Colossal Jupiter Losing One Genuine Attraction – a hurricane that will not be forgotten #Jupiter #planet #space #poetry #poems

Since the sixteen hundreds
Science inspired poetry by Kate RaunerA giant storm has raged,
Largest in the solar system,
One Jupiter has made.

A swirling gale that could
Swallow our Earth whole.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Is known to one and all.

A vortex lasting centuries
Can’t go on forever.
Two hundred years have seen it shrink
By half, in Jove’s great weather.

And still receding slowly,
So in a decade or two,
It could become the Great Red Ring
That memory carries through.

by Kate Rauner

“The GRS [Great Red Spot] will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM, by which he means the Great Red Memory.”

Europa-Best Chance to Find ET Life and Congress Says We Gotta Go #NASA #science #tech #solarsystem

Europa_mosaicWho says Congress can’t get anything done? They’ve told NASA “you gotta go,” could be as soon as 2022. Jupiter’s gravitational flexing generates a lot of heat inside the moon – enough for a 150 km deep water ocean to exist under the ice crust.

What’s more, rusty colored stains on the ice around the cracks suggest that the water is heavy in salts and minerals. Chemistry plus energy plus time—all of which Europa has in the right mix—may be all that is necessary to cook up life…

[A lander’s] ultimate goal would be to peer directly into the calmer waters of the ocean and perhaps even go swimming.

Congress is a blunt instrument, so I hope their requirements don’t hurt the mission. NASA still has problems to solve. But I can’t wait to find out what’s swimming in Europa’s seas.

Thanks to for the article and quote.

Trojan, Hollow Moon of Jupiter #SciFi #books #writing #amreading #worldbuilding

trojan hollow moonA hollow sphere nearly as large as the Earth appears in orbit around Jupiter. Humans have occupied the inside of the sphere and found the Nefra – a race of humans removed from Earth thousands of years ago. It’s hard to tell Nefra from humans because Nefra keep their tails hidden. I love this detail, since I always felt cheated by my lack of a tail.

Review – No Spoilers
First Contact is in the past and Brian Henry Dingle’s book is a world-building tale. He has a fascinating, hard-science-fiction view of a world built inside a sphere that rotates fast enough to create near-Earth gravity on the inner equator while leaving a structure – the Carousel – in the center in zero-g. Zero-g offers advantages to severely injured patients and the Carousel includes a hospital for burn and trauma cases. Dingle is a medical doctor and his knowledge is evident throughout the story – for example, “tears filled his eyes and shined over his sclera.”

The story takes place in the Carousel and on the sphere’s inner surface, with some action in space, orbiting Jupiter.

The book opens with a murder framed by a sort of prologue of police reports and interviews. Dingle has a strong vision and his gritty world is detailed. For example, sunlight is channeled through the sphere’s wall with quartz fibers – what a cool idea – and the sphere’s thick walls are mined for metals and carved into infrastructure. Dingle sometimes repeats his descriptions, as one character notices: “‘God, you’re repeating yourself.’ Calamnos said. ‘Because you need to know.'”

This is a nasty, dirty, dimly-lit world. Plastic pre-fab buildings brought from Earth are “variegated pukey pink.” Many inhabitants are pitiful -or despicable. Trojan is rife with drug addicts and criminal gangs.

Drunks and addicts are targets for murder. A couple police detectives begin to track percular attacks and the latest victim survives – barely. But the situation becomes more complicated as various factions, humans and Nefra, collide. Philosophy joins drugs and murder in the story.

Be warned that Dingle’s descriptions are vivid and intense in fight, torture, and hospital scenes.

Dingle sometimes repeats himself, but as a mixture of scifi world-building with mean streets, this is a four-star story.

It’s fun meeting other indie authors – see Brian’s review of my book Glory on Mars here.

More links:

Trojan, Hollow Moon of Jupiter Buy on Amazon

Brian Henry Dingle on Goodreads

Brian’s post on the physics of Trojan, creating a fictional world

Brian on Smashwords

Great North Road #scifi #book #ScienceFiction #Storytelling

great north roadHere’s a story I’ll never finish. I’ll never read it in a 21 day library lending period, but I realize I’ll never finish it anyway.

Peter F. Hamilton’s novel Great North Road put a map and time line right up front, which should have been a clue – any opus that requires such things is going to be ponderous. Indeed, even the bizarre murder of a bazillionaire’s clone that opens the book, and the cool technologies and climate change that form a backdrop, were buried in too much detail for me.

Off-world chapters also have great themes that got lost – life in orbit around Jupiter, and colonies on distant worlds threatened by an unstoppable, mindless thing that consumes planets and changes the nature of matter. When one character stopped to explain how searching for an alien reminds him of the fossils of the Burgess Shale (on page 83 of 921 pages in my Epub version), I knew I was doomed. And I like the Burgess Shale! (Read Stephen Jay Gould’s non-fiction book Wonderful Life. It’s getting rather out of date, but is still a fun read.)

I tried my usual trick of reading the first sentence of each paragraph, and some paragraphs drew me in deeper, but that only got me to page 182. I still have the book as I write this commentary – I may take a crack at the two epilogues, one nine years after the story and the other 234 years after. Because I really like Hamilton’s concepts. The book is just too much for me.

So what’s wrong with me? The book has 80% four and five stars on Amazon (overall average of four stars), with 487 reviews. That’s a phenomenal success.

I looked at reviews by disappointed readers who posted three stars: ” LOTS of fluff, random events, boring filler,” “almost set it down many times,” “felt like retreads from his other works; the whole alien monster thing felt clichéd.” There were also readers who loved the characters and hated the plot, or loved the plot and hated the characters.

Most readers – 80% – loved both.



One of the most common tips on writing fiction is “show, don’t tell.” It makes a great bumper sticker and when writers critique each others’ work on, we studiously search out each “telling” for criticism.

Hamilton’s book is full of “telling” but most of his readers love it: “very detailed and rich,” “fine detail and… the plot just keeps going and going,” ” interesting and convincing,” “he writes for the hard core fan of science fiction and endless wonder.”

I think the bumper sticker advice of “show, don’t tell” is too simplistic. Maybe it should be “show, don’t tell unless what you’re telling fascinates your readers.” That’s the key – what fascinates the reader, not the writer (and if you’re a writer like me, you find all kinds of fascinating tidbits as you do research for a book.)

Peter F. Hamilton and his readers have found each other to their (I assume) mutual joy. After all, it’s called “storytelling,” not “story showing.”

Help me out, folks. What’s good telling and bad telling?

We’ll Find We’re Not Alone – a poem by Kate Rauner



Hydrothermal vents are able to support extremophile bacteria on Earth and may also support life in other parts of the cosmos.

We will find we’re not alone,
The proof is at our finger tips.
We have the means, robotic craft
Extend our touch on epic trips.
We know where round the Sun to look,
Know how to search for traces.
Moons and planets wait for us,
Within our reach are many places.
No wormholes, warping space required,
No need for hyperdrives.
Technology is here today
To find unearthly lives.
With chemistries like ours – or strange,
Not likely grays or bug-eyed men,
Expected small, but bodies huge
Are not beyond imagining.
Mars only lost his oceans
A million years ago.
Solar winds stripped air away,
And with it, oceans go.
But liquid water blankets
Some moons of Jupiter.
Beneath their crusts of ice,
Hordes of life may stir.
To feed on broth by magma brewed
May be an easy strategy.
Get energy not from the Sun,
But twisted tides of gravity.
And Callisto,
Or methane lakes on Titan,
Life free from H2O.
Geysers may toss microbes high,
Bouquets to passing hands,
Till we can pierce a mile of ice
To meet them in their lands.
To find that life is commonplace
Will not diminish me,
But will expand my mind and soul
And all that I can be.

“I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years,” Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA, said at a public panel Tuesday in Washington. “We know where to look, we know how to look, and in most cases we have the technology.”

That would be amazing, astounding, awesome… and that’s just the “a” words I can think of. Extraterrestrial life is discussed in many places, for example, , , or wikipedia extraterrestrial life

For me, even a real microbe will be better than all the movies put together – reality always trumps fantasy.

Born of Earth and Jupiter – a #poem by Kate Rauner

zeiss projector

Zeiss projectors, like this one at Kiev Planetarium, allow planetarium visitors to see a scientist’s view of the solar system and the universe.

Two thousand planets have been found
By our current generation.
Five hundred systems, like our own,
Escaped their sun’s damnation.
Most planets are much closer
To their stars and therefore hotter,
With a thousand times thicker air
Than the Sun’s rocky daughters.
And super-Earths are common,
Ten times larger than our own.
Perhaps with days that equal years,
So different from our home.
Most gaseous giant planets
Orbit their stars nearer.
Why we have no super-Earth
At last emerges clearer.
The proto-Jupiter that formed,
To proto-Earth was hostile.
And, five billion years ago,
It stole away our volatiles.
It scrambled inner rocky worlds
And smashed the proto-Earth to bits;
Tossed half of it into the Sun,
The rest then reformed planets.
This left our world, our remnant Earth,
Thinly veiled in wispy air.
Self-organizing, growing life
Could then arise and evolve there.
Surviving heat and pressures vast,
Life on extra-solar worlds
May not resemble any forms
That upon our Earth unfurled.
We may not discern our distant kin
Nor understand life’s game.
It’s hard enough to love our own
And we are all the same.

Kevin J. Walsh and his colleagues detail their findings this week in the journal Nature. “A wandering Jupiter may have wreaked havoc on the large inner planets of our early solar system, leaving behind an apparently rare configuration of planets.” [] Whether that rareness holds up as we develop way to discover smaller planets remains to be seen.