Titan: Soupy, frozen, exotic

A speculative view from Titan's surface
A speculative view from Titan’s surface

This week saw the 360th anniversary of Christiaan Huygens’ discovery of Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan is the second-largest moon in the solar system and the only known natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere. As a result, Titan has long captured the imaginations of writers, film-makers, readers, and of course scientists.

-Is water really necessary for life to form? Cosmos Magazine writes on the possibility of life evolving in Titan’s hydrocarbon seas

-Space.com shines light on the conflicting reports of Titan’s mysterious, soupy atmosphere

-Titan’s methane-rich nature comes up in io9’s discussion of the logistics of terraforming

-Along with Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes, the geography is also dominated by giant sand dunes that have an enigmatic origin

-In this video, NASA asks: why are there no waves on Titan’s lakes and seas?

-The History Channel explores what a day on Titan’s surface would be like

Lockdown

Photograph of a crumbling prison
Photograph by Marcin Haszczu

Today is the anniversary of the closing of Alcatraz, one of the most infamous prisons of all time. So we’ve put together a short post about prisons, freedom, and their representation in sci-fi and fantasy.

-io9 covers 10 of the greatest prison breaks in sci-fi and fantasy

-An impressive review of 14 of the ‘freakiest’ prisons

-Bitch Magazine explores the concepts of retribution, punishment and freedom in the context of sci-fi prisons

-Robert Heinlein’s penal sci-fi classic ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress‘ will be adapted to film by X-Men director Brian Singer

-Wired writes on the new sci-fi prison comic series ‘Bitch Planet’

-Finally, the amazingly gory and hilarious Adult Swim show ‘Superjail’

Michael Pryor on why everyone should GET HARD

by Michael Pryor

Hard SF can be a hard sell. Of all the multifarious and diverse aspects of Science Fiction, Hard Science Fiction is the one most likely to get non-readers recoiling in horror. It’s the SF sub-genre most parodied, most vilified and most misunderstood.

Which is a shame because, as with most things, the best of it is superb. Hard SF discusses, foregrounds and takes seriously an aspect of modern life that is shamefully neglected in literary fiction: science and technology. If these feature in literary fiction today, it’s superficially or with, at best, a jaundiced eye. Continue reading