Sci-Fi Weekly Round-Up: 5.14.16-5.20.16

May 21, 2016


Robots are Flying (and Landing) Now:

Machines just keep on getting better! Scientists have now created a tiny robot (like the size of a bug tiny) that can fly, hover (using static electricity to "cling"), and land. According to engineers, designing the robot's landing, was the most difficult. Landing devices have been successfully created for larger robots, but this is the first time a robot of this size has been able to land. 


Tsunamis, Universal Game Changers:

Scientists have been pouring over satellite images of the surface of Mars. Their most recent theory? Tsunamis may have responsible for pushing ocean water inland and shaping the terrain. Of course, proving this theory will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, but patterns on the Red Planet’s surface indicate that water was pushed uphill at two different points in history, roughly 3.4 billion years ago.


Going, Going, Gone:

PB 3877 is a binary star in the Milky Way. It is traveling at a rate of 2 million kilometers per hour, fast enough to break free from the gravitational pull of our galaxy. Meaning, the binary is ditching us. Scientists are baffled – they don’t know why this pair of stars is moving so fast. The most popular theory is that the stars are remnants from a collision the Milky Way had with another galaxy.


NASA Loves Balloons:

NASA is getting very economical - they just launched a massive balloon up (more than 1,000 feet) into the sky, from Wanaka, New Zealand. Their goal is to keep the balloon in orbit, for 100 days, while the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), a gamma-ray telescope, collects data. The material needed to launch the balloon and sustain it in orbit, is significantly less than the funds needed to launch rockets. This is a much more affordable way for scientists to collect data about the Earth's atmosphere.


Machine Learning, the New Frontier:

It’s starting. Well, no, that’s a lie. The shift in computing started years ago. For decades, engineers have programmed computers with explicit instructions, aka code…but that technology is becoming obsolete. Now, all the rage is to train computers. This practice is called machine learning and works with neural networks, huge computer systems that mimic the intricate, multi-layer design of the human brain. Machine learning is already being used by the tech giants, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, so it is safe to assume that the practice will trickle down to the smaller companies too.


Testing the Big Bang:

The Little Lion galaxy, located in the constellation Leo Minor, 30 million light years away, may be able to contribute to a quantitative test of the Big Bang. Students at Indiana University discovered that Little Lion has the least amount of heavy metals ever observed in a “gravitational bound system of stars.” Low metal galaxies are important because they indicate that less stellar activity has taken place, compared to other galaxies. Scientists are most accurately able to test the currently accepted model of the Big Bang, and its amounts of hydrogen and helium, against low metal galaxies.


It’s All About Europa’s Ocean:

Europa is in the news a lot this week. Maybe that’s because it’s one of the few objects, discovered in our solar system, that may be able to support life. NASA has been modeling the conditions of the moon’s ocean and a new study shows that, even without volcanic hydrothermal activity, Europa has the same ratio of hydrogen and oxygen as Earth. Both bodies demonstrate that their oxygen production is ten times higher than their hydrogen production. Looks like we can’t plan a mission to Europa soon enough. Good thing NASA’s already on it.


A Cheap and Cheerful Europa Proposal:

Cornell University and Draper Laboratories have proposed a cheap way to get data from Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon. The idea is to use satellites and microprobes to penetrate Europa’s atmosphere, and collect data. The CubeStats (satellites) would fly across the planet at eight miles above the surface, mapping it. Then, the satellites would release the ChipStats (microprobes) that would fall to the surface and collect additional data. We’re still about 10-15 years away from this technology...but does this remind anyone else of the movie, Twister? You know, when they try to get Dorothy to fly…


Now Announcing – Kuiper Belt Object Science!

The Kuiper Belt is a group of small objects in space, extending from Neptune’s orbit. It is much bigger than the asteroid belt and is home to three well-known dwarf planets, Pluto, Haumea, and Makemake. Until this past week, we haven’t had any data on any of the smaller objects in the belt, past Pluto. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), has now observed a 90-mile wide, Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) called 1994 JR1, twice. We are really pushing the limits of space, y’all.


Bust Out Those Telescopes:

Your best opportunity to see Mars before 2018, is happening on SUNDAY NIGHT! Called the Opposition, Mars will be closest to Earth on Sunday. Don’t have a telescope? NO WORRIES. Neither do I. Our friends at have teamed up with Slooh Observatory to livecast the event. Click here for access to the media player.


Saying Goodbye to a Pioneer:

Andre Brahic, a French astronomer that partnered with US astronomer William Hubbard to discover the rings of Neptune in 1984, has passed away. He was 73 when he died and is considered by many as an expert of the solar system.





Author: James Bushill

Released: 3.9.16


In 2091, Victor and Maria created Adam, the world's first biological supercomputer. They dreamed of changing the world. 

Now it's 2101. 
Adam's running a mining asteroid. 
Maria's in a coma. 
Victor's dreams are in tatters. 

Living in the pollution-shrouded city of Missoula, Montana, scrambling to find the money to pay his wife's hospital bills, Victor doesn't think his life could get any worse. But then he's forced to return to the asteroid...

And when that mission becomes a desperate fight for survival amid the dark tunnels of the abandoned mine, Victor must finally confront the terrifying consequences of his past.


Ashes of the Fall

(The Remnants Trilogy Book 1)

Author: Nicholas Erik

Released: 4.4.16


In the year 2048, the crumbling remnants of western North America are suddenly buried in ash, weakening the grip of the brutal dictatorship. A factional landscape springs from the ashes, con man Luke Stokes artfully navigating the clash. 

But he can't remain above the fray for long, as each faction seeks the truth from Luke regarding his murdered brother's final project. A neural-interface technology that will forever shift the fragile balance of the ashen plains. 

With the true believers, desert nomads, survivalists and existing regime closing in, Luke must delve deeper into his genius brother's secrets. And the truth about his last project will dramatically alter the remnants of civilization. 

Because the fall isn't always the end - sometimes, it's only the beginning. 


Continue Online

(Part Three, Realities)

Author: Stephan Morse


Life in a virtual world isn’t easy. Continue Online is hell bent upon throwing one chance to fail after another at Grant Legate. While he may not have risen to surmount every single challenge with flying colors, he tried and achieved minor successes along the way. Every step forward is a chance to take control of his life. It’s these simple moments of triumph that make it worth continuing. Moments where he feels like things have gone right. Plus, his character is starting to get rather neat.


The problem is, other people are starting to wonder what’s going on as well. His twin sister sees these events as backsliding into depression and possibly suicide, or delusion at best. Grant’s employers at Trillium find ways to insert additional worries into the mix. On top of that, even Hal Pal appears to have plans. It doesn’t help that Grant himself is at odds with everything that’s happened. When the machine has recreated a dead woman and uses that as leverage, how could he not be?



Author: James L. Cambias

Released: 5.10.16


In the early 2020s, two young, genius computer hackers, Elizabeth Santiago and David Schwartz, meet at MIT, where Schwartz is sneaking into classes, and have a brief affair. David is amoral and out for himself, and soon disappears. Elizabeth dreams of technology and space travel and takes a military job after graduating. Nearly ten years later, David is setting himself to become a billionaire by working in the shadows under a multiplicity of names for international thieves, and Elizabeth works in intelligence preventing international space piracy. With robotic mining in space becoming a lucrative part of Earth's economy, shipments from space are dropped down the gravity well into the oceans. David and Elizabeth fight for dominance of the computer systems controlling ore drop placement in international waters. If David can nudge a shipment 500 miles off its target, his employers can get there first and claim it legally in the open sea. Each one intuits that the other is their real competition but can't prove it. And when Elizabeth loses a major shipment, she leaves government employ to work for a private space company to find a better way to protect shipments. But international piracy has very high stakes and some very evil players. And both Elizabeth and David end up in a world of trouble.


Dark Orbit

Author: Carolyn Ives Gilman

Released: 5.10.16


From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carol Ive Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.

Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she's been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.


The Fireman

Author: Joe Hill

Released: 5.17.16


The fireman is coming. Stay cool.


No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.


Give No Quarter

Author: Jamie McFarlane

Released: 5.15.16


Branded criminals and on the run from the most powerful corporation in the known universe, Liam Hoffen and the crew of Hotspur have a simple choice to make. They can either cower and hide on the long since abandoned planet Ophir, or continue their mission to set right the wrongs perpetrated by a company willing to trade human suffering and lives for their bottom line. If you’ve followed their story, you know which choice they’ll make.


Our crew will discover new planets and alien species. They'll fight pitched fleet battles and struggle against a deadly new alien foe, which is as cunning as it is ruthless. While fighting a war on two fronts, Hoffen is ambushed by his father's murders. This showdown comes at the worst possible time and forces him to fight for everyone he loves. In the end, only he or the enemy will exit the field of battle and no quarter will be given.


Give No Quarter is the tenth book in the Privateer Tales universe and is the third in the Belirand Menace story arc which started with Buccaneers and is followed by A Matter of Honor.



Author: Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Released: 5.11.16


INFESTATION is a hair-raising, skin-itching Qwickie® novella inspired by true events and laced with a heavy dose of horror and a dash of tongue-in-cheek Tardif humor… 

Every house has its secrets, some more perverse and horrific than others… 

Suspense author Cathy Tremblay and her cable-installer husband, Mike, have just moved into a new home in West Kelowna, BC., where they get to experience nature at its finest. Between deer traipsing across the front yard and a “quailing daycare” in the back, they’re living la vida buena. Until everything changes. 

First come the spiders. Then the rats. What comes next hurls Cathy and Mike into skin-itching chaos. They’ve seen all kinds of house pests before, but they’re not prepared for an infestation like this. 


The Last Star: The Final Book of the 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Released: 5.24.16


The enemy is Other. The enemy is us. They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves . . . or saving what makes us human.



Liquid Cool: The Cyberpunk Detective Series

(Liquid Cool Book 1)

Author: Austin Dragon

Released: 2.14.16


How Much is One Life Worth?

In the sci-fi/cyberpunk detective series, author Austin Dragon shows why you never want to meet a cyborg in a dark alley. Liquid Cool is a cross between Blade Runner and the Maltese Falcon. There is plenty of gritty action, suspense, thrills, and even a few laughs.

It’s cyberpunk reimagined—an ever-rainy world of colossal skyscrapers, hover-cars, flashy neon streets, and futuristic mechanization. Metropolis isn’t a bad place, but it isn’t a good one either. Uber-governments and mega-corporations fight for control of the fifty-million-plus super-city, but so does crime.

We meet Cruz, our private eye (and unlikely hero), in this super-city with a million victims and perpetrators. Watch out for tech-tricksters, analog hustlers, and digital gangsters—psychos, samurais, and cyborgs aplenty. Visitors have a way of becoming permanent attractions.

Welcome to the high-tech, low-life world of Liquid Cool.


The Lost Fleet: Genesis

(A Slavers Wars Novel)

Author: Raymond L. Weil

Released: 5.18.16


Fleet Admiral Jeremy Strong is determined to preserve the planet Gaia as the new home of the lost fleets. Unfortunately, a new and frightening danger from the destroyed Dyson Sphere threatens to undo everything he has fought for.


Kazak, the AI on the Originator ship has his own agenda. The Humans and Altons will either do as he demands or he will destroy them. Can Fleet Admiral Strong outsmart the two-million-year-old AI or is he doomed to failure?


Admiral Tolsen has found the Dyson Sphere in the home galaxy. However, he will have to fight to keep control of it as research teams work frantically to discover its secrets before it’s too late. Both the Simulins and the Shari are determined to destroy Tolsen’s fleet and take the Dyson Sphere for themselves.


Both galaxies erupt into war as the titanic struggle for supremacy continues. If the Simulins win, then all hope is lost as they will destroy all organic life. If the Shari win, they will use the science and technology in the Dyson Sphere to conquer the home galaxy and destroy the Human Federation of Worlds.



(The Last Humans Book 1)

Author: Dima Zales

Released: 1.19.16


My name is Theo, and I'm a resident of Oasis, the last habitable area on Earth. It's meant to be a paradise, a place where we are all content. Vulgarity, violence, insanity, and other ills are but a distant memory, and even death no longer plagues us. 

I was once content too, but now I'm different. Now I hear a voice in my head, and she tells me things no imaginary friend should know. Her name is Phoe, and she is my delusion. 

Or is she? 

Note: This book contains some strong language. We felt it was important for the censorship theme of the novel. If such words offend you, you might not enjoy this book.



(The Inner Movement Book 1)

Author: Brandt Legg

Released: 1.27.16


There is a secret so powerful that, once known, the world will never be the same. For centuries they have died to protect it. Nate found it. They know he did. 
Across time and dimensions they are after him . . . 
Four years ago, his father died. 
Two years ago, Nate’s mother locked his brother in a mental institution. 
One year ago, horrific visions began to torture him. 
Now, a clandestine group, wielding overwhelming power, wants him silenced. 
Nate is only sixteen. 



Author: Neal Stephensen

Released: 5.19.16


What would happen if the world were ending?A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.


Strain of Resistance

(The Bixby Series Book 1)

Author: Michelle Bryan

Released: 2.29.16


My name is Bixby. I was 12 years old when the world ended. A mysterious mist had blanketed our world, turning most of the population into blood-sucking predators. The few of us left uninfected...well, we were the prey. Vanquished to the bottom of the food chain. 

For eight years we've fought this alien war. Barely surviving. Not knowing which day would be our last. But now we face a new threat. The parasite that took us down is evolving. Becoming smarter. Stronger. Deadlier. 

The infected took everything from me. My home. My family. The man that I loved. No more. 

This is the story of our resistance.




X-Men: Apocalypse

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Simon Kinberg

Release Date: 5.27.16


With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.




None next week.




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