On the Foreseeable Edge of our Future, Heroes Battle a Bloodcurdling Killer in Military Scifi Thriller #scifi #space #bookreview #review

Gripping Military ScifiEdge of the Future is an engrossing military science fiction story set on Earth and nearby space sometime in our future. Mark is a military scientist working on secret projects but not a combat soldier – at least, not until his lab is attacked by a mysterious villain.

Mark and his lab partner are put into protective custody with a pair of elite soldiers and Mark’s counterpart Axel trains him in self-defense. They become friends in a blunt combative manner befitting soldiers. In addition to hand to hand combat, there’s elite armor, cyber-hacks, mind-control, nifty weapons, and spaceships enough to keep a military scifi fan happy. I’ve never been in the military but the details felt very believable and the characters are well developed.

It becomes obvious the villain has not given up and operates a powerful organization that includes cyborgs. I won’t risk spoilers, but this is a powerful, resourceful, and vicious villain who’s willing to go to extremes to get the data she wants.

Especially the second half of the book is fast paced and flows. I read the last 25% in a single sitting – I had to find out how it ended.

There’s a real and satisfying ending – but some characters are still around so a sequel seems possible.

I always enjoy looking for an author’s little quirks. Stone’s characters take a lot of showers – perhaps because they’re sweaty and bloody so often. One quibble I might have is on the Lunar Base – Stone doesn’t show the effects of the Moon’s lower gravity as the characters deal with the good and bad that comes their way. But that’s easy to overlook.

If you like military scifi, this book’s for you.

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August Eclipse Will Be Awesome – but astronauts get best view #eclipse2017 #science #astronomy

Eclipse viewed from space - NOAA/JapanI’ve got my trip to watch the eclipse planned (here’s wishing for clear skies!) But I’ll never have a view like astronauts do from space. Click on the image or here to view the video. The image I posted is just a screen shot. The time-lapse video is so cool. Check it out.

Tiny Little Creature is Colossally Tough – a Surprising Survivor #tardigrade #poetry #nature #evolution #science

Tardigrade - worthy of poetry

A humongously enlarged museum model, image by Janine and Jim Eden

What’s the toughest animal,
A lion or a bear?
Or you and me with our dominion
Over others’ prayers?

What tolerates the cosmic rays,
Curled in a dried-out ball,
What can survive a vacuum
Or hottest heat
or coldest cold?

The microscopic tardigrade
Looks like a critter should,
With feet and head and funny face,
It’s kinda cute and good.

In half a billion years evolved
A thousand speciations
To beat the competition
And earn
our exclamations.

Who will be here
to greet the gods
As final days of Earth unfold?
It won’t be me,
it won’t be you.
The tardigrade
will fill that role.

by Kate Rauner

Rhyming poems inspired by scienec - at your favorite online store

2nd edition now available! Expanded!

There are articles every now and then about the tardigrade, a wee beastie worth contemplating.

Join me here for a new science-inspired poem about once a week, or read my collection today on Amazon or your favorite store. All for fun and no existential angst.

 

Your Cat Journeyed for 9000 Years to Arrive at Your Sofa #nature #cat #cats #pet #domestic

Wild cats still roam Europe

This European wildcat would look equally at home on your sofa. Luc Viatour www.lucnix.be

Cats joined humans about the time we started farming – and creating excellent mouse habitats where we stored our grain. Rodents can be a plague in any age – I had to replace $700 worth of mouse-eaten wiring in my pick-up not long ago. So I don’t doubt farmers immediately recognized the value of cats. As wild humans became domesticated so did the animals most able to tolerate us, to travel with us – and, for a special few, to love us.

The cat’s ancestors “lived in Europe as early as the late Pliocene. Fossil remains of the wildcat are common in cave deposits dating from the last ice age and the Holocene.” wikipedia

Accumulating evidence shows us when the cat joined forces with humans.

Researchers extracted mitochondrial DNA (which is passed down the maternal line) from more than 200 ancient cat remains that came from Viking graves, Egyptian mummies and Stone Age sites.

DNA evidence shows cat domestication began about 9,000 years ago in the Near East, where farming started…

A second wave of cat domestication happened in ancient Egypt. Cats spread to Europe during the Roman era and went even further during the Viking period. Egyptian cat DNA was even found in a Viking port. BBC

Some ancestors of our domestic cats escaped us and their lines survive today, still wild, across a wide swath of Earth – Africa, Europe, and Asia. Their domestic cousins have colonized the rest – every island and continent except Antarctica.

It seems odd to me that no one’s smuggled a kitten into an Antarctic research station. Most of us no longer need a cat to manage the mouse population in our barns, no longer need a dog to guard the flock, and no longer need horses, llamas, or any of the animals we keep as pets. But we want them – spend a lot of time and money to acquire and keep them. They comfort us in ways our fellow humans cannot.

Most domestic animals have undergone a lot of conscious selective breeding.

There was very little breeding and selection going on in cats up the

Kate Rauner's cat Harvey

My own tabby waiting for breakfast

19th Century [dang those Victorians! Kate] in contrast with dogs,’ said Dr Geigl. ‘The cat was useful from the very beginning – it didn’t have to be changed.’

But of course.

For all you dog-lovers out there, I haven’t ignored our canine companions, probably the first animals that helped us invent domestication: Humanity belongs to the dogs, a poem.

My orange tabby, Harvey, was the model for the first

The new cover 🙂 How do you like it?

cover of my science ficiton novel, Glory on Mars. But people told me the cover was too quirky, so I’ve got a new one now – hopefully more science fiction-y. What do you think?

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Hunter #haiku #cats #poet #poetry #nature #amwriting

Like a ghost I move
Carried on my silent paws
See, hear, smell the prey

by Kate Rauner

Mighty Hunter Cat

Short rhymes from science inspired poetryAll my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

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Galileo’s Defiance and Destiny in an Imagined Science Fiction Novel #scifi #historical #alternative #history

Galileo's Dream scifi novelThis science fiction novel is heavy on historical fiction. I knew the outline of Galileo’s story – his breakthrough studies of the moons of Jupiter, endorsement of the then-radical theory that the planets orbit around the sun, and his condemnation by the Catholic Church. Kim Stanley Robinson provides a richly detailed portrayal of his life – his illnesses, peccadillos, endless family and money troubles, political machinations among the city-states of Italy, and conflict with the Church.

I hope Robinson (a king of hard scifi) did his usual-thorough research because his vision of Galileo will stay with me. I think so – he even included translations of Galileo’s actual writings.

Galileo was a genius, but not a very pleasant man to be around. His life ends as it did in reality – which isn’t Robinson’s fault – but he fully delivers the sadness and misery.

Science fiction enters when colonists on Jupiter’s moons

Galileo's first telescope - a reproduction of the optics

My own reproduction of Galileo’s first telescope – it’s amazing he saw anything

repeatedly snatch Galileo into their future.
Some factions want to change their present by changing how his life turns out, while other factions want to keep things the same. There are enchanting visions of Jupiter and its moons, and what technology might be like there in the distant future, but the Jovians’ story was unsatisfying. The relationships among the colonists were confusing and their story didn’t resolve very well.

I didn’t like this book as much as Amazon reviewers, who averaged 4 out of 5 stars. There was a lot of repetition in both Galileo’s and the Jovian’s stories. I skimmed through most of the book. I didn’t know who the narrator was until the end, though an occasional lapse from 3rd person to 1st person made me realize it wasn’t any of the main characters. That made the story a bit distant from Galileo at times, with the narrator sometimes knowing more than Galileo and sometimes less.

Don’t expect an easy, flowing read, but if you enjoy Robinson and history, give the book a try.

Join the first colonists https://books2read.com/u/bQZp1eAll my books, including my Mars colonization series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

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Colonizing Other Planets Not as Much Fun as You Think #review #scifi #books #amreading #sciencefiction #bookreview

The master of terraforming Mars sends colonists to a distant star system in Aurora. With his trademark attention to detail, the first quarter of Kim Stanley Robinson’s book takes you on a tour of the large rotating spaceship. The main character, Freya, travels through the biomes and towns, talking with most of the two thousand residents.

Freya is aboard a generational spaceship nearing the end of its 170 year voyage, and things are going subtly wrong with the ship and the humans onboard. People chaff under the discipline required to keep systems in balance – Robinson is as interested in the psychological aspects of the mission as he is in the technology. If you wonder what life onboard a generational ship might be like, this section of the book is for you.

They arrive at their destination and landing parties prepare buildings and greenhouses for the entire ship’s complement, but things go terribly wrong. Half way through there’s a twist I wasn’t expecting and the mission takes an unexpected turn.

Most of the book is narrated by the ship’s artificial intelligence which gives the story a somewhat cold feeling. The ship also muses on human language and – instructed by the chief engineer to prepare a narrative summary of the final part of their voyage – frets over the use of metaphors which it finds to be imprecise.

While Robinson has been described as “a novelist who looks ahead with optimism,” Aurora is deeply pessimistic regarding human beings and their technologies. The settlers suffer frustrating slow-motion disasters that they never completely understand and their society breaks down into battling factions.

This is not a book to read in a rush – I could only read for short periods of time in a sitting. Take it on vacation – it’ll last all week.

What others are saying
Aurora earns a respectable 3.5 stars from 635 customer reviews on Amazon, and places in the top 2% of Amazon’s sellers’ ranking for Hard Science Fiction. I wish I did as well with my novels.

Readers who liked Aurora called it “sad but greatly satisfying” and “awesome and depressing.” Those who didn’t found it “long winded” and “repetitive.” Robinson isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – but no author is.

I’ve read a few of Robinson’s books and notice he likes the names Aurora and Pauline – and likes to point out that verbal metaphors can’t explain the physical world like math can. It’s fun to notice an author’s little quirks.

The quote above, “a novelist who looks ahead with optimism,” comes from the dust jacket of Robinson’s Galileo’s Dreams.

For my own vision of the first colony on Mars, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Start with Glory on Mars. Read one today.

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