Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stars for the holidays

This being an SFnal blog and Christmas being almost upon us, what could be apter than a plug for Arthur C. Clarke's excellent short story "The Star"? If you haven't encountered it ... check it out. (Read the story before looking it up on the Wikipedia. The summary has a spoiler.)

Alpha Centauri
And that sorta, kinda begs the question: what's new in astronomy? I'm glad you asked!

For one, next-door neighbor Alpha Centauri is now known to have a planet! See "Earth-Size Planet Closest to Our Solar System: By The Numbers."

Closer to home (but not exactly homey), astronomers got their first good look at Makemake.  No, that's not a type of sushi. It's one of five (so far) recognized "dwarf planets" in the Solar system.  Makemake is about two-thirds the size of Pluto -- and (on average) even more remote. No atmosphere, either. For more, see "Dwarf planet Makemake examined for the first time."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

That's entertainment! / Books for the holidays

Many posts here at SF and Nonsense deal with science fiction. Some of the most viewed and commented-upon posts are about specific SF books. The odds are therefore good that you, Esteemed Visitor, are an SF reader.

I write SF for a living. Good friends do, too. Other good friends write in the evenings and on weekends, eagerly anticipating the day when they can also write full-time. All of which is to say, we and our colleagues produce the entertainment I have reason to believe that you enjoy.

So ...

In the upcoming season of gift-giving -- whether your observation of choice is Christmas or Festivus, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day or Boxing Day, Eid-al-Adha or Lohri, the winter solstice or the New Year ... or just holiday/post-holiday sales -- consider books. Print, e-, or audio ... they're all good.

Books aren't within your budget? Ask your library to acquire titles by your favorite authors. And let it be known what books you'd appreciate receiving as gifts.

My books? Genre books? Or any books? Your long-time favorite authors? Or experimenting with new authors? I (almost) don't care. I do care whether readers help to keep books (and publishing, and authoring) a going concern. Hopefully you want that, too.

And Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Move along, folks ...

Nothing to see here. Not this week. Nothing new, in any case. (But don't be shy. Check out the vintage stuff.)

Why this non-post? Life and deadlines intrude. Nothing bad, just stuff -- and stuffing -- that needs my attention. Yesterday, most of it.

Next week, after I'm recovered from the tryptophan coma (cue Ah-nold) ... I'll be back.

Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time out(s)

I've opined on this blog that time travel is a science-fictional trope -- but that doesn't mean I disapprove. Tropes endure in literature (and not only in SF) because they support great storytelling. And so, on occasion, I indulge ...

If you visit here from an interest in my SF writing -- or if you're curious about it -- I thought I'd mention my new time-travel novella. (A few years ago I did a time-travel novel: Countdown to Armageddon.  Before that, my time-travel short story "Grandpa?" became the award-winning short film "The Grandfather Paradox.")

Anyway ... "Time Out" will appear in the January/February issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

(Or is appearing. Apropos of time travel, we Analog subscribers already have this issue in hand or e-reader. The cover date is the latest you might expect to encounter the print edition at a bookstore. To further muddle the timeline, in e-book outlets the issue will linger for months after the cover date.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

While we wait ...

A very consequential election. The ongoing Superstorm Sandy mess/clean-up in the Northeast (with a nor'easter en route). Though today is my weekly day to post, my mind isn't on blogging -- and I believe that's understandable.

Sharing thought-provoking (or offbeat) science, technology, and SF items from my grab bag won't demand much concentration on my part (kinda essential today) and they may divert you.

Remember last year's tsunami in Japan? It caused shutdowns at, and radiation releases (but, to date, no radiation-related deaths) from, the four Fukushima nuclear power plants. It led several countries to move toward the complete elimination of nuclear power from their national grids. Remember the hyperventilating concern about US nukes in the event of natural disaster?

Almost lost in the coverage of Sandy's impacts is this: "Problems at Five Nuke Plants." What sort of problems? Amid countless storm-related grid disturbances, these nuclear plants responded as designed. One of the five "problems" was a plant dialing down its output to 91 percent of capacity. That seems (IMO) pretty tame compared to "ConEd Explosion During Hurricane Sandy Rocks Manhattan's Lower East Side" and "Outages, floods hit two New Jersey refineries; others restart." Nukes are a robust part of the national energy system. I'd like to see more of them.