55 Essential Space Operas from the Last 70 Years

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Source: Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantsasy Blog
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What makes a science fiction story a space opera? Well, it needs to take place in space obviously, though not necessarily all of the time. Hanging out solely in an arcology on a climate-blasted Earth, or even in a domed city on Mars, doesn’t cut it. Actually, the more space the better; though there are certainly exceptions, a good space opera should span a galaxy or two, or at least a solar system. And an opera has to be grand and dramatic –battling empires, invading aliens, mysterious ancient technology, and grand, sweeping story arcs.

HERE are 55 science fiction stories from the last 70 years that make the cut.

How to read more books

Source: How to read more books — Quartz
by Elle Kaplan

I’ve said it many times: reading books is a major key to success. The mega-rich and successful like Bill Gates and Elon Musk devote extraordinary amounts of their time to reading. Musk even attributes his knowledge of how to build rockets to his reading repertoire, and studies have proven that reading can reduce stress, increase focus, and improve long and short-term memory.

The benefits of flexing your reading muscles are clear. But reading is time-consuming—and as a busy professional, it’s almost impossible to both find the time to read and actually stay focused enough to reap the benefits when deadlines start piling up.

Thankfully, experts at Harvard Business Review (along with a few others) have discovered some tips and tricks to ensure that you not only make reading a daily habit, but that you‘re able to radically increase the amount you read and the benefits you reap.

Read more HERE for seven practical ways to continue to improve your reading habits as time goes on.

Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover

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Amazon has blocked sales for The Corroding Empire, a sci-fi book from Vox Day’s conservative publishing company Castalia House, because the cover bore an uncanny resemblance to John Scalzi’s latest book, The Collapsing Empire. And it wasn’t a coincidence.

Source: Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book for Ripping Off John Scalzi Cover

What Powered the Vimana, the 6,000-year-old Flying Machines of Ancient India?

According to Ancient Indian history –one of the most extensive on the planet– their ancient sacred texts called the ‘Vedas’ speak of incredible flying ships that visited our planet over 6000 years ago. The Ancient Vimana’s power source has turned out to be not only accessible to the entire world, but easy to harness as well…

Source: What Powered the Vimana, the 6,000-year-old Flying Machines of Ancient India? | Ancient Code

This Indie Author’s Debut Sci-Fi Novel Is The Innovation The Genre Needs – And He’s Only 28

I recently reviewed The Alliance which is the debut novel from promising new sci-fi author Chris G Wright. I was very impressed with his work, and I’m pleased to see that both he and his book, which is the first of an epic six-part space opera series, are getting wider exposure.

To illustrate, the following is a link to an article by a user on the popular news and entertainment site BuzzFeed (and yours truly might get a mention as well…):

“Finally, a Sci-Fi Book that Brings a Much-Needed Darker Shade of Gravity and a Breath of Fresh Air to the Genre. Just Out of the Oven and Ready to Take On the Big Titles.”

Source: This Indie Author’s Debut Sci-Fi Novel Is The Innovation The Genre Needs – And He’s Only 28

Why Reading is one of the Healthiest Things you can do for Yourself

Every day people strive to make themselves healthier. Between gyms, diets, and supplements, one simple activity can boost your overall health in ways you never imagined: Reading.

Source: Why Reading is one of the Healthiest Things you can do for Yourself

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God


By ERIC METAXAS
from The Wall Street Journal

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life. [see the Drake Equation – LS]

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researchers have discovered precisely bubkis – 0 followed by nothing.

SETI radio telescope array


What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest… We should quietly admit that the early estimates…may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life – every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

Jupiter – our stalwart protector


Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces – gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces – were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off  by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction – by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 – then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator…gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something – or Someone – beyond itself.

Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” (Dutton Adult, 2014).