Tentacles The SF Reviews newsletter, 17th July 2006
Science Note 1- Neural Networks
"It's a rat trap Judy and we've been caught"
These are real neural networks, boyo, not those wimpy computer emulations. Read this thought-provoking article describing better ways to support and maintain networks of Rat neurons.
With this wonderful new technique, the neural networks last up to eleven weeks. I wonder if they'd last a bit longer if they were sprayed with anaesthetic every few hours. I've got to admit I find this somewhat disconcerting. It's not so much that I mind the idea of a few neurons splayed out like this, but at what number of neurons would self-awareness manifest? Is it ten thousand neurons or a million? Remember it doesn't have to be real self-awareness, it only has to think it's aware. I hate the idea of waking up and thinking "Wow, I'm me. And what's this I'm splayed out on?"
Science Note 2 – Faster than a speeding bullet
Britain gave up Concorde. British Airways wouldn't even sell it to Virgin. The UK no longer has any plans for supersonic flight.
Not every country is so technophobic. Japan is working away on a supersonic passenger plane. They've done a scale model unpowered flight test launched by a rocket to glide along at a leisurely 2.5 Mach. Check out the movie.
And hold on, what's this? Under the unassuming title of Prototype HTV unveiled to press at Tsukuba Space Center they've got a space shuttle due for a test flight in 2008!
Best Books This Month
Four books of this month's reviews are well worth a mention
I'm extremely pleased to have finally started reviewing Gibson's novels, not least because it means I get to read them again. "Neuromancer" was brilliant and unique when it came out, but it's clear how Gibson's writing improves with each book (even though his fans might not have initially enjoyed the improvements). It goes without saying that both "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero" are of course, immensely fab.
I'd enjoyed Christopher Evans' "Capella's Golden Eyes" back in the early '80s but hadn't seen any of his later work. When I bought "Mortal Remains" I was astounded at how exciting it was.
Worst Books This Month
I have a tough decision. It's going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you. Please understand that this is difficult for me. Unless I finesse my own ranking system, I'm going to have to mention one of my favorite authors in this section. And this isn't just any favored author. Oh no. This is the author who's currently holding the No. 1 in SF Reviews Best Books. Yes, it's Roger Zelazny and I'm going to list his book "Flare" as one of the worst books ever. It's good to get this done now, since I believe I'm going to have to include a few more of his books at a rather low ranking (I've just re-read the whole of the Amber series). So here we go
Bit of a shock finding a book by Jack Williamson in there as well.
But it has to be there, it was even worse than "Flare". It's close to Ian Wallace's "The Z Sting" in sheer awfulness and makes it in as the fourth worst book – so far – in my rankings.
This Month's Reviews
Thanks to Cindie for recommending the author Karen Traviss. As you can see I reviewed one of her book this month.
The Doctor, Again
Well, I wasn't going to mention Doctor Who, but tonight is the last episode and it's a Daleks v. Cybermen shootout. I'm anticipating an enjoyable evening. Forty-five minutes of watching the Doctor, then a hour or two of me, a little over-excited, running around the house exterminating a variety of soft furnishings, followed by dinner. Sadly, there'll be no Vodka Martini tonight, but that's another story.
Next Month's Reviews
Well, I didn't quite manage to get Joe Haldeman's "Camouflage" in this month, but It's on the list for next month. There will be a Vernor Vinge and another Tricia Sullivan.
That's all for now. As always, tell me what you think about the books, the reviews and the site. Do let me know if there are books you think I should review.