Links (2018-06-20)

Site News

Triggered by an SF news item below, I’ve updated the “List of Webzines.” The newer “List of Professional SF/F/H Magazines” is actually more relevant to what this site currently covers and includes not just the webzines but all the SFWA-qualifying markets (and links to the reviews of them) but the webzine page is still much more popular so I’ll try to maintain both.

(I’m also editing this post later in the day to reflect that the “Third Discussion” of the Cherryh novel was posted today (see the “Science Fiction” section below) and to add a humor item.)






Centauri Dreams

After playing catch-up, here’s a Top 10 list (plus guest post) from the last 50 or so posts over the last couple of months or so. (I’m telling you, Centauri Dreams is one of the best sites on the web.)

  • Holographic Sails for Project Starshot? — Homage to Bob Forward. This guest post by Greg Matloff conveys interesting ideas about holographic starships.
  • More News from the ‘Planet of Doubt’. Nice SF references and a neat look at our outer worlds.
  • Gaia: Data Release 2 Announced. Now that’s a catalog. 1.7 billion stars.
  • Getting Water into the Inner Solar System. “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.” Kind of ironic that the things that may have made life on Earth possible also cause occasional mass extinctions.
  • Is Asteroid 2015 BZ509 from another Stellar System? This follows up on the story about the retrograde asteroid and references the excellent Billings piece I mentioned in “Links (2018-05-23) -> Science/Technology -> ExoSci -> item 2.”
  • TESS: The View into the Galactic Plane. And here’s Centauri Dreams‘ take on  “ExoTech -> item 2” of that same “Links” post.
  • Star Formation at ‘Cosmic Dawn’. This is different from the “unchanged galaxy” link in the previous section. That’s looking at a nearby galaxy a mere 225 million light years away that has aged gracefully. This looks at galaxies over 13 billion light years away, and the implications for the possible starting point for life, given that heavier elements are already found in those that far back.
  • Galactic Habitability and Sgr A*. Speaking of life implications, our galaxy’s central black hole may have sterilized swathes of the galaxy over 30,000 light years out. Among a great many other things, this makes me think how piddly the imaginations of our supervillains are. When’s the last time some Imperial flunky of a Sith lord had a weapon that could sterilize a radius of 30,000 light years’ worth of star systems? “I feel a GRR-RRR-EAAT disturbance in the force, as though millions of octillions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced.” The picture of Centaurus A in that article defies words. Now that’s a beam weapon. But enough silliness – in all seriousness, the implications are extremely significant and, again, the more we learn, the more unlikely and old the Earth seems so why couldn’t we be the first and/or only? Though we’ve still got uncountable stars and years to have produced at least more than one.
  • Dawn at Ceres: Imagery from a Changing Orbit. This is another take on “Links (2018-06-04) -> Science/Technology -> Space/Physics -> item 3.” (See this post’s Science -> General -> item 5 for an update.)
  • Protoplanets: The Next Detection Frontier. Our fascinating glimpses into the processes of formation.
  • Enter the ‘Clarke Exobelt’. More “detection frontiers.” Aliens with our tech couldn’t detect our belt of artificial satellites but, by straight extrapolation, such a belt could be detectable by 2200. Perhaps other such belts are already detectable? (I actually find this very limited and it would require a literally astronomical coincidence, which is noted in the article, but it’s a neat idea and, hey, Clarke.)

Aside to science fiction writers: less about contemporary anthropocentric issues on this particular momentary speck of dust and more about the above, please. Less anger and more awe. I get more thrills and mind expansion from Centauri Dreams than any current SF zine. It’s a big universe out there. Let’s go outside and play.

Science Fiction



I’m going to try something a little different with this. I searched the ISFDB for birthdays since I’d last done a links post and, while this is obviously a very select list and I may miss some people I’d mean to include, I thought I’d try to list the folks who’ve given me something and who I wanted to express my appreciation to on their happy day (whether they’re still with us or not).

  • 1915-06-06 Tom Godwin
  • 1910-06-08 John W. Campbell, Jr.
  • 1911-06-09 J. Francis McComas
  • 1925-06-09 Keith Laumer
  • 1943-06-09 Joe Haldeman
  • 1908-06-14 Stephen Tall
  • 1896-06-16 Murray Leinster
  • 1920-06-16 T. E. Dikty
  • 1972-06-16 Andy Weir

Godwin‘s most famous for “The Cold Equations.” Campbell is, of course, the editing giant and it speaks to the magnitude of his editing legend that it has dwarfed his writing when he was previously a giant author, in the top handful from the 30s. McComas co-edited one of the more famous SF anthologies and helped start one of the more famous SF magazines (Adventures in Time and Space and F&SF). Laumer wrote a lot of great stuff and was probably most famous for the Bolo and Retief series. Haldeman, of course, wrote the superb The Forever War and many other excellent novels but his increasingly superb short fiction collections often get overlooked. I only know Stephen Tall, aka Compton Crook, as the namesake of The Compton Crook Award and the author of The Stardust Voyages, the latter from a citation by Victoria Silverwolf when I was looking for particular “space exploration” stories. Leinster was the original “dean of science fiction” and wrote countless stories in various genres, many all-time classics of SF such as “First Contact,” the Med series and the stories that went into the Colonial Survey (aka Planet Explorer) fixup, including the Hugo-winning “Exploration Team.” Dikty co-edited (later solely edited) the first science fiction “year’s best” anthology series. I still haven’t read the book I bought but Andy Weir gave us The Martian which I have seen and immensely enjoyed as a movie. Happy birthday, all!


Special request: please give these two songs of less than ten minutes a try. Obviously, I’d like to share any tunes I post but these more than most.

This has been one of my favorite songs for a long time.

Leon Russell – “Stranger in a Strange Land”

And this is one of my favorite artists for about as long but a fairly new tune to me – Prine’s a great lyricist but this one’s actually written by R. B. Morris. His version is also good but I just especially like the instrumentation and the way John sings it.

John Prine – “That’s How Every Empire Falls”


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