Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spread the meme: Buy-a-Book Saturday!

Regularly since 2010, at about this time of year, I've posted about Buy-a-Book Saturday. That's my personal variation on Small Business Saturday: a day (specifically, the second day after Thanksgiving, and one day after retail's infamous Black Friday) on which holiday shoppers are especially encouraged to consider patronizing small businesses. The big-box stores and Internet giants will do fine this holiday season. But will your neighborhood stores?

Why the buy-a-book variant? Because what business is smaller than the author toiling away by him- or herself? Because, as I (and many others) post from time to time, the publishing business is becoming tougher and tougher -- especially for the authors. Because more than likely you're a reader, or else you wouldn't be frequenting this blog.

So: I'm suggesting you give serious consideration to books -- whether print, electronic, or audio -- for some of your holiday gifting. Friends, relatives, coworkers, your kids' teachers, the local library you support ... surely there's a book that's right for each of them. And for yourself, of course :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Robots and Descartes and Shakespeare, oh my! What's not to like?

Call it a poem. Call it flash fiction. Either way, the illustrated version of it is awesome. And trust me: that (hopefully evocative) subject line fits it perfectly.

And what, you ask, is it? "I Clink, Therefore I Am." Surely a copy of this poster belongs on the wall of every English lit student -- and teacher/professor -- you know. Ditto every student and teacher/professor of robotics. They just don't (yet) know they need it.

Just a hint ...

(Hmm. I might also, with the slightest of tweaks, have added a detail to the setting and subtitled this "The Merchant of Venus." But I digress.)

As you will by now have inferred, I have dipped a toe -- by proxy, through the auspices of Sci Phi Journal -- into merchandising. The words are mine, and the meter Shakespeare's. The art is by the massively talented Cat Leonard.

It can't hurt to look. Right? Check out the poster (or T-shirt, or travel mug, or iPad case, or ...) at Red Bubble.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 best reads

I read a lot. Often it's research for my own writing. Sometimes it's as competitive analysis (re-plowing the same ground as other recent books -- except, apparently, where zombies are concerned -- isn't the easiest way to sell one's own works). Many evenings, it's for relaxation. On many an occasion, it's for two or all three reasons. If I finish a book, it has -- at the least -- been useful.

This post looks at the handful(ish) of books I read in 2015 (which isn't to say they were all written this year) that rose beyond "useful" and even "memorable" to "I remember this fondly and can well imagine rereading at a future date." In a couple of cases, they're books that I reread this year.

Presuming that you visit SF and Nonsense because you appreciate my take on science or technology or fiction, you might find, in the post that follows, books you (and like-minded friends, relatives, etc.) will also enjoy. (And FYI, every cover is an Amazon links.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Look! Up in the sky!

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's astronomy, man.

Lots of exciting stuff is being spotted (or is looked for and not spotted, or is wondered about) in the vasty deeps over our heads. Read on ...

MOL (artist conception)
From time to time over the years, I've encountered short, vague references to a USAF space-station project, the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL). This recent article is, by far, the most information I've ever seen: "The Real Story of The Secret Space Station." Like the contemporaneous Apollo program, the motivation was international politics. It turns out that MOL was unaffordable and potentially destabilizing. As to the former point:

By the time President Richard Nixon finally cancelled the MOL in 1969, it had gobbled up more than $1.5 billion—$10 billion in today’s dollars—and was on track to consume 17 percent of the Air Force’s annual research budget for years.