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review 2018-03-16 20:23
Review: The Unsound Theory
The Unsound Theory - Emilia Zeeland

As you may have noticed, it has been a very slow year for me reading wise. Who knew having an infant and toddler to take care of full time would leave me little "me" time. The chronic sleep deprivation hasn't helped things either, but the plus side is that the few books I have managed to get to this year have been amazing. This one is no exception.


In true YA fashion, Yalena has a cryptic past that leads her on a journey to find both her origins and herself. This being the first book in the series, there is a lot of informative information and character introductions but it's a great lead in to what is sure to be a fantastic series. Yalena is an interesting character who surprised me a bit as she found her own voice in a sea of overachievers.


I really enjoyed the world building elements that Zeeland includes. Brief history lessons that you attend with Yalena and her classmates make this space world more and more interesting. Of course, what's a good novel without some romantic interests and competitive drama to keep things interesting. STAR Academy is a college level specialty school by invitation only. It is an elite group of students expected to become the next best thing in their respective fields, no pressure there.


I highly recommend this book to science fiction fans, especially those who enjoy young adult as well. Space is the next frontier and there is so much to learn from the next generation of explorations. The Unsound Theory has a little bit of everything in it and I can't wait for the next installment of this series!

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review 2016-12-28 00:00
Star Rebels: Stories of Space Exploration, Alien Races, and Adventure
Star Rebels: Stories of Space Exploration, Alien Races, and Adventure - Audrey Faye,C. Gockel,Christine Pope,Anthea Sharp,D.L. Dunbar,Pippa DaCosta,Lindsay Buroker,Patty Jansen,James R. Wells Collection of sci-fi short stories featuring female lead characters.
They are all prequels or inter-series chapters, with a plug for the main series at the end.
As a result, none of them particularly stand out to be interesting enough to get involved in the rest of a whole series.

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review 2016-02-08 00:00
Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration
Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration - Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.,Leonard David Buzz Aldrin's "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration" is a powerful explication of a specific near-future strategy for NASA's manned exploration activities, as well as a potent meditation on the importance of such a strategy for this country and indeed, for humanity.

Aldrin really doesn't need any introducing, as he is of course the second man to walk on another planetary body, the Moon in July, 1969. His qualifications to speak on such a topic are obviously legion. As such, I feel wholly unqualified to really "review" and pass judgment on any of the technical assertions he makes in the book. However, I am particularly attracted to his concept of "Aldrin cyclers"—spacecraft "cycling" in virtual perpetuity between astronomical bodies (the Earth and Mars, or the Earth and the Moon, for instance), negating the very expensive necessity to expend massive amounts of fuel for acceleration and deceleration for each leg of a trip. The beautiful efficiency of such a design is obvious. Also attractive is the cultural paradigm shift such a design represents—from thinking of manned space "missions" as singular things, to long-term commitments, long-term investments really, with the utility of such spacecraft lasting possibly for decades.

Beyond technical proposals, Mission to Mars makes larger, more general assertions that any (every) American should consider. Aldrin references, of course, his experiences in the 1960's at the birth of the space program and in Apollo—during an era defined both by rapid technological achievement and by simple, shining optimism. He states unequivocally, "Humanity is destined to explore, settle, and expand outward into the universe." Aldrin is reminding a modern, disillusioned world of a reality that no one in this country would have argued against 40 years ago. He is, in effect, offering it up as the medicine to our equally modern, American malaise.

Toward the beginning of the book he asks directly what human spaceflight does for the country. "It reminds the American public," he says, "that nothing is impossible if free people work together to accomplish great things." Aldrin also makes the assertion that, "(Spaceflight) captures the imagination of our youth and inspires them to study science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Furthermore, a vigorous human spaceflight program fuels the American workforce with high technology and cutting-edge aerospace jobs. And it fosters collaborative international relationships to ensure U.S. foreign policy leadership." Toward the first point, any economist could agree. The second point is equally convincing. As China, India, Japan and the other countries around the world take tentative first-steps into space, America's experience and technological prowess could be leveraged. The United States could once again exercise influence and real leadership, in a universally respected, inherently a-political endeavor—if it once again woke up to the "destiny" of human space exploration Aldrin speaks of, and gives it its due.

It is this general theme—the significance of manned spaceflight—repeated throughout the book and indeed, one repeated by Aldrin for decades, that gives true substance to his ideas and the overall plan and strategy for manned spaceflight he's presented. He does not cater to pessimists who would advocate significantly scaled-down long-term plans which lament "political and budgetary realities." Instead, he offers a practical, ambitious plan for the manned exploration of space suitable to its importance for us all. I can only hope that our leaders in Washington could hear his "clarion call" and fund NASA sufficiently.
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text 2015-08-03 16:40
Pluto and its moons get map names from art and literature

The people behind the Pluto mission offered up the chance to contribute to naming the geographical formations and locations. Click here for a spreadsheet for the list that has been submitted for approval.



"Following New Horizons’ history-making sweep past Pluto on July 14, 2015, the mission has released maps of Pluto and Charon with preliminary designations for the features found on these distant worlds. A month ago, we’d never seen these worlds as more than blurry balls, and now we have maps of their surfaces! Amazing.


The names – which still need to be made official – on Pluto come from many cultures in all parts of Earth. Those on Pluto fall into four major categories: space missions and spacecraft; scientists and engineers; historic explorers; and underworld locales, beings, and travelers.


The naming scheme for Charon fell under four categories as well: fictional explorers and travelers; fictional origins and destinations; fictional vessels; and exploration authors, artists, and directors.


Many features are informally named after science fiction characters, particularly from Star Trek and Star Wars. Some from Alien and Dr Who. Mordor Macular covering the north polar region including the North Pole of Charon, is from The Lord of the Rings.


Kubrick Mons named after Stanley Kubrick, is the curious Mountain in the Moat, the lofty mountain in a depression that does not appear to be an impact crater."

Source: earthsky.org/space/first-maps-of-charon-and-pluto
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review 2015-03-08 00:00
Space Exploration: Panorama Pops
Space Exploration: Panorama Pops - John Holcroft A pocket-sized pop-up book designed to capture a young reader's imagination, Space Exploration is one in a series of ""Panorama Pops"" non-fiction published by the always-innovative Candlewick Press.

Museum exhibit-style 2-page panels with pop-up features explain the history of space exploration through time. Starting with Sputnik 1 and ending with the International Space Station, all major achievements in space flight and exploration are covered. The text is interesting and easy to follow for young readers, and clear enough to read aloud. The pop-up space shuttles, satellites, and astronauts are cute and fun, and definitely durable enough to withstand many readings. The book also includes a timeline and a little glossary of ""space words.""

Highly recommended for young readers and scientists, as a school book fair feature, and as a gift for older readers who would enjoy a novelty book.
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