May 2021

High Vacuum by Charles Eric Maine (Italian edition)

The novel “High Vacuum” by Charles Eric Maine was published for the first time in 1956.

The Alpha rocket has reached the Moon with the first astronauts but something goes wrong with the engine burn that is supposed to start the braking, and the landing is too violent. Of the four astronauts on board, one dies and another is seriously injured.

Surviving until help arrives is the only priority but the situation is at the limit of the impossible. Repairing the radio will allow the survivors to ask for help but, even in the best-case scenario, it will take who knows how long for a rescue expedition to reach the Moon. The main problem is the available oxygen, and the situation turns out to be even worse than expected when the astronauts discover the presence on board of a stowaway, a woman.

Pestera Muierii 1 skull (Photo courtesy Mattias Jakobsson)

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” reports the sequencing of the whole genome of the woman who lived about 35,000 years ago in today’s Romania and is referred to as Pestera Muierii 1. A team of researchers led by Professor Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University, Sweden, successfully conducted the first complete sequencing of this woman’s DNA. It’s one of the very few complete genomes of people who lived over 30,000 years ago. Its genetic diversity compared to today’s humans suggests that some of it was lost during the Ice Age and not in the migration from Africa.

Blood of Atlantis by Simon A. Forward

The novel “Blood of Atlantis” by Simon A. Forward was published for the first time in 2016.

Owain Vine joined an environmental group that started a protest against the operations in the Aegean Sea funded by billionaire Rolph Vorster. The rig where Vorster’s personnel are working is defended by armed guards ready to fire on any unauthorized person who approaches. Owain gathered some information on what’s going on and suspects that Vorster is actually looking for the mythical Atlantis. Owain sends a letter summarizing his findings to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

A Soviet submarine seems to have disappeared in the Aegean Sea, a situation that’s complex from a political point of view and for some strange circumstances. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is sent to investigate, aware that he must carefully assess his every decision. Something strange is happening in the area but Owain’s letter and the tale of archaeologist Sonia Montilla linked to a mysterious statuette suggest that there’s more than it seems. Could there really be Atlantis at the bottom of the sea?

Spellbound – The Workings of DrugTech / DrugTech – The Deep State Deepens by Marcel Sahade

The anthology “Spellbound – The Workings of DrugTech” by Marcel Sahade was published for the first time in 2020. The anthology “DrugTech – The Deep State Deepens” by Marcel Sahade was published for the first time in 2021.

A student who has trouble speaking without stuttering when he wants to ask the girl he likes for a date is helped by his parents, who work for the pharmaceutical company DrugTech. But what’s the connection between a barrister who hasn’t lost a lawsuit for 15 years, a pirate ship, and DrugTech?

Biphenylene network's structure

An article published in the journal “Science” reports the production of sheets as thick as one atom of biphenylene, also confirming that the material has metallic properties, a feature that was theorized but not proven so far. A team of researchers created an ordered lattice made up of squares, hexagons, and octagons. This structure reminds in various ways graphene sheets, a material that for years has been considered very interesting for many possible applications but is still complex to produce at an industrial level at low costs. For some applications, such as an anode material in lithium-ion batteries, biphenylene networks might be better than graphene.