Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fantasy for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads

Ooh! It's released as of today. (In paperback, anyway. E-formats to follow). It is:
Amazon link
Fantasy for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads, edited by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton.

"Want something to read while you sit down for just a few minutes on the bus or in a waiting room? Here's just the thing -- Forty authors, forty stories, mostly under 2,000 words, mostly reprints. Grouped according to their themes--death, fairy tales, love, magic, and myth. You'll also find the usual suspects -- dragons, ghosts, gods, the undead, weres, and witches.

"Just remember--one sitting, one read! Others are waiting!"

(I'm pleased to disclose: among the forty entries is one of the rare fantasy stories by Yr. Humble Blogger. That's "Chance of Storms.")

Monday, September 10, 2018

Forward the (Faster Than?) Light Brigade

About that subject line:

by John Charlton (1847–1917)
It was impossible, as I sat down at the keyboard to blog, not to channel the Tennyson poem. Not after I'd noticed that this would be my 600th post!

Who'd a thunk it? Certainly not me. At least when (back in 2008! Almost exactly ten years ago!) I began blogging. 

So. Herewith: a small cheer. A medium huzzah. A hearty pat on my own back. Perhaps, even, a woo7.

And how might you observe the occasion? Perhaps by checking out some of the 599 previous posts in the blog archive.

Next post: something more SF and Nonsense-typical  ;-)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fingers flying ...

Have you been following, over at The Grantville Gazette, the "company man" story arc ? That's my SFnal homage to Dashiell Hammett's acclaimed -- and nameless -- "Continental op."

A beginning (of sorts)
First (May 2017) came "The Company Man." Next (September 2017) was "The Company Dick." And now, I am pleased to report, I've signed the paperwork from TGG for "The Company Mole." In the latest story, our nameless hero(?) confronts the direst -- and lengthiest -- phase yet of increasingly ominous circumstances. In fact, this latest tale will be split across two issues of the zine. Look for it in the November 2018 and January 2019 issues.

And -- with great enthusiasm -- I'm also happy to report finding myself a good 60 pages into the company man's climactic adventure: "The Company Bane." Woo7!

Monday, August 27, 2018

My visit to The Innovation Show

It was recently my privilege to be on The Innovation Show: "an international show for innovators." Host Aidan McCullen and I discussed a lot:
  • Augmented humanity
  • Cyborgs
  • Robots
  • Genetic therapy
  • Brain/machine interfaces
  • Autonomous weapons
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Super intelligence
  • Neural networks
  • Dystopia
  • The future skills of humanity
  • What we (humans) do when everything becomes automated
Let's just say, it was a busy three-quarters hour :-) 

The impetus for this interview? That would be last spring's release of Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction. (And in forty-eight minutes, we covered no more than a third of the topics in the book!)

Curious? Then check out the podcast at "The Science behind Science Fiction with Edward M.Lerner: Augmented Humanity, AI, Superintelligence."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Because what could *possibly* go wrong?

This article about the much-touted Tesla 3 -- an electric car for the masses (or, anyway, such members of that group as happen to have a spare $35K+) -- is, IMO, well worth reading.

I grant you: it is pretty.
I don't think I care to add anything beyond ... I'm not ready for this.

See "Behind the wheel of a Tesla Model 3: It’s a giant iPhone — for better and worse."

And I believe my reticence is for reasons beyond that I'm an Android guy :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What's up, Doc?

Astronomical news, of course :-)

Neutrinos are amazing particles. They interact so weakly with more familiar matter that it took decades to decide a neutrino had any mass at all. Aim a beam of neutrinos at a light-year thickness of lead, and half the neutrinos will emerge out the far side.

Our neighborhood neutrino factory -- aka, the Sun -- spits out a torrent of these particles. "Theoretical calculations say that about 65 billion neutrinos pass through every square centimeter region of the Earth's surface every second." (*) So how amazing is it that one neutrino recently made big news?
(*) "Nobel neutrinos

Blazar saddles?
IMO, pretty amazing. Because this extremely high-energy neutrino was correlated to a particular event: a blazar -- aka, an active galactic nucleus -- about four billion light-years (and years) distant. 

This correlation marks the first step toward a third type of observation in the nascent science of multi-modal astronomy. That is, in addition to traditional observations (using, from longest to shortest wavelengths: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-ray, and/or gamma-ray electromagnetic radiation) and -- for a very few years now -- gravitational-wave observations, we can now foresee combining neutrino observations. In a word: awesome.

For more on this particularly fascinating neutrino detection, see "Why a 4-Billion-Year-Old Particle That Hit Antarctica Is Such a Big Deal."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Curioser and curioser

Among the terrific -- and the terrible -- aspects of the web are the many odd articles that one somehow happens upon. Setting aside the disinformation among them, and the ulcer-inducing pieces, and the hoary repetitions, we're left with ... fascinating time sinks. Herewith, several such:

In the beginning?
How did life on Earth begin? There's lots of speculation, and precious little by way of answers. (I'm talking about biology here, not theology.) One theory is that life didn't begin on Earth, but arrived from elsewhere. That's the Panspermia ("all seeds") explanation. What if primitive life drifted to Earth from another star system(s) and, once here, then evolved?  

And almost as speculatively, what if humans could hibernate? What if, to conquer the vastness of the void between stars, humans could be put into -- and revived from -- some kind of suspended animation?

In seeming -- but certainly, incomplete -- support of both these "what ifs," consider: "Siberian Worms Frozen In Permafrost For Up To 42,000 Years Defrosted Back To Life." The ability of any terrestrial life to survive millennia frozen makes both Panspermia and human hibernation seem slightly less impossible.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The short and the short of it

My posts of late have focused on books and book reissues. I'm overdue with reporting what's new with my writing at shorter lengths ....

Let's start with the sale of a guest editorial to Analog. That's "Dystopic? Or Myopic?" (The first draft was for what I expected to be a post in this space -- but as it kept growing, I decided to redirect.)

Words leaking out of fingertips :-)
Next comes a short story: "I've Got the World on a String." As it happens -- and no spoilers here -- this story also involves some venting. "String" will appear in Galaxy's Edge.

And I've got another newly completed piece of short fiction out looking for its home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bring out your dead

No, this post isn't about Monty Python and the Holy Grail (though that movie is a hoot).

But just as the one guy in that particular scene isn't quite dead, today's post deals with something also still with us -- and yet, less than energetic. To wit: books from deep in one's back list. Any author who has been plying his craft for as long as I have has a a book or three like that. Case in point ....

For no discernible reason, this morning I found myself remembering my earliest collections. These contain stories of which I remain fond -- but the books don't get a lot of (read: any) visibility. Haven't in years ....

So: I'm going to indulge myself with a few words about these early authorial endeavors. If this post ends up only Your Humble Blogger taking a stroll down Memory Lane? I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

InterstellarNet: Complete

Three epic adventures ...
Some of my favorite work ...
All in one newly released, discounted ebook bundle! 

The entire InterstellarNet series
InterstellarNet: Origins. When the first call from the stars comes, do we even dare to answer?
"A wonderfully thought-provoking story ... Lerner's world-building and extrapolating are top notch.
-- SFScope
InterstellarNet: New Order. In which humanity discovers that meeting aliens face to face is very different -- and a lot more dangerous -- than sending and receiving messages.
"... A twisted plot complete with conspiracies, alien psychology, antimatter physics neep, AI spies, and plenty of shooting action at the end."
-- Internet Review of Science Fiction
InterstellarNet: Enigma. Humanity once feared that we might be alone in the universe. Now we know better. And it turns out there are far worse things than being alone ....
"An exceptional book in an excellent series .... If you enjoy a good story on a large scale told by sympathetic characters, read Interstellar Net: Enigma. If you enjoy space opera, space combat, and unlikely heroes saving the earth, you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy mysteries, the futuristic elements will not detract. This is one of the few novels that combine an action mystery with a sweeping science fiction and excels at being both."
-- Galaxy's Edge
And winner of the inaugural Canopus Award "honoring excellence in interstellar writing."
And of the overall InterstellarNet series:
"Edward M. Lerner’s InterstellarNet is one of the most original and well-thought-out visions of an interstellar civilization I've ever seen."
-- Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact
As I type, InterstellarNet Complete for the Kindle -- that is, the entire trilogy -- is available from Amazon and in other popular formats for only $9.99. Check your favorite ebook retailer.

Perhaps you're not ready for a three-book commitment. Fair enough. You can read about any individual InterstellarNet title by clicking its corresponding cover on the right. (For now, the first two of these standalone ebooks are each discounted to $4.99)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Life, the universe, and everything ...

And yet, the number 42 isn't involved :-)

The not-so-little observatory that could
Great observatories have (ahem) greatly extended our understanding of the universe. So, first, let us mark an imminent sad passing: "NASA put its famous planet-hunting telescope to sleep because it’s almost out of fuel: The Kepler Space Telescope’s life is finally coming to an end." This fine astronomical instrument detected more than 2K subsequently confirmed exoplanets (with more confirmations likely  yet to come). Quite the legacy.

The ESO VLT
Another fine instrument -- this one Earthbound: the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope -- has, for the first time, caught a planet in the very first stages of formation. See: "First confirmed view of a newborn planet: A planet coalesces from the disc of dust and gas around the dwarf star PDS 70."

The JWST. Much assembly required.
Alas, the it's-been-coming-forever James Webb Space Telescope -- NASA's long-heralded successor mission to the (fortunately still hanging in there) Hubble Space Telescope -- has hit another snag. As in, "NASA Delays Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Again — This Time to 2021."

That's one day's view of (viewing) the universe. As for the life part of the subject line, an over-hyped bit of last week's science news. First, an example of the more breathless reporting: "Large molecules show Enceladus 'clearly is habitable for life' " And here is a more cautiously (IMO, more precisely) worded version: "No, NASA Did Not Find Even 'Hints Of Life' On Enceladus."

And everything? That was everything for today ;-)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Who knows where the time goes?

(Yes, that's a Judy Collins song title and album. A very good -- if retro -- album as it happens. But take it as a point of departure.)

Yeah. That kinda week
I didn't post last week, not even an "I'm too busy to post" post. Trying to reconstruct where that week went, I see:
  • a routine dental exam
  • a routine eye exam (and hours thereafter during which the world was fuzzy)
  • a broken sprinkler system
  • overgrown bushes trimmed so the sprinkler people could get at the water cutoff
  • landscapers contacted because I have way more overgrown bushes than I care to deal with
  • a semi-repaired, aka semi-broken, sprinkler system to diagnose, and the return of the sprinkler people(*)
  • headsets researched; one acquired, installed, and tested for an upcoming authorial interview/podcast (more on that another day)
  • sysadmin duties on my wife's recalcitrant computer
(*) Hmm. "The Return of the Sprinkler People." A title yearning to become a story?

All that coming, of course, on top of life's usual distractions ....

When I managed to eke out time to actually work, I focused on "The Company Mole." This new novella follows my SF-mystery novelettes "The Company Man" and "The Company Dick," which appeared last year in The Grantville Gazette ("Universe Annex" Department).

And herewith the good news! A complete draft of "The Company Mole" is in the hands of my first and favorite reader, aka my wife. (Also, fair compensation for the aforesaid sysadmin services.) I have high hopes of wrapping up and submitting this story ere long.

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 August 10, 2018

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.

August 8, 2018 update: Podcast and "Paradise Regained" text available here. It's a fine performance.)

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 :-(

Monday, April 30, 2018

Trope-ing the Light Fantastic


I am pleased to announce the release today of Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction.

Trope-ing? There's a funny word! So what is this book?

In a nutshell: The essential resource for anyone who reads, writes, watches, or studies science fiction.

In a few more words, borrowed from the back cover:
Men have walked on the Moon. Siri and Alexa manage — at least often enough to be helpful — to make sense of the things we say. Biologists have decoded DNA, and doctors have begun to tailor treatments to suit our individual genetic make-ups. In short: science and tech happen.

But faster-than-light travel? Time travel? Telepathy? A six million dollar — as adjusted, of course, for inflation — man? Starfaring aliens? Super-intelligent computers? Those, surely, are mere fodder for storytelling. Or wild extrapolations. Just so many "sci fi" tropes.

Sometimes, yes. But not necessarily.

In Trope-ing the Light Fantastic, physicist, computer engineer, science popularizer, and award-winning science-fiction author Edward M. Lerner entertainingly examines these and many other SF tropes. The science behind the fiction.

Each chapter, along with its eminently accessible scientific discussion, surveys science fiction — foundational and modern, in short and long written form, on TV and the big screen — that illustrates a particular trope. The good, the bad, and occasionally the cringe-worthy. All imparted with wit (and ample references to learn more).

So forget what the Wizard of Oz advised. Let's pull back the curtain ....
And what's the early buzz? I'm happy you asked.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The clock is Trope-ing (er, ticking)

One short week from today, the fine folk at Phoenix Pick will release Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction.* As in:

The essential resource for anyone who reads, writes, watches, or studies science fiction.

(I've blogged more than once(!) about Trope-ing, but if you're new here -- welcome! -- here's the back story: "From mighty oak trees, little acorns grow.")

To order on Amazon
To order from Amazon
Being this near to publication of my first nonfiction book is exciting in its own right ... but isn't the ticking metaphor (whether it brings to mind time bombs or Neverland alligators) a tad overwrought? Nope. Not if you're a Kindle person. The pre-order discount for the Kindle edition disappears when, well, it's too late to pre-order. One week from today.

If you might be interested -- and given that you're visiting SF and Nonsense, how can you not? -- check out Trope-ing the Light Fantastic for Kindle. Because there's nothing wrong with a bargain :-)

(*) More specifically, the hardback and ebook editions will be released April 30, with the trade paperback edition to follow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Look! Up in the sky! ...

It's astronomy news!

And surely real news of astronomy beats an imaginary guy in tights and a cape.

The Mountains of Madness (er, Pluto)
Case 1: the mind-blowingly mobile mountains of Pluto. (Say that quickly ten times.) See "Pluto’s mountains may have slid along a kilometre a day."  That rate of motion isn't something you'd expect to see of a glacier on Earth, much less of ice mountains in the outer Solar System deep freeze. But facts are stubborn things ...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Move 'em on, head 'em out (the annual posts roundup)

Starting in the ancient past of 2011 with "Postscript (or is that post post?)", I've blogged every year around this date about popular posts here at SF and Nonsense. These annual summaries have always begun with the blog's top-ten, all-time hits -- but this year, I'm going to dispense with that bit of the tradition.  The all-time top ten remain the same as a year ago (see "Post posting"), differing only in a couple slight changes of position within the list.

Fine posts, every one
But recently popular posts? That's another story -- or ten stories, if you will ;-) and only two of these ten are also on that all-time list.

Herewith, the most popular ten posts for the past month (meaning the past thirty days, spanning a calendar-month boundary), Blogger providing that compilation.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Trope-ing update



Snapped moments ago from Amazon: Number 1 New Release in general technology and reference. Gotta admit, I like the sound of that.

(And incidentally, this Kindle edition of Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction is on sale till the release date, April 30. The hardback edition will also be out that day.)