August 30, 2015

Free Fiction Friday: Helium Party Part 5

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Here it tis… our weekly healthy serving of free science fiction for you, the discerning public. Be sure to start back on chapter 1, and you can read Helium Party and other tales of original sci-fi by yours truly.

But now, let’s join our intrepid gang The Citizens of Silliness in orbit around Jupiter:

Helium Party


David Dickinson

Chapter 5

“Lanky, Tinker, standby to deploy those catcher pods…”

I watched the console as a beacon lit up ahead. Of course, the outline of the flashing indicator was in the obligatory clown-head shape.

“You’ve got full helium bladders to pick up!” I exclaimed.

“You’re a smart one, there, Toots,” Crunchy replied. “Think we’d go home empty handed?” “We drop ‘em, and we pick em up.” [Read more...]

Book Review: Recycled Pulp edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristen Kathryn Rusch

On sale in September 2015!

Remember the pulp novelettes of yore?

Named for the woodsy, low cost paper they were printed on, dime store pulp novels were an integral part of many readers’ childhoods. They were formulaic, sure, but we always knew the tales within would deliver.

The folks at Fiction River recently challenged authors to concoct some pulp tales of their own, and the results were far from rigid or predictable. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Ode to a Solar Eclipse

The end of totality over the Faroes.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Schnuffel2002/under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

The sight of a total solar eclipse is pure unforgettable magic. The March 20th, 2015 total solar eclipse provided a unique artistic backdrop for a live musical performance. As the shadow of the Moon touched down over the North Atlantic and raced towards the Faroe Islands, the Faroese metal band Hamferð (the ‘ð’ is a voiced dental fricative pronounced like the ‘th’ in the English word father) was ready. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Helium Party Part 4

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Rogue clowns in space hungry for helium, what’s not to love? Here’s this week’s latest installment chronicling the further adventures of the Sons of Silliness. Be sure to start back on chapter 1, and read Helium Party and other works of original fiction by yours truly.

Helium Party


David Dickinson

Chapter 4

The vessel was tiny, a nod to the clown cars of yore. It came complete with an oversized windup key that served as the ignition for the anti-matter cascade, which seemed to always be Lanky’s job to get out and crank. The first Gemini astronauts probably had more space in their cramped capsule. The crew consisted of four, with Crunchy, Lanky, Tinker and I crammed into the good ship Laughing Stock. Of course, Crunchy was initially against my accompanying them, until I mentioned my skills handling a gas-giant skimmer as a kid growing up on Mimas. Plus, he’d softened a bit over time to the ‘get your poignant plight out to the people’ angle. I also knew that The Terran Solar News Miner was paying the Citizens handsomely for my service. I agreed not to disclose any tactical secrets, and we were off on an illicit hunt to smuggle in more helium. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: An EPIC Moon ‘Photobombs’ the Earth

The Moon transits the face of the Earth courtesy of DSCOVR.

Image credit: NASA/NOAA

By now, you’ve seen last month’s amazing animation courtesy of NASA. The newly launched Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) captured this beautiful sequence last month on July 16th showing the Moon transiting the face of our fair planet. DSCOVR sits about a million miles away – four times the Earth-Moon distance – at the sunward L1 Lagrange point as it monitors the Earth. The images were taken using the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), and the entire sequence spans just about five hours time. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday-Helium Party Part 3

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Here it ’tis; our weekly installment of rogue Space Clowns, doing what rogue Space Clowns do. Be sure to start back on chapter 1 if you’re new to the story, or read Helium Party and other original tales of science fiction in their entirety.

Helium Party


David Dickisnon

Chapter 3

I crept towards the fray. The battle scene before me was truly epic, if not slightly hilarious. Pies flew, both toxic and explosive. Bad puns and gags were exchanged. I knew that it was only a matter of time before the battle would devolve into cutlery throwing and hand-to-hand-buzzer combat. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: NASA in Action

ISS as seen from STS-132.

Image credit: NASA

There’s lots of live action underway this week both on Earth and in orbit, all of which is live on NASA TV.

Ready? There are lots to cover, so we’ll do this rapid-fire style. First up this AM is a scheduled spacewalk for Expedition 44 Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko. The spacewalkers will be performing a variety of tasks over a 6.5 hour span, including retrieval of external experiments, upgrading hardware, and photographing the station exterior. The EVA begins today at 9:45 AM EDT/13:45 UT, and NASA TV will go live 15 minutes prior: [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Helium Party Part 2

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Those crazy space clowns at the Sons of Silliness are at it again, in a solar system spanning tale of mis-adventure. Welcome to chapter 2 of our Free Fiction Friday offering of Helium Party. Be sure to start back on chapter 1, or you can simply read the tale and others like it in their entirety.

Helium Party


David Dickinson

Chapter 2

“The story’s always first, you know how it is,” I replied, and let it hang at that. You know how it is with us fearless-girl-reporter types.

“Yeah, we know alright…”

I would sometimes try to appeal to their sense of “clownish pride,” asking them how they always seem to come through for their clients with even the most outlandish requests and parties, but to no avail. I knew that the central clubhouse storage depot had to hold the answer. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Landing on a Comet

Comet 67/P: The view from 9-metres up, with the estimated final orientation of the Philae lander super-imposed.

(Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR)

It’s the kind of stick and rudder style approach that would make the most hardened of test pilots proud.

The European Space Agency recently released an amazing animation of the approach of its Philae Lander towards the surface of Comet67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last November. You can see the alien terrain snap into breathtaking focus from the point of view of the tiny Lander’s ROsetta Lander Imaging System (ROLIS). The final images were acquired from just 9 meters (27 feet) above the Agilkia landing site, and show the silhouette marking the final resting place for the lander. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Helium Party Part 1

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This week, we thought we’d start in with some lighter helium-laced fare with our tale of space hi-jinks, Helium Party. Hey, it’s got  rogue gangs of space clowns, what’s not to love? Plus, we may very will be revisiting the universe of the Citizens of Silliness again, the story was that much fun to write. Remember, you can read Helium Party and other original tales of science fiction by yours truly in their entirety as well.

Helium Party


David Dickinson

Chapter 1


I knew, as Jupiter filled up our view and scuds of methane clouds whizzed by, that this was a bad idea.

“Just have those scoops ready to deploy when I tell ya’ to, Kid…” Crunchy called out from the pilot’s seat. How the three of us had fit into the tiny cabin of the Laughing Stock I have no idea. I’d done exposés on technology cults in the Oort Cloud and had taken audiences on a hard-nosed look at crime bosses of the Flying Venusian underworld, but never did I fear for my life quite like I did just now. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: An Amazing Piece of Metal

The tarnished mirror used in Herschel’s 40-foot reflector on display at the London Science Museum.

Image credit: geni/Wikimedia Commons

Your backyard Dobsonian has a mirror that far outperforms the best telescopes of yore.

This week, we thought we’d break the “all-Pluto all the time” mantra for July to bring you a classic from our archives. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 7

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And here it is; the final installment of our second book of the Solar Winds series. Be sure to start back on Chapter 1, or better yet, start back with chapter 1 book 1: Scorpius Cell. Or, you can read em all and other original works of scifi in their entirety by yours truly.

Solar Winds: The Cloaked Promise


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 7

“Ah, your beauty can only add to the drab setting here. I told them you were an absolute celestial angel when they questioned me, you know. Why the media doesn’t play that up is beyond…”

“How did you find our base?” Andrea cut in. She resisted every urge to cup her newly injured shoulder in front of him. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Alice Sees Pluto Occult the Sun

Welcome to Pluto!

Image credit: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI

It was a crazy wild ride last week, as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft whizzed through the Pluto system in a historic encounter. We did’t get much work done last Tuesday, that’s for sure. But among the stunning images of Pluto and its moons and amazing close-up flyby sequences, another fascinating observation was made, that we feel is worth mentioning here today. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 6

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And here it is: the penultimate chapter to part two of our solar system-spanning tale. Be sure to start back with story one chapter one, or read ‘em all and more original tales online.

Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 6

Once she was safely out of sight, a hooded man at the bar stood up to depart in the opposite direction.  He was heavily augmented, so much so that it was hard to tell where the machine ended and the man began.  Nano-robots coursed through his veins.  Already, data recorded by his ocular implants was being transferred and analyzed by his contractors.  They would be pleased. All that remained now, he decided, was to kill the provider, then hunt for the girl.  He prided himself on carrying out a clean act. It was, after all, why they kept coming back for his services. [Read more...]

Astronomy Video of the Week: Catching Pluto before Pluto

Pluto! (Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI).

You just never know what might be lurking in old data, awaiting discovery.

Or perhaps pre-discovery. As we approach the eve of New Horizon’s historic fly-by of Pluto and its moons tomorrow, we thought we’d turn your attention to a recent amazing find from the Carnegie Observatories’ archive. The collection includes more than 200,000 glass plates of the night sky going all the way back to 1892 from three separate observatories.

[Read more...]

Colonists Launch Pluto One Project as Historic Flyby Nears

Pluto or bust? Credit: NASA/JHUAPL

As Pluto grows ever-sharper in the view of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, so does humankind’s longing to explore the ‘other Red Planet.’

Now, a Florida-based organization calling itself Pluto One is looking to do just that. [Read more...]

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 5

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Can’t wait ’til next Tuesday for New Horizons’ historic encounter with Pluto? You can explore the future solar system now, with Martian native Andrea Makati and the Zodiac Cartel gang in this week’s installment straight out of the Solar Winds universe. action is heating up, as Andrea heads to Titan and Cronos City. Be sure to start back with chapter 1, or better yet, the first chapter of the first story Scorpius Cell, or better yet read em both and other original tales of scifi in their entirety.


Solar Winds-the Cloaked Promise


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 5

The ship proved to be one hell of a mover. Andrea estimated they had covered several million kilometers in just the span of an hour.  She could see Saturn’s phase and orientation change in real time as she watched.  This ship has to have a new anti-matter drive, she thought. Nothing else could power something this compact. I wonder how they contain it? The Professor would love to tear into this rig… [Read more...]

Review: A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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Things are definitely heating up in the Retrieval Artist Universe. One thing we arrived back home to after our year-long great American road trip this past year was a stack of books from the sci-fi Anniversary Day saga. We’d read and reviewed Blowback, the second book in the installment, so we eagerly jumped right back in to the eight book series and recently finished A Murder of Clones for review this week. [Read more...]