In The (SFF) News This Week…

A super-nerdy but awesome explanation of the Kardashev scale, which is ‘used to classify hypothetical alien civilizations according to the amount of energy at their disposal’.

‘This led him to speculate about a Type II civilization. For an [extraterrestrial intelligence] to reach K2, it would need to capture the entire energy output of its parent star. The best way to achieve this, of course, is to build a Dyson Sphere.

Conjured by Freeman Dyson in 1959, this hypothetical megastructure would envelope a star at a distance of 1 AU and cover an inconceivably large area of 2.72 x 1017 km2, which is around 600 million times the surface area of the Earth. The sun has an energy output of around 4 x 1026 Watts, of which most would be available to do useful work.’

As anyone who’s read Ascension Point knows, I’ve always been more of a Dyson Swarm kind of guy, but each to their own.

Next up, are you ready for season three of Game of Thrones? I know I am.

We should stop using nuclear weapons as a unit of measurement, says annoyed atomic historian.

“In general,” he added, “What I don’t like is … the idea that kiloton or a megaton is just an energy unit, that it’s equivalent to so many joules or something. Because you could do that. You could claim that your house runs so many tons of TNT worth of electricity per year, but it sort of trivializes the notion.”

Also at The Atlantic, a spectacular NASA video of three simultaneous solar phenomena.

…a solar flare, a coronal mass ejection (CME), and coronal rain, “complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun’s atmosphere,” NASA explains.’

Finally, in Dan-specific news, Venus Rising goes to my editor on March 8th, which means it should be out in just a couple of months!

Fifty and/or Ten SFF Works Every Socialist and/or Conservative Should Read

This is great. Wonderful spec-fic author and renowned socialist China Mieville put together a list for The Weekly Ansible of ‘50 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Works Every Socialist Should Read‘. Then The American Conservative, just for fun, did a counterpoint list of ten equivalent works for those of a more conservative bent.

intriguing stuff, and a great shopping list for readers who like some political theory with along with their hyperspace travel/dragons.

Spectacular Meteor Footage

Just in case anyone hasn’t seen the news in the last four days, a 56ft-wide asteroid weighing around 10,000 tons and travelling at 40,000 miles per hour entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on February 15th. (At which point it became a meteor, not an asteroid, I’ve learned.)

It disintegrated under the force of atmospheric pressure nine miles over the city of Chelyabinsk, causing a shockwave that shattered windows across the city and injured 1200 people.

This write-up at the New Yorker sums it up pretty well, and io9 has some science here.

The key lesson in all this? Space is very big, and IT IS TRYING TO KILL US.

Venus Rising Cover Reveal!

Hey there, folks. It’s been a while, what with the Carnaval vacation down here in Brazil and a particularly busy few weeks at the day job. But I’ve still found time to work with the talented Stephanie Mooney on the cover for my upcoming second novel, Venus Rising.

And here it is…

See more!

Marvellous. ASCENSION POINT has earned itself another excellent review, courtesy of our new friend Jackie Hames over at the splendidly-named The Spidereen Frigate blog. One line summary: cracking sci-fi, not so good romance. But I could have told you that 😉

The Spidereen Frigate

Hello, my hearts! I hope your weekend was spectacular. For my American friends, I hope the sportsball team of your choice won the annual championship. I don’t pay attention to that kind of thing, as you can see.

What I did over the weekend was think about this book I just finished: ASCENSION POINT by Dan Harris.

The book is a science fiction novel, and Harris’ self-published debut. Now, before you go around finishing that cringe-smirk, let me tell you this. ASCENSION POINT holds its own against the mainstream science fiction market–it’s well plotted, well-edited, and most of all, fun to read.

That said, it is not for the beginning science fiction enthusiast. The first few paragraphs are a barrage of science fiction terms and ten-dollar words. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily, but if you’ve been reading YA books or books where the narrator communicates primarily in profanity…

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Top 100+ Stories From The First 5 Years of io9

Well, there’s my Sunday gone.

“Over the past five years at io9, we’ve explored a lot of strange frontiers, and asked a lot of ridiculous questions. Some of our strangest discoveries have been the ones that hung around, as if we adopted a baby alien and it grew up eating out of our hands.”

Spend the next five hours reading here.