Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

Leave a comment

Books Read 2018

Yes, I’m very late to be finishing up last year’s book blog – so sue me.

Previously we had:

Night Without Stars, by Peter F Hamilton

October, by China Mieville

Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway

Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer

The Furthest Station, by Ben Aaronovitch

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

The Labyrinth Index, by Charles Stross

Emergence: Corporation Wars 3, by Ken McLeod

Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Guardians of Paradise, by Jaine Fenn

The Rise and Fall of DODO, by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland

The Obelisk Gate, by NK Jemisin

Dark State, by Charles Stross

Rosewater, by Tady Thompson

Places in the Darkness, by Chris Brookmyre

Elysium Fire, by Al Reynolds

Austral, by Paul McAuley

You Don’t Know Me, by Brooke Magnanti

And now for the continuation:

Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff

The horrors of racism outdo the mythos related horrors in 1950s America. Interesting format which is more linked novelettes than anything else, but seems to work well for the story he wants to tell. The mythos side is more sorcerers and magic as technology than anything cthulhoid, but that plays to the themes well.

Sweet Dreams, by Tricia Sullivan

Nice take on the possibilities of dream hacking and dream therapy, which I’m sure is also partly a comment on social media.

The Rig, by Roger Levy

Long novel including a crime lord’s saga and what it did to the galactic civilisation he lived in and helped to change. The disparate timelines aren’t clearly disparate at first which was a bit confusing, but it all came together in the end.

Dogs and War, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Excellent novel of a world where augmented cyber-animals are used as weapons, told from their perspective. Really enjoyed this. Bees is one of the best non-human artificial intelligences I’ve come across.

Iron Gods, by Andrew Bannister

More happenings in the artificial stellar cluster known as the Spin. An interesting mix of space opera and cyberpunk. Looking forward to the third volume.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution, by Peter Watts

A typically bleak far future from the man who does realistically bleak futures so well. When you’re on an endless mission to seed new FTL gates around the galaxy, spending most of your time in cryosleep, what do you do when you want to ferment a mutiny?

Leave a comment

Science for Fiction 2019

The Imperial College & Science Fiction Foundation workshop for writers to meet and talk to scientists is back once again, and we have rather more advance notice of the dates than we have managed in recent years.

The dates are 3-4 July, starting after lunch on the 3rd and running all day on the 4th. There’s a meeting of the London Fannish Circle (The Tun) that evening and I’ll be leading a trip there after we finish for anybody interested.

The cost will be £30 to cover catering. Some financial support is available via the Science Fiction Foundation if necessary. Overnight accommodation, if you need it, is extra.

Details of subjects to be covered are still being sorted out – and will in part be determined by what the attendees are after – but it will certainly include astronomy, physics and biology, possibly all mixed together.

If you are interested drop me an email at d dot clements at imperial dot ac dot uk. Please include any specific requests for subjects to be covered, and if you have any dietary restrictions that would affect what we order for lunch and tea.

Leave a comment

Mars Space Defence defeated again

In a complete stroke of luck my writing group was meeting last night, just at the time that InSIGHT was landing on Mars. As we’re all SF writers we took a break from pawing over manuscripts and pouring wine, to watch, and it was quite impressive.

The today I got interviewed about the event. You can find the interview here:


1 Comment

Publication and other news

Two items of interest today:

Firstly, I’m pleased to announce that Analog has just bought my most recent short story, titled Sailers of the Second Sun. No word on publication date at this stage, but i will let you know here when it is out.

Secondly, I’ve had a paper discussing the Fermi Paradox and life in the Solar System accepted for publication in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. The paper is based on something I presented (in absentia) at a BIS discussion meeting last year. You can find the paper here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1811.06313

I thought little of this until I got the College’s Press Briefing today, where I found out that the Daily Express has picked up the paper:

“Aliens to be discovered in two decades top British scientist claims” Daily Express – “A new report from a British expert says it is a ‘realistic’ possibility that aliens will be found in under two decades. Not only could aliens be found, but they will be ‘intelligent, interstellar travelling and colonising life.’ according to the study. The research paper from Dr David L Clements [Natural Sciences], of the Imperial College London, states that the ‘necessities of life’ – such as water – are so ‘common in the Solar System’ that it ‘may be filled with life.'”

I like the ‘top British scientist’ bit!

The full report is available here:


Leave a comment

Parliamentary Standards: How to Complain

If you find an MP’s behaviour or language unacceptable you can do more than just moan about it. You can complain to Kathryn Stone OBE, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards standardscommissioner@parliament.uk

I just did:

I wish to complain about Theresa May MP’s language in a recent speech where she described EU citizens as ‘jumping the queue’.

EU citizens exercising their right under EU treaties to live and work in the UK are no more jumping the queue than those UK citizens, like myself, who have used those same treaties to live and work in EU countries.

Use of emotive language like this is an appeal to racism and xenophobia, something of which there is already far too much in the UK. Mrs May’s speech may well inspire further racist attacks, and it certainly does not enhance the standing of EU citizens who live, work, make and care for families in the UK.

These shameful dog whistle statements to the basest parts of the UK psyche must stop.



Maybe you’d like to as well.

I’ll let you know what sort of reply I get.

Leave a comment

You may recall that a few months ago I wrote a post about Dr Aron Wall, whose research speciality is Black Hole Thermodynamics, and who is moving to Cambridge next year to take up a Lectureship. Yesterday I heard the news that Dr Wall (who is currently at Stanford) has been awarded a New Horizons […]

via A Breakthrough for a Bigot — In the Dark