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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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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PERILOUS WAIF – great military SF

In a far future Alice Long is a 14-year-old orphan on jungle planet Gaia. Her nun-like Matrons would disapprove of the body-mods she has if they knew about them. An accident reveals some, plus the fact that the brain-washing they gave her didn’t make her a docile naturist.

Escaping a heavier brain washing, she travels 2000 miles through dangerous jungle to the planet’s spaceport and manages to get off planet by rescuing the pilot of a space shuttle from would-be kidnappers.

So begins adventures among the stars in Perilous Waif, in a Star-Wars-like future. Almost all humans are modified, and they share ships and worlds with AIs with human and humanoid bodies. Alice makes friends and discovers more about herself and the mystery of where she came from. There’s plenty of action, including a few space battles, but the people are what makes this story special. And me want to recommend to you.

Preview ebook paperback

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ELL DONSAII stories, a fun series by Laurance Dahner

I just finished reading a delightful series by Laurance Dahners. Thirteen books in all (so far) it tells of the adventure of Ell Donsaii, a scientist and athlete of near-superhuman abilities. Unlike much of SF, integral to it is the science and the detective work involved in science.

It’s available in hardback, but I read it by downloading the ebooks. One great feature of Kindle editions is that you can go back and forth (as I did) between my mini iPad and my smartphone. Books stay synchronized in the Kindle apps on all devices.

Incidentally, I chose a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 over later versions because you can replace the battery and upgrade the memory, features not in the so-called “latest and greatest” Note smartphones.

Preview Amz

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Great new CASTAWAYS IN TIME book

Just finished a terrific addition to the old “castaways in time” books which started with Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The book by Michael Z. Williamson is a bit long on the details of how the main characters adapted. This might bother a few but I enjoyed them. You can always skim if a book seems slow to you, but I might have felt cheated if the author had left them out.

From the book’s blurb:

“Ten soldiers on convoy in Afghanistan suddenly find themselves lost in time. Somehow, they arrived in Earth’s Paleolithic Asia. With no idea how they arrived or how to get back, the shock of the event is severe. They discover groups of the similarly displaced: Imperial Romans, Neolithic Europeans, and a small cadre of East Indian peasants. Despite their technological advantage, the soldiers only have ten people, and know no way home.”

Preview Amz B&N

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Great read – FRONTIER MAGIC by Patricia Wrede

Normally I post about new books, movies, TV shows. But this last week I read a trilogy that has been out a while & enjoyed it a lot. It deserves a look by anyone who missed it the first time.

In the Frontier Magic series by Patricia Wrede an alternate USA exists in a universe where magic is a reality. Three different approaches to it are roughly the European, African, and Asian. The US in an about the mid-1800s mileau is split by the Mississippi River a third of the way across the country. There a great magical wall was built many years ago to keep magic out.

There the heroine’s family moves when she is five where her father is to teach at a frontier college. Effie is the family’s thirteenth child, supposedly of great but negative magic, just as her twin brother as the seventh son of a seventh son is of great and positive magic. The trilogy chronicles her maturity and rise to power as a magician and scientist.

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

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NINA KIRIKI HOFFMAN duology – terrific

One of the brightest stylists of fantasy fiction is Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Her characters are compelling, her stories engaging. She is definitely an author whose books you want to keep alert for when you go to the book store.

I’ve just begun rereading one of my favorite books by her, and I highly recommend you dip into it on Amazon and see if you might like it too. If you do, you’ll also want to get its sequel. (The first book is complete in itself. You do not need to get the second to enjoy the first.)

Click on the abbreviations above them to preview or buy the books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

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Tango MILONGA: Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes

The Argentine tango (contrary to myth) did not start in brothels. It began as a folk dance called the milonga in Uruguay and Argentina well before 1900. The music was in 2/4 time and the dance was bouncy and happy.

As often as not it was danced on dirt or grass in the beginning, at a picnic site, in a backyard, or in the patio of a tenement. Later it moved to bars where the floor might be uneven concrete or tile as often as wood. Because of these rough surfaces, each individual step was lifted and placed, not gliding close to a surface as in many ballroom dances.

The “steps” or patterns were very simple and the “hold” was close, perhaps little more than suggestive bumping and grinding. Later as the dance became more family oriented and done in polite society the hold became looser and the steps trickier.

Here are three videos of milongas done as show dancing, elaborate and at least partly choreographed. The first two couples are Sebastian Arce & his partner Mariana Montes, dancers from the age of eight. He lives in Russia, she in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia where she teaches at the Tangomeet tango school. From those bases they travel all over Europe to perform and teach.


Sebastian Achaval & Roxana Suarez are friends who’ll soon be at the tango school.

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more EMILY BLUNT and ANNE HATHAWAY lip-sync battle

MORE Em & Anne Lip Sync Battle on Spike’s hi-def channel on LSB’s YouTube channel!

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EMILY BLUNT and ANNE HATHAWAY lip-sync battle

Last night I watched Lip Sync Battle on Spike’s hi-def channel.

Utterly hilarious antics from two hotties – always a favorite with me. Now you can watch it on LSB’s YouTube channel.

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