Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Instant Gratification Monkey Staring into the Funhouse Mirror of a Mobile Phone

“There is only now. And look! How rich we are in it.” 
― Vanna Bonta
Have you ever found yourself almost colliding on a pavement with someone walking straight towards you set on a collision course, gaze downturned. It is easy to recognise these victims of the zombie plague that has ravished our planet, because they are the ones with their whole attention locked onto the mobile phone clasped in their hands. If you are lucky, they spot your feet and veer to the side at the last moment, their eyes never leaving their mobile phones during the entire manoeuvre. If you’re really lucky you may get a mumbled apology, before they drop back into the compelling world conjured up within the silicon of their mobile device.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Solar Sail Craft to be the First to Reach Alpha Centauri

“We’re still pioneers, we’ve barely begun. Our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, cause our destiny lies above us.”
— Interstellar
Image credit: The Planetary Society
Solar sails used for propelling space ships across the vast distances of space, have always been a firm favourite of science fiction stories. I first heard of the concept back in the 1970’s in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s book, The Mote in God's Eye. Also, concept images frequently adorned the pages of the science and science fiction magazines back then, such as in the wonderful OMNI (sadly no longer in print).

In September 2016, this technology will take a significant step forward, when a tiny spacecraft, Prox-1, will hitch a ride onboard the new SpaceX orbital lifter, the Falcon Heavy. And this will be a very important moment for the future of space exploration.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Harry Potter – A Masterclass in World Building

‘It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.’ 
– Albus Dumbledore – J.K. Rowling
Image copyright: Nick Cook
This week, at long last, and having heard so many glowing reviews from friends, especially other authors, I finally got to experience the Harry Potter studio tour in London, for myself. I’m delighted to report back that it really did exceed all my expectations. However, afterwards I also found myself reflecting on the books themselves and the magnitude of what J.K. Rowling succeeded in creating…

Sunday, 3 April 2016

To Travel is to Live

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” 
– Anais Nin
Image copyright: Nick Cook
I have always felt a pull at my heart to travel the world and experience far flung places. In fact I’d go as far as to say part of me lives to travel and always has done so. 

As I write this (in Zimbabwe), we have just visited Victoria Falls, spectacularly huge (the largest falls in the world), incredibly loud, but best of all, poncho or not, that will leave you soaked within moments of being exposed to its dense, monsoon like, water mists. Wonderful. And right there is the joyous nature at the heart of travel, that often throws up life affirming moments like this.