Fewer mid-sized asteroids meandering about the solar system

Earth-bound asteroids are often the bane of human societies calmly minding their own business in many Sci-Fi films.  They lurk in the outer solar system awaiting an opportune moment to fall towards the sun, only to find a blue-green planet with an oddly large moon in their way.

The WISE mission at NASA has recently released a set of obserations that suggest there are fewer of these asteroids than previously thought.  Most of the larger asteroids have already been discovered and tracked, but the smaller mid-sized asteroids up to one kilometer across are less well known.  Analysis of the observations suggest there are only 19,000 of these rather than the previously expected number 35,000.

Although fewer are now expected only 5,000 of these have been discovered.  So the JPL at NASA still has some important work left to do.

See the press release at NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-333_NEOWISE.html



Are neutrinos the key to FTL travel in science fiction?

CERN has recently announced that its OPERA experiment has generated results that suggest neutrinos travelling between Geneva and the INFN Gran Sasso lab in Italy are moving faster then the speed of light.

Faster-than-light (FTL) travel, or the lack thereof, is a key plot element in much science fiction, with many hard sci-fi fans taking the line that it should not be used because it is not physically possible.  This result points to a potential softening of that stance.  It is yet to be confirmed by others and has only resulted in measured speeds fractionally faster than light (less than 0.01% faster.)

Personally I will await further scrutiny of the results.  At such small deviations from an expected results anything from the composition of the material the neutrinos pass through, the spin of the Earth or even the fractionally reduced gravity inside the Earth may well be the cause of the anomaly.

Read the press release here: http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2011/PR19.11E.html


Iain Banks on The Gadget Show this Friday

Iain Banks, acclaimed sci-fi and mainstream author of such classics as The Wasp Factory, The Player of Games and more recently Surface Detail, will be a judge for an ebook themed challenge on The Gadget Show in the UK this Friday (23rd.)

Read more about it on his website at: http://www.iain-banks.net/2011/09/14/iain-banks-on-channel-5s-gadget-show-23-sept-2011/


NASA discovers Tatooine

The timing could not be better for this press release.  NASA have announced the discovery of an exoplanet that orbits two stars.  Making a reality of the twin-sunset scenes on Tatooine in the Star Wars saga.

This comes as the Blu-Ray box set of Star Wars – The Complete Saga is released.  A nine-disk set that gives Star Wars fans the chance to see the films in stunning quality.

Read about NASA’s discovery here: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-304_Kepler_Update.html

Read about Star Wars here: http://www.starwars.com/news/starwars_blu-ray.html


Sci-Fi author Bruce Sterling augments reality with Dead Drop

Mobile devices are starting to cause the digital world to seep through in to the real world.  Initially it was data and markups that started to appear to users of Layar.  Now caches of digital content, including stories from Bruce Sterling are out there – waiting to be found and feverishly consumed.

Bruce’s Dead Drop service is an augmented reality Layar that is available to iPhone, Android and Symbian device owners.  Users get directions to one of the many Dead Drops that have been seeded in to the augmented reality – where they can find a data access point to connected and gain access to the digital content.

More on Dead Drop is available at wired.com:

Augmented reality – Science fiction writer becomes augmented reality developer

Happy hunting.


NASA partners with Tor-Forge to inspire science through sci-fi

A great piece of news for lovers of hard Sci-Fi.  NASA has partnered with publisher Tor-Forge to create a series of NASA-inspired works of science fiction.  They promise to be based on hard science – with NASA scientists and engineers linking up with the writers at Tor-Forge.

The stories will be fiction, so should contain engaging plots, but will also have technological elements checked by NASA’s scientists.

Full press release at NASA site here:

NASA And Tor-Forge Books Partner In Themed Science Fiction Works

If you are in to hard science fiction, and want a taste of realistic sci-fi, can I humbly suggest my own novel “Agencies” available on Kindle and soon in paperback.  (Not written in association with NASA – but hopefully the sort of story they would enjoy.)

(“Agencies” at Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE)


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/


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


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