Free eBook: Planet Urth (Book 1)


Planet Urth: Book One by Jennifer and Christopher Martucci is currently free in ebook format on Amazon for the Kindle ereader. The book is the first of five in a series that takes place 200 years in the future, when civilization has fallen and chemical warfare and other toxins have spawned a race of mutants hunting the last humans to extinction:

The world has changed. It’s dangerous, deadly. Inhuman creatures rule the planet. Animals have mutated. The land is hostile. But it’s all I’ve ever known. Hunger. Fear. Panic. Those emotions are my reality. They are my every day. I am Avery, and I am seventeen. My father died a year ago. Since then I’ve been responsible for my eight-year-old sister, June.

I worry we are the only humans left.

Humans have been hunted for centuries, to the brink of extinction. I must fight each day to protect my sister. It is the reason I wake, the reason I breathe. But how long can I go on fighting? How long will it be before they find us?

The novel is 298 pages and the remaining installments are priced at $2.99 or $3.99.

Best Science Fiction Sites on GeoCities

The science fiction blog IO9 has compiled a list of the 38 greatest science fiction sites on Yahoo GeoCities, information that will be completely useless after the site is shutdown today:

Geocities had a fantastic DIY sensibility that encouraged absolutely anybody to put up a website. And people used it to upload articles from their old fanzines, and create sites on incredibly niche topics, like all the different versions of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf we saw on Doctor Who, or the history of obscure TV shows. Nowadays, people would probably start blogs instead — but it’s hard to keep a blog about Tom Baker’s scarf going for terribly long. …

Anyway, we searched through Geocities in its last remaining moments, and pulled up some of our favorite sites that cover obscure or odd topics, plus a few of the silliest. What are your favorites that you’ll miss when it’s gone?

Since the closure of GeoCities was announced in April, digital archivist Jason Scott has been working desperately to save as much of it as possible. “This is fifteen years and decades of man-hours of work that you’re destroying, blowing away because it looks better on the bottom line,” he writes in a blistering denunciation of Yahoo executives.

Free eBook: An Oblique Approach


The 1996 science fiction novel An Oblique Approach by Eric Flint and David Drake is available for free reading in a variety of eBook formats from the Baen Free Library. The book is the first in the Belisarius series, which puts the sixth century Byzantine general of that name in the middle of a war between two future societies:

In northern India the Malwa have created an empire of unexampled evil. Guided or possessed by an intelligence from beyond time, with new weapons, old treachery, and an implacable will to power, the Malwa will sweep over the whole Earth. Only three things stand between the Malwa and their plan of eternal domination: the empire of Rome in the East, Byzantium; a crystal with vision; and a man named Belisarius, the greatest commander Earth has ever known.

Books 2 through 4 in the series also can be read at the Free Library:

Scientists Give Flies False Memories

A story in the Oct. 16 issue of the Cell scientific journal sounds like a premise for a science fiction writer. Scientists at the University of Oxford have figured out how to implant false memories in the brains of flies:

“Flies have the ability to learn, but the circuits that instruct memory formation were unknown,” said Gero Miesenböck of the University of Oxford. “We were able to pin the essential component down to 12 cells. It’s really remarkable resolution.” Those dozen cells are sufficient to manage what is a difficult cognitive problem: learning to associate a particular odor with something bad, like an electric shock. In essence, these cells create memories that the fly then uses to avoid that odor. …

Miesenböck said his team made some educated guesses about the parts of the brain that would be important for the flies’ learning task. From there, they were able to narrow it down through experimentation to the 12-neuron brain circuit. Remarkably, stimulating just these neurons gives the flies a memory of an unpleasant event that never occurred.

When this process works with humans, I’d like to remember the night in 1985 that I took Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles to my senior prom.

Duchovny Wants New X-Files Film

Although the franchise may have been killed off by the financial and critical failure of the last film, David Duchovny still wants to believe there might be another X-Files film. He told the Daily Beast that 2012 would be the perfect year for a sequel:

“As far as the X-Files movie I’d like to do next, if we get a chance to do it, would be a return to the heart and soul of the mythology, which is the alien-oriented conspiracy. I think it’s natural for The X-Files to have another movie in 2012, so we’ll see if we get to do it.” He defends last year’s widely panned I Want to Believe, as well as the polarizing last few seasons of the television run: “I was happy with it … I have nothing but respect for [X-Files creator] Chris Carter and the writing staff.

According to IMDB, X Files: I Want to Believe earned $20 million in box office revenue in the U.S. and cost $30 million to make. Ouch.