Science Fiction

The Star Kings

I had an urge the other day to read a favorite science fiction novel from my childhood, “The Star Kings,” by Edmond Hamilton. But when I pored over my bookshelves, the tattered old paperback was nowhere to be found. I looked through my older son’s room, empty since he started studying at the University of Arizona in Tucson, to no avail. I then went to Amazon to see if I could find a copy, and they did have one: a more recent edition than mine. But the cost of around $10 seemed steep, especially since the original was only 75₵. I put off placing the order in order to sleep on it, torn between my desire to return to the exciting future world of Zarth Arn, and the order of magnitude increase in cost since I first found the novel buried in a pile of pulp fiction periodicals years ago…

Space Exploration

Endeavor crater, Mars

NASA’s rover, Opportunity, has reached a new destination after 3 years of trekking 13 miles across the Martian landscape. One of the first images that was returned shows a bleak panorama rolling off into the distance in front of an ochre-colored sky. The scene almost reminds me of the parched cast the Arizona sky takes on when we have our periodic dust storms during the summer monsoon. Then I have to remind myself that Mars is far drier and colder than it ever gets on Earth. It’s hard to imagine an entire world without rain, rivers, or oceans, but except for the frozen carbon dioxide poles, Mars doesn’t have much of anything except dirt covering its surface. NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU In the coming months, NASA is preparing to send another rover, the Mars Science Laboratory, to a location that scientists think may have been wetter than…