March 2024

Sugarcane plant in Mozambique

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the results of a high-quality sequencing of sugarcane DNA. The name generally refers to the Saccharum officinarum species but actually, the cultivars are hybrids with the Saccharum spontaneum species, sometimes called wild sugarcane. The polyploid sugarcane genome has become one of the most complex known, which is why it’s been so difficult to completely sequence. Now a team of researchers combined different genetic techniques to obtain the genome of the variety referred to as R570, a typically modern cultivar.

The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The novel “The Machine Crusade” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson was published for the first time in 2003. It’s the second book in the Legends of Dune trilogy and follows “The Butlerian Jihad”.

The Butlerian Jihad appears to be at a stalemate where only small victories are achieved against Omnius and its thinking machines. The fire that brought billions of humans to fight is fading away, and Iblis Ginjo searches for something special that can revive it.

Vorian Atreides continues to develop his unconventional strategies that can surprise thinking machines but at the same time, a visit to the planet Caladan makes him want to put down roots there. On Arrakis, Selim’s legend grows as his band of outlaws use the great sandworms against spice traders. On the planet Poritrin, Norma Cenva designs a revolutionary new propulsion system.

Doctor Who - Shada (Blu-ray edition)

“Shada” is an adventure originally conceived as the last of the seventeenth season of the classic “Doctor Who” series but never broadcast. It’s a six-part adventure written by Douglas Adams and directed by Pennant Roberts in the original parts and by Charles Norton in the ones filmed in 2017.

The story

Skagra is mentally connected to a group of people. He wakes up, breaks contact, and then abandons them on the space station, from which he departs. His goal is to find Salyavin, a Time Lord condemned to be locked up in the Shada Prison, whose location is top secret.

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana II (Lalla Ward) go to Cambridge to see Chronotis, a Time Lord who took up residence at the university as a professor. Chronotis intends to return a book brought from Gallifrey that holds arcane powers connected to the ancient times of his civilization. He realizes that the book was borrowed by Chris Parsons, a student who realizes its oddities by examining it together with his friend Clare Keightle.

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

The novel “Revenant Gun” by Yoon Ha Lee was published for the first time in 2018. It’s the third book in The Machineries of Empire series and follows “Raven Stratagem”.

Shuos Jedao remembers being 17 years old and a cadet but his body is clearly much older, with scars that indicate he was wounded in the war. Hexarch Nirai Kujen explains to him that he’s a general and orders him to reconquer the planets that broke away from the Hexarchate.

Nine years after a heavy blow was dealt to the Hexarchate, the forces that broke away from it are preparing for a new clash. Kel Cheris has her own plans, which include an investigation aimed at uncovering the secrets of Hexarch Nirai Kujen.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

The novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson was published for the first time in 1992.

Hiro Protagonist makes do by delivering pizzas for the Mafia since being a freelance hacker earns too little to live on. He has very tight deadlines for his deliveries and during one of these jobs, he comes across a skater/kourier who calls herself Y.T. and works for another company, becoming friends with her.

In his free time, Hiro develops his activity in the Metaverse with his katana-wielding warrior avatar. A man calling himself Raven offers Hiro a hypercard containing Snow Crash, which he describes as a new drug. Hiro doesn’t trust what might actually be in it but his fellow hacker Da5id collapses after trying Snow Crash.