The News At SF Reviews
NASA Perseverance Rover Successfully Lands On Mars
On February 18 the Perseverance Rover landed successfully on Mars. It's currently being checked out but is looking good. Perseverance Lands on Mars
Its mission: to search for evidence of past alien life, although I hope it'll keep an eye open for any current aliens into which it may bump.
As Perseverance landed, I recalled my childhood dream that the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian stories were real. I admit I felt a flicker of that maybe, just maybe, Perseverance might bump into the bones of a Thoat or Banth.
Forget NASA as a source for Martian resources, get your information direct from those who know: Encyclopedia Barsoom.
Gosh, Edgar started writing the "John Carter of Mars" books more than 110 years ago. There were other authors writing about journeys to other worlds, but think of the world they lived in. Telephones were new. Steam-engine cars were still being driven on the roads. The commercial production of motor vehicles with internal combustion engines started in Europe only 25 years before and took ten years to reach America. In fact that all-time rip-roaring classic road movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was set precisely when Edgar started writing John Carter novels. The Wright brothers had only just achieved powered flight.
NASA has named the landing site the Octavia E. Butler Landing. As you all know Octavia E. Butler was the fabulous SF writer who wrote the Kindred, the Patternist and Xenogenesis series amongst many others. Apart from numerous awards, she has both this Mars Landing site and an asteroid named in her honour.
I was up all night wondering where the sun had gone. Then it dawned on me
Life Under The Arctic Ice
The British Antarctic Survey has found life- barnacles and sponges - on a boulder 900m under an ice shelf. It's hard to understand how it could survive there.
We are finding life almost everywhere we look on Earth. It's only a matter of time before we find it off-Earth whether it's an asteroid, a moon or a planet. It'll be there. And we'll find it and exploit it, because that's what we do.
Biology is just applied chemistry
Lightspeed Fine Art
Let me give a shout-out to Lightspeed Fine Art. A fine collection of pop, comic and SF art. There are some excellent cover illustrations apart from all the other great stuff.
Chemistry is made up two activities: blowing thngins up and making drugs
Enjoying Orphan Black
Yes, I'm really out of date, but I only started watching “Orphan Black I'd disregarded it for months having no idea it was SF. So all of you out there have enjoyed it and exactly what happens while I'm still on a tightrope of tension wondering what new plot twist is coming up and who will die next. Great fun.and superb acting by Tatiana Maslany.
Biology is the only science where multiplication and division mean the same thing
Really Enjoying Expanse
Disaster! I've reached the end of "The Expanse" series 5 on Amazon Prime. I really didn't expect to finish so soon. Will I have o wait another year for season 6. Gosh it's great and I think it's even better if you've read the novels first.
According to chemistry, alcohol is a solution
The Name-That-Song Competition Has Been Won!
In the Harry Harrison "Homeworld" review I asked which song included the following words
Standing on the rooftops, waiting for a sign.
Pull your hand-grenade pin and I'll pull mine.
Well done to Steve from Scotland who correctly identified it as "Ascension Day" by World War Three and provided that YouTube link. Here's the cover:
Commiserations to John, not even a runner-up, with his suggestion that it might have been Abba.
Steve gets the brilliant (although not the NASA version) astronaut pen. It is on its way to him in sunny Scotland. Stick it in your pen pocket, Steve, and people will mistake you for an astronaut.
Nice one, Steve!
What I learned in the lab: hot glass looks the same as cold glass
Best Of The Reviews
Except for "Fortress World" they were all very good books. However, for best of this batch, I'll go for the top five:
Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider" is perfect: brilliant, prescient and immensely exciting. "Appleseed", "British Summertime" and "The Space Between Worlds" were astonishingly good. I can't recommend them too highly. Make sure you read these, but if you have time read all of this batch of books – they're all worthwhile.
Chemistry? It's like cooking. Just don't lick the sppon
For fans of books covers – and I count myself among those fans – I've added the ability to view book covers by the artist that created them – check out "By Artist" on the menu bar. You can also find the artist's covers via the Search page. Many books don't include the cover artist's name so I've no idea who illustrated those covers. Any information you can give me on assigning artists to covers would be gratefully received.
For various reason, and not just to get the covers online and searchable, you'll see that a number of books have been included but marked as not yet reviewed. They show as greyed out in the various listings. Do let me know your thoughts on this – I'm undecided whether to show or hide these unreviewed books.
News is now the landing page for the site. The old main page is now under About. This is just to save you all a mouse click.
I think I left Bromine and Boron in the cabinet. BrB
New Scientist has a intriguing article on four-dimensional space. Intriguing partly because I couldn't work if they were talking about a real four-dimensional space or an emulation of one. Either way it is very interesting. Check out We've built a fourth dimension of space and we're about to look inside.
I froze myself to -273C. My friedns were worried but I'll be OK
Mars Mole Fails
The Mars Mole has failed! Check out mole-ends-its-journey-on-mars.
The ground was too clumpy for the drill to make progress! Interesting but unfortunate. It's the wrong kind of dirt. Reminds me of British Rails' "wrong kind of snow" This proves the case for manned flights as the probe obviously just need someone there to give it a kick.
I heard that Oxygen and Magnesium were dating and I was like OMg!
Worst Of The Reviews
No novel was terrible. The lowest ranked one was the mediocre "This Fortress World" by James Gunn. However a young adult might rate it higher than I, in my stumbling and befuddled old age did.
Renewable Energy? I'm a big fan
NASA Parker Solar Probe
Wow isn't the Nasa's Parker Solar Probe just so cool. And what a great name! It will reaches its closest approach to the sun in four more years but meantime it's just flown by Venus. It's snapped photos at a distance o just 832km. And for the first time and totally unexpectedly, we've been treated to s phonograph showing Aphrodite Terra, a land feature, visible through the clouds. It had been thought we'd never be able to see through the heavy cloud covering the entire planet.
I bet Earth makes fun of other planets for having no life
Einstein developed a theory about space. And it was about time too
Virgin Galactic Almost Out There
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic expects to start carrying its commercial passengers next year. I know the date keeps getting postponed but surely it's going to be soon.
I mention Virgin Galactic purely so I can name drop. I met Richard Branson back when his Virgin Records was above a shoe shop in Oxford street, London. Well, I always thought I had met him. But now I see that Virgin Records never was above a shoe shop in Oxford Street, so perhaps it wasn't Mr. Branson. How amazing. I wonder who it could have been. Probably Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk I imagine. Did either of them ever have long hair?
A biologist, a chemist and a statistician go out hunting. The biologist shoots and misses one metre to the left. The chemist shoots and misses one meter to the right. The statistician yells “We got him!”
Next Month's Reviews
As usual, there's no chance that the next monthly newsletter will be out in a month. Two months is more likely, heck, maybe three. But I'll still be posting reviews so please keep checking back. Anyway, read the reviews and then read the books. That should soak up some of your time.
I'm hoping I'll be able to read "Escape Pod: The Science Fiction Anthology". I normally won't read short stories but I have a strong affection for Escape Pod - it was my constant companion when I was hospitalized and unable to read many years ago. Plus the authors are all really good. I loved Mur Lafferty's "Six Wakes" (and I'll publish a review real soon). I particularly want to read S. B. Divya's "Machinehood".
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.
And many thanks to CPLabSafety the Science Supply Store for almost all of the jokes in this newsletter.
A biologist, an engineer, and a mathematician were observing an empty building. They noted two people entering the building and sometime later observed three coming out.
The biologist remarked, "Oh they must have reproduced."
The engineer said, "Our initial count must have been incorrect"
The mathematician stated, "Now if one more person goes into the building it will be completely empty"