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Thin-Slice History: Erik Larson and the Art of Storytelling

Larson’s heroes aren’t obscure — they’re important; they did stuff; they have Wikipedia pages — but they’re unfamiliar enough to surprise you and unburdened enough with Very Important Things You Must Know to be characters who are historical figures instead of the other way around.

Scientists Finally Figured Out Why Tardigrades Are So Indestructible

In a new study published in Nature Communications, geneticist Takekazu Kunieda and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo present a genetic analysis of Ramazzottius variornatus, arguably the toughest and most resilient species found in the entire tardigrade clan. Their results show that tardigrades have evolved a unique arsenal of strategies to cope with stressful conditions, including a protein that protects its DNA from radiation damage.

More Evidence for an Ocean inside Pluto - Scientific American Blog Network

One of the most visually arresting aspects of Pluto - first seen during the New Horizons flyby in 2015 - is the large 'heart-shaped' feature known informally as Sputnik Planum. This reflective plain of frozen material spans roughly 1,000 by 800 kilometers and sits on Pluto's northern hemisphere, extending from about 45 degrees latitude down to the equator. Its composition includes large amounts of frozen nitrogen, plus some frozen carbon monoxide and methane. Its texture is varied, but has areas where it appears that material has been convected upwards - welling up into remarkable polygonal features.

Through the letterbox: the secret life of an Amazon reviewer | Technology | The Guardian

Who are the people writing the thousands of ‘fair and unbiased’ reviews? Do they get paid? Not quite. There are two types of solicited reviews on Amazon. The retailer has its own Vine programme, recruiting writers of highly ranked reviews marked as helpful by others on Amazon, and then pitches them products that vendors have sought reviews of, acting as the middle man. Vine reviews are clearly marked up on Amazon’s site with Vine branding.

Bowker Now Claims 625,327 US Indie Books Published in 2015, and Other Meaningless Factoids | The Digital Reader

When Bowker released its annual report (PDF) on ISBNs used by indie authors in the US in 2015, it didn't tell us anything useful besides the fact that indie authors still weren't using ISBNs for their ebooks, just for their print editions. (This is why I didn't cover the report, but instead used it to write a more important story on the decline of Author Solutions.)

This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human

Think about every bully you can remember, whether from fiction or real life. What do they all have in common? For the most part, they don’t read — and if they do, they probably aren’t ingesting much literary fiction.

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What Makes Science Fiction Different?

In Defence Of Science Fiction series. If you think about it science fiction is really just fantasy, isn't it? Fantastical ships which travel faster-than-light, are just as impossible as Harry Potter flying on a broomstick, a motorbike or in a Ford Anglia. So what makes science fiction different from a fantasy story? The answer may surprise you.

WHAT IS SCIENCE FICTION?
 Science Fiction appeals to hope and wonder, both in how we want things to turn out, and how we are afraid they might turn out worse. Fantasy on the other hand is about yearning and regret, an appeal directly to the heart about how things should be.(tvtropes.org) Science fiction is built on thought experiments, which explores hypothetical possibilities and the consequences of any science and technology developed in that scenario.   It's beauty is that is can cross over with a lot of other genres of fiction including horror (the Alien franchise), fantasy (the Star Wars franchise) and historical fiction (Steam P…

Why I Dislike Utopian Fiction but Love Stephen Lawhead's Fierri Utopia in Empyrion

A lot of Science Fiction stories deal with a Dystopian future and, for the most part, I'm alright with that because Dystpoian stories work well with my view of human nature and entropy. This is why I have trouble reading Utopian stories. To me the Universe in which these stories are set is as much a character as the Human and Alien characters and as such should have a believable back story (or history). The history of the Universe in which these Utopian society are set need to be well thought out and allow us, the reader, to suspend our disbelief.
The Cringe Factor However many authors seem to brush off how this Utopian society came to be by just repeating the same old tropes. It's a lazy view 'we will just become better people because X'. Where X is normally some form of technological stimulation or a biological change (evolutionary jump) which make us nicer people. In my mind it's poorly thought out and not really fully considered. It's taken as a gi…

The Collapsing Empire

I loved John Scalzi’sOld Man’s War series, they were riveting and fast paced stories intertwined with Scalzi’s trademark humour. I started his Redshirts novel which, while interesting I've found hard to finish. However The Collapsing Empire is his entry back into Space Opera and it looks promising.
As delightful and easy to read as Scalzi at his best (Redshirts, Old Man's War), with characters who are going to stay with you whenever you have to put the book down ... which you aren't going to want to do
Wil Wheaton Want to know more before buying? Check out this interview with the author over at Tor.com:  The Collapsing Empire: The Best or Worst-Timed Title Ever? Also Tor.com is reporting of a rumoured Television Deal Announced for John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire.
As always if you've read The Collapsing Empire, let me know you think?
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalz Does the biggest threat lie within? In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glo…