September 2021

The short story “Replacement” by Rimi B. Chatterjee was published for the first time in 2020 by Future Fiction within the anthology “Avatar. Contemporary Indian Science Fiction”.

Aiyzeh Dang wishes she could be slim and willowy like her friend Supiriya, who will find a good husband for sure. Instead, she can only hope she can go to New Singapore to study medicine with the man she admires for her contribution to the overpopulation problem. Her brothers, who run the family after their father’s death, only give her permission because she won a scholarship and they don’t have the money to pay her dowry to find her a husband.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

The novel “Consider Phlebas” by Iain M. Banks was published for the first time in 1987. It’s part of the Culture series.

During the Idiran–Culture War, one of the Culture’s starships is destroyed during an Idiran attack but its Mind, the artificial intelligence that controlled it, survives. With a desperate maneuver, the Mind manages to hide on the planet Schar, under the protection of the Dra’Azon, entities so powerful that neither of the two contenders wants to provoke their anger.

Bora Horza Gobuchu is a Changer on a mission for the Idirans thanks to her ability to change his appearance. The intervention of Perosteck Balveda, a Culture agent, causes Horza’s mission to fail and the Changer must be rescued by the Idirans. An attack by the Culture puts him in danger again, and this time he’s rescued by a Free Company of mercenaries’ starship. Horza is forced to fight for his life and to continue his mission by reaching the planet Schar.

Views of Titanokorys gainesi fossils (Image courtesy Jean-Bernard Caron, Royal Ontario Museum)

An article published in the journal “Royal Society Open Science” reports the identification of a new species of radiodont that was named Titanokorys gainesi dating back to about half a billion years ago thanks to fossils discovered in the famous Burgess Shale. A team of researchers examined what is the largest radiodont of the Hurdiidae family discovered so far and in particular the large carapace that covered its head, which is very long compared to its body. Such an animal must have been of considerable importance in its ecosystem, like other predatory radiodonts of the Cambrian period. Its discovery helps to understand the diversification of these arthropods and in particular of the ones of the Hurdiidae family, which had a great variability in the characteristics and in particular of the carapace.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

The novel “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin was first published in 2006 serialized in the Chinese magazine Science Fiction World and in 2008 as a book. It was translated into English by Ken Liu. It’s the first book of the trilogy known as The Three-Body Problem or Remembrance of Earth’s Past. It won the Hugo and Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis Awards as the best science fiction novel of the year.

During the Cultural Revolution, Ye Wenjie is forced to watch a struggle session during which her father is accused of counterrevolutionary activity for teaching the theory of relativity during his work as a teacher. When the man refuses to accuse himself and rebuts, the indoctrinated young Communists beat him to death. Ye Wenjie is branded a traitor for refusing to accuse her father and she ends up in a labor camp. However, thanks to her skills in astrophysics, she’s sent to work for the top-secret Red Coast project.

Wang Miao is a nanotechnology researcher who ends up involved in investigating the strange deaths of various scientists. He has to work together with Shi Qiang, a policeman of decidedly unorthodox methods who hasn’t ended up in disgrace only because he’s extremely skilled in his job. Wang Miao discovers the existence of Three Body, a virtual reality game whose goal is the survival of people who live in a world where environmental conditions change radically between what are called Stable Ages and what are called Chaotic Ages.

The specimen of Tupandactylus navigans with the drawing indicating its bones (Image Beccari et al)

An article published in the journal “PLoS ONE” reports the attribution of an almost complete pterosaur skeleton to the Tupandactylus navigans species. This fossil skeleton arrived in the hands of a team of researchers led by Dr. Victor Beccari in an adventurous way, as it was confiscated by the police along with other very well-preserved fossils during a raid at Santos Harbour, Brazil. The researchers subjected the skeleton to a CT scan that made it possible to create a 3D reproduction. The examination also led to the hypothesis that Tupandactylus navigans and Tupandactylus imperator actually constitute the two sexes of the same species.