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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Self-Driving Cars – Coming to Your Highway in June

Steam powered car from 1771

Steam powered car from 1771

I included self driving cars in my science fiction novel, Glitch. That book is supposed to be a vision of the future, but I’m barely ahead regarding cars. (They should be called self-driving, not driverless – something is driving and it’s a combination of hardware and software created by human beings.)

“All Teslas will get an over-the-air update this summer, probably around June, allowing them to drive in ‘Autopilot’ mode… we’re not talking about some far-off future Tesla. We’re not talking about Google driverless car prototypes or government road tests. This is a car you can buy today, which will be given the ability to drive itself in a few months via the same setup that updates your iPhone.” mashable

Not only will self-driving cars allow me to read or nap or whatever as I travel, they should also make car-sharing easier. Imagine a computer system moving cars around for maximum efficiency and minimum wait-times. Private car ownership will decline, and that will change America. The automobile industry is a pillar of our economy, and the car is a pillar of our culture. Your driver’s license means leaving childhood behind, offers freedom, and you never forget your first car. Losing your driver’s license is more than inconvenient, it’s shameful. All that’s about to change.

The self-driving car is a change I’m looking forward to – I can imagine exactly how it will improve my life. Since nothing is perfect, there are probably problems coming, too. Bring it on.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” That applies to the future, too.

Kate Rauner, Hanover, New Mexico, USA

Kate is a chemical and environmental engineer, and Cold War Warrior (honestly, that’s what Congress called us), who worked in America’s nuclear weapons complex. Now retired on the edge of the southwest’s Gila National Forest with her husband, cats, llamas, and dog, she’s a volunteer firefighter, and writes science fiction novels and science inspired poetry. She also shares science news that strikes her fancy (and finds it odd to write about herself in the third person.)

It’s Not Written – a poem by Kate Rauner

Ka-Bala

Ka-Bala

Polished sticks, cards, or bones,
Coins or dice or sacred stones
Allow the mystic gods to choose
The message that you win or lose.
Cast the lots to tell the page,
A sacred text you cannot faze.
Within its pages it will show
All the answers you wish to know.
The I Ching offers sixty-four,
All your questions need no more.
The good news in a Coptic text
Has thirty-seven in the deck.
‘Patience prospers for the brave,
If with a whole heart you gave.’
‘Receive happiness and joy,
To do your utmost won’t annoy.’
Is it persistence towards your goal,
A vision that your mind will hold,
To struggle forward through the strife,
Are these the things that make a life?
Or was it written long ago
With vague meanings none can know
In a tiny book so grand
That put the future in your hand?

Bibliomancy – predicting the future with a book. A palm-sized codex over a thousand years old offered sage advice to Coptic Egyptians. [Live Science] The supplicant is urged to be brave and keep trying, not bad advice in any age. But I like what Shakespeare said in Julius Cesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Wool #scifi #dystopia

woolIn a dystopian future, everyone lives in an underground silo so large it takes three days to climb from bottom to top. Hugh Howey’s story begins as a murder mystery surrounded by questionable suicides and lost loves. The people seem to be “us”, with technology at or a little behind today: there are computer monitors displaying green letters. The first part of the book gives detailed descriptions of moving around in this contained world, and realistic descriptions of the technology, from motor shafts to green circuit boards to Phillips head screwdrivers and the smoke curling up from a soldering iron. But about a third of the way through, the story begins to expand and the main characters become more complex. At this point, I would have preferred Howey reduce the amount of detail; I was not interested in learning how transmitters work or how to brew loose-leaf tea once the battles started. But the simple expedient of reading only the first one or two sentences of each paragraph moved me happily through the unexpected twists to the satisfying conclusion. While this book could support a sequel, it has a real ending that stands by itself. A fun read.

Orbital Science Ship Arrives

Cygnus_Orb-D1.5

Cygnus

Orbital Science’s cargo spacecraft, Cygnus, arrived safely at the International Space Station with 2,780 pounds of supplies and scientific instruments.  http://bit.ly/1dHN8Ct  SpaceX and its Dragon spacecraft are also contracted for resupply missions as part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project.  Some of you may remember when NASA’s Shuttle was advertised as a “space truck” and the beginning of an era when space flight would be as common as airplanes are today.  Maybe today’s commercial space companies will deliver on that promise.

cygnus-arriving-iss

Arrives at ISS

What will future companies find profitable in space?  Communications satellites are so common we only notice them when a problem pops up.  Google Earth and GPS are part of every-day life.  When we add stations on the moon or Mars, will they be government projects or private?  Will metals mined from asteroids ever compete with mines here on Earth, or will zero-g manufacturing become indespensible?  It’s all hard to envision today, but maybe that’s what people said about the airplane.

Robotic Cars Are Coming

Google's_Lexus_RX_450h_Self-Driving_CarForbes  hypothesizes that self-driving cars, what Google calls robotic cars, will arrive in three phases.  First, what I think of as the “toy phase”:  Over the next ten years, a small percentage of cars will be self-driving, but laws will require a licensed driver to be ready, hands-on-the-wheel, to take over.  Next, about thirty years from now, laws will catch up with technology, so you can be drunk in the backseat, or send your kid to grandma’s house by himself; but most cars will still be privately owned.  Finally, farther in the future, the transportation cloud will emerge.  Cars will be entirely autonomous and few people will own one:  Most cars will be robotic taxis.

I hope the Forbes time line is pessimistic.  Some stories support Forbes.  Others covering the same news offer more hope.  Everyone thinks the laws will lag behind the technology.  That is hardly a new phenomenon. Continue reading

Detroit May Be Blazing a Trail for Us All

pop decline -Abandoned_Packard_Automobile_Factory_DetroitDetroit has been in the news because of its looming bankruptcy.  Certainly the flight of manufacturing from America’s Rust Belt, poor city management, and crime all contribute to its decline.  But at the root of the city’s woes is a loss of population.

I wonder if Detroit is a window into the future.  I have posted before about predictions that the total world population will top out and begin to decline within this century and maybe within a lifetime.  One interesting article says “we are now exactly in the middle of perhaps the greatest demographic change in recorded history…  It’s entirely possible that in little more than a generation world population will stop growing, and that our children will live to see a planet with many millions, maybe a billion, fewer people on it than there are now.”

Our nation’s municipal plans and most of our economy are based on an assumption that increasing population will drive increasing consumption.  It is hard to fault people for making this assumption.  Even allowing for significant set-backs like the Black Death, the human population has generally been increasing for the past 70,000 years.  If the world’s population drops as predicted, everyone reading my words will live through a difficult period as the slug of elders works its way through.  Posterity will then emerge into a new world. Continue reading