EM Drive Inventor Shawyer Targets Terrestrial Transportation


The Inventor of the EM Drive (I posted about 5/8/15 and 7/30/15), Roger Shawyer, just published the peer-reviewed paper “Second Generation EmDrive Propulsion Applied To SSTO Launcher And Interstellar Probe” in the journal Acta Astronautica. Shawyer and his firm, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd., is working on a second generation of the controversial EM drive. Their target is to produce a drive capable of producing at least 1,000kg of thrust from electrical power.

While this drive, if it can be built, would be applicable to spacecraft, Shawyer is now eying the much more lucrative terrestrial transportation market of drones and autos. With a current target of a 2017 flight, we won’t have too long to wait.

Let’s all hope that he, or one of the others researching the EM drive, will have something practical before the end of this decade.

Book Review of “The Terrans”


“The Terrans” eBook was published in 2015 (July) and was written by Jean Johnson (http://www.jeanjohnson.net). Ms. Johnson has written more than 20 novels, this being the first of her “First Salik War” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are minor instances of Violence. This Science Fiction novel is set in a future 150+ years from now where Earth has colonizing other planets in our solar system. Psychic ability has developed over the past century or so and an increasing number of precognitive visions indicate that Terrans will soon meet others and be faced with a war of survival.

Several ships are dispatched to explore space and try to make contact. The Aloha 9 encounters a Salik ship that is holding human prisoners. The crew of the Aloha 9 are able to free the prisoners and escape. The humans are from V’Dan and are genetically linked to Terrans.

The bulk of the story looks at Major Jacaranda MacKenzie, who is a high level psychic and the ships communications officer, and Captain Li’eth Ma’an-uq’en, Captain of the V’Dan ship captured by the Salik, as well as other Terrans and V’Dan as they work to learn each other’s cultures. The process is easier from some points of view because Ma’an-uq’en also has psychic abilities, though poorly developed.

The novel tells the story of how the the two cultures learn about one another and the problems that they encounter. While both sides see the need to join forces to fight the Salik, there are large cultural differences to overcome. Things get complicated as Ma’an-uq’en and MacKenzie discover that they are forming Gestalt pair – through psychic connections as well as romantic feelings towards one another.

I enjoyed the more than 12 hours I spent with this novel. it reminds me in some ways of Harry Turtledove’s ‘Colonization’ series. It was not an ‘edge-of-your-seat story, but I did enjoy it. I did find the Terran society and government described in the novel to be very idealistic. That said, I do look forward to more in the series.
I give this novel a 4.7 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Possibly More Proof of EM Drive Validity


I wrote a little about the EM drive last May. In essence that drive produces thrust for spacecraft using electricity. While the EM drive is not something that will get us FTL capability, it would be a step forward towards faster and cheaper travel in space.

The drive is scoffed at by most, but German researchers are scheduled to make a presentation at the American Institute for
Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Propulsion and Energy Forum
just began in Orlando, Florida. The paper “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EMDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” describes the research and supports claims of the EM drive producing thrust.

Certainly this is not a firm acknowledgement that the EM drive works, but it does open the way to further research. As unlikely as many believe the claims of the EM drive to be, proving that it does work would be a major step forward to space travel and exploration.

Book Review of “Tin Men”


“Tin Men” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Christopher Golden (http://www.christophergolden.com). Mr. Golden has authored or co-authored many novels, novellas, short stories and graphic novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Science Fiction Post-Apocalypse Thriller novel is set in the not too distant future. The actions described takes place in Germany, Syria and Greece.

The US has advanced drone technology to the next level, with soldiers remotely piloting human-like robotic drones, the Remote Infantry. These metallic soldiers are nearly invincible, and the US has used them to force peace on much of the world. An action that has angered many around the world.

A group of anarchists trigger a massive world wide EMP that destroys most electronic and electrical devices in the world. Fortunately, the Remote Infantry are immune from the EMP due to built-in shielding. The anarchists want to rid the world of the Remote Infantry and reshape things. Hundreds of “Robot-killer” troops are dispatched in coordination with the EMP where ever there are Remote Infantry. Using newly developed rockets their goal is to destroy all of the Remote Infantry.

The novel follows the stories of five Americans: Aimee Bell, an Army technician at the Remote Infantry headquarters/control in Wiesbaden, Germany; Danny Kelso and Kate Wade, Remote Infantry soldiers who’s robots are in Syria as part of the US mission there; Felix Wade, an advisor to the US President who happens to be at a G20 meeting in Athens, Greece; and Alexa Day, the 17 year old daughter of the US Ambassador to Syria.

The story follows each of them as they try to survive after the EMP, avoid the anarchists who want them dead, and fight their way “home” to Wiesbaden. The story is fast paced with little break in the action. I thought that the plot which evolved over about 8.5 hours of reading was an interesting variation of the oft used “apocalypse”. I give this novel a 4.6 (rounded up to 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Haigerloch Project”


“The Haigerloch Project” eBook was published in 2014 and was written by Ib Melchior. Mr. Melchior published 8 fiction novels, various non-fiction works and was involved in many TV and film projects.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence, Mature Language and some Mature Situations. This Thriller novel is set in Germany in the closing days of World War II.

The Germans are desperately trying to complete their research and build the first atomic bombs. Allied Intelligence is aggressively trying to find out how far the Germans have progressed, and to stop them before they can succeed. Word comes out of Germany that they are near to initiating a sustained reaction.

A pair of OSS agents are quickly selected and prepared to be sent into Germany. Allied forces have liberated much of occupied Europe and are slowly closing in on Germany. The agents use their ingenuity and creativity to make their way through the front lines, then into Germany. They make contact with Germans opposed to Hitler. Once in the area where the atomic research is taking place they plan to seek out information on German progress.

The interest of the SS officer responsible for security around the atomic research facility is aroused. Soon he is on their trail, and unwilling to let anyone stand in the way of his capture of the agents.

This was a very enjoyable 7 hour read and it reminding me a lot of books by Alistair Maclean and Helen MacInnes. There was a steady flow of action and intrigue, with a little romance thrown in. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Earth-like Planet Identified


NASA, using the Kepler telescope, has identified a very Earth-like planet in the ‘habitable zone‘ of Kepler 452b. Not only is the planet similar to Earth, the sun it orbits is a G-type star like our own sun. Granted the planet is about 60% larger than Earth with a projected gravity about twice that of Earth, but the characteristics of the planet make it sound like a promising candidate for some kind of life.

Don’t start packing your bags yet, as this exoplanet is 1400 light years away. This was not the only promising discovery announced. The discovery of eleven other planets in the ‘habitable zone’ was also announced. These recent announcements brings the number of confirmed planets to 1,030, and possible planets to 4,675.

We can only look forward to what new discoveries various new ground and orbiting telescopes will bring as they are put into production.


USA, Texas, Austin – The Thinkery


The Thinkery is a location in Austin that is designed to appeal to younger children (Elementary school age for the most part), presenting them with fun and innovative learning experiences. It is definitely a place where the kids can mix fun with STEM related experiences. I visited The Thinkery a short time ago with my 4th grade age granddaughter. The place was full of kids that were engaged with fun activities and learning a little science along the way.

The Thinkery is located at 1830 Simond Ave., Austin, TX 78723 in the old Mueller Airport development. It evolved from the older Austin Children’s Museum, which was founded in 1983. The Thinkery has been a part of the Mueller development since late 2013. There is plenty of free, covered parking nearby and there is even a nice park across the street so that kids can let off some steam with a little physical activity.

If you have younger children or grandchildren and are looking for a
place to escape the central Texas summer heat, The Thinkery is a
great place.

See my other Food and Location articles

Book Review of “Fixed in Blood”


“Fixed in Blood” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by T. E. Woods (http://www.tewoodswrites.com). This is the fourth book in the “Justice” series and Ms. Woods fourth novel.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence, Mature Language and Mature Situations. This Mystery Thriller novel is set primarily in contemporary Washington state.

This story picks up a short time after the third novel in the series “The Unforgivable Fix” ends. The primary characters are Mort Grant, Lydia Corriger and Allie Grant. Mort Grant as chief of detectives gets a case of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. Soon evidence surfaces that she was murdered as part of a ‘snuff’ film. A short time later he has another victim, and his team is in hot pursuit.

Corriger has a young woman as a patient who suddenly calls her up to say good bye, then disappears. Soon Corriger’s path crosses that of Mort Grant, as her patient seems to be unwillingly involved in the prostitution ring Grant is investigating. They fear too that the patient will be the ‘star’ in the next ‘snuff’ film.

Allie Grant is with her new, ruthless Russian drug lord lover, Vadim Tokarev, in London. He has allowed her a business interest in a brothel back in Washington. She wanted to run it on her own, but Tokareva yanks control away when he sees an opportunity to make more money. Soon Allie Grant realizes that while on the surface Tokarev is putting on an adoring act, in reality he may snuff out her life at any time.

This was a good 7 hour read of Mystery and Intrigue, though I do not think it was as good as the first three novels in the series. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Are we Alone?


Are we alone in the Universe is a question that has been asked over and over again, yet we still do not have the answer. The SETI Institute has been seeking an answer to that question since 1984. Many have also joined the SETI@home program, downloading the application onto their computers to help with the search by utilizing their computers when they are not in use.

The effort to search for extraterrestrial life just got a major boost. Internet investor Yuri Milner has pledged $100 million to the search. Radio telescopes, lasers, and other high tech equipment will be used to seek out signals from other points in space. This is only a 10 year commitment, but it will take the search significantly forward.

Review of “We Had a Job to Do”



“We Had a Job to Do” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Theresa Andalzua (http://www.theresaanzaldua.com). This is Ms. Andalzua’s first novel.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. This is a Non-Fiction novel of WWII. It follows the military careers of several different people, in both the European and Pacific theaters of war.

I have been interested in the history of World War II for many years, even recently visiting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans (http://nationalww2museum.org). I think this novella (it took less than 3 hours to read) was an interesting take on World War II. I enjoyed the individual stories and the personal bits of information, though I also feel that parts of some stories were too simplistic. I give this novella a 3.8 (rounded up to 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).