In celebration of the life and work of Douglas Adams, writer of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, today is Towel Day.

His works of fiction are enjoyed across the world and it is fitting to his sense of irreverent fun the world remembers him in this way.

More: towelday.org

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For some reason no one has made movies of the following sci fi source material (books or graphic novels) and in my humble opinion they really should as the material has hit movie written all over it.

Special effects have moved on so far, the difficulties of any of these could be overcome to make a spectacular film:

Tiger, Tiger by Alfred Bester – one of my favourite sci fi books of all time. A rip roaring rampage of revenge. Gully Foyle is left for dead in the opening salvos of a war between the inner and outer planets of the solar system. Oh and people can self teleport, which is a genius idea well used in this narrative. His path for revenge takes him across the solar system.

On the Flip Side by Nicholas Fisk – a story about people being able to step across to another dimension by the power of thought – and what the world left behind is like.

Neuromancer by Gibson – the novel which launched cyber punk is a delightful read from start to finish. And a cracking thriller which would make an epic cinematic experience.

Look to Windward by Iain M Banks – a simply beautiful novel with so much scope for some beautiful cinematography as the broad canvas of the Culture painted by Banks is played out across this enigmatic book. There is also a fabulous thriller plot which bounds along at a perfect pace for the narrative.

The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore – if you could skip over most of book one in the intro (like the first harry potter film skips half the book in about the opening 10 mins) and then cover book 2 and 3 in the actual movie. Book 2 of this graphic novel series is an interstellar cruise from the point of view of the waiting staff while book 3 is a sad tale of life in a universe where the only way to make money is join the army and wage war across the stars, a severally depressing view of war (which in the closing chapters borrows significantly from The Forever War by Joe Haldeman). Halo is also a feminist icon and a trailblazer in the representation of women in comic books.

If you can think of any other sci fi novels or graphic novels which should become movies please comment.

As usual I have read quite a few books this year.

Here are some highlights of books I read this year:

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham – love this author (The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos are two of my all time favourite sci fi books) and this book, while taking a while to get going, ended up un-put down able. A great exploration of unfounded intolerance, and relevant today as when it was written.

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – which I wrote about before, is a tour de force in modern teen fiction. Better than SE Hinton – and my teenage self is properly upset I have written that statement. Highly recommended.

Archangel by Robert Harris – any novel which can make me interested in post WW2 Russian history must be doing something right. This is a real page turner from the opening right up to its fabulous, if ambiguous, conclusion. Some of Harris other works I have found slow, or the world building more attention grabbing than the plot (Fatherland), but this has it all going on.

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds – in a future where faster than light travel is impossible a house of long living clones travel the galaxy in cycles, spending vast aeons of time in suspended animation, holding reunions every few millennia. The scope of this novel is breathtaking and while it feels like it wanders off from the plot towards the end, maybe the real point of the novel is how even hideous events lose their horror after 17,000 years or so. Up for debate, which only adds to the positive feelings I have towards the book – still deciphering meaning long after reading is always a good sign about a book.

Please feel free to share your views on these books in the comments and also any novels you read this year, either ones published this year or otherwise.

Happy reading in 2018.

Still extremely excited about the project to find earth-like planets and the latest news is as usual very interesting.

Though, these new finds appear not to be in the “habitable zone” it is still pretty cool we can find planets smaller than Mercury in star systems 200 light years away.

The real talking point about this project is that it means we can figure out in the near term where to point radio telescopes to “listen” for signs of extraterrestrial life.

And in the longer term , when we start to explore the Galaxy, we’ll know which stars to head towards in the hope of finding life of one sort or another.

First contact

September 29, 2010

As mentioned by a commenter on a previous post about publishing, it is great to get a copy of the Sunday Times and spread it out across the lounge and read it.

Of course, you have to make sure you have nothing booked on Sunday and that you get to the paper shop early doors to have enough time to read the bulk of it that day and that you have at least one completely free evening in the week to mop up reading the various magazines / other non time specific supplements.

The publication, as it’s advertising used to say, “is the Sunday papers”. At £2.20 a pop you have to read it all.

Unfortunately owner Rupert Murdoch has erected a pay wall around his publications, so I can’t link to the original story I want to post about.

A brief synopsis is that a UN employe at the little known UNOOSA dept based in Geneva apparently told the Sunday Times it was she who all first contact with alien life forms should be directed too.

The paper ran this story on page 3 of the News Section of last Sunday’s edition.

I was fascinated by the story as I’d always assumed the US president / Russian President / Chinese President / UN Director General would be among the delegation sent for by any visitors. But no, this story said a UN dept head would deal with it.

Can you imagine, visitors arrive and instead of Obama or Putin or Cameron or Julia Gillard or Kim Jong Il their first appointment is with the head of a small UN dept.

“Er, right, we were going to give you the gift of eternal energy from water, but since you don’t seem to think its worthwhile we cross hundreds of light years of space, we aren’t going to bother now,” or something similar crackles through their universal translators.

The lady in question, Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, has since insisted she did not say such a thing.

Well, whatever she did or didn’t say to the Sunday Times reporter I’m glad its been cleared up and she won’t be the person first up to meet the aliens.

However, my Jerry Springer final thought for today is: maybe it would be a good idea if we worked out who would be first in to bat if they ever did show up?

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