Monday, June 18, 2018

Starstruck

Today's post is astronomy-related.

Arguably challenging my subject line -- but "planet" did, originally, mean "wandering star" -- the first of two subtopics herein could be described as planet-struck. The generally accepted theory of solar-system formation involves a great deal of accretion and sweeping up of matter from the ancestral "solar nebula." If I may quote myself: (*)
"Aggregating, clumping, sweeping … it all sounds stately and serene. It can happen that way—but usually doesn’t. The heavily cratered surface of the Moon testifies to the violence of the Solar System’s (not thought to be unusual) Late Heavy Bombardment period. The Moon itself, it is believed, coalesced from Earth-orbiting debris after a Mars-sized protoplanet struck the young Earth a glancing blow."
(*) from Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction 
The Moon is born?
So. The first of today's spectacular astronomy reports involves the opening of a metaphorical window into that violent process, that ancient era, in the form of apparent fragments discovered of a long-vanished protoplanet. More specifically, asteroid remains have been recovered that: 
 "... could only have formed under incredible pressure — the equivalent of diving 600 kilometers into Earth's interior or attempting to hold up 100,000 tons with your bare hands...
...
"... the meteorite's parent body would have to have been a planet at least as big as Mercury and possibly as large as Mars."
For the full story, see, "These diamonds from space formed inside a long-lost planet, scientists say."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Today, it's official. And still epic.

Tor Books today released a discounted five-ebook bundle of the entire Fleet of Worlds series. That series is my joint venture in Known Space with Larry Niven.

(What about the Other Good News hinted at in last week's preview of today's release? That independent event came a few days earlier than I'd anticipated, and I posted then. So: if you only drop by here Tuesdays, my typical posting day, and so missed my out-of-cycle celebratory post Woohoo!, you may want to check it out, too. Stat. Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction (ebook) won't remain on deep-discount for long.)

But let's get back to the Fleet of Worlds series, and the news of the day ...

Fleet series ebook bundle on AmazonBottom-lining it: This is an epic offer on an epic -- and much acclaimed -- hard-SF story line that spans centuries and light-years. A story line with: Existential dangers. Larger-than-life deeds, both villainous and heroic. Truly alien aliens. Amazing advanced technologies.

How epic? Here's my favorite blurb per novel (in series order, from first to last):

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Woohoo!

Bookbub's featured special today is Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction.

That's big :-)

Purchase link for Kindle edition
If you're unfamiliar with the ebook deal-alerting service Bookbub (a) you really should check it out and (b) while the special continues, Trope-ing ebooks are really inexpensive. As in $2.99, versus the regular price of $9.99.

Here's how Bookbub presents the book:

Are time travel, aliens, and telepathy just figments of the imagination — or something more? Explore the reality behind your favorite sci-fi tropes in “the best-ever guide to putting the science in science fiction” 
Hugo Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer

If you're not enrolled to receive SF-centric alerts through Bookbub, here's Trope-ing's Bookbub promo page; select the "Get Deal" button for links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple editions. Or click the cover at left to go straight to Amazon for the Kindle edition.

(If you're new to SF and Nonsense (a) welcome! and (b) here's my release-day post for a bit more about the book.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Talk about epic!

On June 12, Tor Books will be releasing a discounted five-ebook bundle of the entire Fleet of Worlds series. That's my joint venture in Known Space with Larry Niven.

Why the advance mention? Because there is Other Good News in the pipeline to be announced next week :-)

And any of the major ebook providers will be happy to queue up your order ....

Fleet series ebook bundle on AmazonBottom-lining it: This is an epic offer on an epic -- and much acclaimed -- hard-SF story line that spans centuries and light-years. A story line with: Existential dangers. Larger-than-life deeds, both villainous and heroic. Truly alien aliens. Amazing advanced technologies.

How epic? Here's my favorite blurb per novel (in series order, from first to last):

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Does not compute

I've begun streaming the Netflix remake of Lost in Space. That may be why today's subject line occurred to me. But not the only reason. Consider:

"IBM's tiniest computer is smaller than a grain of rock salt." Actually, the amazing fact is that something so small does compute. "IBM has unveiled a computer that's smaller than a grain of rock salt. It has the power of an x86 chip from 1990 ... The publication says that the machine will cost under $0.10 to manufacture, which gives credence to IBM's prediction that these types of computers will be embedded everywhere within the next five years."

But what surely doesn't compute is the mess Facebook has made of elections and (un)civil discourse. See -- if you can bear to revisit it -- " ‘A grand illusion’: seven days that shattered Facebook’s facade."

I have my doubts this omelet can be reassembled into eggs, but if you are (or want to be) more optimistic, consider, "How the Government Could Fix Facebook."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

That's life

Life has been intruding -- not in a bad way, but it's intrusive nonetheless. What more appropriate way to offer a prospectively interesting post despite those distractions than with a post about ... life.

Onward, then, to some recent items from the life sciences.

Given the number of forecasts, dating back, at the least, to Thomas Malthus, that humanity will breed itself to disaster, it's nice(!) to read a counter-argument. As in: "The Population Bomb Has Been Defused: The Earth and humanity will survive as fertility rates fall almost everywhere." This is, unequivocally, Good News.

After a spate of reports about unreproducible and/or statistically questionable psychology experiments, it's also encouraging to see, "Psychologists Have a Plan to Fix the Broken Science of Psychology." There may be a whole new paradigm emerging for performing psychological research.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mid-year writing update

 Updated May 19, 2018

While my recent focus has (understandably, methinks) been the April 30th release of Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction, I have some fiction news, as well. If you'll allow me to catch you up ...

Amazon link
Can they top this cover?
"Chance of Storms," one of my rare non-SF stories will appear in the forthcoming reprint antho, Fantasy for the Throne. (You may recall I had a story in last year's Science Fiction for the Throne antho.)

A second short story, "Paradise Regained," also has a reappearance pending, this time as a podcast at Escape Pod.

And new fiction? Last January, when I announced the sale to Analog of "Harry and the Lewises," the novella had not yet been assigned to an issue. Now it has: the story is scheduled for the September/October issue. (And if that title brings to mind a campy movie from 1987? You won't be entirely misled. Just somewhat :-)  )

And newer still? If you were hooked by last year's story arc (in The Grantville Gazette) beginning with the novelette "The Company Man" and continuing with the novella "The Company Dick" ... be of good cheer. I'm about 10K words into "The Company Mole."

May 19 update:  I'm pleased to append, in breaking news, that "Paradise Regained" (indeed, the very same tale as mentioned above) was just announced as the short-story winner in the Analytical Laboratory (Analog readers poll) for 2017. You can find all the winners at Anlab Readers' Award Winners.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Arrrrgh!

And no, today's post isn't a further complaint about Yahoo Mail.  (In fact, they've actually begun in recent weeks to get a handle on spam.)

Nor much of a post at all.

One of the household PCs was picked (targeted?) this week for the latest Windows 10 "feature" update. The new features, as far as I can tell are:
  • Breaking my non-MS antivirus software
  • Breaking the UI to my non-MS cloud-backup service
  • Changing at least one past authorization in the firewall
  • Failing to support the installer for the only supported iteration of Adobe Reader

Well done, Microsoft! Love these new features!

So: rather than blog this week, I'm doing other things :-(