Friday, November 30, 2007

Next Shuttle Flight

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for launch on Thursday at 1:31 PM Pacific Standard Time. It will be the 152nd human crewed US space flight and the 121st time a space shuttle has been launched. Besides hauling up the Columbus Module for the International Space Station, it will also be taking up a spare part for the grinding solar panel joint. The Columbus Module is 23 feet long and 15 feet in diameter. It will add 2648 cubic feet of living space to the station. It has a mass of more than 22,700 pounds.

Currently the International Space Station has more living space than an average 3 bedroom house; when it is completed in 2010, it will be larger than a 5 bedroom house.

Cover Illustration on Amazon is the first of the online booksellers to display the cover image of my forthcoming book:

Oddly, my name is mispelled on the cover image. It was not mispelled on the color proofs I recieved. I do hope the actual books don't have my name mispelled on the cover. That would be annoying.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.

Spider Robinson, "Callahan's Law"

Thursday, November 29, 2007


By way of Jerry Pournelle's website I found this video. It is interesting. Here is the description of it:

In this bracingly honest and funny talk, international security strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering US military: Break it in two. He suggests the military re-form into two groups: a Leviathan force, a small group of young and fierce soldiers capable of swift and immediate victories; and an internationally supported network of System Administrators, an older, wiser, more diverse organization that actually has the diplomacy and power it takes to build and maintain peace.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Nothing can astound an American...In America, all is easy, all is simple; and as for mechanical difficulties, they are overcome before they arise. Between Barbicane's proposition and its realization no true Yankee would have allowed even the semblance of a difficulty to be possible. A thing with them is no sooner said than done.

Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon (1865)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

We are always living in the final days. What have you got? A hundred years or much, much less until the end of your world.

Neil Gaiman, Signal to Noise

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Robotic Exoskeleton

Like something from Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers :

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

My duty is not affected by what others may or may not do to discharge their own.

David Weber, quote from Honor Harrington in On Basilisk Station (1993)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I write as clearly as I am able to. I sometimes tackle ideas and notions that are relatively complex, and it is very difficult to be sure that I am conveying them in the best way. Anyone who goes beyond cliche phrases and cliche ideas will have this trouble.

Alien Critic, August, 1973

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.

Gordon R. Dickson

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

To think that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to think imitation is superior to invention.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination (2004)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why Peace is Hard to Come By in the Middle East

In exchange for peace with Egypt, Israel gave back the entire Sinai peninsula, including the only oil wells that Israel had. Israel wants peace more than just about anything and is willing to do just about anything in order to get it.

People seem to forget how the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and Golan Heights happened to come into Israel's possession. Hint: several nations attacked Israel but lost the war with them. Oddly, although the Arab states had controlled those regions from 1948-1967, the PLO, formed in 1964 never attacked Jordan, Egypt or Syria; they only threatened Israel; and no one suggested, between 1948-1967, that Jordan, Egypt or Syria establish a Palestinian state, despite the fact that the original UN mandate that created Israel as a Jewish state also created a Palestinian Arab state that Jordan, Egypt and Syria merely annexed for themselves.

And yet Israel is commonly criticized as somehow being intransigent and the cause of all conflict. Of course, such critics of Israel seem unaware--and unwilling to become aware--of what the Palestinians believe and say. The Palestinians voted Hamas into power in Gaza. What does Hamas believe? What are their goals? What do they want?

Hamas has a charter. You can read it in translation.Here is an interesting passage from the Hamas charter:

Peaceful Solutions, Initiatives and International Conferences:

Article Thirteen:

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."

Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?

"But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah." (The Cow - verse 120).

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with. As in said in the honourable Hadith:

"The people of Syria are Allah's lash in His land. He wreaks His vengeance through them against whomsoever He wishes among His slaves It is unthinkable that those who are double-faced among them should prosper over the faithful. They will certainly die out of grief and desperation."

So tell me again, who is it that's setting roadblocks in the way of peace? And how, realistically, do we fix this sort of problem? And some people wonder why Hamas is considered a terrorist organization.

Delusions of Grandeur

According to the American Heritage Dictionary:

Paranoia, noun, A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason.

The British newspaper The Telegraph reports (via New Scientist):

Forget about the threat that mankind poses to the Earth: our activities may be shortening the life of the universe too.

The startling claim is made by a pair of American cosmologists investigating the consequences for the cosmos of quantum theory, the most successful theory we have. Over the past few years, cosmologists have taken this powerful theory of what happens at the level of subatomic particles and tried to extend it to understand the universe, since it began in the subatomic realm during the Big Bang.

Cosmologists claim by observing dark energy the universe has been nudged closer to its death.

But there is an odd feature of the theory that philosophers and scientists still argue about. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that we change things simply by looking at them and theorists have puzzled over the implications for years.

They often illustrate their concerns about what the theory means with mind-boggling experiments, notably Schrodinger's cat in which, thanks to a fancy experimental set up, the moggy is both alive and dead until someone decides to look, when it either carries on living, or dies. That is, by one interpretation (by another, the universe splits into two, one with a live cat and one with a dead one.)

New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have accidentally nudged the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

The damaging allegations are made by Profs Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and James Dent of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, who suggest that by making this observation in 1998 we may have caused the cosmos to revert to an earlier state when it was more likely to end. "Incredible as it seems, our detection of the dark energy may have reduced the life-expectancy of the universe," Prof Krauss tells New Scientist.

As if some people didn't already harbor exalted notions about the power of the human race to destroy its environment...

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The sun was setting, throwing a fog-like dusk across the stream and trees, and there was a coolness in the air. It was time, I knew, to be getting back to camp. But I did not want to move. For I had the feeling that this was a place, once seen, that could not be seen again. If I left and then came back, it would not be the same; no matter how many times I might return to this particular spot the place and feeling would never be the same, something would be lost or something would be added, and there never would exist again, through all eternity, all the integrated factors that made it what it was in this magic moment.

Clifford D. Simak, Cemetary World

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Future Space

Assuming NASA's budgets remain at current levels, this should happen.

If not, it will still happen in some fashion, since folks like Rutan, Bigelow, and Musk (among others) are on the task privately.

Future Space

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.

Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100 (1953), postscript

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Future Space

The Ares V, which should go into operation around 2015 (with the Ares I, which will launch the Orion) is a heavy lift vehicle with the same lift capacity as a Saturn V. It is designed primarily for the new Lunar program (and ultimately the Mars program). It will be possible to use it for other things too...

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.

Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyse yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it.

Octavia Butler

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon's Kindle

Amazon has just released a new ebook reader which sounds really interesting to me:

Utilizing a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper. The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic displays. As a result, Kindle can be read as easily in bright sunlight as in your living room.The screen never gets hot so you can comfortably read as long as you like.

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—we take care of the hassles so you can just read....

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.

And because we know you can't judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out—if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read.

We're very proud to introduce Amazon Kindle and we hope you like it as much as we do.

Check the Amazon website, and watch the video demonstration and what several very well known authors have to say about it: Amazon Kindle

Now, if I can only come up with the money for it. I doubt I can sell my children. The Kindle reminds me of those pads they used for reading in Star Trek.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to be controlled by good people, by people who love you.

Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

According to Wikipedia, several schools around the world have adopted Ender's Game as required reading, some for its psychological aspects, others for its science fiction background, including the Marine Corps University at Quantico, where it is used as a textbook on the psychology of leadership. The book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best science fiction novel.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The void in his mind athrob for the soothing pressure of knowledge.

Jack Vance, The Dying Earth

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed.

William Gibson, author of Neuromancer. Wikipedia points out:

The word "cyberspace" (from cybernetics and space) was coined by science fiction novelist and seminal cyberpunk author William Gibson in his 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and popularized by his 1984 novel Neuromancer. The portion of Neuromancer cited in this respect is usually the following:

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...

Gibson later commented on the origin of the term in the 1996 documentary No Maps for These Territories:

All I knew about the word "cyberspace" when I coined it, was that it seemed like an effective buzzword. It seemed evocative and essentially meaningless. It was suggestive of something, but had no real semantic meaning, even for me, as I saw it emerge on the page.

Gibson also coined the phrase "meatspace" for the physical world contrasted with Cyberspace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Private Space Flight

Armadillo Aerospace attempted to win the Northrop-Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge this year at the X-Prize Cup but was not successful.

According to Wikipedia:

Armadillo Aerospace is an aerospace startup company based in Mesquite, Texas. Its initial goal is to build a manned suborbital spacecraft capable of space tourism, but it has stated long-term ambitions of orbital spaceflight. The company was founded in the year 2000, and was incorporated on January 1, 2001....

Armadillo is headed and has been largely funded by John Carmack, a developer of computer games including the Doom and Quake series. All of its employees (including Carmack) have other, full-time jobs and contribute their efforts twice weekly to Armadillo on a voluntary basis. Armadillo has a relatively small budget and is not supported by aerospace companies or agencies like NASA, ESA, or Boeing. Armadillo Aerospace has publicly declared itself fully self-funded.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Memories and possibilities are ever more hideous than realities.

H.P. Lovecraft, "Herbert West: Re-Animator" in "Home Brew" Vol. 1, No. 1 (February 1922)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life Aboard the International Space Station

The station has the interior volume of a three bedroom house. It is the largest spacecraft ever constructed--and it's still being built.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, 'Can't you remember anything I told you?' and lets fly with a club.

John W. Campbell, Jr., late editor of Analog Science Fiction Magazine

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The importance of information is directly proportional to its improbability.

Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer's Hammer, with Larry Niven

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Private Space Flight

Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) reports that it has completed development of its Merlin 1C next generation liquid fueled rocket booster engine. It is among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the performance of the Boeing Delta II main engine and the Lockheed Atlas II main engine. It's performance is about the same as that of the Saturn V F-1 engine.

The Merlin 1C in its Falcon 9 first stage configuration has a thrust at sea level of 95,000 pounds. The Merlin 1C will power SpaceX's next Falcon 1 mission, scheduled to lift off in early 2008 from the SpaceX launch complex in the Central Pacific atoll of Kwajalein. SpaceX's far larger Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled for its first launch in late 2008, will employ nine Merlin engines on its first stage, and one on the second stage. The Falcon 9 will produce over a million pounds of thrust: about four times the thrust of a Boeing 747. The Falcon 9, besides launching unmanned satellites, is designed to eventually loft the six passenger Dragon spaceship, currently being developed by SpaceX and planned for a test flight as early as late 2008.

The Merlin engine is the first new American booster engine developed in the last ten years. In 2008, SpaceX expects to manufacture about 50 Merlin 1C engines, a number that exceeds the booster engine output of any country except Russia.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Philip K. Dick

Monday, November 12, 2007

Delta IV First Launch (2004)

Saturday night's first operational launch of the Delta IV Heavy was in the dark. Here's the first ever launch of the vehicle, but during daylight.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

The best time to write a story is yesterday. The next best time is today.

R. A. Lafferty, It's Down the Slippery Cellar Stairs

First Operational Launch of the Delta IV Heavy

United Launch Alliance successfully launched the first operational Delta IV Heavy expendable launch vehicle for the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, November 10, at 8;50 PM EST from Space Launch Complex-37. It was carrying the service's Defense Support Program-23 satellite.

The Delta IV Heavy (Delta 9250H) uses two strap-on boosters which are separated earlier in the flight than the center booster. The capacity (separated spacecraft mass) of the Delta IV Heavy:

geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) 13,130 kg (28,950 lb), more than any other currently available launch vehicle

geosynchronous orbit (GEO) 6,275 kg

escape orbit 9,306 kg

It stands 253.2 feet tall at launch, compared to a Space Shuttle which stands 149.6 feet tall at launch, or compared to the Saturn V that stood 363 feet tall. The Delta IV Heavy's total mass at launch is approximately 733,000 kg, much less than that of the Space Shuttle (2,040,000 kg).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kaguya in Orbit Around the Moon

The Japanese satellite Kaguya is now in orbit around the moon. It recently sent back the first High Definition TV views of the lunar surface from about 100 kilometers up.

The YouTube video version is obviously not high definition quality, but it is still interesting.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.

Attributed to David Brin, author of The Uplift War, which won the 1988 Hugo Award.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of it is crud.

The Revelation: Ninety percent of everything is crud.

Corollary 1: The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and it is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere.

Corollary 2: The best science fiction is as good as the best fiction in any field.

Theodore Sturgeon

Private Space Flight

Memories of SpaceShipOne:

SpaceShipTwo is coming...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Strange Indie Band for a Friday Night

If you're bothered by bad language don't watch this video, We Are All Going to Hell:

On the other hand, it's funny.

I don't know anything about the Bastard Fairies, but their songs made me laugh. If you enjoyed We Are All Going to Hell, be sure to check Whatever:

Also funny. I think. But then I am sort of warped.

Unusual Book Title of the Day

Eleven years a drunkard, or, The life of Thomas Doner: Having lost both arms through intemperance, he wrote his book with his teeth as a warning to others, by Thomas Doner. Forty-two pages long, it was published in 1880. Amazon lists it as "currently unavailable."

Friday Morning Zombie Attack has an interesting (and amusing) article entitled Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis, by Renée Friedman:

On the other hand, in support of the earlier date, some have claimed that the famous Palette of Narmer (ca. 3000 B.C.), also from Hierakonpolis, far from recording a victory in the war of unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, is instead a celebration of the successful repulse of a zombie attack. Although we tend to focus on the verso where the king is shown smiting a kneeling enemy, it is the other side that is actually the front. It is the side with the depression for mixing the cosmetics for adorning the cult statue, and so it would seem that the scene of the king marching in procession to view a pile of decapitated bodies is the really important message. Nevertheless, while this scene may be evidence for zombie activity, reliance solely on pictorial records for such claims is scientifically questionable at best. There may be more to this in that Narmer's name means catfish-chisel, which sounds strange, and a catfish and chisel appear on the palette. But this could make sense if the palette refers to a victory over zombie forces. Perhaps Narmer wielded a large Nile catfish, Clarias?, grasping the tail and using it as a sort of black jack to stun the zombies, then removed their heads with a chisel. While it is an attractive idea, no serious archaeologist would hang their fedora on it without further evidence.

Read the whole thing.

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Coda 1979

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

People who put principles before people are people who hate people. They don’t much care about how well it works, just about how right it is . . . they may even like it better if it inflicts enough pain.

John Barnes, A Million Open Doors

Space Highlights

The Space Shuttle Discovery landed on time Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Space Shuttle Atlantis moves toward the launchpad for a December 6 launch which will place the European laboratory module, Columbus, in orbit. Columbus is the next major piece of the space station.

Meanwhile, the crew of the space station will conduct three space walks this month to get ready for Columbus. The biggest job will be moving the Harmony node from the spot where Discovery just put it, to the place where it needs to be for Columbus.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Science Fiction Author Quote of the Day

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.

"Aliens Cause Global Warming" - A lecture at the California Institute of Technology (17 January 2003)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Bots are Back

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has launched a new website; it includes new animated content as well as clips from the old TV show. Check it out if you enjoyed MST3K.

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.

Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

Monday, November 05, 2007

Private Space Flight

SpaceX is another privately funded space company. Their goal is to develope orbital launch vehicles, including sending human crewed vehicles to the International Space Station. They have attempted twice to launch the Falcon 1; the first attempt failed shortly after launch. The second attempt, last March nearly made it to orbit:

Additional details can be found on their website, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation. The company is profitable, just broke ground on a new launch pad at Cape Canaveral, and intends to launch their first heavy lift vehicle, Falcon 9, in the fourth quarter of 2008. Their third attempt to send a Falcon 1 into orbit is scheduled for the first quarter of 2008.

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

I don't know how you perceive my mission as a writer, but for me it is not a responsibility to reaffirm your concretized myths and provincial prejudices. It is not my job to lull you with a false sense of the rightness of the universe. This wonderful and terrible occupation of recreating the world in a different way, each time fresh and strange, is an act of revolutionary guerrilla warfare. I stir the soup. I inconvenience you. I make your nose run and your eyeballs water.

Harlan Ellison

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Private Space Flight

Bigelow Aerospace, headquartered in Las Vegas, has placed two inflatable space station prototypes in orbit, Genesis I and II. They are both functioning normally. Their first human rated station is scheduled for launch by 2010. Images from Genesis II:

For more information, visit Bigelow Aerospace.

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

You are disoriented. Blackness swims toward you like a school of eels who have just seen something that eels like a lot.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy text adventure, published by Infocom.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

When a wise man does not understand, he says: "I do not understand." The fool and the uncultured are ashamed of their ignorance. They remain silent when a question could bring them wisdom.

Frank Herbert, The Godmakers

Friday, November 02, 2007

Private Space Flight

Scaled Composites is not the only private space program. The owner of has put a lot of time, money and effort into a vertical take off and landing vehicle.

About Books Today

As an undergraduate, I majored in history. I'm also a big fan of the science fiction subgenre, "alternate history." Therefore, I very much enjoyed the book What If and its sequel What If? 2, both filled with essays written by historians who ask that question about several pivotal points in history. What if things had gone the other way, what if the losers had somehow won? How would history of gone then?

CNN has a review of the first book, "Book asks what might have been"

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

The plans and schemes of tyrants are broken by many things. They shatter against cliffs of heroic struggle. They rupture on reefs of open resistance. And they are slowly eroded, bit by little bit, on the very beaches where they measure triumph, by countless grains of sand. By the stubborn little decencies of humble little men.

In the Heart of Darkness, by Eric Flint and David Drake

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Bible's Most Fascinating People

I got a nice email from my editor today; the dust jacket received final approval last week and so it is being "finished off" now. The books should be shipped from the printer around the middle of this month. I had wondered why the cover image hadn't shown up on any of the online bookseller sites yet. Now I know.

And remember, the book is already available for pre-order from all the online sites. The list price for the book is $24.95. So far, Amazon has the best deal that I've seen: $16.47, plus another five percent off if you pre-order now.

About Books Today

An interesting review of the new book The Year of Living Biblically in Books and Culture, It Is Written: Literalism ad absurdum, by Jana Riess:

We've all seen the email: a letter to a fundamentalist pastor thanking him for his helpful insights on how vital it is to live all the laws of the Bible. But, the letter-writer continues, this uncompromising stance does raise some sticky questions. How and when should you stone adulterers and Sabbath-breakers? What is the best way to inform your first wife that you'll be adding to the family by taking a second and third? How many human slaves should you strive to own, and where can they be purchased nowadays?

The point of the email, of course, is to sardonically highlight just how far we have come from the culture of biblical times, and how impossible it is to speak of living the Bible literally when our own world is so different. And yet many of us try, out of devotion, to arrive at an unspoiled, untainted biblical meaning—discovering how ancient ways of pleasing God might be relevant for our times.

Such is the agenda of A. J. Jacobs' achingly funny memoir The Year of Living Biblically. Jacobs, the author of The Know-It All, begins by describing himself as a secular Jew. ("I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. Which is to say: Not very.") In spite of his own detachment from religion, he is increasingly curious about the ways it influences 21st-century American life. Rather than standing on the sidelines or casting himself as an aloof pundit, he dives in head first and decides to spend a year living all the commandments of the Bible—that's right, all of them.

Read it all.

Science Fiction Quote of the Day

From Robert A. Heinlein:

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Stranger in a Strange Land