What always beats privacy?

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loyalty cardsFor years, scientists, media, politicians and public citizens—hell, pretty much everybody—has been cautioning screaming about the pervasive and invasive tendencies of the digital revolution, its inexorable collection of data related to every aspect of our lives, the erosion of personal privacy and the eventual collapse of civilization that will result.  Yet, when laws and regulations are proposed to rein in this collection of data and loss of privacy, they are always delayed, watered down or struck down… and often by the very people who decry the loss of privacy in the first place.

Why is it that people who are so concerned about their personal privacy can’t seem to prevent others from getting their data?  Because that’s not what we really want. Continue reading

Space Opera: It’s the (stupid) science

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space opera

The trappings of space opera are beautifully illustrated here.

The recent arguments over the merits of Interstellar (is it good SF, is it crappy, is it too serious, is the science BS, etc, etc) has been ringing in my ears this week.  One poster even tried to label Interstellar as space opera.  Which reminded me of a post in IO9 a few months back about space opera and its merits.  Part of the discussion revolved around what, exactly, is considered space opera. Continue reading

Advertisement: Take 2

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buy_my_booksI’m giving consideration to placing ads in some upcoming science fiction convention programs/promo books.  I say “giving consideration,” because the last few times I’ve tried to promote myself at conventions, it hasn’t worked out. At all. Continue reading

Futurist’s review: Interstellar

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InterstellarInterstellar, the Christopher Nolan movie (co-written by himself and Jonathan Nolan), is the sort of science fiction movie that comes along very seldom these days… unfortunately for all of us.  In an entertainment market that will go out of its way to throw boy wizards, zombies and Klingons at ravenous audiences—but turn up its nose when someone offers real scientific content—Interstellar strives to hit some notes that are rarely touched by Hollywood anymore.  But as those science notes are nested within some of the more well-known notes preferred by Pop Movie 101 aficionados, this movie does a great job hitting the right notes at the right times.

(Spoiler-free review follows) Continue reading

Go Interstellar? No—go Orbital

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InterstellarInterstellar opens in theaters this week.  Its premise is that the Earth is becoming a global dustbowl, making it impossible to support the human race; so a band of astronauts heads out and through a wormhole to find another planet for human colonization.  (A non-spoiler-y review of the movie precedes this post.)

Would this be the best solution for human survival?  Not necessarily.  Physicists Gerard O’Neill and Tom Heppenheimer worked out a more practical solution four decades ago: Build artificial habitats and put them into orbit around the Earth or Sun.  This idea was described in O’Neill’s book The High Frontier and Heppenheimer’s book Colonies in Space, and it’s the idea I used as the premise of my novel Verdant Skies.
Continue reading

Are we alone?

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Professor Brian CoxA few articles last week have tried to parse the comments of Dr. Brian Cox about the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.  In an episode of BBC’s Human Universe, he said:

“There is only one advanced technological civilisation in this galaxy and there has only ever been one—and that’s us.  We are unique.  It’s a dizzying thought.  There are billions of planets out there, surely there must have been a second genesis?  But we must be careful because the story of life on this planet shows that the transition from single-celled life to complex life may not have been inevitable.”

Later, Cox tweeted:

Tweet from Dr. Brian Cox: NO WE ARE NOT!!! Continue reading