GIANT ROCKETS – a new generation

Space exploration and exploitation is now big business, no longer the private playpen of governments. As witness the several new launch vehicles being used and in the works, an example being the Falcon Heavy which SpaceX is expected to launch this year, to take over some of the duties of its workhorse Falcon 9.

A recent report in the LA Times gives details. To read the article click the following image.

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New ERIC FLINT book available – The Alexander Inheritance

I’ve bought this. As I autobuy all of Eric Flint’s alt-history books. His first book was 1632, which has developed into an entire series of books. Lately he’s branched out into books based on the cosmic cataclysm at the root of the 1632 series.

From Baen Books: “Twice before, mysterious cosmic catastrophes have sent portions of the Earth across space and back in time—first, with the Grantville Disaster in West Virginia, and then again with a maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

Now, the planet is struck with yet another such cataclysm, whose direct impact falls upon the Queen of the Sea, a cruise ship in the Caribbean. When the convulsions subside, the crew and passengers of the ship discover that they have arrived in a new and frightening world.

They are in the Mediterranean now, not the Caribbean. Still worse, they discover that the disaster has sent them more than two thousand years back in time. Following the advice of an historian among the passengers, Marie Easley, they sail to Egypt—or, at least, where they hope Egypt will be.”

Click the image to read the first few chapters of each book. Click the list Baen supplied for The Alexander Inheritance to find your bookstore.

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Fabulous Netflix show STRANGER THINGS season 2 done & scheduled

Just saw a 45 minute video Netflix put out with the creators and cast of Stranger Things. I was excited to hear that season 2 has been completed and that the 9 episodes are scheduled for Halloween, October 31st

It was fascinating to put faces to the two brothers who wrote, produced, and directed season 1 and 2. So young! And so clearly fans of SF and fantasy.

The five kid actors at the core of the movie were also amazing. One minute seasoned professionals and the next instant kids again. Then back to being pros.

 

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WORLD’S LARGEST AIRCRAFT to launch spacecraft

Remember all those suggestions for two-stage-to-orbit space vehicles where the first stage was reusable?

One suggestion was for the first stage to be a rocket which returned and landed by backing down a rocket exhaust. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made that real with their Reusable Launch System.

Another suggestion was for the first stage to be an aircraft of some kind. Now that too is real with Stratolaunch SystemsSystem Carrier made for them by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company. Each of the two approaches have advantages over the other. Time will tell whether we see both used, which is what I’d guess.

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X-37B MINI SPACE SHUTTLE drone lands

This last May another X-37B mini spaceplane landed after almost two years in orbit. It did so under remote and mostly autopilot control. During the time in orbit it performed a number of experiments and jobs, some of them classified.

There are currently two of these spaceplanes, each of which has done two long-term space missions. A larger variant which could carry humans into orbit has been proposed but so far only conceptual studies have been done.

Click the image for more info on the mission and its ending. There is also a useful X-37 Wikipedia entry.

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YOUNG SHELDON first look

“Young Sheldon” will be on CBS this fall. I can’t resist sharing a first look preview which just came online at YouTube.

The biggest problem I see is how to keep in tune with the original version of Sheldon but also offer something new. Not a balancing act I envy!

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Exhilarating ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series

The latest incarnation of Anne of Green Gables, titled Anne With an E, is now available on Netflix. I consider the $9.99 cost of one month well worth it.

To me it’s a masterpiece of writing, filming, and acting, especially the actress who plays Anne, Amybeth McNulty. This though I’ve only seen the first two of the seven episodes. All together they cover chapters 1 through 18 of the book.

Much of the credit for the success of Anne is due to producer and writer Moira Walley-Beckett, producer and writer on Breaking Bad, who won an Emmy for her writing of Bad episode “Ozymandias.” All the other tech credits are outstanding, including locations, set design, and costuming. Especially notable is Bobby Shore‘s cinematography, by turns lush and noirish.

I suspect after I finish this version I’ll get a fresh copy of the first book of the series and reread it.

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ALL SYSTEMS RED: great new SF by Martha Wells

In a far future Murderbot, its chosen name, is a robot with full AI: not only intelligence but also self-awareness and emotions. Its non-biological body is covered with a human body to ease working with humans and using their tools.

Owned by The Company, it is assigned to protect one of several survey teams on a newly discovered planet which can support human life. It begins to suspect that recent accidents were deliberate murder attempts, perhaps by other teams or another species.

As danger escalates Murderbot and its team discover more about each other, and themselves. Which is the real story within the overall excitement of an action-adventure tale. I’m hoping for sequels, suggested by its subtitle ALL SYSTEMS RED: The Murderbot Diaries. So I clicked the FOLLOW button on Wells’ Amazon Author’s Page.

Click the image to read a preview.

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THEIR FINEST: terrific movie starring Gemma Arterton

Saw a wonderful film this weekend which is still in theaters. Gemma Arterton stars as a woman brought in during WW II to punch up the women’s lines in a film. It’s a publicity film intended to keep up the spirits of Londoners. Also stars one of my favorite male actors, Bill Nighy.

There’s a romance subplot but the focus is on what was truly Britain’s finest hour.

To find where and when it’s playing near you, click on Find THEIR FINEST and enter your zip code.

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Kate Beckinsale’s UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS surprisingly watchable

I delayed watching Kate Beckinsale’s UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS till I could get it cheaply. I thought the series was played out and the latest episode might be barely watchable. I wasn’t willing to spend the time and money going to the theater. Or buying it to stream. When it was available to cheaply rent to stream I finally watched it.

I was pleasantly surprised. It has several surprising twists and turns, double- and even triple-crosses, plenty of action, and the always watchable Kate Beckinsale. I was very satisfied that I’d finally stepped up to watch it.

Available from Amazon.com.

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