The dream is real

Elon Musk’s new Starship is not the tall skinny pressurized-aluminum cylinder we’re used to thinking of a real rocket, but a fat cigar-shaped thing made of stainless steel, with tail fins. I just listened to an elaborate economic and engineering rationale for this. And I don’t believe a word of it. It had to be… Continue reading The dream is real

The return of the servant problem

I think we all better hope we get germ-line genetic engineering and really effective nootropics real soon now. Because I think I have seen what the future looks like without these technologies, and it sucks.

A touch in the night

Occasionally I have dreams that seem to be trying to assemble into the plot of an SF novel – weird and fractured as dreams are, but with something like a long-form narrative struggling to develop. Occasionally I have nightmares. I don’t know how it goes for anybody else – and one reason I’m posting this… Continue reading A touch in the night

Review: The Fractal Man

The Fractal Man (written by J.Neil Schulman, soon to be available on Amazon) is a very, very funny book – if you share enough subcultural history with the author to get the in-jokes. If you don’t – and in particular if you never met Samuel Edward Konkin – the man known as known as “SEKIII”… Continue reading Review: The Fractal Man

Fthagn to you too

I learned something fascinating today. There is a spot in the South Pacific called the “Oceanic pole of inaccessibility” or alternatively “Point Nemo” at 48°52.6?S 123°23.6?W. It’s the point on the Earth’s ocean’s most distant from any land – 2,688 km (1,670 mi) from the Easter Islands, the Pitcairn Islands, and Antarctica. There are two… Continue reading Fthagn to you too

Why the Culture books were bad SF

There’s a lot of buzz about Iain Banks’s Culture universe lately, what with Elon Musk naming his drone ships in Banksian style and a TV series in the works. I enjoyed the Culture books too, but they were a guilty pleasure for me because in a fundamental way they are bad SF.

The Roche motel

One of the staples of SF art is images of alien worlds with satellites or planetary twins hanging low and huge in the daylight sky. This blog post brings he trope home by simulating what the Earth’s Moon would look like if it orbited the Earth at the distance of the International Space Station. The… Continue reading The Roche motel

Decentralized threats as the mother of liberty

Dave Kopel gives us a fascinating account of the divergence between American and British gun culture in The American Indian foundation of American gun culture. I learned some things from this article, which is not a trivial observation because I’ve studied the same process from some different angles. While Kopel’s article is excellent of its… Continue reading Decentralized threats as the mother of liberty

The Torchship Trilogy

New SF author Karl Gallagher dropped me a note last week that offered me copies of his first work, a novel sequence: Torchship, Torchship Pilot, and Torchship Captain. He explained that the ideas I expressed in The Deep Norms of SF helped form his ideas about writing. Since that is part of the effect I… Continue reading The Torchship Trilogy

Friends of Armed & Dangerous party 2016!

This year’s meatspace party for blog regulars and friends will be held at Penguicon 2016 On Friday, April 29 beginning at 9PM 10PM. UPDATE: Pushed back an hour because the original start time conflicted with the time slot assigned for my “Ask Me Anything” event. The venue is the Southfield Westin hotel in Southfield, Michigan.… Continue reading Friends of Armed & Dangerous party 2016!

Beehive huts to the stars!

None of the things I expected from seeing The Force Awakens was to recognize the location where the last scene was filmed, because I’ve been there myself. I’m being careful not to utter spoilers here…but I’ve been to the western coast of Ireland, in County Kerry, in a place called Fahan. And in that place,… Continue reading Beehive huts to the stars!

Leonard Nimoy: the first star geek

Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock, died yesterday. There have been some surprisingly sensitive eulogies for him in the mainstream press, but they all merely skirted the edges of what may have been his most important contribution to popular culture: he made braininess sexy.

Review: A Call to Duty

A Call To Duty (David Weber, Timothy Zahn; Baen Books) is a passable extension of Baen Book’s tent-pole Honorverse franchise. Though billed as by David Weber, it resembled almost all of Baen’s double-billed “collaborations” in that most of the actual writing was clearly done by the guy on the second line, with the first line… Continue reading Review: A Call to Duty

Review: The Abyss Beyond Dreams

The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Peter F. Hamilton, Random House/Del Rey) is a sequel set in the author’s Commonwealth universe, which earlier included one duology (Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained) and a trilogy (The Dreaming Void, The The Temporal Void, The Evolutionary Void). It brings back one of the major characters (the scientist/leader Nigel Sheldon) on a… Continue reading Review: The Abyss Beyond Dreams

Review: Once Dead

Once Dead (Richard Phillips; Amazon Publishing) is a passable airport thriller with some SF elements. Jack Gregory should have died in that alley in Calcutta. Assigned by the CIA to kill the renegade reponsible for his brother’s death, he was nearly succeeding – until local knifemen take a hand. Bleeding, stabbed and near death, he… Continue reading Review: Once Dead

Review: Unexpected Stories

Unexpected Stories (Octavia Butler; Open Road Integrated Media) is a slight but revealing work; a novelette and a short story, one set in an alien ecology among photophore-skinned not-quite humans, another set in a near future barely distinguishable from her own time. The second piece (Childfinder) was originally intended for publication in Harlan Ellison’s never-completed… Continue reading Review: Unexpected Stories

Review: Gods of War

The Gods of War (Graham Brown & Spencer J. Andrews; Stealth Books) is one of the better arguments for the traditional system of publishing-house gatekeepers I’ve seen recently. It is not merely bad, it is a stinkeroo that trumpets its awfulness from page one.