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Review: The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell

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Following the death of her brother in a bizarre car accident, Claire Frayne is contacted by a muck-raking writer, who claims that he once went to school with the man who caused the collision. With the help of others whose lives have been damaged by the mysterious killer, Claire determines to track the man down and see justice done.

If I had to describe this book in a word, it would be “bleak”. Its setting, 1970s Liverpool, is grim and run-down, full of...

Is Lord of the Rings just an expanded version of The Hobbit?

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Having just read both, it's really stands out how similar the basic story elements are in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. For example, both have the following - and in the same order:

- Start out with a carefree Hobbit in the Shire
- Given a Call to Adventure by Gandalf
- Waylaid after leaving the Shire
- Visiting Elrond in Rivendell
- Trying to go around the Misty Mountains, only to be forced back by a storm
- End up crossing through...

Star Trek: Discovery - Revisiting Season One

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I've just watched Season One a second time.

Knowing now how it all turned out. I can appreciate how very we'll planned/written this season was! Absolutely excellent! I now understand a nagging "why that perplexed me: "Why, except for a role necessity. did Lorca ever decide to add Michael to the crew? It made no contextual sense at the time.
Knowing now that he had been her father-figure and later lover, it is obvious why.

There are similar questions answered, and...

Review: Anomaly by Peter Cawdron

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David Teller is an elementary school teacher but when an alien anomaly appears outside the United Nations in New York he unexpectedly finds himself recruited into the team investigating it. This is a good, solid first contact story with all the hard science being softened by presenting it through the scientifically naïve eyes of David Teller. And that almost justifies the utterly implausible inclusion of such an unqualified person in the investigation team of...

Review: Dark Matter by Crouch Blake

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Jason Dessen has given up a promising future as a top research physicist in favour of a quiet life as a college lecturer with his loving family. Does he regret that choice? Not really but sometimes it does haunt him a little. It’s only when it’s all abruptly taken away that he really realises how important that life and family is to him. Stepping out of the family home to join an old colleague for a quick drink he is abducted and eventually finds himself in a...

Review: Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

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Bella Lind and her crew of the Rockhopper push ice; that is they attach crude drives to icy comets and send them on their way to the inner solar system. But when Janus, one of Saturn’s moons, proves itself to be something very different by abruptly heading out of the solar system at high speed, the Rockhopper is the only ship in the system capable of catching it for a brief window of investigation before it gets too far away, that is assuming it doesn’t increase...

Space News: Uranus rocked, planets smashed

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I know it's only been a few days since the last roundup, but there have been too many exciting news stories to ignore:

1. Uranus was struck by planet

Uranus spins at an odd angle compared to the rest of the planets in the solar system, suggesting a major collision in the past. Now a study suggests that Uranus was struck a glancing blow by a planet twice the mass of Earth...

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

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Write a story inspired by the chosen theme and genre in no more than 75 words, not including the title

ONE entry per person

NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own



Space News: Space surgery, galactic grease

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Surgery in space

It's one thing to be healthy in space - but what if an astronaut falls ill? What are the challenges in medical care and even surgery? One study decided to look at exactly that:

The above article is also valuable for exploring general effects of zero gravity on the human body and worth a look for that alone.

Our greasy galaxy

We all know that the Milky Way is...

Review: The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston

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Here are a few things of my favourite things.

High Magic Fantasy where the magic use truly shapes and distorts the world and its cultures. Fantasy Noir with its beautiful juxtaposition of wonder and cynicism, miracles and seaminess. Older Protagonists with pasts that would make a good book in its own right. Actual Gods with their alien-yet-familiar blend of grandeur and hubris. And Murder Mysteries. Always Murder Mysteries.

Disclaimer - I know Cameron a bit...

July 2018: Reading Thread

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I've just finished reading Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I really enjoyed and will put a review up for soon. Though I thought the first novel in the omnibus - Shards of Honor - was interesting, but lacking in something, this was easily address in the second one - Barrayar. I especially love the way it's a familiar story told from an unfamiliar angle, and the reading experience is very rewarding for it.

I thought I'd try...

July 2018 Photo Challenge

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This month's theme is...: Green
Usual rules apply:
- Only two photographs per participant
- All photographs entered must be owned and have been taken by the member posting
- Do not use photographs already posted around the site
- The Challenge will close during the 27., whereafter the POLL will be up for 3 days.
- The winner must post a new challenge within a couple of days
- All Chrons members...

300-word Writing Challenge #30 (July 2018) -- VICTORY TO THE JUDGE!

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To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


History News: Human sacrifices, hidden colours

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Ceiltic human sacrifice

What's missing from the above image? That's right, the sacrificial bodies.

The image is of a reconstructed henge, discovered near the village of Pömmelte, Germany. Dated to around 2,000 BC, archaeological excavations have only taken place since its discovery in 1991 - but one of the more recent finds is of a number of bodies, apparently sacrificial victims...

Joe Abercrombie: A Little Hatred coming September 2019

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Joe Abercrombie has posted an update to his blog in which he announces a likely release date for his new trilogy, along with the book titles.

According to him, the new trilogy:

has 7 point of view characters, 4 men and 3 women, as well as a host of walk-on extras, many of them well known to readers of the First Law, and features at least one duel to the death, three major pitched battles and an awful lot of hangings. It...

Review: The Black Tides of Heaven by J Y Yang

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The Black Tides of Heaven by J. Y. Yang, published 2017 by Tor.

The Black Tides of a Heaven is a fantasy novella set in a medieval pseudo-China where magic, monsters and gunpowder co-exist. So far, so good.

The story starts by following twins, Mokoya and Akeha, who are unwanted by their empress-mother and gifted to a monastery to fulfil a political obligation. So far, still okay. We’re straying into typical fantasy tropes, here, but Yang keeps...

Review: Land of the Headless by Adam Roberts

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Land of the Headless is SF, published 2007 by Orion/Gollancz. Approx 275 pages in trade paperback.

The novel starts in very intriguing fashion, with the beheading of the first-person narrator for "adultery", an offence which includes consensual sex, a crime in a society governed by a holy book which is an amalgam of the Bible and Koran. However, the decapitation isn't fatal since Jon Cavala's mind has been downloaded into an apparatus in his spine which...

Is it useful to get writing feedback from friends & family?

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Of course it's possible to get anonymous or impersonal feedback from writers' groups, forums or even from professional advisors. Yet, there is maybe part of you that would like some sort of feedback from known people such as friends and family. I suppose it is partly because, since they know you, they could maybe give feedback in a way that would particularly resonate or get the most out of you. Yet there are dangers of embarrassment and disgruntlement if the...

Authors Moving Away from SF?

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The next novels of both Ann Leckie and Hannu Rajaniemi are going to be fantasy and not science fiction... is this the start of a trend of established authors moving away from science fiction to fantasy?

I personally find this disappointing. Apart from enjoying reading science fiction much more than fantasy, I also find it is harder to write science fiction than fantasy - in part because it is easier to bend a fantasy world to the story than a science fiction...

Space News: Chemical planets, organic dwarfs

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Some science stories of note from the past few days:

1. Distant exoplanet imaged using chemical signatures

What's the difference between a planet and star? One answer is their chemistry - so a study decided to run a test on images of the star Beta Pictoris.

It's known to have a large mass planet in orbit, but the glare of the star normally hides it - but running a spectral analysis for common chemicals expected for a planet and not a star made it stand...

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