Why Science says your Lovelife Sucks: 285,000 to 1

LoveEquation

Can science be used to answer the existential quandaries that haunt us? Questions like why your love life sucks? Yes, it can! The Drake Equation was used by Carl Sagan to calculate the chances of highly evolved alien life existing in our galaxy. A physicist named Peter Backus applied the Drake Equation to a more pressing issue; his own statistical chance of finding a girlfriend. Read the paper here: Why I don't have a girlfriend. The results were not encouraging. After some mathematical gymnastics, Backus concluded, "There  are  26  women  in the  UK with  whom  I  might  have  a  wonderful  relationship.   So,  on  a  given  night out in  London  there  is  a  0.000 34%  chance  of  meeting  one of  these  special  people,  about  100  times  better  than finding  an  alien  civilization  we  can  communicate  with. That’s  a  1  in  285,000  chance.  Not  great." That's right. It turns out, you have about 100 times greater chance of finding a partner than finding intelligent alien life in our galaxy! In an episode of This American life, Ira Glass and David … [Read more...]

Amazon’s Objective: Lower E book Prices

By Antony Bennison

In the ongoing battle of perception between Amazon and Hachette, we've had to speculate on the substance of the conflict. An intriguing post in the Kindle Forums by the Amazon Book Team makes a bold statement to publishing and Indie authors; lower e book prices are on the table.   With this update, we're providing specific information about Amazon's objectives. A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market -- e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive. It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would … [Read more...]

Barbarians at the Gate! Indies vs Big Publishing

by Yan Renucci

The Fall of Rome is still debated. How could such an empire fall? Various theories are floated; taxes were too high, barbarians joined the army, borders became too porous, corruption and incompetence were rampant. But I would argue that these were mitigating factors. Empires always fall for the same reason. They stop adapting. Adaptive Capacity is the technical term for an ecological or social system's response to changing conditions in the environment. A system that cannot adapt, self destructs. Traditional publishing is just such an empire, built over half a millennium (if we go by the invention of the Gutenberg press) the industry has had a long run. Now, e book publishing and print-on-demand technology have changed the landscape. Within a short amount of time, the book market has transformed. Some of the new players are Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Press and distributors like Smashwords and BookBaby. Barbarians are at the gate, in the form of indie writers and upstart publishing imprints ( Amazon has … [Read more...]

Author Michael Bunker on Dystopian Sci-Fi, Off-Grid Living and the Lessons of History

Michael Bunker

I first encountered Michael Bunker when I happened upon his novel Pennsylvania, the story of an exo-planet migration off world by the Amish. Amish? I thought, re-reading the tagline. Aren’t they the folks who’ve sworn off modern conveyances? Don’t they drive horse carts and milk cows and wear simple unadorned clothing?   Yes indeed, Amish Science Fiction. I love having my mind blown so I investigated further. Michael stared out from the pages of Amazon with a taciturn expression, sporting a beard from olden times, yet active in social media. He was on Facebook. He had a blog.  In fact, Michael was one of those Indie writers who takes your breath away. It was apparent from his output that he was a serious writer with enormous energy and discipline. In the last few years his popular works of dystopian sci-fi, including the Wick Omnibus, The Last Pilgrims, The Silo Archipelago and the Pennsylvania series have regularly appeared on Amazon’s best-seller lists. He also wrote a bestselling guide, Surviving Off-Off Grid and sure enough, he lived with his wife and four … [Read more...]

Automatons: Imitation of Life

672px-NAMA_Machine_d'Anticythère_1

The creation of robots and androids has always fascinated mankind. There are accounts of automatons in ancient mythology such as the artisan/god Hephaestus who created divine machines like the bronze man Talos to defend Crete. There are accounts of Greek temples housing "god" machines that belched smoke, replicated thunder and even bled. and philosophers like Aristotle mused about robots replacing slaves. But throughout history, there have been actual attempts to construct such mechanisms. This is where mythology and reality blur. The Physical proof of such pursuits came in the form of the Antikythera mechanism (150 to 100 BC), recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Greece in 1900/1901. The device  served to calculate the positions of stars and planets.   Other notorious accounts of automatons appear in the 8th and 9th centuries. Wind powered automatons appeared in the Abbasid Palaces of Baghdad and the Arabic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (writing under the name of Geber) recorded his methods of constructing snake, scorpion and human automatons in The … [Read more...]

From the Indie Side: A New Anthology

From The Indie Side

From the Indie Side is an fascinating milestone for the independent publishing movement. Why do I say that? Because if you want proof that Indie authors can write concise, beautifully turned out prose, then look no further than this collection of stories. With some of the most talented new voices on the Indie scene, this anthology has the raw, electric energy of an underground movement. The stories span a multitude of genres; science fiction, fantasy, dystopian and paranormal. Many of the stories have a dark slant, many take place in dying or post apocalyptic worlds. There's excitement here. Meet the new paradigm; hard working craftspeople honing their writing and taking on the jobs traditionally left to publishers. Some of the stories in this collection are more polished than others, but all are well written, inventive and at times, even captivating. These writers are passionate about story as evidenced by the short commentary each author provides. It's clear that obstacles, the paradigm shift in publishing or even a zombie apocalypse couldn't stop these writers from their … [Read more...]

Steampunk Carousels & Infernal Machines

Galerie des machines:  le calmar géant à rétropropulsion

Science Fiction books of the of the Victorian age and the Belle Epoch echo certain themes. After all, this was the age of Edison and Tesla, of mechanized war. It was an emerging era of shocking scientific theories such as evolution and flight. 19th century science fiction novels chart the course of these shocks with themes of science run amok and strange encounters with monstrosities. Steampunk imagery is generated from works of the fantastic such as Frankenstein, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, War of the Worlds and  The Time Machine. So, when I first saw The Project of Machines de l'île in Nantes, I felt for a moment that sense of wonder at that strange convergence of science and fantasy, machine and dream. All the beautiful and terrible possibilities of the future exist in these odd mechanisms. The machines are built in the warehouses of the former shipyards of Nantes, France by François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice who were also inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's infernal machines. And every so often they come alive. Setting up The Sea Life Carousel Riding the … [Read more...]