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BOOK REVIEW: "Hull Zero Three" by Greg Bear (2010)

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Hull Zero Three revolves around the reworking of an old SF trope, the generation starship, a theme used most famously by Heinlein in his 1941 story “Universe.” The penultimate achievement of human engineering, Ship is a colossal vessel with three twelve-kilometer hulls attached to a moon-sized piece of rock and ice that it processes into fuel and materials. Creating gravity through centrifugal spin, Ship is traveling 500 light years for more than thirty centuries at 20% the speed of light.

There will be spoilers in this review.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: Sociable Robots

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One major goal of contemporary robotics is to create sociable robots that have emotions and facial expression, to make it easier for humans to relate to them. If robots and humans can interact with one another more effectively then robots will be used more in homes and offices. The science fiction cliché of the rational robot without emotions is what AI programmers are trying to avoid. The ideal might be something more like Data, a robot that can learn to approximate human emotions.

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BOOK REVIEW: "Outermost: The Art and Life of Jack Gaughan" by Luis Ortiz

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Outermost is a well-illustrated biography of Jack Gaughan, one of the most important SF artists of the 60s. The generous and beautifully reproduced selection of art – some in black and white but the majority in color -- is accompanied by a modest amount of biographical text. Overall, I enjoyed the pictures and the biographical information, but would have preferred more analysis and criticism of Gaughan’s art.

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BOOK REVIEW: "The Wonderful Future that Never Was" by Gregory Benford et al. (2010)

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Do you ever dream of an optimistic, good old-fashioned future of endless technological progress? The sort of techno-gee-whiz optimism that science fiction used to be known for? The Hugo Gernsback let’s-solve-all-our-problems with-a-gadget-philosophy? Then you should pick up The Wonderful Future That Never Was, a fascinating, well-illustrated, and beautiful book reprinting the future predictions made by Popular Mechanics from 1903 to 1969. The illustrations are high quality reproductions from the magazine, and are worth the price alone.

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