Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A slight change in story plans

In Short and Sweet, on April 19, I announced a bunch of pending short-fiction appearances. One of those stories, "The Pilgrimage," has since been rescheduled by Analog from the July/August issue (showing up about now in mailboxes and bookstores) to the November/December issue. As Yoga Berra instructed us: It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." Indeed. For anyone just dying to read that particular tale ... sorry for the inconvenience.

Then there was my other prediction about an upcoming appearance in Analog: "My Fifth and Most Exotic Voyage." That novelette remains on track for the September/October issue ... and it will be, I'm informed, the issue's lead story. That placement was a nice surprise.

Monday, June 12, 2017

While I get accustomed to bionic eyes ...

Following cataract surgeries and implanted lens, I'm without eyeglasses for the first time in ... sixty years. Yowza. But while I'm copacetic for distance, I still need to figure out what's best for close-up/reading. Ditto for the mid-range (as in: the computer screen across the desk even as I type). I suspect those won't settle out till my eyes settle in and another visit to the ophthalmologist.

The immediate upshot? I'm doing less reading, and less computer work, than has long been my norm. (And most of the time today that I felt okay to spend at the computer? Those hours went to my final polishing of a novella and sending it off.) Hence, today's post will be briefer than my usual. That's not to say, or so I shall flatter myself, this post will be any less interesting ...

Does not compute ... or does it?
NBC News offers, "Sex Robots Are Coming, and They're Not as Skeevy as You Think: Sex doll manufacturers and independent roboticists are designing and building the first humanlike robots that people can have sex with."

Just asking for trouble ...
And from Motherboard, by hacker, security researcher and human-rights activist Claudio Guarnieri, we have the earnest admonition, "Online Voting Is a Terrible Idea." A sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. IMO, this short passage from the article sums up the issue perfectly:

... electronic voting attempts to solve a problem that just doesn't exist. With the predominant system of paper ballots, we normally get a preliminary count of the votes in a matter of hours already. The benefits provided by a more automatized counting process are not only questionable, but they simply do not outweigh the gravity of the risks involved.

Plenty of food here for thought. Now I'm off to rest my eyes for a bit.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Will wonders never cease?

Nope, I'm not being ironic. Recent astronomical reports are wonderfully amazing. I often marvel at the subtle details -- and mind-blowing implications -- astronomers can glean from their observations. Such as:

"NASA Space Probes Have Detected a Human-Made Barrier Surrounding Earth: We are changing space itself." And as this barrier of very low frequency RF waves is expanding the Van Allen Belts, extending the domain of near-Earth space that's not filled with deadly radiation, it seems like a good thing. If we can expand the protection zone out past geosynch altitudes, that will make travel up a space elevator safe. (If only we could build a space elevator ... but someday [I predict], that too, will happen.)

And speaking of waves ...

Suddenly, I want a pizza
"Massive Lava Waves Detected on Jupiter’s Moon Io." Consider this: Thanks to a rare orbital alignment between Europa and Io, an international team of researchers has identified and tracked a pair of lava waves as they coursed around Loki Patera, which is larger than Lake Ontario, and with a surface area of 8,300 square miles (21,500 square km). How cool (okay, that was ironic) is that?

Now on to a different sort of wave: gravitational.

Monday, May 29, 2017

From mighty oak trees, little acorns grow

And, on occasion, vice versa.

Faster than a speeding photon
Early in my blogging career, I did several posts about tropes in SF, collectively "Trope-ing the Light Fantastic." These posts were quite popular; more than seven years later, one of them (Trope-ing the light fantastic (life-sign detectors) ranks #5 in all-time popularity on this blog.

From those humble beginnings there developed ... a lot. The outcomes overlap, and they include:
  • An expanded series of treatments of SF tropes for Analog (collectively, "The Science Behind the Fiction") on topics as varied as time travel, AI, and ESP. 
  • A lecture on world-building at the U. S. Naval Academy.
  • A writers workshop on aliens and their societies.
  • Countless influences on my fiction self-inspired while I thought about tropes, and
  • The immediate reason for this post: my first all-nonfiction book.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cats and dogs, sleeping together ...

Okay, maybe not quite that out of the ordinary. But still we have:

"Report: Android overtakes Windows as the internet’s most used operating system." Having heavily used both products for years, I'm not surprised. One wonders if Microsoft is.

"Top Scientists Revamp Standards To Foster Integrity In Research." The sad thing is that the need even arises. Misconduct in scientific research makes me angry. No, furious.

As does bad science reporting. Herewith the debunking of some recent such "journalism" in: "No, we haven’t found signs of life -- alien or otherwise -- in the solar system." (Good article -- but I have a beef with the headline. I'm reasonably confident we've found signs of life on Earth. Which is, after all, within the Solar System to which the article refers. But, indeed, life has not as yet been found elsewhere in the Solar System.)(*)

(*) Pet-peeve alert. The nearby star around which our planet orbits is the Sun, aka (more formally) Sol. Sol and its attendant planets, asteroids, moons, comets, and other objects is the Solar System. Initial upper case, like Earth. And like the Sun. Any other star is a (lower case) sun. Any sun and its retinue is a (lower case) solar system.

And "Jeff Bezos Is Selling $1 Billion in Amazon Stock Yearly to Fund Blue Origin." That's what I call commitment. I wish him luck on his space endeavors.

To conclude on a personal note, I've been doing battle for the past three or so weeks with a new novelette. Well, it ain't gonna happen -- and in a good way. The story grew into a novella, of which I completed the first draft just last Sunday. (A calendaric coincidence, and no irony intended w.r.t. the foregoing sun/Sun, solar/Solar rant.) Said draft will sit for awhile, till I'm ready for a re-look with fresh eyes. All part of the process ...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Festivus in May?

Had the decision been mine, I'd have chosen December to publish "A Visit to the Network Control Center." And if December somehow wasn't an option, the case could have been made for a June release. But I'm the writer, not the editor -- I'm sure he had his reasons.

Perhaps it's an unseasonal Festivus miracle. Or perhaps (here's a nice thought) it's cuz I've achieved an SF spoof for all seasons. Whatever the explanation, here goes:

'Twas the eve of the Solstice, and no matter the hype,

     Not a creature was stirring, not even on Skype;

The chat rooms were silent, the listservs were bare ...

Check out the entire "A Visit to the Network Control Center" at Sci Phi Journal. And then plan to reread it in December :-)

Monday, May 8, 2017

MY life, the universe, and everything

File 770, the acclaimed genre website, this morning posted an extended interview/profile of my writing career. I'll crib their introduction rather than adding yet more words:

Retired professional scientist Edward Lerner talks about a host of hard science fiction topics, plus his collaboration with Larry Niven, his participation in SIGMA, and his nonfiction column for Analog.

Check out, if you're curious (and really, given that you're already here, you know you are), Edward M. Lerner: Crafted Science, Convincing Characters.

Monday, May 1, 2017

New stories -- check 'em out

A couple weeks ago in this space I previewed several stories I had pending. Today, two of them made an appearance.

To begin, an online novelette: "The Company Man." This noir/SF mashup is my debut appearance in Grantville Gazette. (But in the "Universe Annex" department. My piece isn't a part of the 1632 / Ring of Fire story line.)

Deep in the electron mines
Also fresh this morning from the electron mines, we have the short story "Nothing to Lose?" Abstractly, I wish this had come out in October (read it and you'll see why), but one can't have everything. The entire May issue of Galaxy's Edge is available free through Grabbr (but, as they say, For A Limited Time Only).

Two new stories. How better to observe May Day?