Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows IC 5146, the Cocoon Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Modern Times

Inspired by a recent (well, somewhat recent) posting at SF Signal, what is in the Current Reads folder of my eBook gadget?

Poul Anderson: The Van Rijn Method (re-read).

Christopher Anvil: Interstellar Patrol.

Marcuc Aurelius: Meditations (re-read).

Iain M. Banks: Surface Detail.

Amelia Beamer: The Loving Dead.

Greg Bear: Hull Zero Three.

Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential (re-read).

John Brunner: Stand on Zanzibar (re-read).

Tobias Buckell: Crystal Rain (re-read).

Lois McMaster Bujold: Memory (re-read).

Jim Butcher: Dresden Files Omnibus (re-read and frist times).

Ghost Story. A. Bertram Chandler: The Big Black Mark (re-read).

Glen Cook: Instrumentalities of the Night: The Tyranny of the night, Surrender to the Will of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom. The Starfishers Trilogy: Shadowline, Starfishers, Star's End. Passage at Arms. The Dragon Never Sleeps. Dread Empire: An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat, A Fortress in Shadow, A Cruel Wind. The Swordbearer.

James Fenimore Cooper: The Last of the Mohicans. James.

S.A. Corey: Leviathan Wakes.

Bernard Cornwall: Sharpe's Rifles (re-read).

Larry Correia: Grimnoir Chronicles: Hard Magic, Spellbound (eARC). Monster Hunter: Monster Hunter International (re-read), Monster Hunter Vendetta, Monster Hunter Alpha. Dead Six (with Mike Kupari).

Gordon R. Dickson: The Tactics of Mistake.

Cory Doctorow: Clockwork Fagin (short story).

David Drake: With the Lightings (re-read). Into the Hinterlands (with John Lambshead).

Will Durant: Our Oriental Heritage (re-read).

Eric Flint & Dave Weber: 1633 (re-read).

Phil and Kaja Foglio: Agatha H. and the Airship City.

C.S. Forester: Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.

Dave Freer: Left Behind (short story).

Neil Gaiman: American Gods (10th Anniversary Edition) (re-read).

Raymond Z. Gallun: The Planet Strappers (re-read).

Mark Geston: The Books of the Wars.

William Gibson: Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History (re-read).

Alexis Gilliland: The Revolution from Rosinante, A Long Shot for Rosinante, The Pirates of Rosinante (re-reads).

Robert A. Heinlein: The Rolling Stones. Between Planets. Farmer in the Sky. Have Space Suit—Will Travel. Citizen of the Galaxy. Starman Jones (all re-reads).

Patrick Hennessey: The Junior Officers' Reading Club—Killing Time and Fighting Wars.

Thor Heyerdahl: Kon-Tiki.

Kenneth Hite: Tour de Lovecraft—The Tales.

Homer: The Iliad, The Odyssey (re-read).

Sarah A. Hoyt: Any Man So Daring. All Night Awake. Ill Met by Moonlight.

N.K. Jemisin: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Raymond F. Jones: This Island Earth.

Rudyard Kipling: Departmental Ditties and Barack Room Ballads (re-read).

Tom Kratman: Countdown: M-Day. Terra Nova Series: Carnifex. The Lotus Eaters. The Amazon Legion.

T.E. Lawrence: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (re-read).

Ron Lealos: Don't Mean Nuthin' (short story?)

Jacquest Leslie and Taizo Ichinofe: War Wounds (short story).

John MacLachlan Gray: The Fiend in Human: A Victorian Thriller (short story).

Paul Malmont: The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. The Chinatown Death Cloud.

Barry Malzberg: Breakfast in the Ruins.

Karl Marlantes: What It Is Like to Go to War. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.

Ari Marmell: The Goblin Corps.

George R. R. Martin: A Song of Ice & Fire Omnibus (re-read).

Paul McAuley: The Quiet War. Gardens of the Sun. Cowboy Angels.

Ian McDonald: River of Gods. Cyberabad Days.

Simon Morden: Degrees of Freedom, Theories of Flight, Equations of Life.

Andre Norton: The Search for the Star Stones (omnibus, re-read).

Daniel Pearlman: The Vatican's Secret Cabinet (shor story).

Samuel Pepys: The Diary of Samuel Pepys (re-read).

Jacamo Peterson: A Hard Place.

Hayford Peirce: Chap Foey Rider—Capitalist to the Stars (re-read).

Jerry Pournelle: Janissaries (re-read). The Mercenary (re-read).

Terry Pratchett: Moving Pictures (re-read).

Alastair Reynold: Terminal World.

John Ringo: Into the Looking Glass (re-read).

Spider Robinson: Very Bad Deaths.

Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling: Good Night, Moon (short story).

Charles Sheffield: The Compleat McAndrew (re-read).

Robert Silverberg: In the Beginning. To Be Continued. Something Wild Is Loose. Trips. To the Dark Star.

Moses Siregar III: The Black God's War (novel and novella).

Cordwainer Smith: We the Underpeople (re-read). When the People Fell (re-read).

Ryk E. Spoor: Grand Central Arena.

Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (re-read).

Allen Steele: The Emperor of Mars (short story).

Neal Stephenson: Reamde. The Diamond Age (re-read). Michael Swanwick & Eileen Gunn: Zeppelin City (short story).

Travis S. Tayler: Warp Speed (re-read). Von Neumann's War (with John Ringo) (re-read).

Dave Trowbridge & Sherwood Smith: Exordium 01: The Phoenix in Flight (re-read).

Robert Van Gulik: The Haunted Monastery (re-read).

A.E. van Vogt: The War Against the Rull (re-read).

Various: Bible (New American) (re-read).

Various: The Harvard Five Foot Shelf: 01: Franklin, Woolman, Penn. 02: Plato, Epictetus, Marucs Aurelius. 03: Bacon, Milton's Prose, Thomas Browne. 04: Complete Poems Written in English by Milton. 05: Essays and English Traits.

Various: Nebula Awards 2010. Nebula Awards 2011. Various: Wild Cards 01 (re-read).

Various: The Year's Best SF #15. The Year's Best SF #16.

Various: The Year's Best Science Fiction #27. The Year's Best Science Fiction #28.

Vernor Vinge: Rainbow's End (re-read). A Fire Upon the Deep (re-read). A Deepness in the Sky (re-read). Edgar Wallace: The Fellowship of the Frog (short story).

David Weber: Oath of Swords/Sword Brother (omnibus). In Enemy Hands (re-read).

Brent Weeks: Night Angel: Beyond the Shadows, Shadow's Edge, The Way of Shadows, Perfect Shadow (novella). Lightbringer: The Black Prism.

Robert W. Wood: Goodbye, Vietnam.

Timothy Zahn: Blackcollar: The Judas Solution. The Cobra Trilogy (re-read). Cobra Alliance. Cobra Guardian. Cobra Gamble. Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire (re-read).

Magazines: Beneath Ceaseless Skies 27. Clarkesworld 58. Clarkesworld 59. Clarkesworld 60. Fantasy Magazine 52. Fantasy Magazine 53. Fantasy Magazine 54. Jim Baen's Universe 01/01. Jim Baen's Universe 02/01. Jim Baen's Universe 03/01. Jim Baen's Universe 04/01. Jim Baen's Universe 05/01. Jim Baen's Universe 06/01. Lightspeed 14. Lightspeed 15. Lightspeed 16. Locus 03/11. Locus 04/11. Locus 05/11. Locus 06/11. Locus 07/11. Locus 08/11. Locus 09/11. Steampunk Tales 01. Steampunk Tales 02. Steampunk Tales 03. Steampunk Tales 04.
Another 15 Picoseconds of Fame

Near-future SF. We ramble on in the latest episode of the SF Signal Podcast.
Losing Your Markets

Best commentary on the DC relaunch. EVAH.

Good episode of Writing Excuses last week on gender roles. Wish this one was a two-parter. This week: Writing Assistants.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is one of those sights that fascinates me on other planets: dry ice pits on Mars. Dig that groovy retro-modernist look.

Rick Kleffel reveiws Neal Stephenson. Even better: Neal Stephenson at The Agony Column.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

House in Space

Over at the Beeb, how big is the International Space Station? Drag it over your house!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a beautiful shot of some of the aurora we've been graced with this month.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

International Orion?

Will technologies from the ATV transform into the service module for Orion?
Another 15 Picoseconds of Fame

So yesterday one of my "tweets" was "retweeted" by William Gibson and Lev Grossman. Then another one of my "tweets" was "retweeted" by the same two folks.

I posted a comment about how I felt (due to seeing something near my car) like I was living in a Tim Powers novel. Tim Powers responded.

Last night I posted that The Young Lady was going to read Stardust by Neil Gaiman. And a few minutes later...Neil Gaiman responded.

Today Neil Gaiman "retweeted" a tweet of mine.

We're living in the future.
Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi

While the press made much of the Star Wars connection, planets around double stars are nothing new to fans of science fiction.
That Buck Rogers Stuff

Can science fiction be more than just literature. You betcha.
Toy Soldiers

Hey, kids, you too can have your own Roman Army! Rob Cain of Ancient Rome Refocused goes retro.
How To

Neil Gaiman on how to read Gene Wolfe.

Addendum: Full version here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Plot Thickens

The smoking gun has become unidentified. The butler did it.
Life in the Zone

These books by Simon Morden rock. The covers are retro and cool. Need I say more? BUY.

The thin blue line around a small pale dot.
Sharp View

I think we'll need more sun block.
Odd Orion

Orion like you've never seen it before, courtesy of the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Harvest Moon

Full Moon rises over Italy. Bird and bascilica.

Galaxy in a bubble. Amazing stuff!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raymond Swanland and Glen Cook

The website of a fantasy artist I have grown to really like. I first noticed his work on several novels by Glen Cook, both reprints (from Nightshade Books and Tor Books) and new works (from Tor). I'm not sure where the decision was made—by Cook, by his agent, by the respective publishers—but I like how it gives the two separate lines a unified look.

From Tor Books; The Instrumentalities of the Night. The Tyranny of Night; Lord of the Silent Kingdom; Surrender to the Will of the Night.

From Tor Books, The Black Company. Chronicles of the Black Company; The Books of the South; The Return of the Black Company; The Many Deaths of the Black Company.

From Nightshade Books, The Dread Empire: A Cruel Wind; A Fortress in Shadow; An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat.

Nightshade recently announce more installments in The Dread Empire and it is nice to see they are continuing with the same artist!

I've been cited in Wikipedia for my review of Roger Zelazny's Doorways in the Sand .

Surely we are living in the end times now.

Springsteen releases his long-awaited Space Travel/Folk Music crossover album.
Senate Launch System

Now comes the Senate, pardon me, Space Launch System. Will this puppy ever be funded or will it only be a set of lovely unfulfilled images? Ares I and Ares V, anyone?

A nice looking collection of Chris Foss art is coming out!

Another fine astronomical shot this morning: Open star cluster M52 and the Bubble Nebula.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The "Bad Astronomer" has a good posting up on the James Webb Space Telescope. Highly recommended.

So what is the most successful rebooted franchise? Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek or Dr. Who?

My thoughts in a bit, but I'm curious what you, dear reader, think.

Addendum: My thought was for Dr. Who as well. BSG: SyFy has fumbled the follow-ups, and other than the FFG games, there is almost no merchandise out there. Star Trek: Paramount has fumbled the follow-on movie to date; games have only launched this year (mostly), but books are strong (but books for ST have always been strong). Dr. Who has managed to keep the series going, has had good spinoff series, and multiple side products (books, soundtracks, concerts, more). The only area that Dr. Who seems to be falling down in is games (the one RPG I'm aware of never seems to have taken off).
Mr. Blue Sky

The ISS, the Sun and the Blue Earth.

Yesterday while driving to work, I noticed flashes of light across the top part of my field of view in my right eye. When I got to work, I passed near a tiled wall, glanced over and saw a larger "floater" in my right eye.

A bit of research suggested that floater + flashes was not (alas) a gamma-ray event, but could be a ripped or torn retina. An appointment and examination later, I do not have a ripped or torn retina (but I have to watch for further events that might show that it happens down the road), but just a honking big floater.

One that hovers around the right/center of my right eye and resembles a big drop of ink and a hairball.

A bit of stress is resulting in the eye compensating for this. Reading is difficult now. Of course, since most of my job is reading and most of my "fun" is reading...hope this lasts less than the month the doctor predicted!

Great Orion Nebula? STUPENDOUS Orion Nebula!
The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

(William Butler Yeats)
An Agent of Note

...when their business was over the agent said, 'I suppose you have seen Mr Baldick?'

'The Sophie's lieutenant?'

'Just so.'

'But he has gone with Captain Allen - he is aboard the Pallas.'

'There, sir, you are mistaken, if I may say so, in a manner of speaking. He is in the hospital.'

'You astonish me.'

The agent smiled, raising his shoulders and spreading his hands in a deprecating gesture: he possessed the true word and Jack had to be astonished; but the agent begged pardon for his superiority.

(Patrick O'Brian "Master and Commander")
Thus Sayeth the Lord, The Lord of Hosts

One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. So he called one of His angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time.

When he returned, he told God, 'Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.

God thought for a moment and said, 'Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion.'

So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time.

When the angel returned he went to God and said, 'Yes, it's true. The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good.'

God was not pleased. So He decided to e-mail the 5% that were good, because he wanted to encourage them, and give them a little something to help them keep going...

Do you know what the e-mail said?

Okay, I was just wondering, because I didn't get one either.
Three Savants Walk Into a Bar...

Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel, and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar. Heisenberg says, "It’s very odd and improbable that we three are in this bar together. It suggests to me that we’re in a joke, but I can’t be certain."

Gödel says, "Well, if we were outside the joke we would know, but since we're inside it, there’s no way we can make that determination."

And Chomsky says, "Of course this is a joke, but you’re telling it wrong!"
Two Ladies were Talking in Heaven

1st woman: Hi! Wanda.

2nd woman: Hi! Sylvia. How'd you die?

1st woman: I froze to death.

2nd woman: How horrible!

1st woman: It wasn't so bad. After I quit shaking from the cold, I began to get warm & sleepy, and finally died a peaceful death. What about you?

2nd woman: I died of a massive heart attack. I suspected that my husband was cheating, so I came home early to catch him in the act. But instead, I found him all by himself in the den watching TV.

1st woman: So, what happened?

2nd woman: I was so sure there was another woman there somewhere that I started running all over the house looking. I ran up into the attic and searched, and down into the basement. Then I went through every closet and checked under all the beds. I kept this up until I had looked everywhere, and finally I became so exhausted that I just keeled over with a heart attack and died.

1st woman: Too bad you didn't look in the freezer - we'd both still be alive.

(Spotted at Baen's Bar!)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hey, Kids, Let's Build a Model!

Paper spacecraft, that is! How about the ISS? Mir and other historical stations? The Progress cargo vehicle or the Soyuz passenger vehicle? And, of course, the shuttle?
Lunar Grail

The twin lunar-bound GRAIL spacecraft on the pad. Launch now expected tomorrow (Saturday) due to weather delays.

Our first lander on Mars. It is interesting to note that Viking 1 and Viking 2 (orbiters and landers) firmly stepped into the tradition of having a probe last well beyond the stated time of operations.
Sanitizing 9/11

Should clergy be allowed at the ceremonies at Ground Zero this weekend? While the article in The New York Times seems a tempest in a teapot from one angle, here's another view which makes a better case.

But most of all, the witness of the clergy was embodied by Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M., in the sacrifice of his life in the service of others. Fr. Judge, the New York City fire chaplain who was killed after racing into one of the burning towers, is listed as first official victim of the attacks on the World Trade Center: "Victim 0001." Surely his public sacrifice warrants remembering the place of clergy—publicly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Friday, September 02, 2011

Zero History

A good interview at Boing Boing with William Gibson. The wallet cringes, as this is somewhat an effect I've felt before (look at the links).

Might I suggest a recent podcast interview with the same author over at SF Signal?
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

MER-A and MER-B were sent to Mars for a ninety-day mission. Spirit is no longer with us (alas), but Opportunity has now hit 2,690 "sols" of exploring the Red Planet.

How. Freaking. Awesome.

It's up!

Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, knows where his towel is. As he told the British Interplanetary Society this year, 'It is better to read first-rate science fiction than second-rate science; it's no more likely to be wrong and is far more stimulating than the second-rate science. And I think it's good to read the great classics of science fiction.' [M]

Go forth, and read.