Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What in the world(s)?

Had we but world enough, and time ...

One of the best known, best realized, most beloved worlds of science fiction is surely Dune, the centerpiece, eponym, and (in a sense) main character of Frank Herbert's most acclaimed novel. If you share even a fraction of my affection for the story/world, you're certain to enjoy " 'Dune' concept art shows the evolution of David Lynch's sci-fi vision" (for Lynch's 1984 film realization).

It IS a grand canyon
(If there is a flaw in Dune, it's homegenity: a "desert planet."  Why do I consider that a potential flaw? Because the one inhabitable world known to science is far from uniform. Check out -- everyone of 'em on Earth -- "50 of the most incredible natural phenomena you’ve ever seen.")

In the of-but-out-of-the-this-world category ...

How cookies get tossed
Since the dawn of the Space Age, astronaut training flights -- following porpoise-like climb/dive paths that emulate zero-gee in seconds-long spurts (pun intended ... wait for it) -- have been called Vomit Comets. In recent years, such flights have become (pricey) tourist attractions for space aficionados. But in the extravaganza that is the 50th anniversary of a certain popular magazine's most popular annual issue, we have a whole new, decidedly more attractive association with zero-gee flights. See "Kate Upton floats in space for 'Sports Illustrated'."

From out-of-this-world to what-in-the-world? ... if my preceding selection happened to offend you, perhaps I can redeem myself by being dismayed with this show of sexism within the genre: "Science Fiction Forum Shuns Women Writers: Warp Speed to the 'Assholocene Era'?"

If that last one didn't slay you, you might take a gander (or a goose, your choice) at "7 of the Most Shocking Sci-Fi Film Deaths."

Which demise is your guilty pleasure?

And in a final, near-other-worldly note, "NASA Tries to Rewrite the Book on Science Fiction." I wasn't one of the invitees to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for this outreach -- but I'm confident it was a lot of fun and will enhance a lot of stories.

(That prediction didn't require me going out on a limb. For seven years I was a NASA contractor, primarily supporting GSFC. In 2009, by then writing SF full time, I attended the then-NASA-subsidized Launchpad workshop: a week-plus astronomy boot camp for authors run by University of Wyoming astronomer [and sometimes SF author] Mike Brotherton. Yet more recently I consulted extensively with NASA scientist [and sometimes SF author] Geoffrey A. Landis in "building" a two-mile-square powersat and choosing a space rock to become Earth's second moon for my novel Energized. All that NASA influence certainly contributes to my world-building.)

Now I'm off to work on yet newer worlds ...

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