Weekly Links 20081109

Science

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMR engine could maneuver payloads in space far more efficiently and with much less propellant than today’s chemical rockets.

Future astronauts could benefit from a magnetic “umbrella” that deflects harmful space radiation around their crew capsule, scientists say.

Writing

A rant on the publishing industry by M.J. Rose.

Our lives are full of ‘thingummys’, ‘thingamajigs’ and ‘whatjermecallits’ – those everyday items we should know the word for, or were once told but have since forgotten. Now, a collection of them has been compiled for a fascinating new book…

Amazing stories need great characters. And when you’re writing a story set in a futuristic or fantastical world, it’s more important than ever for readers to be able to relate to your characters. It’s also harder than ever, because your characters’ lives and experiences will be totally different than your readers’. How do you make people identify with someone who lives in the future, or on another planet? How can your main character stand out, against a bizarre and colorful backdrop? We asked six great science fiction authors for their advice.

Computers

Some of the best things in life are free. When it comes to icons and icon sets, there are many talented designers and artists that choose to provide beautiful and useful icon sets for commercial and/or personal usage.

There are lots of scripting languages for Unix/Linux and Windows, but this one just kinda blew me away, and brought back some memories.

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