You’ve heard that space is expanding,
You’ve heard that science is sure
That galaxies fly from galaxies
For as long as time will endure.
But if space-time is expanding,
Just what’s it expanding into?
What’s beyond the edge of
The universe that we view?
Just more and more that we’ll never see,
Each frame of reference is valid.
Each star at the center of everything
Regardless of how much is added.
So I might be forgiven for saying
That I stand in a special place,
That I am the center of everything,
Of energy, matter, and space.
By Kate Rauner
Thanks to space.com for the question, and for giving me an excuse to believe I’m more important that you are! My poem reminds me of Dr Suess’s Yertle the Turtle 😀
Visit my blog for a poem every-other-post (about) or try one of my collections. Rhyming poems for fun, inspired by science.
Binti is an unexpected scifi novella – highly successful in Amazon’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Read subcategory – 4 1/2 stars with lots of reviews. Complaints center on the story being too short and readers wanting more!
Author Okorafor offers a tale of human contact with a strange (not anthropomorphic – hurray!) alien species, but centers on a real life human society that will seem alien to most Anglo readers. That culture is beautifully evoked and Okorafor is not afraid to interrupt action with beguiling descriptions.
While there is one violent episode, the story is about Binti’s enigmatic relationship with her own culture – honoring her heritage while moving far beyond to attend an interstellar university. The story abandons some of the “common wisdom” rules of fiction that dictate action and denigrate characters telling the reader anything – which proves rules are meant to be broken by talented authors.
MILD SPOILER ALERT
She encounters thoughtful alien adversaries and prevails through her own growth and sacrifice rather than bang-up violence. Her mathematical abilities, which are magical, make her uniquely suited to encounter this alien race. Her bravery and intelligence endear her to readers – and perhaps open our eyes to the customs of our own kin here on Earth today.
Binti shares her journey to a strange place. Thoughtful readers will enjoy this short (55 page) novella with a scifi flare. Scifi fans of the more common shoot-em-ups will find the story short enough to hold their interest in a setting with a different feel. Give this novella a try.
A few of the many potato varieties
Who knew there’s an International Potato Center? There is – in Peru. They’re teaming with NASA to grow potatoes in soil taken from the Atacama Desert. Peru has 4,000 varieties of potatoes to choose from.
[Like Mars, Atacama soil has] extremely low levels of microorganisms and organic material as well as high levels of oxidizing chemical elements. For these reasons, the soils in Atacama have been used as analogous to Mars in research scenarios.
They’ll freeze the potatoes they grow and try to revive them. Is it possible The Martian could have revived his frozen potatoes? That would have made life on Mars a lot more comfortable.
Eventually, NASA wants to grow potatoes in zero gravity, in an enclosed atmosphere inside a CubeSat in space. Then, someday, in an enclosed greenhouse on Mars.
Growing potatoes for Mars will teach us about feeding people on Earth, too.
We see the science, educational, and humanitarian goals as being intertwined. In the process of working together toward establishing a community on Mars, our students will also be establishing a community on Earth.
Science fiction has settled on the potato for Mars colonists. I’d like to see NASA confirm that guess.
Eat like a Martian – at least, like a scifi Martian:
practice for Mars on Earth
Banana beer from Born on Mars
And Liz, in Glory on Mars, tries to make bhang, though she doesn’t have all the ingredients.
Thanks to scientificamerican.com, Eureka Alert eurekalert.org, and other outlets.
Spirit Rover views rocks on Mars
There could be solar flares
on the journey there,
Don’t forget crash landings
could happen, to be fair.
Water’s on the surface
but in a frozen brine.
Assume that you can boil out
enough to drink in time.
The atmosphere is toxic
but there is more to heed.
It’s less than one percent
of the pressure that you need.
Besides the lack of atmosphere,
no magnetic force surrounds,
So cosmic radiation
will force you underground.
Orange dust will be the bane
of your solar collectors,
Of moving parts and human lungs,
And of your airlock doors.
If your heating system fails
you will likely freeze,
And if you find your thumb’s not green,
Starvation adds to these.
You better hope you like your fellows
and avoid some fights.
It would be a shame to kill
each other in the night.
Your life’s a tough routine,
Your dangers aren’t a thrill.
Mars is unrelenting.
With its slow motion kill.
You’ve missed the deadline to apply to NASA’s astronaut program for Mars! But, maybe that’s okay. cnet.com/au/news
Join science fiction Mars colonists in my On Mars series. Colonists find all the dangers as they explore and build a home on Mars.
Harvey posed for the cover of Glory on Mars
In Glory on Mars, colonists take a cat with them to Mars, and he figures in a pivotal discovery. One reader says, given the title, the cat’s name should be Glory.
The book never mentions the cat’s name.
What is it?
Once a book is published, I think the author is no more an expert than any reader – maybe less so. The author is burdened with threads that didn’t work and abandoned versions that were changed – while the reader knows the story.
So perhaps readers should decide – what’s the cat’s name? I could add his name to the next edition.
Update: Readers really don’t like the cat not having a name. This surprises me – I’ve personally owned “lone cats” who never had a name beyond “The Cat” and they didn’t seem to mind. My current tabby – the model for my cover – is convinced he’s the only cat that matters even though I have a second cat! (And had a third until recently.)
The cat in my story plays an important role at one point – he offers a clue to survival – but is not a main character. He’s a real cat – no magic. Just a cat. That’s always been enough for any act I lived with. What do you think?
UPDATE: For 2017 I’ve put out a new book cover for Glory on Mars. It’s more science-fiction-y (I hope) and less quirky. So Harvey can retire from his modeling career – but to tell you the truth, he doesn’t seem to care much.
This asteroid has its own moon
Who says the US Congress can’t get anything done? A new law confirms that whatever space miners bring home legally belongs to them. This may be obvious – like the international “high seas” where everybody and nobody owns the resource, and fishermen are free to go out and fish. Freedom is assumed and limitations must be enacted by international groups like the UN.
If Congress’s concern seems premature, consider that companies want some assurances before they invest big dollars in the space industry. I wonder what premium people will pay for a ring of asteroid gold? Or maybe, it’s the rare technology metals that will pay the bills. popsci.com
In my #scifi book Glory on Mars, settlers take cannabis seeds with them. It’s not a big part of the story, but at one point they need something to perk up their appetites and sooth despair – these are permanent settlers, not astronauts. I’m no expert on pot – should they grow it in a Mars colony? What strain should they take? BTW – I don’t let them smoke. I’m a volunteer firefighter – smoke is bad.