Philae and the Rosetta Mission

Since I’m a baseball fan, I’m used to hearing the adage about how hard it is, actually, for a moving ball and a moving cylinder to make contact.  From a physics’ point of view, that is.  We should be surprised that it happens at all, let alone well enough to produce, say, a grand slam.

Europe’s Rosetta Mission, however, managed something a million times more precise and precarious this week, when they maneuvered a spaceship–Philae–to land on a moving comet, 317 million miles from Earth.


According to the New York Times, there were a few glitches, but the mission is considered a success. I, too, would be hugging my colleagues if I managed to be part of this team!  What a phenomenal feat!

Success! The Rosette Mission Team.

While I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to travel off-planet and to new locations in space, I’m more than intrigued and fascinated.  I hope that I live to see the day when we make First Contact, or manage to establish living quarters on another planet.  Like the Golden Age science-fiction writers, I’m antsy to explore new worlds, even if I would do so vicariously though the pages of periodicals.

And who knows…maybe I would have the guts to go myself.  As long as there were coffee, I suppose…

Coffee, Nectar of the Gods


Chang, Kenneth.  “Landing on a Comet, a European Space Agency Mission Aims to Unlock the Mysteries of Earth.” The New York Times 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. 

This blog originally published as a sample for students on my school blog.



Alternate Universe: He Walked Around the Horses



I’ve decided to use a second story with time travel as a plot part in my Science Fiction class, so I asked all my geeky friends on facebook what they’d suggest.  And I have a LOT of geeky friends.  One of the titles thrown my way was “He Walked Around the Horses” by Henry Beam Piper (thanks, Sabrina!).  While I won’t be using it in class–more to do with alternate universe theory and less to do with time travel, per se, and requires far too much Enlightenment European history for me to try to explain–I absolutely LOVED the story.

While it was first published in 1948, the story is set in 1809 and the language conforms to this.  I’m fine with that; bring on the esoteric vocabulary, please. The story is rather epistolary, as well, set up as a series of letters and police reports sent among a small group of police and government officials in Prussia and London, as well as the statements of a saloon keeper, a couple of peasant workers, and the central mysterious figure of Benjamin Bathurst.

Benjamin Bathurst

I don’t want to give anything away, but I loved how the reader gets more information with each report, with things seen from a different perspective.  As a love of mystery novels and detective fiction, this is right in my wheelhouse.

For anyone who loves history (American Revolution, the subsequent French Revolution, the rise of NapoleonWellington, etc.), this is the story for you.  Wonderfully written, great character touches, and a lovely sardonic ending line all waiting just for you!

You can read it online for free from Project Gutenberg!

CITATION: Piper, Henry Beam. “He Walked Around the Horses.” Astounding Science Fiction, April 1948. Project Gutenberg. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. 

This blog entry originally posted on my school blog as a sample for students.