September 2018

George R. R. Martin in 2017

George Raymond Martin, this is his birth name, was born on September 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey, USA. Years later he added the name Richard after chosing it as his confirmation name.

Ever since he was a child, George R. R. Martin showed his desire to write stories and in those years he read a lot of science fiction, fantasy and horror from previous years, becoming fan of Marvel comics. Through the readers letters published in the comics, he came into contact with the fandom and various fanzines, where he published a number of stories.

After years spent working mainly on television, also with various projects that were not successful, George R. R. Martin got tired, also for the limits imposed by budget and the rigid length of television episodes. In the early 1990s he started writing a fantasy saga that was originally a trilogy but was later expanded to better develop the story: in 1996 he published “A Game of Thrones”, the first novel of the saga that enormously increased the author’s fame.

Ediacara fossils found in Namibia (Photo courtesy Simon A.F. Darroch. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” describes a research on the communities formed by the so-called Ediacara biota, the beings that lived during the Ediacaran period. Paleontologist Simon A.F. Darroch of the Vanderbilt University and two colleagues applied a method of analysis developed for modern ecology to organisms of that period including some discovered in Namibia concluding that there was already an ecological complexity in some communities 570 million years ago.

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

The novel “Central Station” by Lavie Tidhar was published for the first time in 2016 fixing-up a number of short stories published in previous years. It won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction, and the Israeli Geffen Award for Best Science Fiction novel.

Central Station is a space base that, in Tel Aviv, connects the Earth to the rest of the universe, where humanity spread over the centuries. The population of the area has increased so much that it’s become a sort of city within the city and is a crossroad of people coming and going inluding humans, cyborgs, robot priests, artificial intelligences and more connected to the aliens known only as the Others in a digital consciousness called the Conversation.

Boris Chong returns to Earth from Mars and discovers that a lot has changed and not for the better due to a chaotic growth. His ex-lover adopted a child with out of normal skills and some developments for his Earth relatives aren’t all positive. As if there weren’t enough problems, a data-vampire arrived from Mars too.

Pahvantia hastasta fossils (Image courtesy Stephen Pates / Rudy Lerosey-Aubril)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a study on Pahvantia hastasta, a relative of today’s arthropods that lived about half a billion years ago, in the Cambrian period. Stephen Pates of the British University of Oxford and Rudy Lerosey-Aubril of the Australian New England University examined fossils discovered many years ago in the mountains of today’s Utah, USA, after extensive preparatory work. They believe that this species belonged to the group of radiodonts, that it fed on microplankton and that this type of aquatic animal contributed to kickstart the diversification of life forms on the seabed in the Cambrian Explosion.

A paleogenomics research provides information on the Lombards' genetic ancestries and social structure

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a paleogenomics research that attempted to reconstruct some migrations of the barbarian populations in the 6th century C.E. through Europe. A team of researchers performed a multidisciplinary analysis that includes genetics, history and archeology to get new information on the movements of various populations during that chaotic period. Genetic data were obtained from 63 samples taken in two 6th century Lombard cemeteries, one in Szólád, in present-day Hungary, and one in Collegno, near Turin, in Italy, discovering that the richest graves tended to have ancestors from northeastern Europe while those in poorer tombs tended to have ancestors in southern Europe.