Strange Science: Voyager 2 in Interstellar Space

A chart showing the Voyager probes leaving the influence of the sunVoyager 2, a deep-space probe launched by NASA, has reached interstellar space, following Voyager 1, which left “the region of space outside the bubble-shaped boundary produced by wind streaming outward from the sun” in 2012. Both probes were launched in 1977, but had different routes.

The probe reached interstellar space just over a year ago, but the findings have only recently been reported on. Researchers at the University of Iowa included a plasma wave instrument on Voyager 2, and thus were able to identify the moment when the probe passed out of interstellar space based on a shift in the plasma density, which Voyager 1 also experienced.

The location at which the two probes reached this point also helps scientists visualize the shape of the heliosphere as somewhat bullet shaped, as pictured, and generally symmetrical, which provides new information about the heliosphere and other components.

You can read more about their findings here!

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DefCon One at GeekGirlCon!

Dawn Vogel and Amanda Cherry cosplaying it up for our table at GeekGirlCon 2017.

Dawn Vogel and Amanda Cherry cosplaying it up for our table at GeekGirlCon 2017.

DefCon One Publishing (and thus Mad Scientist Journal) will be at GeekGirlCon again this year, on Saturday, November 16 and Sunday, November 17. We will have a full array of our books there, which includes all 6 of the anthologies, most of the print versions of the quarterlies, and the assorted other books that DefCon One has published in the Cobalt City Universe and elsewhere. We’ll also have a few books from other publishers that include stories by us and some of our alumni!

Come see us in the Vendor’s room this weekend at the Washington Conference Center (across the street from the big Washington State Convention Center)!

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Review of Into Bones Like Oil

Karron Warren’s Into Bones Like Oil (Meerkat Press, 2019) is a Gothic-style novella that blends the surreal and literary into a ghost story like nothing I’ve read before. With characters that feel equally at home here as they might in a cozy mystery, this novella is a quick read saturated with emotional impact.

The story revolves around a boarding house, the Angelsea (noted by the characters as a spelling error), where people go to get away from their lives. Some are there to sleep soundly, but as Dora discovers, their sleep only seems sound. There are ghosts aplenty at the Angelsea, and the visitors often play host to these ghosts while they sleep. Some of the visitors are only too happy to host the ghosts, while others, like Dora, worry about what their own ghosts might have to say to them.

While geared toward a more adult audience, I found this book to be something of a spiritual cousin to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It shares that surreal, slipstream feel, where there are so many strange things going on, but the characters accept those things as part of their reality. If that sounds like your sort of book, check out Into Bones Like Oil, which released yesterday!

The publisher provided us with a free copy of this book in exchange for review consideration.

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Stories for Younger Readers

Cover art for Battling in All Her FineryThe second Tuesday in November is Young Reader’s Day, and while we often publish stories that are not for all ages, we have some recommendations that are for younger readers!

Our Battling in All Her Finery anthology from last year was assembled with an eye toward keeping the language and situations at a PG-13 level. While there are one or two curse words across the entire anthology, most of the stories are totally appropriate to share with younger readers. Parents or other adults can always pre-read the book before they pass it on to younger readers, also!

Additionally, we wholeheartedly recommend the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide series from Dreaming Robot Press, which frequently features MSJ alum as contributors. These anthologies also are geared toward younger readers, and have some great sci-fi for all ages! The most recently published volume is volume 5, but voume 6 will be out later this year!

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Fiction: The Skitterer: An Impression of an Imaginary Companion

An essay by Titus Rodriguez, Ph.D., as provided by G. D. Watry
Art by Leigh Legler

Abstract: For decades, myriad parapsychologists have pondered the role of so-called “imaginary companions” (IC) in cases concerning poltergeist activity. Though we may theorize the rhyme and reason for it, children appear to amplify the poltergeist presence. Indeed, our own lab’s case studies, localized to the northwest pocket of New Jersey, indicate a positive correlation between quantifiable poltergeist activity and the presence of a child or children in the studied household.

In our experience, the events follow a trajectory. New occupants move into the house and an IC manifests. It induces interaction with the child or children. Cumulative contact appears to be key here, for each interaction strengthens the psychic bond between IC and adolescent/s. We’ve termed this relationship “cerebral parasitism,” and its effects are not limited to the psychological. Physical illness and disturbances often follow. Poltergeist activity crescendos. Pranks that were once innocuous turn perilous, and occupants often report experiencing psychological and physical torment at the behest of unseen beings. The Mayfield family may have been such a case.

Gwen Mayfield contacted the Rodriguez Lab on the morning of March 19, 2015, following what she believed to be a botched abduction of her son Tobias by an entity she called “the skitterer.” Ms. Mayfield and her son had recently moved into a new house at 8474 La Vela Avenue in the Borough of Sussex on March 14, 2015, following a falling out with her partner Arnold Recker, a known affiliate of The Coyote Moon (SEE INDEX ITEM “COYOTE MOON, THE; CULT”). The Coyote Moon boasts strong membership in the Borough of Sussex region, with members of the commune active in both municipal and policing roles.

After contact, the team performed an exploratory interview with Ms. Mayfield on March 21, 2015. The following is an audio transcript from that interview, which ended, to our displeasure, in an abrupt manner. Unfortunately, we were unable to schedule a follow-up interview with Ms. Mayfield. She and her three-year-old son Tobias disappeared. They were last seen by their neighbor Mrs. Lupe Galvan on the night of March 22, 2015. Mrs. Galvan recalled seeing the mother and child sitting silently in their backyard, “their hands clasped together as if in prayer and their heads upturned in deference towards the moon.”

We are at a loss, and this is an appeal for assistance.

Continue reading

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Strange Science: The Grandfather Paradox Resolved

The Grandfather Paradox tells us that time travel won’t work because if you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, you’d never be born, hence you could never travel through time.

But mathematicians suggest that time travel might be feasible–at least mathematically. The mathematicians work with closed timelike curves, or CTCs, which are an “extremely powerful gravitational field, such as that produced by a spinning black hole,” that “could in principle profoundly warp the fabric of existence so that spacetime bends back on itself.” While CTCs would create paradoxes when it comes to objects, they might not when it comes to things on a quantum level. This may also mean advances for quantum cryptography and foiling it.

You can read more about this work here!

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Have You Checked Out I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

Have you had a chance to read the fantastic stories in our latest anthology, I Didn’t Break the Lamp? If you have, we’d love to know what you think of them! Please leave us a review at Amazon or Goodreads!

If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Ebook and print copies are available (and Kickstarter backer copies have also gone out)!

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Awesome Finds: Community of Magic Pens

Our friends at Atthis Arts (which includes MSJ alum E.D.E. Bell) have another Kickstarter running, for an anthology of stories about magic pens!

They’re looking for funding for the anthology now, with plans to open for submissions in December if they’re successful.

Atthis Arts puts together great anthologies, so we’re looking forward to this one as well. Their Kickstarter runs through November 30th!


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An Interview with George Salis

Today, we’re chatting with MSJ alum George Salis, who has a new novel, Sea Above, Sun Below coming out from River Boat Books.

Upside-down lightning, a group of uncouth skydivers, resurrections, a mother’s body overtaken by a garden, aquatic telepathy, a peeling snake-priest, and more. Sea Above, Sun Below is influenced by Western myths, some Greek, some with biblical overtones, resulting in a fusion of fantastic dreams, bizarre yet beautiful nightmares, and multiple narrative threads that form a tapestry which depicts the fragility of characters teetering on the brink of madness.

DV: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing background.

George Salis: I’m a Swiss-Greek-American bibliophile and, by natural extension, a linguaphile who has just come out with his first novel, Sea Above, Sun Below.

I first started writing with any serious literary intent about halfway through college. Also, I started reading novels seriously around that time, after having ditched fantasy and other genre work in high school in order to read science-popularizing books. My nascent ambition was simply to write a story and then another and another. Of course, as momentum built, I became distracted by the external concerns of the writing world, wanting to be published in popular journals, obtain awards and residencies and an MFA, etc. Thankfully, these distractions did not last too long, and I soon realized how circumstantial if not totally meaningless most of them are.

My focus came back totally to the words themselves when I discovered the vast world of buried books and neglected authors. I learned that the work of these writers is usually much better than what people are told to read by The New York Times and other mainstream echo-chambers. It’s often the case that these neglected authors write works that are entirely devoid of the distractions named above and more, thus they are pure and fresh and stimulating. And so, in communion with writers such as Rikki Ducornet, Joseph McElroy, Wendy Walker, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, and many others, I write with freedom of intellect and imagination. Words are now my world.

DV: What was the inspiration for your novel?

GS: There was a kaleidoscope of inspirations, both before I wrote the novel and during, so it’s difficult to pinpoint one. I could potentially break it down into two chief mandalas, as it were: Icarus and Adam/Eve. In a way, my novel is a roundabout interpretation of those myths. But myths by nature do not exist in vacuums. The fall of Icarus echoes the fall of Satan which echoes the fall of Man which echoes the fall of Finnegan which echoes the recurrent falls of the skydivers in my novel. Most of these connections and more can be found within or between the stories that make up Sea Above, Sun Below.

DV: Your novel pulls together a lot of disparate elements. What do you consider the glue that binds them all together?

GS: I believe everything is connected. Considering everything is made of atoms, this is a scientific fact. But there are also more esoteric connections between things. Phenomena that might put the chaos into chaos theory. With this in mind, the structure of Sea Above, Sun Below features stories within stories, but even more than that, stories beside stories, connected on a thematic and genetic level, the science of aviation and ancestry, the science of nature. There are three main parts, but depending on how you count, there are about ten tales that weave into each other to form a tapestry. My inspiration for the structure can be traced to The Thousand and One Nights and Cloud Atlas, to name a couple of examples.

From an interpretative standpoint, a lot more connections can be projected by each unique reader.

DV: What is the coolest thing about being an author?

GS: I love to write because I love living in a world of words and the act of writing itself almost regularly brings epiphanies both large and small—revelations related to words, story, coincidence, and more. It feels great to exorcise my mind of obsessions and dreams, to literally have a hand in their birth, raising them into something beyond the nascent mental form they once existed as. This is the almost solipsistic joy that comes from writing, although I’d like to think that such joy is manifest on the page and can be shared with readers.

And speaking of readers, it’s also wonderful to see how they are responding to my novel on Goodreads (see here). Some people compare my writing to Borges or Ballard or Rushdie while others say I shirk all influences. I love seeing how readers interpret the prose and the work as a whole in their own unique and overlapping ways.

DV: What are you working on next?

GS: I’m over 130,000 words into an encyclopedic novel titled Morphological Echoes. I’ve been working on it for about three years and I have a few more years of work ahead of me. It’s a book that contains a universe of stories, connected across time and space by the rearrangement of schizoid atoms, the transmutation of the laws of physics. It’s a polyphonic, multilinear, omni-temporal epic with thematic and syntactic echoes, taking place in 1940s Japan, 9/11 New York, medieval France, ancient Egypt, Neolithic prehistory, and more, with a broken family at its kaleidoscopic core. The novel begins with a myth, a truth: the moon gives birth to a boy, and when he grows weary of life on the landscape of his mother, he yearns for a strange planet called Earth. After quarreling with his mother over the course of years, she eventually concedes with sadness, and she breathes in with the elasticity of a balloon, causing the moon boy to sink with her surface, and she breathes out, a supernal sigh that sends him on a trajectory straight toward the Earth….

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Fiction: Time and Again

An essay by an unnamed assistant, as provided by Stephen D. Rogers
Art by Errow Collins

First of all, it wasn’t my fault. And even if it were my fault, it was an accident. I never meant to bend time into a Mobius strip, and probably couldn’t have done that if I tried. Besides, what kind of idiot tries to manipulate the physics of cause and effect?

My kind of idiot.

Continue reading

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