultra bandwidth and graphic processors up the ying isn't going to put up with what would be poor performance by today's standards.. Nope they lost me on that one.

Anyway we find out quickly that the "avatars" are in fact real people being controlled by new nanite technology that allows you to control your player in "real time". Also we are introduced to online communities that are based on the same premise.... real people as avatars.

But in this stylized world not every one is happy! What's more there seems to be an underground group bent on "exposing" the game. Plus it would seem that the tech and therefor the game itself has been developed by shadowy group that doesn't seem to have the welfare of humanity as a priority. Oh no, tell me it aint so! And the sad thing is that we have seen these very same plot devices in science fiction movies before...what's worse other than a few tweaks it was all done MANY years ago. Johnny Mnemonic comes to mind, Total Recall or Eraser, Robocop or if you want to delve a bit deeper, Logan's Run. Its not just "tech is evil" which is very pervasive in movies but the "Business involved with new tech is evil" which has become even more prevalent in recent years.

It would seem that Gamer wanted to set itself apart by grounding it's tech into easily recognized online experiences today, but also the shock value of first couple of minutes with the over the top violence mixed with a liberal dose of four letter words and gratuitous nudity. I am sure this is nothing that you haven't seen or heard, but believe me, if you haven't seen the movie yet, i can attest to the physic body blows.

So, after basically dismissing the movie at first blush, this next statement is a bit odd. I would recommend the DVD. Why? The added features. Yeah, the first time I have said that too. The movie is a bit over the top and out of control and so is the commentary reel in the extras. Directors and actors join together to do what can best be described as a kegger. Not that they were drinking, but the whole affair was a party. Full of inside gags, bad jokes, trading insults, being non PC, busting on the movie at the same time letting you know that they had a great time making it. The comments/voice over is really better than the movie and I laughed all the way through. I don't know why they added the making of short, because everyone had a great time just telling the listener how things were done and inside scoop. It really is the best commentary that I have seen. I would give the movie a 7 but the extras a 10 so that what 8.5 average?

Add it to the library.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Video: Future Man

Here is a pretty strange piece of YouTube animation, I found on Pink Tentacle directed by Ryō Hirano, called Future Man. The society in the film seems like a cross between ants and chimps more than man and the rest of the fauna is equally strange - making the short story strange. Check it out!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A little turtle shall lead us into the future of robotics

There's more than one reason the tortoise beat the hare in that epic race. Their sea turtle cousins are showing how, even as hatchlings, they are unstoppable by nearly any terrain they are likely to meet in their short but hazardous journeys from hatch-home to the sea.
 Daniel Goldman, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Physics  is one of many roboticists who have been puzzling over the minimum number of appendages needed by a robot to move effectively on land with varying terrain types.  They are now studying how these turtllings use their appendages differently in different conditions.  Their idea: design a robot with a flat mitts and claws.  It is the combination of those two features, accompanied by their deployment in different sorts of terrain - from hard surface to soft sand, that gets the little animals to the beckoning waters as quickly as possible.  

If robots are built with such appendages, the researchers think, they will be able to get around  obstacles like the sand dunes that limit the martian robots. Imagine if THEY had sand and pushing flippers, and claws to drag them in terrain not wheel- or tread friendly.
Turtle image Courtesy

Gene Roddenberry Inducted into TV Hall of Fame

On January 21st the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences TV Hall of Fame.

In the video Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane gives a loving tribute to Roddenberry.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Galaxy Built for Speed!

What would a galaxy look like if it were hurtling through intergalactic space at 600 km?
Well check out NGC 1427A. Weird huh? With that arrow head shape it even looks like it's screaming ahead, hell bent....Well according to the article in IO9, this is why:
  • NGC 1427A looks like it's got a swept-back shape because.... in between galaxies there is an ethereally-thin fog of gas.(That's) enough ... to have an effect on a passing galaxy. The boomerang shape of the galaxy is because that side is facing into the "wind," ... and being compressed. The pink curve in the image is due to rigorous star-formation going on there, where the gas clouds are collapsing from the pressure and birthing stars at a prodigious rate.
Read the complete IO9 article here

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Dinosaurs found at Utah's Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument continues to be a treasure trove of undiscovered dinosaur species.

Recent discoveries in sand stone deposits have proved extremely rare. Two complete sauropod skulls of previously unknown animals, possibly over 105 million years old.

From the Yahoo News article:
  • The new species is called Abydosaurus mcintoshi. Researchers say it's part of the larger brachiosaurus family, hulking four-legged vegetarians that include sauropods
The skulls are so intact that new clues can be determined about how this species of dinosaurs ate. A. Mcintoshi had short conical teeth. Not designed for chewing but for grabbing and swallowing.

Read more about the new dinosaur discoveries at Yahoo News

Thanks to Tim Sayell

Enceladus shows Cassini its hot spots!

In areas, previously not well mapped, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented 30 individual geysers, including more than 20 that had not been seen before on Saturn's moon Enceladus. These geysers are situated along a network of fractures on Enceladus' southern pole. Cassini's on-board composite infrared spectrometer shows that the ice sprays contain water ice, water vapor and organic compounds.

The areas around these geysers proved to be very warm by local averages. -135 degrees Fahrenheit and may be as high as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to an average of -370 Fahrenheit these fracture hot spots are very warm indeed.

This last pass by Cassini will be the last to use visible light cameras, as Enceladus will now enter a 15 year period of darkness.

Check out the complete article on ScienceDaily

Friday, February 19, 2010

2009 Nebula Awards Final Ballot

Here is the 2009 Nebula Awards Final Ballot and a great list it is indeed! How about “Divining Light,” one of the nominations for the novelette division by Ted Kosmatka! wow, that would be my choice, but it would be a hard pick. We read that story on episodes 145 to 147 of Beam Me Up and even reading it, freaked me out. Plus Paolo's The Windup Girl ! Whooooooooohooooooo great mix this year!

Short Story

* “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela,” Saladin Ahmed
* “I Remember the Future,” Michael A. Burstein
* “Non-Zero Probabilities,” N. K. Jemisin
* “Spar,” Kij Johnson
* “Going Deep,” James Patrick Kelly
* “Bridesicle,” Will McIntosh


* “The Gambler,” Paolo Bacigalupi
* “Vinegar Peace, or the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage,” Michael Bishop
* “I Needs Must Part, The Policeman Said,” Richard Bowes
* “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” Eugie Foster
* “Divining Light,” Ted Kosmatka
* “A Memory of Wind,” Rachel Swirsky


* The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker
* “Arkfall,” Carolyn Ives Gilman
* “Act One,” Nancy Kress
* Shambling Towards Hiroshima, James Morrow
* “Sublimation Angels,” Jason Sanford
* The God Engines, John Scalzi


* The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
* The Love We Share Without Knowing, Christopher Barzak
* Flesh and Fire, Laura Anne Gilman
* The City & The City, China Miéville
* Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
* Finch, Jeff VanderMeer

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. The awards will be announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet the evening of May 15 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Scientists Unraveling Catalyst of Supernovas

Astronomers have been using type 1a supernovas as a baseline for determining the expansion of the universe. So it becomes somewhat a sore spot when they have to admit that understanding how supernovas function or more to the point, what exactly "lights the fuse" of these titanic explosions.

Most astronomers feel that the mainstream explanation fills the bill best. From the Yahoo News article:
  • Type 1a supernovae are formed when a white dwarf star -- the collapsed remnant of an old star -- becomes unstable after it exceeds its weight limit.
This instability could come from several different causes, like"
  • the merging of two white dwarfs
  • or accretion (of) material from a sun-like companion
Recent studies using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have results that suggest nearly all the supernovae studied came from two white dwarfs merging. Supernova through accretion should be approximately 50 times brighter in x-rays than actually observed. Further study needs to take place however to determine if this is indeed the case in all types of galaxies and not just elliptical.

Understanding how supernova work can go a long way to understanding dark matter and galaxy formation.

Complete Yahoo News article submitted by Tim Sayhill

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Cupola open for business

Thanks to Gizmodo we see vistas from the newest installed module, The Cupola, a seven window beauty installed in Tranquility. This unit was carried aloft by Endeavour on it's most recent mission to the ISS.

Image courtesy of NASA

Would Warp Speed be Instantly Fatal?

From a recent NewScientist, via Dvice, article is a story recounting Professor William Edelstein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's research into what would happen when a craft, like the Enterprise, reaches 99% of C.

As we know, space, both macro and micro, is far from empty. On the macro level there is every type of rock or ice or rock and ice baddie just waiting to eviscerate anything crossing its path. And on the micro level is the lowly hydrogen atom which is spread about thinly at about 2 atoms per square centimeter. As your spacecraft draws away from "populated" areas, you are less likely to encounter the big baddies, but as you accelerate, no matter where you are, you start running into more and more hydrogen atoms.
From the NewScientist article:
  • (the speed) transforms the thin wisp of hydrogen gas ..... into an intense radiation beam that would kill humans within seconds and destroy the spacecraft's electronic instruments
Worse yet is the kinetic energy. The hydrogen atoms would reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts – the same energy that protons will eventually reach in the Large Hadron Collider when it runs at full throttle.

Bummer.... but for me, I always thought of FTL as "hyperspace" where running into things didn't apply. I can remember asking myself back in the late 60, why didn't they run into stars? I reasoned that hyperspace follows different "rules" and folded space is passing from one point to another without travel through the intervening space, thus no stars, planets or hydrogen atoms. what have you got?

The Register

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is the Universe a Giant Hologram?

Well here is something to twist your head sideways. From NewScientist is an article that describes some startling conclusions about the makeup of space/time from scientists involved with the GEO600 experiment. This experiment, for the last 7 years, has been looking for gravitational waves, ripples in space-time thrown off by super-dense astronomical objects such as neutron stars and black holes, but has been unsuccessful. But now, here is where it gets weird.... you see for quite a while, the scientists running the GEO600 experiment have been inexplicably plagued by noise. This noise, according to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab comes from the fundamental limit of space-time - the point where space-time stops behaving like the universe Einstein described and instead dissolves into something akin to pixels.

Hogan said:
  • "If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram."
As absurd as this sounds, it has gone a long way towards helping scientists studying super massive objects like black holes answer some pretty vexing questions of how the universe works on its most fundamental levels.

The article over on New Scientist really goes into great detail and is an excellent read, you really should go Here to read more. Worth your time for sure.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Top 10 Mad Scientists of all Time!

From the "Becoming A Radiologist Technician" see an article that is bound to generate some interesting discussion. From the article:
  • Whether they stand for good or for ill, most people love watching mad scientists at work in literature, film, video games, and other mediums. Their appeal comes from the simultaneously impressive and frightening ability to push biology, engineering, physics, chemistry, psychology, and other fields of scientific inquiry to their very limits with an obsessive quality far beyond normalcy. Obviously, lists such as this are highly subjective, but many film aficionados agree that the following figures defined, perfected, or otherwise offered an interesting perspective on what makes a mad scientist.
Now I will list them, but you really should go to the original article for the discussion that accompanies each selection - check these out:
  • 1. Tie: Dr. Frankenstein/Dr. Frankenstein
    2. Doc Brown
    3. Dr. Moreau
    4. Dr. Strangelove
    5. Dr. Mabuse
    6. Dr. Seth Brundle
    7. Dr. Frank N Furter
    8. Dr. C.A. Rotwang
    9. Dr. Horrible
    10. Tie: The entire main cast of Real Genius/the titular protagonists of Ghostbusters

Check out the main article here

Thanks to Carolyn Friedman for the heads up!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Logorama (nsfw language)

From Movie Web comes this very entertaining, Oscar nominated, short film called Logorama which uses 2500 corporate logos as actors and set pieces. You might argue that this isn't science fiction, but 1 minute into the movie and you're so twisted by the truly twisted world that you will agree, this is someone's idea of an alternate reality! lol As the folks over on Gizmodo said.."By French design collective H5, Logorama is worth taking the 15 minutes or so running time out of your lunchbreak" yep..ahuh..

Can you see Spiner as Questor?

Oooooooooo here is something fun! From Trek Movie Report comes some interesting news from the Roddenberry / Star Trek camp. Remember last week I reported that the Questor tapes were going to be remade? Well guess who Rod Roddenberry wants to star in the new movie? Brent (Data) Spiner! Yeah! Does that work or what?!!!

Now before you get yourself in a bunch, Spiner (now 61) has not expressed ANY interest in the role and Roddenberry admits that director Tim Minear "may be looking in a different direction".

Be interesting to see how this plays out though. For complete article, go to

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

HD Tour of the I.S.S.

Here is a great HD Tour of the ISS I found over on Crunch Gear thanks to Dvice

Monday, February 08, 2010

Last Night Time Launch of a Shuttle video

Here is a YouTube video of Endeavour and the the last night time launch of a shuttle. Endeavour will deliver the last module for the space station - Called Tranquility, the module will be connected to the Unity node. It will provide with an additional dock port for other crew spacecrafts. It will also bring an attachment called Cupola, a huge view port (the largest window ever taken into space) with seven windows, six on the sides and one on top - which will all astronauts to control the robotic arm by sight and also allow off duty personel a spectacular view of Earth.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

JUST IN: There is no such thing as Time Reversal!

Nobel Prize winner Anthony James Leggett has thrown a monkey wrench into one of Science Fiction's favorite hobby horse - manipulation of the time line.

In a recent lecture "Why Can't Time Run Backwards?," Leggett stated:
  • Reversing the time or speeding it up is not possible... The universe is hot and compact, so it is slowly in the process of cooling down. Time, therefore, is unidirectional.
because entropy only occurs in one direction - time can be thought of as moving one way and not another, but only in that direction.

In truth Leggett's comments really do not rule out classical time travel, where someone goes forward and back in time but they do negate time itself running backwards (kinda ruins the whole idea of "The Time Traveler's Wife" huh?)

There is more to be said in the IO9 article....check it out here

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pluto Changing Color?!

From Yahoo News comes an article from Tim Sayell that tells about some weird goings on with the surface of Pluto. Recent photos taken of the dwarf planet, by the Hubble Space Telescope, show a dramatic shift towards the red end of the spectrum on Pluto's surface.

Hubble photos show frozen nitrogen on Pluto's surface growing and shrinking, brightening in the north and darkening in the south.
  • Astronomers say Pluto's surface is changing more than the surfaces of other bodies in the solar system.
Unprecedented and surprising are words used to describe the changes, especially on a surface that has seasons lasting as long as 120 years.

From 1954 to 2000, photographs of Pluto did not change. Then in the next 2 years there was up to a 30% increase in red coloration. Scientist can explain the redness, just not why it changed so quickly. From the article:
  • The planet has a lot of methane, which contains carbon and hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen gets stripped off by solar winds and other factors, leaving carbon-rich areas on the surface, which tend to be red and dark.
  • Part of the difficulty in figuring out what is going on with Pluto is that it takes the dwarf planet 248 years to circle the sun, so astronomers don't know what conditions are like when it's is farthest from the sun. The last time Pluto was at its farthest point was in 1870, which was decades before Pluto was discovered.
complete article

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Abadoned Towers Magazine issue #5 - look what's coming!

Issue #5 goes on sale on March 1.

Here's a little taste of what's you'll miss if you don't get a copy:

Table of Contents
Zap Zachary Returns by Stoney M. Setzer
Gold by Arthur Mackeown
Ray Guns by Doug Hilton
Othan, Debtor by Kurt Magnus
The Horrors of War by Chris Silva
Mindforms by Dal Jeanis
Jeffrey’s Story by Guy Belleranti
Final Score by Brad Sinor
Riding to Hounds by Thomas Canfield
Copper-bottom’s Downfall by Arthur Mackeown
The Last True Gunslinger by Y.B. Cats
The Empty Chair by Malcolm Laughton
‘ware the power by Jack Mulcahy
Call of the Northern Seas by Norman A. Rubin
Across the Plains by Lou Antonelli
Hobocop by Kevin Bennett
The Grave of Armond Balosteros by E.W. Bonadio
The Last Saguaro by Doug Hilton
Odds Are by Kevin Brown
Grief, father dead, bathroom adrift with manta rays of green towels by Harry Calhoun 33
Black Bird by Thom Olausson 2009
Searching for my Dream by John William Rice
Proudly Stupid by Christopher D. York.
Night Walk Demise by Carl Scharwath
Dimuendo’s by Thom Olausson
Android Attack coloring pagey by Richard H. Fay
Interview with Poet and author, Alex Ness
The Man-Thing by Eric S Brown
Fantasy Artist Johnney Perkins
Nexus Point Recipes by Jalea Clegg

Artists in this issue
Cover Art -Zap Zacary Returns by Richard Svensson

Illustrations -
T. A. Markitan
Copper Bottoms Downfall
Riding to Hounds

Aidana Willowraven
Othan Debtor
Last Saguaro

Brad Foster
Deep into the Core
Hobo cop
Black Bird

Hugh Howey
The Horrors of War

Anna Repp

Now here are a few excerpts:

Zap Zachary Returns

By Stoney M. Setzer

Clint Adamson wanted to throw the cell phone across the room. “You can’t drop me!”

“Look, I’ve tried everything,” Phil Jeffers countered. “Movies, TV, reality shows, even commercials, but nobody’s interested. I warned you that you’d get typecast!”

“But you’re my agent! You get paid to find me work!”

“I get a ten percent commission, but only if I find you work. Last time I was in a math class, ten percent of nothing equals nothing. I hate doing this to you, but the standards of my profession dictate that I have to devote my time to clients who can actually make money. I’ve got bills to pay!”

Clint nervously ran his hand through his hair. “But I’ve got bills, too! What am I supposed to do now?”

Phil released a deep sigh on the other end. “Man, I don’t know what to tell you. I just wish you would have listened to me and not done Zap Zachary for five seasons.”

“I kept telling you, that was the role I was born to play!” Clint looked at the décor of the studio apartment, which consisted almost entirely of Zap Zachary memorabilia, from posters and photos to toys and models. He had been a huge fan of the comics as a kid, and once he had been cast to play him on television, the fervor was rekindled anew.

At least, he thought he had been a fan of the comics. He was slightly unsettled to find his childhood recollections were suddenly a bit hazy.

“Even if you had only branched out a little, taken a movie role here or there, we’d both be much better off right now. Look at your old co-stars!”

Ouch. During the show’s five years, the entire cast had taken other acting jobs on the side, and all of them were still working now. At the time, Clint had thought that all of them were disloyal to the roles that were bringing them fame, almost as if they were cheating on their characters. Hindsight being twenty-twenty, he could see Phil’s point only too clearly.


The Last True Gunslinger

By Y.B. Cats

Gunslinger Red Bandana stepped into the street, accompanied by the ting-ting from his spurs and a dry desert wind. Sunset orange tinted the town’s storefronts and softened their boxy angles; in this hue the town could deny its bloodlust and dress up in romantic lore, if it wanted. Alas, Rio de Roja did not favor romance, only blood, gore, and glory. No respectable townsperson would admit it, but they lived for a chance to see gunslingers felled by each other’s bullets. Even now, “good” townsfolk hid behind cover that allowed a glimpse into the street.

“I’m gonna make sure everyone sees yer ugly face, Red! I bet under that bandana, you’re so ugly even yer mama won’t stand fer it!” Gummy McGee cawed like a carrion-eater from street’s end. He twirled his pistols – slick, flashy silvers – and dropped them back into their holsters. Red pictured Gummy’s tombstone – Here lies Gummy: who picked a fight with Red Bandana, because he was a dummy. Rio de Roja’s undertaker fancied himself a poet.

The only problem was, Red couldn’t see. Gummy made sure he took the street end where he could stand with his back to the sun. The big orange ball glared as it slipped behind the western horizon, and a squint didn’t help. Here lies Red Bandana: done in because he couldn’t see, the fool before him, Gummy McGee.

“Red,” a water barrel in Red’s peripheral vision tried to get his attention. It wasn’t the water barrel, but someone cowered behind it. “Before you git mad, I just want you to know, I have ’em right here.”

“What, Justus?”

“The bullets,” Justus replied. “The bullets I forgot to put back in yer gun after I cleaned it, like Susanna told me.” Red Bandana didn’t sweat at gunfights. Icy rivers coursed through his veins. He didn’t taunt, he didn’t gloat, he pulled his pistol faster than any man in the west, and everyone knew it. At his brother’s confession, though, a hot itch tickled his armpits.


by Dal Jeanis

1. Arrival at Zard

Since they believe they’re all the same, I approach the first Zard I see, a big and squishy lump resting under a volcanic rock formation. His flock scatters at my approach, mostly fat little greenfish and striped zoupies, but then they drift back to hover around us. He extends an eyestalk in my general direction and emits a typically slouchy query.

“Thalen, as Ambassador,” I answer crisply, but I allow the sense of my long journey, curiosity about my predecessor, and my interest in the Ancient ruins to enter the water as well. ‘Ambassador’ is the agreed-upon translation, since these soft cousins wouldn’t understand the scientific term for what I do. The gentle current blows our thoughts downstream to our left, and I see another slug begin to react to the conversation.

The herder’s flaccid posture is difficult to read, but the scent of his amused curiosity washes across me. Apparently he wonders why I am punished this way. He wouldn’t possibly believe I volunteered, unless I told him in full memory. His disbelief heightens my awareness of the supplies and mind pods strapped across my back and between my rear legs, my last links to the sanity of my prior life. I plant all six legs, wide and relaxed, and open my vents to breathe deeply.

“If my presence would be disruptive, I could return later?” I add the obvious sense that the disruptions could be mutual.

“You smell smarter than that, crab. Proceed.” He produces a courier sack from under his body and contorts it into place on the vent between his limp first and second legs. The sack inflates with his memory of the conversation, which he hands to me. “Give it to anyone who asks. He’ll replace it.”

The drag of the sack comforts me as I climb over the formation, picking my way through edible anemones, and approach the oldest buildings in the world.

They loom many bodies high, an artificial ravine in the amazing stiff and square construction that I and my colleagues have not been able to reproduce. The tops fairly glow from the daylight filtering through several meters of clear water, but the bases have a more comfortable level of illumination.

According to the claim of the slugs, their ancestors created this cubic grotto. I can neither accept nor refute the idea. The ancients lived in close proximity to one another, hundreds of individuals, just like the slugs now weeding away plant sprouts and feathery animals from the smooth skin of the buildings.

The constant low smell of slug thoughts lies like silt over the scene. But Zard remembers nothing of methods or means, sciences or symbols. The contradiction will not resolve.

I savor the moment, clarify it, condense it, and put it into a pod for later analysis.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Get ready to Boldly Go - Star Trek online has started

Tim Sayell points out an article in Plugged In reporting what for many will be a red letter day or as Plugged In said "Red Shirt" because Cryptic Studios has taken the MMORPG - Star Trek out of beta that it has been running in since December of 09 and into a brave new world. Yes, now you can be the captain of a Federation warship or Klingon warlord or anything that strikes your fantasy in Star Trek's online world.

Star Trek online is for all intents a combat simulation, which may disappoint many fans hoping for a more complete Star Trek universe. Plus it is set so far into the future of the Star Trek we all cut out teeth on that none of the characters we know in various Star Trek outing are present (code for alive) in this time line. So if you were hoping to hobnob with Kirk or Picard you will be very disappointed.

Also another bone of contention is the price for the privilege. First is a hefty initial outlay of $50 for the main game and then $14.99 a month to blow up the baddies. Which may prove to be to rich for a narrow game-play platform. Time will tell.

Complete article here

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Antipodean SF magazine # 140 now online

The newest issue of the online magazine of flash fiction Antipodean is now available online.
here is a list of the stories available in this month's issue.
  • The Deal By Kevin J. Phyland
  • Wedding By Jan Napier
  • The Trouble With Hitchhikers By Gregor MacNamara
  • Joyride By James C. Clar
  • Fabcola - Living A Better Tomorrow Today By Shaun A. Saunders
  • Depths of Depravity By Robert Moran
  • By Any Other Name By Rob Bleckly
  • Tomorrow's Martyrs By Mark McAuliffe
  • The Last Terrorist By Edward Harvey
  • Surprise Attack By David Scholes
these stories and more available at Antipodean SF

Obama Tells NASA to Junk the Moon Project

Ok, here is some stuff just to make you crazy.... reports that president Obama is telling NASA to Scrap plans to have men on the Moon by 2020! Want more Junk the Constellation program.

Ok, first off, I know, I took one look at the Constellation program and the planned Moon missions and said this is Apollo redux! And I did hammer on the Constellation with it's vibration problems and the asinine spring solution. And I know, I have said that going back to the Moon instead of focusing on Mars seemed like a serious waste of time. (why redo what has been done....the earlier programs were "this is how you do it" not "this is a recipe on how to do it just like this again) It's one thing to sit and grumble, I don't set policy so I can take that liberty, but it's another thing to see the paring knives come out and the butchering begin. And now without even the poorly conceived Constellation rockets, we have NOTHING as a follow on to the Shuttle program. Obama is citing lack of innovation in both projects...
ok, that is a hard one to call him on, but my grumbling was almost "inhouse" - as a space enthusiast I felt that this was not one of NASA's best efforts, but I would have been right there when one of them bad boys roared off the pad. It's hard to see NASA being put down like an old dog by someone from "outside" lol, I know...but it just feels wrong.

This is what the Dvice article quoted the NY Times about:
  • Mr. Obama's 2010 budget proposal for NASA asks for $18 billion over five years for fueling spacecraft in orbit, new types of engines to accelerate spacecraft through space and robotic factories that could churn soil on the Moon — and eventually Mars — into rocket fuel.
ok, that doesn't sound so bad, but refueling what spacecraft? What, our space program is now relegated to gas station attendants? Just feels .......... wrong.

read the complete Dvice article here

read the NY Times article here

Review: Knowing staring Nicolas Cage

running time 116 minutes

directed by Alex Proyas
staring Nicolas Cage Rose Byrne Chandler Canterbury Lara Robinson

Knowing is on the surface a fairly simplistic end-time movie. However some of the issues dealt with in the movie itself are fairly complex and sophisticated.

Nick Cage's character John comes into possession of a strange piece of paper covered by what at first seems nonsense numbers. This paper was created 50 years ago by a little girl and place into a time capsule. At first the numbers seem to have no meaning until, by chance John notices a string that dated 9/11.

After that John is able to tie many of the numbers to past events, its at this point he notices that several of the number sequences are in the future. John witnesses a few of these events but is not able to prevent any. John is then motivated to search out the little girl's daughter to help him understand what is going on.

In a sub plot we learn that John's son Caleb has been hearing what he calls whisperers as is the daughter of Diana, the adult daughter of the girl who created the number paper. The Whisperers become much more evident to John and Caleb as they near the last date on the paper.

The ending is full throttle and at times quiet and mysterious and turns out as you suspect and not quite as you suspect at the same time. Its a movie that doesn't lean heavily on cgi and special effects - even though many of the integral moments are just that...cgi - and at the same time treats the viewer with a modicum of intelligence, letting you work out the little details for yourself. That in and of itself is a rare commodity these days.

And the DVD? One with extras is getting hard to find as well! Not the case here! Very impressive. We have the basic director narrative, though it's more of the thought behind the movie, a real good "making of" featurette and surprisingly, a piece of apocalyptic philosophy in historical reference. Quite interesting.

So overall? With a theme that could easily beat you over the head with special effects, cgi pyrotechnics and thoughtless violence where in the end the Earth is saved by a gigantic paper plate (I swear I had that mentioned to me by someone who just saw a version of the movie I was glad this one wasn't having the planet compared to a plastic plate and saved by a big paper plate in space...I swear I am telling the truth!) we are allowed to think and make up our own minds, this movie scores big for me. Plus add in an excellent special features selection and I can 9.5 or a 10. What am I waffling on? Well some of the cgi was clearly cgi if you catch my drift and the sparklie creatures at the end....that was old when Ron Howard did it what 20 some odd years ago? It kinda bothered me that there were effects being used that might be older than the audience watching....but it wasn't enough for me to even come close to panning the movie. Good addition to the dvd library.