Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Solar Eclipse Combo

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day sounds like an eclipse chaser's nightmare...clouds, setting Sun...but makes for a wonderful picture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sky Glow with Aurora Dog

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the night skies over Alaska. Some nice stars ("mouseover" for a constellation guide) and the glowing aurora that happens to look like a dog.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lunar Transition

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing the full Moon becoming the Blood Red Moon and returning to plain old full Moon again.

Oh, Look. Another List

Another list of best science fiction and fantasy, this time from The Telegraph. Now, this is the best of all time, so you can all put your pens and pencils down and stop writing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Free Flying

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Suitsat-1, a discarded Orlan spacesuit filled with a transmitter and discarded clothing. Believe it or not, ground observers actually spotted Suitsat-1!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Subtle Details

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a annular (nearly total) solar eclipse. Look at the subtle details that are visible at the moment of near-totality.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My God, It's Full of Stars!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a Hubble Space Telescope (happy "birthday"!) image of Messier 5 in the constellation of Libra.

On Writing

Online friend Damien Walter suggests a couple of writing guides for the beginning writer of genre fiction. I'd toss in a couple of titles by Samuel R. Delany and others (you can't go wrong with The Jewell-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, for example, but both might be more a "graduate course"), but this is a fantastic starting place (especially the Jeff VanderMeer title).

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Lyrid meteor shower from the southern hemisphere viewpoint of the Atacama desert in Chile. "Mouseover" the picture to get a constellation guide.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Very Very Frightening

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us our quiet Earth.

Hugo Nominations

Hearkening back to this posting and this posting, the Hugo nominations and the Retro Hugo nominations have been announced.

Interesting to see where I "hit" and where I did not. And interesting to look at the nominees as a whole, not specific titles, names or categories.

There has already been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Folks, you can't have it both ways. You can't ask people to lay out the money (it costs money to nominate and vote in the form of one of the levels of membership) to participate and then complain because they don't vote your way.

Instead, if you have a problem with a name or names on the list, lay out the money, get your friends to lay out the money and vote your way. Period. End statement.

There also have been some complaints about people (including one publisher) putting up names or a "slate". What happens on a person's blog or mailing list is (as far as I'm concerned) "free speech". Don't like it? Put up your own slate. (Heck, I did.) I'd rather more publishers try and promote works that are eligible, especially in terms of editors for the long form category. That one category gave me so many headaches trying to find (a) who was an editor at various firms; and, (b) who edited what in 2013.

My only complaint is that the short story category was again shorted due to a silly "five percent" rule. It's a very diverse and wide category, there are many publications. How about we change that rule to make sure that all the slots are filled?

Addendum (April 23, 2014): After a few days of reading articles and blog posts and listening to podcasts on this subject, it seems to me that too many people are focusing on a very tiny number of "negatives" on this year's ballot rather than a very large number of positives. Seriously, look at the categories. Look at Best Related Work, for example. I am hard pressed to make a decision between so many excellent nominations.

Less talk, more action. Vote, encourage your friends to vote. Discuss some of these wonderful books and podcasts, articles and magazines!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Closeup: New Worlds

One of my favorite astronomy books was a volume co-written by Ben Bova Trudy Bell, featuring the artwork of Rick Sternbach that came out with the initial years of the so-called "Golden Age of Solar System Exploration" (a era we are still in...but which is in danger of being throttled by lack of initiative, leadership and budget).

We are now in the early phase of the Golden Age of Extra-Solar Exploration, something that will never end (unless said lack of initiative, leadership and budge continues and worsens). One of the most prolific of instruments leading the way is the Kepler Space Telescope, and the best-case (to date) analogue for another Earth was recently announced. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives us an artist depiction of Kepler-186f, not only Earth-sized, but within the "habitable zone" of its home system.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Beans of Coruscating Light!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows our Moon apparently under attack from the Martians.

Better Late...

How the heck did I overlook the latest Ansible from Dave Langford? For shame, for shame! Come for the news, stay for the Thog.

A Dark and Hungry Thog Arises (2). 'Even if his brain had decided to pull away from her before he became helplessly enmeshed in Angus's plots, his body might have remained where it was.' 'Implications came into focus in the light as if his strong fingers held them down on the desktop for her to see.' 'With his mouth full of ash and fatality, he recognized that before long he was going to go mad.' 'His hands thrashed like dying fish at the end of his arms.' 'He'd run out of choices. His simple, reasonable, and above all secure buggery had been turned against him.' 'Locking his legs, he tried to thrust his hips up and forward. At exactly the wrong moment he stumbled.' 'Morn rose as if she were going to sail through the top of her head.' (all Stephen R. Donaldson, The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises, 1992) [AR]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

When Hollywood Attacks

While (finally, yes, finally) watching The Avengers today, I got to wondering: which has been destroyed more, New York City or Tokyo. One friend made the argument that every alien fleet in Doctor Who follows a big sign that says "This Way To London!" but you could make the counter-argument that London is more invaded than actually destroyed. Another friend made the argument that if you toss in anime Tokyo gets destroyed more.

The debate will no doubt rage longer, but in the meantime, here's a (mostly complete) compilation of various attacks on the continental United States of America. Enjoy your popcorn.

Birthing Process

Has the Cassini Orbiter spotted a new Saturnian moon in the making?

Addendum: A few more details here.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a star-forming globule inside nebula IC 1396 in the constellation of Cepheus. A star has ignited inside the globule, and will eventually "eat" both it and much of the region around it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Backbone of the Sky

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us the arch of the Milky Way from the summit of Haleakala on Maui, Hawai'i. "Mouseover" the picture for some constellation guides.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Big Red

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Mars as it appears in a "amateur-class" telescope in the night sky.


"...a fantasy role-playing game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings".

Hey, sounds like a fun time, no? The hysterical history of hysteria surrounding roleplaying games, especially Dungeons & Dragons.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

They Ride! They Ride!

The Three Hoarsemen become Four and ride again (forth?) to discuss Charles Sheffield, Anne Leckie and what bits and pieces of the genre we've experienced since our last episode.

Here's our complete feed of episodes, and might I point you towards some of my personal favorites, such as our discussion of Nova by Samuel R. Delany, the works of C.L. Moore and the works of Warren Ellis? Enjoy!

Fourth Rock and Fifth Rocks

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Mars as it currently appears in the night sky, at it's brightest in years. Much fainter are Ceres and Vesta, two of the asteroids further out from our home star.

Also in the evening sky you'll be able to easily spot Jupiter and Venus is very easily seen in the morning sky. Get out and look!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


In the latest episode of The Three Hoarsemen, we are joined by Guest Hoarseman Paul Weimer and discuss the works of Charles Sheffield.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video of a depiction showing Asteroid (10199) Chariklo, recently discovered to have not one, but two, rings of debris orbiting it. Where's there's one, there's bound to be many!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Different Angle on It

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is somewhat grainy but is of something that few have viewed (and none have seen "on location"): a solar eclipse, as viewed on the Moon.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tiger! Tiger!

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows fresh "tiger stripes" (signs of a possible ocean inside the moon) on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. What lies beneath?

Friday, April 4, 2014


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of a sight I've only detected from the darkest skies of my (limited) travels: the Veil Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Evening Star

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows one of the evening stars in our night sky: Mars. "Evening star" is a leftover when the planets were tagged as Evening Star or Morning Star when they appeared in one part of the night or the other. No, it won't become as big (or bright) as the Moon, but it is quite a nice sight to behold.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014: March Readings

What? Another month come and gone? goes the reading?

Books read: Twenty-seven (out of a goal of at least 60)!

Short works read: Two-hundred and sixty (out of a goal of 365)!

Not too shabby. I had a couple of boosts in that a chunk of the reading was done in preparation for the one podcast I am participating in, The Three Hoarsemen, over at SF Signal. That provided reading clocked for earlier in the year and for this month (the Sheffield) titles.

The Sheffield re-reads have been fun. Some of the books I've read many times (The various stories that make up The Compleat MacAndrew). Others I haven't read since they first came out (Hidden Variables). They will come up on the next episode of The Three Hoarsemen (recording soonish).

Onwards and upwards!

The Coming Technological Singularity

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day provides definitive proof as to why we'll never have a robot uprising.