2011 Edinburgh international book festival kicks off today + sci-fi highlights

For the next 2 and a half weeks Edinburgh plays host to its annual literay festival.  A string of high profile authors, publishers and others in the literary world will be present.

Science fiction highlights include:

Festival website: http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/



One-armed robots on sale

It looks good, but still a little out of my price range.  Willow Garage has made available a one-armed version of their PR2 robot, the PR2 SE at $285,000.  It has the looks you would expect from a robot and is backed up by an open-source community delivering capabilities to the robots.

I also like the look of their Texai remote presence robot – it would make a great tourist guide for travellers visiting a high-tech city of the future, or bringing crowds of attendees to a booth at a business convention.

Willow Garage’s press release is here: http://www.willowgarage.com/blog/2011/08/10/announcing-pr2se


Amazon announce free Kindle Science Fiction and Fantasy digest

Amazon have recently announce that a digest version of “Fantasy & Science Fiction” magazine is available as a free subscription.  The digest version contains all the news from the full magazine and one free story per issue.  It also includes a description of the other stories available in the full magazine.  Getting the free version is highly recommended – and the extended version is also well worth it.

Fantasy & Science Fiction digest at: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Amazon’s Facebook annoucement: http://www.facebook.com/kindle/posts/10150340437291558

Fantasy & Science Fiction extended edition at: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Cleaning up space junk in Earth orbit

Every year Earth-orbit gets filled with more and more junk – obsolete and defunct satellites and rocket pods, and debris caused by collisions of exiting junk.  Hopefullly this latest attempt to start the clean up process will gain some traction.  Providing the funding for private enterprise to do the clean-up will also help to nurture space technology skills within the private sector.

Article here:



More than 20k students signed up for free Stanford artificial intelligence course

A novel use of the Internet to try to bring education about a classic science fiction plot construct – artificial intelligence.  I’m sure we are a paradigm shift or two away from getting this right in reality, but the more people that have a solid gounding in the current techniques, the more likely that a breakthrough will come.

Article here:


The class and registration link here:



Private Space Race Heats up as Boeing Selects Atlas V Engine

I’m excited to see competition heating up in the provision of private orbital capabilities.  A healthy commercial market should open up new ways to exploit the technology and opportunity, such as tourism.  It will also allow national and international space agencies to start building the knowledge to tackle the bigger challenges of getting people back to the Moon and then out to the planets and beyond.

Details of Boeings latest move here: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/193171/20110805/spacex-boeing-private-space-race-nasa-atlas-v-rocket.htm


Agencies – available now on Kindle

Agencies, the debut novel by James Aston, is now available on Amazon Kindle.  Buy your copy now.


Humanity has made its first steps to colonise the Moon and exploit the resources of the asteroid belt and outer planets.

During a surveying mission to find water deposits within craters on the Moon, Aldion and his team discover a covert underground structure. No-one knows who built it or why – except one man.

The discovery is the flash-point that triggers the latent hostility between the now-private security agencies of Earth – leading to an escalating series of conflicts.  Threaded through these conflicts, Carth must try to get to the structure first to avoid an unthinkable loss.

"Agencies" by James Aston