Friday, September 25, 2015

“In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon”

From Publishers Weekly's Sept. 28 issue:

Mission: Tomorrow
Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Baen, $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8094-8

What happens to the final frontier when corporations replace NASA? These 19 often satirical, sometimes hopeful stories (17 original to this volume) depict a variety of near futures in which “outer space technicians” replace astronauts (“Ten Days Up” by Curtis C. Chen) and work-from home asteroid miners fight off claim-jumping hackers (David D. Levine’s “Malf”), while eccentric billionaires promise the stars (Jay Werkheiser’s “Around the NEO in 80 Days” and Christopher McKitterick’s “Orpheus’ Engines”). While there is some variation—China is the last to launch in “Tribute” by Jack Skillingstead, but the first to capitalize on space in “Rare (Off) Earth Elements” by Ben Bova—most pieces revolve around small-time operators and their struggles to survive the oncoming corporate space race. Readers looking for a solar system tour from Mercury to the Kuiper Belt will be entertained by Old West–style marshals rounding up the usual suspects (Michael F. Flynn’s “In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon”) as well as robots seeking justice and battling loneliness in the great dark night (Brenda Cooper’s “Iron Pegasus”). Editor Schmidt adds grandmasters to a mix of newer established names and balances the tragic with the humorous. (Nov.)

A stellar list of contributors, sez TOF, among which TOF was inexplicably included.


  1. Panic Town was a fun hard sci-fi read, very imaginative and earthy. I won't say in public the bits that made me chuckle the most.

    I noticed the application of superconductors throughout. That tech could certainly play a role, especially as HTS cost drops. You envisioned a loop config to shield the crater city, "Port Rosario", and that's understandable. When I started modeling HTS circuits under cosmic rays, for just such a shield, loops were baseline. I inserted solenoids and half-solenoid segments, then I rotated circuits sideways, adjusted separations, and anchored all to crater walls.

    The optimized design would protect a city with a shaped field adhering to safety limit on the crater floor -- an important but tricky consideration. The design maximizes deflections per amp; a 9 km crater would be shielded with < 80 kW.

    Possibly of interest. Ping if curious. :-)

  2. Just to clarify: 80 kW would be the max continuous power required to maintain the superconducting magnetostatic field. The field circuits themselves would be high-ampacity HTS, with MA currents.


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  Hello family, friends and fans of Michael F. Flynn.   It is with sorrow and regret that I inform you that my father passed away yesterday,...