Friday, December 31, 2010

Three Girls, Six Books

Two trilogies (well, one trilogy and one trilogy due to the author's death) that I read this year were similar in that they both featured strong female characters, were written by men and could both be science fiction...sort of.

William Gibson has been working on his latest trilogy (do any of these start out as such?) since 2001, encompassing Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History.

Stieg Larsson had finished the first three (and, according to various reports, gotten well along a fourth) books of a ten (!) book series before he passed away. Featuring eye-catching covers (which is why I picked up the first, before it became the wonder that it did), they have spawned multiple editions (two or three different hardcover editions, the weird paperback that is between a mass market and a trade, and a "normal" paperback), a trilogy of movies filmed on location and in the native language, and plans for a (no doubt way overblown) Hollywood remake.

Both trilogies feature men in primarily secondary roles and women in the strong primary role (spoiler warning on Gibson). Both feature real-world and more or less present-day settings. Both feature a lot of technology and product placement (I propose a drinking game for each of the trilogies...every time a product is mentioned, take a drink...how long before you are totally drunk?).

Gibson started, ostensibly, as a science fiction writer. Larsson did not. But both trilogies are science fiction.

Seriously, think about it. What is one thing that science fiction is good for? It takes a trend that the author has noticed and puts it in a odd setting (the future, outer space, another dimension) in order to have us take a new look at that trend. Gibson and Larsson did that—but with a real science fictional twist of using our "reality" as the science fiction setting. Both look at our world through the lens of science fiction.

(Yes, yes, Larsson is not a genre writer...well, not a writer of the science fiction genre. But try reading both trilogies mixed in your yearly reading and you'll see what I mean, I believe.)

Six enjoyable reads. The third Gibson will, as with previous books, require one or two more readings for me to fully appreciate it (it seems to be a pattern). Recommended.

William Gibson; Pattern Recognition (Putnam; 2003; ISBN 0-399-14986-4; cover by Benita Raphan).

William Gibson; Spook Country (Putnam; 2007; ISBN 978-0-399-15430-0; cover by Nicole La Roche).

William Gibson; Zero History (Putnam; 2010; ISBN 978-0-399-15682-3; cover by Nicole La Roche).

Stieg Larsson; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Knopf; 2010; ISBN 978-0-307-26975-1; cover by Reg Mendelsund).

Stieg Larsson; The Girl Who Played With Fire (Knopf; 2010; ISBN 978-0-307-26998-0; cover by Reg Mendelsund).

Stieg Larsson; The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Knopf; 2010; ISBN 978-0-307-26999-7; cover by Reg Mendelsund).

Addendum: And for another look at the Larsson trilogy, try this pastiche.

Addendum: Over 1 million electronic copies? Still thing eBooks are a passing trend?
Solar Cycles

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows 2010's solar pattern.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

News Flash!

A previously unreleased story by SF great Alastair Reynolds!
Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL (An Ongoing Series)

So, as 2010 winds up, what rotates through the iPod listening mix these days? Music and audiobooks, sure, but podcasts have increasingly dominated the mix.

I'll post this now, but I'll be updating it several more times. If you look at my 2010 Year in Shorts posting, you'll see that a lot of my "drive time" and "errand time" and the like was supplemented by listening to a wide variety of podcasts. The variety kept expanding as one podcast might suggest another, until you see this varied list below.

Authors and Books: I've listed here the podcasts that don't specialize (in genre fiction, for example). The problem with these podcasts? The wallet cringes! You may end up discovering way too many authors you want to try out.

Rick Kleffel's The Agony Column: It seems like Rick may have slowed down the postings during the year, but if you start with the backlog (as I have) you'll never notice as you'll constantly be discovering new and interesting authors. This year saw a number of excellent interviews including extensive interviews with some who rarely make interview contributions such as David Drake and Tim Powers.

Cuisine: Food and drink!

Basic Brewing Radio: Added late to the listening mix. I'm interested in learning how to brew beer, my father attempted this once in the early 1970's (along with making wine, root beer and the like).

Gaming: A long-running interest of mine (not as long as SF/F) but mostly dormant for the past several years. These podcasts are starting to awaken those interests again.

All About Miniatures: Most of the gaming podcasts that I've come across seem to deal with one particular game (fantasy or science fiction genre games especially). This one not was a rarity in that it dealt with mostly miniature games set in historical periods. Unfortunately it appears that health issues have scuttled the podcast.

Drop Pod Cast: One of many game-related podcasts dealing with Warhammer 40,000. Inactive.

The Eternal Warriors (formerly known as Dice Like Thunder): Late in the year, this podcast underwent a name and theme change. Still mostly genre miniatures focused (e.g., Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine). Unfortunately, it appears that they have pulled the archives of Dice Like Thunder.

Fell Calls: A podcast about the various games from Privateer Press set in the FRP game universe known as the Iron Kingdoms. Ran for 200 episodes, now moved into the THACO podcast (which see). Even without (initially) knowing anything about the game setting, the podcast got me interested enough to pick up some of the rules books and miniatures.

The Two Half-Squads: Dedicated to the classic wargame Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader.

General: Podcasts that are hard to quantify. See also the "geek" category!

A Life Well Wasted: The first five episodes of this podcast made me think it was as good as anything produced by NPR. The sixth episode jumped the shark. Nothing since then, so has "podfade" struck again?

Geekiness: It is amazing the number of podcasts with the word "geek" in their title. Some are genre-related, some are technology-related, most cover multiple subjects under one overall name. So I'll list them in this separate category.

Geek Cred: Discovered this one due to an episode revolving around a podcast called We're Alive. Unfortunately seems to be caught up in "podfade".

Radio Free Burrito with Wil Wheaton: Wheaton has made a varied career out of being a geek, ranging from programming to acting to writing to presentations. This all-too-infrequent podcasts is about a free-ranging. Music, commentary, fiction, biography and more.

History and Politics: Most of these deal with history, with World Wars I and II and the Ancient World being the most popular topics. Production quality can vary, with Dan Carlin's shows, Ancient Rome Refocused, the two podcasts from Lars Brownworth and Mike Duncan's series on Rome.

Ancient Rome Refocused: Taking a fresh look at Rome. Start with the episode called The 24th Shitkickers We're Never the Same After the Peloponnese. Amazing episode.

Binge History Thinking: Mainly military in focus, and with relatively short episodes. Relatively slow production cycle (every other month or so).

Historyzine: Appears to be inactive. Good stuff while it lasted.

Military History Podcast with George Hageman: A series of relatively short episodes that ranged from the ancient world to current events. Unfortunately appears to be inactive.

Science: Mostly astronomy-related (my main hobby interest when it comes to science).

365 Days of Astronomy: Initially launched in 2009, 2010 saw an additional nearly 365 10-15 shows about many aspects of astronomy. I found myself skipping through certain episodes by certain repeating contributors either due to production problems, beating certain themes to death and the like, but overall this show continues to be very good.

Astronomy Cast: Another contributer to 365 Days (above). Episodes are usually linked (an episode about Lyman Spitzer will be followed by an episode about the Spitzer Space Telescope, for example).

Cheap Astronomy: One of the regular contributors to 365 Days (above). Podcasts and observing/equipment advice.

Jodcast: Massive episodes twice a month.

Science Fiction: I call it "science fiction" but many of these also cover fantasy, horror and the like.

Angry Robot Podcast: Hosted by the multi-talented and over-energetic Mur Lafferty, this podcast deals with the offerings of the relatively new publisher Angry Robot Books. Alas, this will limit the subject matter and a series of bad recordings have kept me from enjoying this podcast as much as I might.

Clarkesworld: Regular audio productions of stories that appear in the magazine.

Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas: Episodes alternate between a book/author and a television show/movie. Unfortunately seems to be caught in "podfade".

Transmissions from Beyond: Stories from magazines such as Interzone, Black Static, etc.

Variant Frequencies: Appears to be a victim of podfade. Lots of stories available, grab them now before the site is taken down.
Skylights and Glowing Horizon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows stars, signs of humanity, and zodiacal light over Libya.

Monday, December 27, 2010

We Are the Dead

I really have not been attracted to the whole zombie thing. Like the vampire thing, the werewolf thing and all the other reboots of various horror tropes I've passed them due to a lack of time or a lack of interest or a lack of understanding (I cannot get my mind around the romantic vampire, for example...these things want to drain your blood and your life and you lose your soul...)

That being said, this was the year of the zombie for me. I think I became interested when I realized the stories were less about the zombies themselves than those who survive. Toss in a change to the whole post-apocalypse sub-genre and I can relate to them more.

The second thing that got me interested was the AMC mini-series based on the graphic novel The Walking Dead. The first 15 or so minutes of the first episode got me, from the point where the main character wakes up in a hospital to the point where the leaves the hospital and sees what is in the loading area. Fantastic writing, directing and acting.

So, I will explore the sub-genre, to a limited extent. Here are three books that I've enjoyed so far!

Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore and Cliff Rathburn: The Walking Dead, Compendium One (Imagecomics.com; 2010; ISBN 978-1-60706-076-5).

John Joseph Adams (editor): The Living Dead (Night Shade Books; 2008; ISBN 978-1-59780-143-0; cover by David Palumbo).

Made up of: Introduction (John Joseph Adams); Some Zombie Contingency Plans (Kelly Link); Death and Suffrage (Dale Bailey); Blossom (David J. Schow); The Third Dead Body (Nina Kiriki Hoffman); The Dead (Michael Swanwick); The Dead Kid (Darrell Schweitzer); Malthusian's Zombie (Jeffrey Ford); Beautiful Stuff (Susan Palwick); Sex, Death and Starshine (Clive Barker); Stockholm Syndrome (David Tallerman); Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead (Joe Hill); Those Who Seek Forgiveness (Laurell K. Hamilton); In Beauty, Like the Night (Norman Partridge); Prairie (Brian Evenson); Everything Is Better With Zombies (Hannah Wolf Bowen); Home Delivery (Stephen King); Sparks Fly Upward (Lisa Morton); Meathouse Man (George R. R. Martin); Deadman's Road (Joe R. Lansdale); The Skull-Faced Boy (David Barr Kirtley); The Age of Sorrow (Nancy Kirkpatrick); Bitter Grounds (Neil Gaiman); She's Taking Her Tits to the Grave (Catherine Cheek); Dead Like Me (Adam-Troy Castro); Zora and the Zombie (Andy Duncan); Calcutta, Lord of Nerves (Poppy Z. Brite); Followed (Will McIntosh); The Song the Zombie Sang (Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg); Passion Play (Nancy Holder); Almost the Last Story by Almost the Last Man (Scott Edelman); How the Day Runs Down (John Langan).

Counts as five (5) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

Counts as five (5) entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.

John Joseph Adams (editor): The Living Dead Two (Night Shade Books; 2010; ISBN 978-1-5978-0190-4; cover by David Palumbo).

Made up of: Introduction (John Joseph Adams); Alone, Together (Robert Kirkman); Danger World (Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due); Zombieville (Paula R. Stiles); The Anteroom (Adam-Troy Castro); When the Zombies Win (Karina Sumner-Smith); Mouja (Matt London); Category Five (Marc Paoletti); Living with the Dead (Molly Brown); Twenty-three Snapshots of San Francisco (Seth Lindberg); The Mexican Bus (Walter Greatshell); The Other Side (Jamie Lackey); Where the Heart Was (David J. Schow); Good People (David Wellington); Lost Canyon of the Dead (Brian Keene); Pirates vs. Zombies (Amelia Beamer); The Crocodiles (Steven Popkes); The Skull-Faced City (David Barr Kirtley); Obedience (Brenna Yovanoff); Steve and Fred (Max Brooks); The Rapeworm (Charles Coleman Finley); Everglades (Mira Grant); We Now Pause for Station Identification (Gary A. Braunbeck); Reluctance (Cherie Priest); Arlene Schabowski of the Undead (Mark McLaughlin and Kyra M. Schon); Zombie Gigolo (S. G. Browne); Rural Dead (Bret Hammond); The Summer Place (Bob Fingerman); The Wrong Grave (Kelly Link); The Human Race Scott Edelman); Who We Used to Be (David Moody); Therapeutic Intervention (Rory Harper); He Said, Laughing (Simon R. Green); Last Stand (Kelly Armstrong); The Thought War (Paul McAuley); Dating in Dead World (Joe McKinney); Flotsam and Jetsam (Carrie Ryan); Thin Them Out (Kim Paffenroth, R. J. Sevin, and Julia Sevin); Zombie Season (Catherine MacLeod); Tameshigiri (Steven Gould); The Days of Flaming Motorcycles (Catherynne M. Valente); Zero Tolerance (Jonathan Mayberry); And the Next, and the Next (Genevieve Valentine); The Price of a Slice (John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow); Are You Trying to Tell Me This is Heaven? (Sarah Langan).

Counts as three (3) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

Counts as three (3) entries in the 2011 Year in Shorts.
Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho


Dave Freer talks about eBooks, piracy and pricing in response
to a recent piece by Paul Cornell on the same subject.

Me? Give me reasonably priced eBooks in multiple formats without DRM. Stop treating me, the legitimate customer, like a damn thief. Stop imposing technology restrictions on me that don't exist when I buy a paper copy of a book. Respect me and I'll respect you.

Otherwise...maybe I'll need to resort to British Television.

And while we're at it, please pick up a copy of Dave's Dragon's Ring, now out in paperback. Or the eBook. Good stuff!
One Million Galaxies

What does infinity look like? Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day will give you some hints.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sidewise Through Space!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a sidewise Orion over the skies of Ireland. Did the Hunter slip on some ice?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter Decorations

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a very nice detail shot of the area north of Orion's Belt. Think of it as the Milky Way's attic.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Retro

Some retro-style gadgets. I actually still have a number of LP records, so the ability to convert these to MP3 files would be nice.
Trails

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows circum-polar stars rotating around the point in the sky where the pole "goes through".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Decline and Fall of a Writer

John Scalzi points out a problem with cloud computing. In retaliation, the people who do no evil suck him over to the dark side. He totters, he wavers...and then he is seen in a coffeeshop. With a laptop. In a cloud of coffee.

Pride goeth before the fall, Mr. Scalzi.

(With tongue planted in cheek and tinfoil hat on top my head, I am joking about this all but jealous that some folks get free computers!)
Red Moon at Night, Observers Delight

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the recently eclipsed Moon. There was a conflict between the curse of the full Moon and the curse of the astronomical event over my house: normally when there is an astronomical event, it is cloudy but normally it is clear when there is a full Moon (as the Moon washes out the faint fuzzies). The lunar curse won and I was able to see the eclipse.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not Our Destination

Space Shuttle Discovery and the partially eclipsed Moon. Too bad we are not going there.
Questions

Jeph Jacques: Questionable Content (Volume 01) (Topatoco Books; 2010; ISBN 978-0-9824862-5-2; cover and interior by Jeph Jacques).

I'm not sure when I first ran across Questionable Content. Not at the beginning, but somewhere near the beginning. For several years now, five times a week, I tune in to see what is up with Marten, Faye, Dora and the others along with Pintsize and Yelling Bird.

Now, to be sure, I am not the target audience of this webcomic. Emos? Get a life. Hipsters? Get a job? Indy rock? Give me my Eno records.

But...it is dang funny. Sure, the indy rock references sail past me, but the comments about relationships, life, work...spot on.

This collection takes us from the first strip to 299 (plus a bonus). As of this writing, the strip is up to 1822 entries. You can catch up for free (heck, you can read everything but the bonus for free), but buy the book. And the t-shirts. That way I can keep up with Marten, Faye, Dora, Pintsize...and Yelling Bird.
Solstice Sun

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day marks the summer for some, the winter for others. Brrrrr!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Surprises of 2010

The biggest surprise is that The SF Signal Podcast keeps asking me to come back! Episode 21 is up!
Tech Talk

Lucy A. Snyder: Installing Linux On a Dead Badger and Other Oddities (Creative Guy Publishing; 2007; ISBN 1-894953-47-9; illustrations by DE Christman and Malcolm McClinton).

I first heard about this book while listening to a recent episode of The Functional Nerds podcast. The wallet cringes!

This is a short and very funny collection. It is clear that Snyder has spent way too much time eithe reading or writing corporate puff pieces and training manuals. There are a couple of more straightforward stories, as well, if one can tag "straightforward" a rescue of our planet through the use of a device to cook...french fries.

Made up of: Installing Linux on a Dead Badger; Authorities Concerned Over Rise of Teen Linux Gangs; Your Corporate Network and The Forces of Darkness; Faery Cats: The Cutest Killers; Dead Men Don't Need Coffee Breaks; Business Insourcing Offers Life After Death; Corporate Vampires Sink Teeth Into Business World; Unemployed Playing Dead To Find Work; Trolls Gone Wild; The Great VuDu Linux Teen Zombie Massacre; Wake Up Naked Monkey You're Going to Die; In The Shadow of the Fryolator.

Counts as twelve (12) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.
All the Colors

Freeman J. Dyson: A Many Colored-Glass—Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (University of Virginia Press; 2007; ISBN 978-0-8139-2663-6; cover art uncredited).

I've been interested to note how the books I've read about Freeman Dyson seem to be shifting their scope. With the first encounter (Disturbing the Universe), we had large concepts such as the Orion atomic bomb "powered" spaceship and the Dyson Sphere. Each subsequent entry refined its focus smaller and smaller and sharper and sharper down to the Earth and the implications of technology such as the internet and advances in biology.

This collection is based on a series of lectures that Dyson gave for the Page-Barbour series in 2004 and focuses mainly on biology and biotechnology. Dyson is always controversial, always interesting and this serves as a good introduction to his smaller focus the past several years.

Made up of: Preface; The Future of Biotechnology; A Debate with Bill Joy; Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society; A Friendly Universe; Can Life Go On Forever?; Looking for Life; The Varieties of Human Experience.

Counts as three (03) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.
Secret Powers

John Berlyme (compiler and editor): Powers: Secret Histories—A Bibliography (PS Publishing; 2009; ISBN 978-1-84863-011-6 for trade edition; ISBN 978-1-84863-012-3 for slipcase edition with two books; ISBN 978-1-84863-013-0 for slipcase edition with three books; cover by John Berlyne & Dirk Berger).

I've made it clear previously that I am a big fan of the works of Tim Powers and consider him one of America's best practitioners of fantasy (maybe a more marketable term would be "magical realism"?). My first encounter with his stuff was on the way to an opera (I kid you not) where I had a copy of The Anubis Gates in my pocket for the ride into New York City. I don't remember much of the opera at this point, but that book has stuck with me ever since and is one of my all-time favorites. Think of a cross between Dr. Who and Charles Dickens...that works.

I came across this book about a year ago and now have two (!) copies, one of the signed-and-numbered single volume set and one of the signed-and-numbered two volume set (if I win the lottery, I'll hunt down the three volume set, as well as copies of his other much more limited books and chapbooks).

The book is a combination of essays by other writers (mostly friends to Tim Powers such as James Blaylock) and bits and pieces from Powers, ranging from sketches to drafts to calendars used to keep track of events in various books.

This is an invaluable resource for fans of Tim Powers. If you've never encountered Powers, give him a try: I'd recommend the previously-mentioned The Anubis Gates or perhaps the inspiration (?) for the next Pirates of the Caribbean flick, On Stranger Tides. Last Call (mentioned above) is a strong start to a trilogy.

Excellent books. And this is an excellent resource.

Made up of: Foreword (John Berlyne); Introduction (Dean Koontz); Notes on the Bibliographic System (John Berlyne); Bibliography—Novels; Bibliography—Novellas, Short Stories and Other Works; Bibliography—William Ashbless: Selected Sightings; Putting Ashbless to Rest: A Refutation (James P. Blaylock); A Refutation of a Refutation (William Ashbless); A Look Behind the Curtain (John Bierer); Juvenilia; The Extraterrestrial Stories of Arthur Asteroidbelt; Selected Early Poetry & Drawings, 1969-1979; The Skies Discrowned/Epitaph in Rust; The Drawing of the Dark; Excerpt from To Serve In Hell; The Anubis Gates; Why The Anubis Gates Shouldn't Exist (China Mieville); Dinner at Deviant's Palace; On Stranger Tides; The Stress of Her Regard; Last Call; Expiration Date; Earthquake Weather; Declare; Three Days to Never; Afterword (Karen Joy Fowler).

Counts as twenty (20) entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.
Solstice Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an eclipse of the Moon allowing the viewing of some celestial sights that would normally be washed out by a full Moon. By coincidence, tonight will have a lunar eclipse on the winter solstice. It looks like it'll be washed out by clouds here, so I hope you are able to see it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blockage

Man solves problem embedded in a Google commercial and wins notebook running Chrome. Alas, he is apparently not eligible to win!
Computer Bugs

Ants lead to better algorithms.
Little Lost Nano

Is NASA's NanoSail-D experimental solar sail vehicle lost?
Come In, Dear Boy, Have a Cigar

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 82, an irregular galaxy known as the Cigar Galaxy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another 15 Picoseconds of Fame

Integration, A.E. van Vogt and having read too many books.
Bird and Continent

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the North American Nebula and the Pelican Nebula in the area of Deneb. I saw the North American Nebula once, under very dark skies and using a special filter. I was so excited I forgot to look for details of the other as well!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010: Odyssey Two

We're heading into the home stretch and if I find the time/energy I should be making a number of (mostly book-related) postings by the end of the year. Time to wind down!

What a year. I have never felt more exhausted, tired, depressed at times. My father died in January, my in-laws have faced a series of health-related issues the entire year. The job is in stasis, no news on the upgrade and if rumors about the incoming administration are at all accurate, it won't make much difference, nohow. I continue to have joint difficulties, to be sure I am not in "extreme" pain, but constant low-level pain gnaws at your soul as well. Nightmares continue to echo from the year of the last Clarke novel, as it were.

Sure am a happy camper, am I not?

Let's not even trot down the path of the economy, politics (let alone elected officials) and the overall tone of "social discourse" of late. We just put the FUN in dysfunctional, don't we all?

Ah yes, update. Less than four hours after getting out of the hospital, my father-in-law is back in. With a broken hip.

GOOD NIGHT, NURSE.
Geminids

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a downfall of Geminids over the skies of Kitt Peak Observatory.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kablam

Hey look, the sun is getting active again. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a recent solar filament.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nice View

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a nice close-up of a launching Delta IV Heavy. Not a place you'd **actually** want to be standing in, mind...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Desert Sky

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a meteor streaking across a dark desert sky.
Save the Monkey, Buy a Coconut

A vast confluence of events appears to have shot a hole in the sales of a hardcover by an author I enjoy. This could mean the end of his career as an author, at least as a solo author. So help the Monkey! Buy a coconut! Please pre-order the paperback edition of his book, Dragon Ring!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kiss the Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an occultation between an extremely thin crescent Moon and a fairly dim planet Mars.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

M81 and Arp

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a fantastic shot of galaxy M81 and the tidal tail known as Arp's Loop.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Intrepid

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice view of Intrepid Crater on Mars, as imaged by the MER Opportunity. Hey, let's go to those hills in the distance!
COTS!

The "demonstration flight" of the SpaceX Falcon IX and Dragon capsule just took off. Looks good so far (from this non-professional set of eyes).

Addendum: Staging went well. Terminal burn went well. Dragon in orbit: deploy verified!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Back. It. Is.

Ansible 281. We're edging closer to two-hundred away from the half-millennium mark!
I'm A Wanderer

While it is "inverted", is this a streambed on Mars? Created by water? Or?
GREAT 2010

Face recognition, computer programming and cosmology. Do you have what it takes?
Speck

Atlas and Saturn and the Rings. Wowza.
So, How Do You Like Them Ribs?

Top Chef, a guilty pleasure that my wife watches (but which I generally don't watch, except when Anthony Bourdain is on, like the current season!) runs a pair of contests each episode, designed to kick people off the island (or is that a different show?). Two seasons ago (or last season, if you ignore that horrible dessert show) one of the contests was to come up with a dish to be served in space. That dish is now making its way (slowly) to the ISS. I wonder how much the space version will resemble the original dish?
My, It Has Grown

A shot of the International Space Station after less than a year of habitation. It has gotten a tad larger.
Humorous Puzzles

Would children learn more if more learning was...funny? That and more thoughts on thinking.
Paging A.E. van Vogt

I read this and thought of A.E. van Vogt. Along with his various "supermen" (the Slans, the Players of Null "A", etc.), he also came up with "Nexialism" in the "Space Beagle" tales. Writing at that time he saw that we were accumulating more and more knowledge...with the problem that people were becoming more and more specialized...and knowing less and less about "everything else".
Bow-Wow-Wow, The Dog Said

Alas, my employer did not make the cut.
Whoosh!

Some kids at JPL have launched a model rocket! Well, not really a model...
Best Of

The SF Signal Podcast returns! We pick our best for 2010. What did I mention?
The Space Review

This week's episode of The Space Review has several articles of interest. Travis Senor looks at the past as a gate to the future. Can we get beyond the glory days of Apollo and make significant progress with a different model? Dwayne A. Day follows up on last week's interesting bit of Apollo history (by Vance Mitchell) and looks deeper (hah) into how Apollo would have worked with spy satellite technology. Lou Friedman beats the drum for SETI. Finally, Jeff Foust reviews a new book (monograph) on space debris. Send up the Toybox!
To the Blue Event Horizon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a depiction of what you would see if you get too close to a "frozen star".

Monday, December 06, 2010

First Light

The Large Binocular Telescope (the mind boggles) has taken initial images of Beta Peg (part of the constellation Pictor). Two mirrors, with their light combined, create one big scope. Now for an amateur version...
Silicon Next?

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Mono Lake in California. Mono Lake is the home of the recently discovered bacteria that proves that the Poet is once again correct. The universe is a darned strange place.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Double Mountain

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Moon rising between two mountains. No, in between two mountains. Or does it?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

More Stars

I hadn't really noticed this, given all the light pollution I live under. Apparently we are seeing more stars recently.
Groundbound, But Thinking in Space

Before some computer code is sent into space on the ISS, it is first tested on the ground. These computers replicate the space-based systems.
Clear, Cold Water

Where did Earth's water come from? Our planet? Or space (well, technically, we are part of space, but you know what I mean...). A recent study suggests our water is "home-grown".
Clarke's Laws

Ray Kurzweil and the dangers of prediction. I'm sure some of his stuff will eventually come to pass, just later rather than sooner.
Rays and Jetty

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a sunset (with crepuscular rays, they're back!) over the spiral jetty at Utah's Great Salt Lake.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cometeers and Clusters

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet Hartley 2 (103/P Hartly) passing in front of Messier 47 and Messier 46.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010