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Science News: Spock's homeworld found, neutron star pasta

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A flood of interesting news this week:

1. Spock's homeworld found

A planet has been found orbiting 40 Eridani A - which, according to the original Star Trek canon, is the system where Spock's home world of Vulcan is: Exoplanet News: Astronomers have found Vulcan!

The DPS astronomers found a clear 42.4 day signal in Keid’s motion. This indicates the star is...

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

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This book is different.

The basic plot is that Cheris, an infantry captain, is tasked to command an attack on an impenetrable fortress - under the guidance of a general who not only has never lost a battle, but is also considered psychotic.

And that's just the start.

The opening chapters contain so many unfamiliar terms that at first I wondered if the author wasn't simply making it all up as he went along. However, the strong character voice pushes the story...

Villeneuve's Dune

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This has kind of gotten by me. Looks like Denis Villeneuve is casting Dune and I saw somewhere mention of production start date of March.
Now not surprised , Dune , should have more buzz appeal than Blade Runner 2049* did. (Tho Villeneuve says in interviews that Alcon did marketing surveys for that film and they were positive). Even tho Blade Runner 2049 slumped at the box office, I can see Legendary...

Space News: Giant clouds, magnetic holes, moon mysteries and more!

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I'm finally able to put together a new news digest after a quiet run last week. :)

1. Saturn's towering hexgon

Remember that the planet Saturn has a giant cloud formation in the shape of a hexagon at its north pole? Well, apparently that hexagon creates a vortex that rises hundreds of kilometers above the surrounding cloud layer: Saturn's famous hexagon may tower above the...

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold is exactly what it says on the tin. It is the story of a murder publicly announced before the event and observed by the whole town who do little beyond verbal protestations to stop it. What it is not is Marquez’s signature magical realism; this is pure realism and, to my astonishment, I only discovered after reading it that it is in fact very closely based upon real events that occurred to a family known to Marquez in 1951. The story...

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories is a collection of short stories, most of which are set in the same world as Susanna Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. If you’re not familiar with the novel (or the BBC TV adaptation), it takes place in late 18th-, early 19th-century England and features a mix of magic, faeries and historical figures, including the Duke of Wellington.

This collection of stories is, in short, frustrating...

Review: The Empyreus Proof by Bryan Wigmore

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A pseudo-Victorian setting. A deep and mystical shamanism. And a wonderfully intricate plot.

Welcome to The Empyreus Proof.

The Goddess Project was an original and excellent book, but the sequel manages to be even better.

All the familiar characters are back - Orc and Cass, Tashi, Ranga... and quite a few others. If I have one minor complaint about this book is that there are a lot of new character names to get used to and quickly. However, the...

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

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I have long wanted to like Aliette de Bodard's books, largely because every time I read about one of them it sounds like one of the greatest ideas ever. Aztec Noir? Genius. Angels and alchemists duking it out over a post-war Paris? Intriguing.

Sherlock Holmes reimagined as the adventures of a scholar and spaceship mind in a future Sino-Vietnamese Empire? Why aren't all novel elevator pitches like this?

Sadly, The Tea Master and the Detective is only a...

Space News: ISS leak, Titan mapped, earliest protein, and more!

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After a quiet period, there have been a lot more space news stories this week:

1. ISS leak

The International Space Station suffered an air leak, apparently caused by a micrometeorite impact which formed a 2mm hole in one of the Soyuz modules: Astronauts tackle leak on space station

According to Andy Weir, it was fixed - albeit temporarily - with duct...

Tommy Catkins by Stephen Palmer

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Tommy Catkins, a young soldier of the First World War, returns to England with his nerves wrecked by his experiences of the battlefield. He is sent to a progressive hospital on Salixbury Island, where he is to be cured of his shell-shock. Two rival doctors use him as a guinea pig for their theories. However, a third faction wants Tommy for itself – the strange folk of Onderwater, a magical kingdom that Tommy glimpses in lakes and...

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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All Systems Red is the first novel in Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, only, at one hundred pages, it isn’t really a novel it’s barely a novella (more on that issue later). The ‘murderbot’ in question is a security unit that is part organic clone, part inorganic android fitted with a ‘governor’ to stop it running amok and murdering everyone in sight. A governor that this particular ‘construct’ has hacked. Except this particular construct is actually a very moral one...

#SFFCHRONS

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We're re-launcing the #sffchrons hashtag on Twitter with an Ask Harebrain (aka author Bryan Wigmore) anything, this Friday at 6pm. That should be the morning/afternoon in America.
How it works.
If you're on twitter, join the conversation between 6-7 pm GMT by using the hashtag. Ask questions, have a laugh, pose connundrums. But everything must happen under the hashtag. That means we can all see the conversation. For those who want to keep an eye on their own...

David Gilman's Master of War and Defiant Unto Death

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According to David Gilman’s notes after the text, Master of War and Defiant Unto Death were originally submitted as a single novel, but then broken up into what is effectively a duology - which makes them ideal to review together:

1. Master of War

Master of War follows the fortunes - and misfortunes - of Thomas Blackstone, a stone-mason long-trained in the use of the longbow, who is commanded to fight for Edward III against the...

July Writing Challenges - winners announced!

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Congratulations to both @TheDustyZebra and @The Judge who respectively won the 75 and 300 word Writing Challenges in July!

You can read all entries for the challenges here:

July 2018 75-word Writing Challenge -- VICTORY TO THEDUSTYZEBRA!.

300-word Writing Challenge #30 (July...

The Empyreus Proof cover reveal! And, oh yeah, out now

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Here it is, sequel to The Goddess Project and Book Two of the Fire Stealers sequence.

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Grappling with the aftermath of the Skalith crisis, Orc and Cass Strandborn are shocked to discover its true instigators, and those behind their tormenting amnesia – a shadowy cabal of occultists who mean to provoke a global war.

Only the Watchers of Highcloud have the power to challenge these ‘Kings Behind the World’. But to reach the monastery, Orc and Cass must...

Prehistoric girl had Neanderthal and Denisovan parents

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New Scientist reports on how a fragment of prehistoric bone found in Russia shows a direct combination of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA - a Neanderthal mother, and Denisovan father: Prehistoric girl had parents belonging to different human species

Her DNA was almost 50:50 Neanderthal and Denisovan, arranged in a tell‑tale...

Inspirations for Star Trek

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I'm currently reading a book... I'll give you the title and subject later... and I'm currently casually watching some of the original Star Trek series. The thought that this book (with which I am only half way through) might be the single most important inspiration for Star Trek led me to start this thread.

Now a quick google search for Gene Roddenberry's inspirations shows the usual suspects...

Roddenberry served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII...

No Man's Sky gets massive improvements

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No Man's Sky was always an interesting open-world game - but now it's had the most serious of updates, taking it to a huge new level...

My family enjoyed No Man's Sky - originally an exclusive game for the PS4 that allowed you to travel around the universe, and visit billions of unique autogenerated planets.

What's especially good about it is that it's very open-ended - you can play it any way you want to: exploring planets, building a...

Space News: Water worlds common, life likely?

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A few recent space news stories to roundup:

1. Solar system 'normal'

One of the big mysteries is how usual or unusual our solar system is. We've identified a lot of exoplanets that are like nothing we've ever seen - and others that are commonly familiar.

Now a study looking at material around forming stars suggests that the basic ingredients of our solar system are actually pretty common...

The Saliva Tree by Brian Aldiss

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After a few decades, I finally re-read "The Saliva Tree", Brian Aldiss's homage to H. G. Wells. This novella, first appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Nov 1965), seamlessly combines many elements of the first few years of the Wells canon. The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, even The Wonderful Visit - all are given their nods at times and appear subtly woven into the story. Set in...

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