Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aught to say about the decade

As 2009 draws to a close (and good riddance), we also conclude a decade. The web is replete with lists, retrospectives, and observations about the year and the decade. Here are a few items that seem especially apt for this blog's readers:

Top 10 Science Fiction Disappointments Of The Past Decade, in part because I sympathize (not to say I've even seen all of these) -- but mostly because I can't resist this image. 

Top Ten Tech Stories for the Decade, because, well, I'm a computer guy as well as an SF enthusiast.

The Top 10 Science Stories of 2009 [Slide Show], from Scientific American

The 2009 Science Fiction Power List, is full of SFnal awesome.

SFcrowsnest Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction Books Chart, from across the pond (and, I'll modestly disclose, a book of mine is well-placed in the list). 

From National Geographic, Top Ten Space Finds of 2009: Nat Geo News's Most Viewed

From, 9 Astronomy Milestones in 2009

And finally, not exactly fitting the theme: Stars Find Fountain of Youth Via Vampirism and Collisions, because, really, how could anyone resist?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

District 9 / Plan 9

District 9 was NOT a traditional choice for Christmas Eve viewing. I admit it.

In my defense, Netflix listed District 9 as a long wait. The DVD being at the top of my queue said nothing about when D9 would appear in my mailbox.

If you're not familiar with this 2009 movie, think: Alien Nation meets The Battle of Algiers meets Enemy Mine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fictional frontiers redux

I posted a year ago about my "appearance" on Fictional Frontiers (WNJC-AM, Philadelphia), about my then newly released novel Fools' Experiments (dealing with AI, artificial life, and virtual reality, among other topics). The blog entry about that interview is here. It was my first radio interview, and I don't mind admitting I was a tad nervous.

But the conversation apparently went okay, because I was invited back to discuss this year's newly released book, Small Miracles (about near-future medical nanotech). In the intervening year, Fictional Frontiers had moved from its Sunday morning time slot to a far-more-widely-heard slot during Monday evening drive time. The new interview aired December 7th.

The latest conversation is now available as streaming audio (part 1 and part 2). If your Internet connection isn't streaming-media friendly, the interview segments can be downloaded from those pages as wma (Windows Media Player) files. 

I didn't think I was nervous about my return visit -- which shows all I know. Invited at the end of the interview to give my website URL, I managed to give it wrong! As shown elsewhere on this site, the correct link is

(Holiday) cheers, all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And the speculation is rampant

At every con and book signing, and in every SFnal chat room, it seems that the craft of writing and the business of publishing eventually come up. There's a sort of symmetry in play: most writers are inveterate readers, and many readers aspire to be authors.

So: I'm delighted to have been given the opportunity by WriterHouse to teach a weekend seminar on writing speculative fiction. The seminar will be held Saturday and Sunday, January 23-24, in lovely Charlottesville, VA.

Lovely isn't mere politeness -- among its charms, Charlottesville is home to Monticello and the University of Virginia, both legacies of Thomas Jefferson. The image is of the UVa Rotunda, designed by Jefferson.

For a course description and info about registration, see here. (The spec-fic seminar is at the end of this Winter Term course catalog.)

WriterHouse is also hosting me the evening before (Friday, January 22nd) at a book signing and discussion open to the public.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And we're still here!

For all last year's fuss when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was first turned on, its recent restart -- after some rework due to bad solder joints and a supercoolant leak -- has drawn comparatively little public notice. You may recall concerns (foolish concerns, I might add) that the LHC would create black holes that would swallow the Earth.

The LHC's new low profile is both good and bad. 

The good? The hysterics have found other things about which to obsess. The bad? In the wake of Climategate, science could use credit for doing something right.

In the short time since the LHC's restart last month, the new collider has:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To your good health

The Year of Science enters its final month by celebrating health science. (Is health science different than medicine? Beats me.)

Health-wise, science must be doing something right. To know that, we need only look at trends in lifespan and at the once untreatable conditions that medicine can now address. And consider the many quality-of-life improvements, from prostheses to painkillers.

Health science will only get better -- if public policy doesn't kill off R&D in the name of funding universal care.

Below the fold, the shape of things to come:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Road trip

I'm off soon on a book signing mini-tour promoting Small Miracles. (I did local signings, in the DC area, in October.)

If you're in the neighborhood, consider dropping by. (I'm happy to sign anything I've written, so check your bookshelves.)

Read on for places and times: