Strange Science: Scale Mail for Modern Protection

A teen scientist in Australia has found a new use for an ancient technology in a very modern setting: using copper scale male to protect women from excess radiation during breast cancer treatments.

She took her inspiration from learning that copper can be more effective than lead in protecting human skin from radiation. Combining that with learning about scale mail in her history class, she learned to weave together scale mail into wearable “armor.” This armor reduces skin exposure to the radiation treatments by 75%, while still allowing the radiation to work on cancer cells.

You can read more about this here!

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The Tiniest of Gingerbread Houses, through Science!

Gingerbread houses are hard to make and decorate. But a gingerbread house that’s about 20,000 times smaller than a normal one, or one-tenth the width of a human hair? That sounds like a real challenge!

A scientist at McMaster University in Canada, who works with electron microscopes, has done so. It’s carved from silicon, so it’s a bit inedible, but it’s still painstakingly decorated. What’s more, it’s on the head of a microscopic winking snowman that makes a human hair look large.

You can read more about this here!

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Review of Carpe Glitter

Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo (Meerkat Press, 2019) is a clever novelette about family secrets, magic, and antiquated war machines. A very quick read, this novelette blends a very real story of dealing with the estate of a recently deceased family member with the surreal.

The main character, Persephone, has inherited the estate of her hoarder grandmother who was a stage magician. As she sorts through the detritus of a long life, in amongst the moldering keepsakes, she finds several things that seem more magical in a real sense, not in the stage magic sense. Putting these pieces together reveals some of her family’s secrets, helping her understand the relationships between her grandmother, her mother, and herself.

My only wish for this novelette was for it to be longer, so that more time could have been spent on teasing out the ramifications of Persephone’s discoveries and her motivations at the book’s conclusion. Despite this, it was still a fun and quick read!

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

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Stories for Winter Nights!

We’re in the midst of winter in the northern hemisphere, so here are a few winter tales to keep you company during these dark nights!

On a Winter’s Night” by Paul Crenshaw (a dark Gothic-inspired tale)

Ice Words, Fire Fonts, and Other Scripts Unwritten by Human Hands” by Tais Teng (words written in frost and other such natural things)

“The Observer’s Paradox” by Judith Field (a melancholy tale set near the holidays) (available in MSJ Autumn 2017)

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Fiction: Children of the Guillotine

An essay by Bernard Asse, as provided by Nathan Crowder
Art by Luke Spooner

You sit there smiling, full of self-importance, bloated with secrets and my finest burgundy, and question the path that brought you here to me. Our previous interactions in the Grand Salon piqued your curiosity, made you envious, perhaps. Me, the lowly child of a Parisian ex-pat and a college professor from Senegal, the talk of the city’s elite, my designs worn by the daughters of wealth and privilege. You look upon my Haute Couture and see nothing special, nothing magical. Certainly, I must have done something scandalous, must have fucked my way into a position of influence, must know where the bodies are buried, to achieve such unwarranted acclaim. How tired your bleated protests, thinking they are unique, thinking you are the first to question my vision as a designer.

Rooting in the soft ground of my known history, you tried to dig up some dark secret. You found nothing but carrots but convinced yourself they were diamonds. Convinced yourself that my association with esoteric spiritualists makes me look mad, as if black magic could account for my successes.

If I truly were a sorcerer, then you were a fool to come to my home to confront me.

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Strange Science: The History of Blood Transfusion

We may think of blood transfusion as a very modern scientific development, but as this timeline shows, the use of transfusions in medicine goes back to the seventeenth century, when physicians identified the circulatory system. What follows is a fascinating history that includes such oddities as transfusion from animal to human, transfusions using milk instead of blood, and more! The various topics covered in this timeline are great fodder for science fiction stories!

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That Man Behind the Curtain – November 2019

Photo of three cats curled up next to each other.

Feline interns on a mandatory break.

November saw the last of the anthology shipped out and the final prep work for Winter 2020. Let’s look at what the numbers were like.

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Even More Alumni Short Stories, Games, and More!

Initial cover art for the Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, vol. 6Our MSJ alumni have been busy, with even more new publications!

Cliff Winnig has a story in the recently published Straight Outta Deadwood from Baen Books.

Author Matt Moran has published a game called A Bitter Gambit, a rules-light game of sword and sorcery.

Patrick Hurley recently had his story, “Whispers in the Garden,” reprinted at Frozen Wavelets. And he’s not the only one of our alumni that Frozen Wavelets has published–Deborah Davitt, Stewart C. Baker, Anatoly Belilovsky, and co-editor Dawn Vogel also have poetry in the first issue of Frozen Wavelets!

Andrew K. Hoe, who will have a story in the final issue of Mad Scientist Journal, has an essay on monster movement in the December 2019 issue of ParABnormal.

Andrew K. Hoe also has a story in the recently released Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (volume 6), which also includes stories from Wendy Nikel, Holly Schofield, Deborah Walker, and co-editor Dawn Vogel!

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Winter 2020 Out Now!

Disaster photography, mental health assistance from unlikely sources, and talented velociraptors. These are but some of the strange tales to be found in this book.

Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2020 collects thirteen tales from the fictional worlds of mad science. For the discerning mad scientist reader, there are also pieces of fiction from Maureen Bowden, Amanda Cherry, Sam Crane, Madison Estes, Larry C. Kay, K. Kitts, Fiona Moore, George Nikolopoulos, Mere Rain, Darren Ridgley, dave ring, J. Rohr, Holly Saiki, Connor Sassmannshausen, Alyssa N. Vaughn, Chris Walker, and Cliff Winnig. Readers will also find other resources for the budding mad scientist, including an advice column, gossip column, and other brief messages from mad scientists.

Authors featured in this volume also include Joachim Heijndermans, Genevieve McCluer, Nick Morrish, Cory Swanson, Arnout Brokking, Franko Stephens, Megan Dorei, Judith Field, Rain E. Day, Holly Schofield, Blake Jessop, Michael M. Jones, Andrew K. Hoe, Han Adcock, C. R. Anderson, E.D.E. Bell, Andy Brown, James Cummins, Lillie Franks, Joan Hudak, Alexander Nachaj, Edward Punales, Angelica Rosenthal, Sophie Sparrow, Johnny Townsend, DJ Tyrer, Lucinda Gunnin, and Sean Frost. Art provided by Leigh Legler, Luke Spooner, Errow Collins, Scarlett O’Hairdye, America Jones, and Justine McGreevy.

Buy it now at:

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Fiction: Poor Girl

An essay by Jackie Rivera, as provided by Traci Castleberry
Art by Errow Collins

From across the cobbled street, I watched the rag-clad girl who huddled on the leeward side of the Dolphin Inn. She held one trembling palm extended toward a passing gentleman. “Spare a copper, mister?” The man, like all the other passers-by gave the girl a wide berth, especially when she let out a barrage of coughs.

She was perfect for what I needed. The difficulty breathing was bad enough to be indicative of pneumonia or consumption, either of which would probably kill her soon. From the livid red scar and the fused fingers clutching at the collar of her worn dress, she’d been burned, and not all that long ago. No one would miss her, and she was near enough to death that if she passed on, I wouldn’t feel bad.

My missing hand itched as it always did when I was excited. I wound my way through the crowd and crouched in front of her, ignoring the stares of those walking past. “Spare a copper, mister?” she asked me.

I touched the knuckles of my good hand to my cap. “Morning, miss. I don’t have a copper, but I do have a hot bowl of stew to fill your belly and a nice warm bed to rest in.”

It was hard to make out her expression beneath her dirt-stained face, but her eyes widened as she gazed suspiciously at me. “I don’t have nothing you want. I got the consumption. Ain’t fit to lie with.”

“I don’t want to lie with you.” I held out my hand. “I’m just trying to be gentlemanly and help the less fortunate.”

“You ain’t no gentleman.”

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