Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Some highs and lows of high tech

Indulging my interest in high tech, let's consider some recent news items on that theme.

At the core of the matter :-)
We'll start with the teaser that "Intel and Micron Announce 'Revolutionary' Mystery Memory." Most everything these industry leaders have to say generally merits attention -- but when they talk about "a new form of nonvolatile memory that the companies say is 1000 times speedier than NAND Flash and ten times denser than DRAM," one really should take notice. I look forward to hearing more about the new technology -- and how (assuming it progresses to the product stage) it will impact computer architectures.

From the tiny domain of modern microelectronics, let's turn to the vast realm of space. Regarding the latter, a Canadian firm has proposed a new type of space elevator.

First step is a doozie
Traditionally (and here I quote myself from "Alien Adventures: Rising to the Challenge," in the October 2015 issue of Analog), a space elevator is "just what it sounds. Rather than rocket into space -- carrying fuel to carry the fuel to carry yet more fuel ... to carry a comparatively tiny payload -- creep up a long cable in an elevator car. The elevator ride will take days, not minutes, but it will be far more economical, and far more environmentally friendly, than rocketry. First proposed in 1895, the space-elevator concept was popularized by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1979 novel, The Fountains of Paradise."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A(n inter)stellar start to the day

Not to step on my lede, the finalists for the inaugural Canopus Award, given for interstellar-themed SF, were announced today. And in the novel category -- well, that's the (inter)stellar news. I'll come to that.

First, some background ...

It's been nearly a year since I posted about participating in a 100 Year Starship Symposium (as one topic among several in "Nanotech and starships and fusion, oh my!"). 100YSS.org, seeded with NASA and DARPA funding, headed by physician and onetime shuttle astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, is an awesome organization, its five-year mission: "To boldly go ..." (No, wait. That's another interstellar organization.) 

And the mission of 100YSS?
We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth. We actively seek to include the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration.
And why this made my day? Still coming.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


(Not a typo. What were you thinking?)

As happens from time to time, I'm posting today with eclectic items of interest -- interesting to me, in any event -- that are, despite their esoteric variety, nonetheless  germane to this blog.

First up: the latest progress to be reported by the nascent DC-area Museum of Science Fiction (MOSF). I figure that I should -- before the third quarter ends -- pass along the MOSF's second-quarter report.

And an MOSF preview: I suspect that an item to be reported for the third quarter, when its progress summary becomes available, will be the "MOSF Journal of Science Fiction." In brief: the museum, in partnership with nearby University of Maryland, is setting up an academic journal focused on SF.

Now meaningfully available
And the one commercial update within this stream-of-association post ... For entirely uninteresting reasons, the print edition of my time-travel-themed chapbook, A Time Foreclosed (2013), has been available -- using the modifier ironically -- only with a weeks-long shipping lag. Big surprise: people don't care to wait that long for a book. Today I'm happy to report that, as of a few days ago, Amazon is offering a new ATF print edition -- without that delay, and for a mere $4.99. (ATF remains available as an ebook, of course, for your instant gratification -- for just 99 cents.)

And speaking of said dominant etailer ...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Forces of Nature

"Like a force of nature" is a common enough simile. I suspect I've used it on occasion. Hopefully I haven't used it trivially, because the forces of Nature are (in another too often trivialized term) awesome ...

The forces of Nature in this post aren't similes. In recent, post-Hugo, post-Worldcon comments, I mentioned that my wife and I took a vacation immediately after the con. Three destinations on our itinerary offer opportunities to reflect on the true forces of Nature.

(And speaking of my recent posts, an aside. If, when you read this, it's still September 2015, you might want to check out my too narrowly titled post "Holiday-weekend reading." One of my publishers is running a month-long special on ebook editions of two of my non-series novels. For one of these novels, you can choose your own price. Even free. Now back to today's topic ...)

Clements Mtn. (with glacier)
First, Glacier National Park in Montana. One force of Nature, forest fire, manifested in a thick haze well before we arrived. Until a few days before said arrival, I wondered if we'd even be able to make this stop. Parts of the park remained off-limits to tourists throughout our visit.

We never got close to any of the eponymous glaciers, and smoke softened some spectacular vistas. One glacier, glimpsed from a distance -- with the haze from recent forest fires all too evident -- is shown above. And surely the seismic forces that raise such mountains likewise demonstrate Nature's incredible power.

We also drove through sections of the park where everything had burned, the landscape reduced to the appearance of a telephone-pole convention. I don't have any pictures of those sad, bare, scorched trunks. We followed the park rangers' admonitions not to stop along that part of the road.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Holiday-weekend reading

I'm playing catch-up -- still -- from twelve days away for Worldcon and an immediately following vacation. But my overflowing to-do list doesn't mean you should go without something of mine to read ...

Phoenix Pick, the publisher (more precisely, the re-publisher) of a couple of my novels, is featuring both books throughout September. Small Miracles, a near-future medical-nanotech thriller, is available all month as an ebook for whatever you choose to pay

Beware miracles with a mind of their own

Meanwhile Fools' Experiments, a near-future novel of artificial intelligence and artificial life, is deeply discounted. Try either. Or try both.

We are not alone ... and it’s our own damn fault.

Curious? Of course you are. Check out the Phoenix Pick deals of the month. Or click the cover image of either book to read a bit more about it on my authorial website.

And in any event ... enjoy your holiday weekend and the end of summer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Hugo Awards / life goes on

First things first! During my week-plus, post-Hugo Awards disappearance from social media, many people emailed, messaged, or otherwise contacted me with well-wishes and support. Some people inferred from my silence that I was taking it hard that (a) "Championship B'tok" did not win a Hugo in its category and/or (b) the Puppy-related nominees (my story being in that category) were, as a group, rebuked in the voting.

To everyone who reached out: thanks! I apologize if I caused anyone undue concern. I appreciate the kind notes and solidarity. (And I will respond, directly and individually, to each of you. It'll just take a few more days.)  

Ed & Ruth at Hugo reception
Would I have liked to take home a rocket? Sure. Even more, though, I'd have preferred -- as will be discussed later in this post -- that the overall awards situation had been different.

But in the greater scheme of things? I'm good. No, better than good. The con was fun. I caught up with friends from around the country, went to some great parties, met with lots of fans, and took part in interesting panels. I even brought home a memento I can wear at Worldcons ever after (click/enlarge the image above to see my official Hugo Nominee rocket lapel pin).

My recent absence from the web has a simple explanation: Ruth and I went from Sasquan in Spokane straight to Glacier National Park in Montana. From there we went to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, then to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I'm just now back online. Someday, perhaps, I'll blog about those parks -- geology and ecology are also apt topics for SF and Nonsense.

(Either way, there's nothing like seeing up-close and personal the truly awesome power of Nature to put our petty squabbles into perspective. And if I'd had a decent Internet connection -- which, usually, I didn't -- I had different goals for my vacation time than hanging out on the web.)

For today, I'll focus on the Hugo situation. I'll begin by offering the sentiments I had hoped (but not expected) to have the opportunity to share at the Hugo ceremony. The people I would have recognized that night still deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated.

So -- after some happily surprised stammering -- what would I have said had the balloting gone differently?