Sci-Fi Weekly Round-Up: 5.7.16-5.13.16

May 13, 2016



Planets, Planets, Everywhere!

The Kepler Space Telescope has just added 1200+ new planets to its roster, more than doubling the number of exoplanets previously discovered. The majority of these newly discovered planets fall between Earth and Neptune in size, and most of these planets are likely gaseous, but about 100 or so are much smaller than Earth and are likely rocky. Of the 1200+ newly discovered planets, 9 of them are located within a habitable zone, meaning these planets experience temperatures that would allow for liquid water on the planets’ surfaces.


Mercury, You Gorgeous Thing, You

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft is now defunct…but while active, it was able to provide scientists with 100,000 images of Mercury’s surface, enough to produce the first complete topographic map of the tiny planet. This is the second time Mercury made news this week. On Monday, the planet trekked across the sun in a unique way that only happens eight times a century.


The Moon Is Still Full of Surprises

Using a laser altimeter, LRO, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, has found ice water in new locations on the Moon. Previous data has indicated the existence of water, but LRO has been able to pinpoint exact locations. Orbiting since 2007, the spacecraft’s original objective was to find locations for landings, detect resources, and analyze radiation threats on the surface. Since then, LRO’s mission time has been extended past the initial one-year period, and it still orbiting today, 9 years later.


The Mer-Bot of Stanford

OceanOne has displayed a level of dexterity never before seenThere’s a new robot in town, and this one flourishes underwater. Meet OceanOne, Oussama Khatib’s new robotic creation, residing at Stanford University. The robot has done something unprecedented – . It is common knowledge that manipulating robots is difficult - they just don’t move well. On a recent expedition, manned by Khatib himself, OceanOne “was able to pluck a vase from a 350-year-old shipwreck.” Dexterous indeed!


I Could Live There!

As telescopes get stronger and stronger, more and more exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, are being discovered. This week, Kepler added 1200+ new exoplanets to our map of the universe, more than doubling the preexisting count. But, out of the 2200+ exoplanets in the universe, only some are potentially habitable. Most of these exoplanets are either too close or too far away from their suns. The Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo released this map of the universe, highlighting the exoplanets that fall within a “habitable zone” of their stars.

Deep Sea Virtual Reality

The largest mysteries on Earth are likely on the ocean floor. So much of that terrain has yet to be explored because for humans, traveling to its depths is too dangerous. One of those mysteries is an undersea volcano near Samoa…but in March, thanks to the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Remotely Operated Vehicle for Ocean Sciences, scientists now have VR video of the underwater volcano. The ROV spent 150 hours underwater, exploring the volcano, to produce the VR footage, footage that is now available via YouTube for all the non-Ocean Scientists out there.


A Speedy SpaceX Landing

SpaceX has plans to land on Mars. But landing on the Red Planet, given its very thin atmosphere, will be really, really hard. So, SpaceX needs a lot of practice. When they successfully landed a Falcon 9 on a barge last month, the spaceship loving world celebrated. So what makes its recent second landing, so special? To answer simply, speed. This second rocket descended at speeds of 4,400 miles per hour. DANG THAT’S FAST!


Enceladus is Saturn’s Feistiest Moon

Cassini, NASA’s Saturn orbiting spacecraft, has made news again this week. She had already discovered that Enceladus (one of Saturn's moons) is riddled with geysers…but for the first time, using an Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS), she was able to measure the amount of water vapor erupting from a geyser at the south pole of Enceladus. This discovery gives scientists more information about activity happening beneath the moon's surface.


Atomic Oxygen on Mars

For the first time since the Viking and Mariner missions in the 1970’s, atomic oxygen has been detected in the Martian atmosphere. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), found the atoms in the mesosphere (upper layers on the atmosphere)…but it was only about half of what they forecasted. This variation is what scientists will study in order to better understand the Martian atmosphere as a whole. Just one step closer to colonization, my friends!!


A Dwarf Planet By Any Other Name

2007 OR10 is a cold, dark, dwarf planet. Skulking in the depths of our solar system, past Neptune, he was discovered in 2007 and was determined too small for a proper name. Dwarf planets are tough to accurately observe because of their size and lack of heat. BUT, using data from both the Kepler space telescope and old data from the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers have discovered that 2007 OR10 is MUCH bigger than previously thought. In fact, it is the third biggest dwarf planet in our system, after Pluto and Eris. 2007 OR10 is still a big mystery, though… scientists can’t explain why the dwarf planet is so dark or why it orbits our Sun so slowly…spooky.





(The Defending Home Series Book 1)

Author: William H. Weber

Released: 5.9.16


A month has passed since a deadly virus swept the country killing millions and leaving chaos in its wake. Dale Hardy has managed to weather the storm by hunkering down on his homestead in Arizona. He grows his own crops, generates his own power and draws fresh water from his own deep aquifer. But when a nearby town's water supply dwindles in the searing Arizona heat, Dale's peaceful existence is threatened. The new mayor and sheriff want what he has and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get it. With a crooked local government conspiring against him, Dale will need to stand in defiance or risk losing everything.



(an Ell Donsaii story #13)

Author: Laurence Dahners

Released: 5.8.16


DNA" is the thirteenth book in a series of near future SciFi/Thrillers. Their heroine Ell Donsaii has a nerve mutation that makes her a genius and provides her some astonishing athletic abilities. 


In “DNA,” Ell’s five-year-old son Zage has become interested in the effects of certain genes on obesity. He’s obtained permission to do research in a university lab where he hopes to test some of his ideas.


Work is being done to evaluate the possibility of terraforming the planet Mars by using Ell’s port technology to bring in water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen from various other worlds in the solar system.


Ell’s robotic probes have found intelligent aliens on the third planet of 61 Virginis. Although these aliens appeared to be completely non-technological, it turns out that they are far ahead of Earth in the manipulation of DNA. Can we safely trade technology for some of their DNA know how?


Finally, some of Ell’s old enemies have decided to have one more try at kidnapping her in order to obtain some of her secrets…



The Last Phoenix

(Book 2 of the Horus Heresy Omnibus)

Author: Graham McNeil

Released: May 2016


With the Space Marine Legions falling upon one another in open battle, the most flawed of the mighty primarchs began to pursue their own agendas, seeking out whatever destinies they imagined for themselves under Horus’s new order. Fulgrim, the Phoenician lord of the Emperor’s Children, had always striven to outshine his brothers – but even he could never have guessed the depths of betrayal to which he would eventually sink in pursuit of greater power...



Mutiny in Space

Author: Rod Walker

Released: 5.9.16


When the radical revolutionaries of the Social Party prevent his attendance at university and make his life on New Chicago impossible, Nikolai Rovio has no choice but to accept his starship-bound uncle's offer to take refuge in space and sign on as a technical apprentice with Starways. But space, he quickly learns, is full of dangers that can kill a young man just as dead as even the most bloodthirsty revolutionary.


And no place that Man can travel can ever truly serve as a safe refuge from ambitious and evil-minded men.



The New World

Authors: Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz

Released: 5.3.2016


Jorie has just received some terrible news. A phone full of missed calls and sympathetic text messages seems to indicate that her husband, Jim, a chaplain at the hospital where she works as a surgeon, is dead. Only, not quite--rather, his head has been removed from his body and cryogenically frozen. Jim awakes to find himself in an altogether unique situation, to say the least: his body gone but his consciousness alive, his only companion a mysterious disembodied voice.



Power Surge


Author: Ben Bova

Released: 5.3.2016


The science advisor to a newly-elected freshman senator, Jake has crafted a comprehensive energy plan that employs innovative new technologies to make America the world's leader in energy production while simultaneously boosting the economy and protecting the environment. The facts--and the science--are on Jake's side, but his plan soon runs afoul of entrenched special interests, well-funded lobbies, cynical bureaucrats, pork-barrel politics, and one very powerful US Senator.


To keep his plan alive and secure a sustainable future for America, Jake needs a crash course in the way Washington really works. Everyone keeps telling him that his plan has no hope of succeeding, but Jake is determined to prove them wrong even if it kills him...something that certain hostile parties may be all too happy to arrange.




Pyres of Armageddon

(Book #2 of Yarrick)

Author: David Annandale

Released: May 2016


Commissar Yarrick returns to action to defend the world of Armageddon. When the largest ork horde seen for centuries hits the hive world, the Imperial forces are faced with an overwhelming attack.

Commissar Sebastian Yarrick returns to action to defend the world of Armageddon. When the largest ork horde seen for centuries hits the hive world, the Imperial forces are faced with an overwhelming attack. As battle rages across the planet, Yarrick and his allies lead the defence, striking at the orks in a series of daring assaults. Even if it means incurring the wrath of Armageddon’s corrupt Overlord, Commissar Yarrick will not let Armageddon fall.


Strike Point - Blackout: An EMP Blackout Survival Novel

Author: Emerson Hawk

Released: 5.10.16


Was it true that ISIS set off multiple EMP's across the USA, taking out the entire power grid? Or was that just a cover up?


John and Laura Monroe are stuck on a train that has come to its final stop one-hundred fifty miles from home. With no communications, and strange storms taking over the skies, every decision they make could be the difference between life or death.



Too Like the Lightening

(Terra Ignota)

Author: Ada Palmer

Released: 5.10.16


Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer--a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.


The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world's population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.


And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life...


The Unburdened

(Part of Horus Heresy)

Author: David Annandale

Released: May 2016


The Battle for Calth continues in the haunted shadows of the planet's underworld.

Long considering themselves persecuted by the rest of the Imperium, the apostles of the XVIIth Legion have courted sedition, betrayal and even open heresy for decades. But for Kurtha Sedd of the Third Hand Chapter, the Word Bearers' assault on Calth has proven... troubling. Drawn into the haunted shadows of the planet's underworld, the Chaplain and his devout brethren must now put aside all other concerns and continue to wage war against the Ultramarines, no matter the ultimate cost.




(Sequel to The Loch)

Author: Steve Alten

Released: 5.3.2016


East Antarctica: The coldest, most desolate location on Earth. Two-and-a-half miles below the ice cap is Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep, left untouched for more than fifteen million years. Now, marine biologist Zachary Wallace and two other scientists aboard a submersible tethered to a laser will journey 13,000 feet beneath the ice into this unexplored realm to discover Mesozoic life forms long believed extinct--and an object of immense power responsible for the evolution of modern man.



WhiteWing: First Ordinance, Book 5

Author: Connie Suttle

Released: 5.11.16


Quin is kept busy placing planet-saving spheres on poisoned worlds.


A device has been created on an isolated world that can hide anyone or anything from even the most powerful, including the gods.



The spheres

The device

--Vardil Cayetes wants all of those things


Who can stop him, now that he is back and stronger than ever?


The World Engine

(Part of Space Marine Battles)

Author: Ben Counter

Released: May 2016


A planet-sized super weapon, the World Engine must be stopped before it destroys all in its path. A full Space Marine Chapter is given the seemingly impossible task of destroying it.


For months, the necron World Engine has blazed a trail across the Vidar sector, destroying planets and devastating every fleet sent to destroy it. Now, the Astral Knights Space Marine Chapter enact a daring plan to get to the heart of the mighty edifice and bring it to an end. Crashing their battle-barge into the World Engine, they land upon its surface, seeking its heart. Confronted by sinister necrons, the fate of the Astral Knights hangs in the balance, along with the lives of untold billions...




The Lobster

Written By: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou

Release Date: 5.13.16


In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.





None next week.




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A dystopian, action-adventure trilogy set in San Francisco.

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