24 December 2014

Your tablet computer is screwing up your sleep patterns

A new Harvard study is re-affirming the assertion that reading light-emitting e-books before bed, like computer tablets, could have a detrimental effect on sleep, which can in turn lead to serious health problems.

You may already be familiar with the suggestions that too much exposure to light, both before and after we go to bed, can be disruptive to our sleep patterns. The problem is that, as diurnal creatures, our bodies respond poorly to suppressed releases of the brain chemical melatonin, which is emitted when we're exposed to darkness. And when we're deprived of sleep, we become prone to some rather serious conditions, including an increased risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. At the same time, the subsequent triggering of cortisol introduces another set of problems related to body-fat levels, insulin resistance, and systematic inflammation.

What the heck? Note the reference to "light-emitting e-books" only, not e-ink displays, but this still sounds serious.

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Read more HERE.

17 December 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Our Cosmic Ancestors by Maurice Chatelain

Our Cosmic AncestorsOur Cosmic Ancestors by Maurice Chatelain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A former NASA expert documents evidence left in codes inscribed on ancient monuments pointing to the existence of an advanced prehistoric civilization regularly visited (and technologically assisted) by ETs.

Our Cosmic Ancestors is a dynamic work unraveling the messages of these "universal astronauts" and decoding the symbols and visual mathematics they have left for us in the Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge, the Mayan calendar, the Maltese Cross and the Sumerian zodiac.

The book is captivating reading from beginning to end. However Mr. Chatelain's purpose in sharing these exciting discoveries lies in the hope that all humans will extend their horizons, to release fear of the unknown just enough that another generation will exhibit growing curiosity to continue the search for signs of purposeful nurturing of this planet.

I have seen this book referred to in many other works which explore the idea of ancient aliens and extraterrestrial intervention, etc. and therefore was keen to delve into it for myself. It's a good book and it's written rather well, especially Chatelain's colorful descriptions of how he believes things may have happened in our planet's distant past. For the book as a whole to really make sense we must accept that, in Chatelain's own words "...these mysteries have just one explanation, the intervention of astronauts from another world, who came, just as the Bible tells us, to create, educate, and civilize a new human race in their own image". While not quite as fully convinced as the author, I do firmly believe that the history of the human race differs somewhat to the established view of 'science' and that which we are taught at school. I've always thought that to adequately explain many things from ancient times, based on what remains today, there must have been a whole lot more knowledge and technology in use than we give credit for, including certain abilities to move objects and manipulate matter like the huge monuments and engineering feats that we could not accomplish today even with modern equipment. The author is right, contact with advanced extraterrestrial beings could explain so many of these anomalies (and the evidence for this hypothesis is actually rather abundant) and therein lies the idea of this book. Chatelain uses a lot of numbers and mathematics at times, but makes no apologies for this because one needs to look at the numbers for proof of much of this particular subject, like how the ancients had a thorough understanding of complex geometry and astronomy which lead to amazingly accurate constructions and celestial calendars, etc. This list goes on, and this book outlines the notion in a concise fashion that works well for readers who are not mathematicians or scientists, the layperson if you will (like me). Overall a recommended read for those people with a thirst for understanding of the world around us, and the universe as a whole.

View all my reviews

14 December 2014

Sci-fi art by Chris Foss

Time for some more awesome sci-fi artwork, this time from the supremely talented Chris Foss. His art has appeared on the covers of so many books over the years. He's one of my all-time favorites and I really enjoy the imagery that he creates which has always helped me to visualise the stories so clearly. Check out his website HERE.

13 December 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Ivory by Mike Resnick

Ivory (Birthright #14)Ivory by Mike Resnick
My rating: 5 out of 5

In the year 6303, when earth is bare of anything larger than an insect or a mouse and most people have left for the stars, Duncan Rojas receives a most unusual visitor. His name is Bukoba Mandaka, and he is the last of the Maasai.
Mandaka wants Rojas, senior researcher for Braxton's Records of Big Game, to find the tusks of the Kilimanjaro Elephant, tusks that weigh over 200 lb each. Why? Mandaka will not say, but he will pay enormous sums for them. And Rojas cannot resist the challenge of tracing something lost for 3000 years.
Back and forth through time, in card games, wars, and rivalries, Rojas searches. But as he begins to glimpse the elusive, lost power of ancient Africa, he is seduced, and before long the quest has become his own.

With Ivory, Mike Resnick has created a powerful novel spanning worlds and centuries, an exploration of the nature of history and legend, and a riveting parable for our times.

***** *** *****

What an epic story, and so powerful. I don't think that anyone with a soul could NOT be moved by this tale. A researcher on a distant planet is tasked with the challenge of locating a pair of enormous elephant tusks from an animal that died thousands of years prior on Earth, and the man wishing to obtain the tusks is quite an enigma, with a very profound reason for wanting the tusks. Mike Resnick spins the yarn in his usual style, which is incredibly easy to read and confirms again that he is one of the best storytellers of any genre.

Set in the Birthright universe with the usual impressive array of wonderful alien worlds and species with their associated differences, the story remains firmly rooted back on Earth in the wide open spaces of Africa. I approached the book very relaxed and in no hurry, but the pace of the story is steady if not brisk, and I soon found myself progressing through at quite a good rate. While it has quite a serious tone, Ivory is a book that, while reading it, I found myself smiling and chuckling away quietly at many of the goings on surrounding the twists and turns of the journey of the the elusive tusks. The way that the book also follows, as chapter introductions, the original quest of the impressive Kilimanjaro elephant who grew the ivory, is in wonderful contrast to the future galaxy in which the main body of the story takes place. In fact, I thought that one of the best sections is the least "sci-fi" of the book, a portion of the story set in the late 19th century describing the hunt for the elephant across wild African plains. The conclusion of the story is very satisfying and sobering, leaving you in a contemplative state of mind like many of the other stories in Resnick's Birthright universe.

Apart from some of the action sequences being quite brief, this book is simply brilliant, the dialogue is wonderful and I really felt like I was "in the room" with the characters, listening to the conversations, seeing the looks on their faces and sensing their emotions. This is easily the best of Resnick's work that I've read so far, and goes right into the top group of my all-time favorite fiction books. There are so many more of his stories that I am yet to read and if they're half as good as Ivory then that is a very, very exciting prospect.

12 December 2014

BAST10N Science Fiction Magazine - NEWS

Unexpected and unfortunate news from the people at BAST10N Science Fiction Magazine:

December 08, 2014

Hi folks,

Personal issues in the lives of our staff have caused Bastion to have to put a hold on things. We're not doing any silly good-byes because, as the title of this news update suggests, this is temporary. When we are able to resume our normal publication schedule, we'll update the site and let everyone know. Thanks for your support and patience.

R. Leigh Hennig

Let's hope that those affected will make a speedy recovery and this exciting new sci-fi magazine is back soon. I have recieved an email reply from the editor and he assures me that it really is only a temporary measure.

All the best BAST10N - you're awesome.

02 December 2014

BAST10N Science Fiction Magazine - Issue #9

BAST10N Science Fiction Magazine delivers you amazing works of the strange and fantastic on the first of every month.

Issue #9 for December 2014 is out now.

Issue #9 contents:
“Diaspora” by Daniel Rosen -- listen to the audio recording
“Koi” by Jes Rausch
“On a Frail Branch Bending” by Kaitlin McCloughan
“The Junkman” by Nicholas Stillman
“There Was a Crash” by Izmaire Todd
“Adiophoria” by William B. Squirrell
"Mr. Cicada" by Garrick Fincham

Head over to their website or over to Weightless Books to get your individual copies or subscription to this excellent new sci-fi magazine.