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Archive for July, 2012

Folks who read my website and this blog know I’m a bit two-faced. Like the Roman god Janus I peer both into the past and the future. I read science fiction/fact with the same fervor I read (and write) historical fiction/fact. I love it when science meets history in such passions as archaeology, palentology and geology. This post is a tribute from my science self to a remarkable woman who made history in my lifetime. Sally Ride was a hero of mine and an inspiration to a generation of girls. From the Sally Ride Science website:

Sally Ride NASA picture

Dr. Sally Kristen Ride in 1984.

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Sally’s historic flight into space captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately—inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.

“Ride, Sally Ride!”

I wanted to be an astronaut since I was little. I followed all the MercuryGemini and Apollo launches; clipping news items and storing them in a banana box I got from the local grocery. I noticed there were no female US astronauts, but the Russians sent up Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova in 1963 to become the first woman and first civilian in space. The US couldn’t be far behind, right? Then NASA scrubbed the Mercury 13 project (First Lady Astronaut Trainees or FLATs.) It was clear that no woman need apply to that boys’ club. Disappointed, I still hoped. I was only eleven, still time to change the boys’ minds and let me play. (more…)

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Seven Wonders cover

Gordianus the Finder is back in this prequel to Steven Saylor’s popular series of mysteries set in the Roman Republic of Cicero and Caesar. Gordianus is eighteen and embarks on the First Century BCE equivalent of a “Grand Tour” with his old tutor and famous poet Antipater of Sidon. As the Italian peninsula simmers with rebellion, the pair head east to visit the Seven Wonders of the World encountering murder, mysteries and political intrigues. Over the course of their year+ journey, Gordianus evolves into “the Finder” series readers have come to know and love.

For the record, I am not a Gordianus fan. I very much enjoyed Saylor’s multi-generational epics Roma and Empire, which I reviewed, but didn’t take to the couple of Finder novels I sampled. Not because they were bad books, but because I’m not that into historical mysteries. Every reader has her quirks. This book has a distinctly different structure from the others. Saylor uses the journey to visit the Seven Wonders as a framework for several short stories (many of which were previously published in mystery and fantasy magazines.) Each Wonder gets a story with a few interludes, such as attending the Olympic Games and visiting the ruins of Corinth, resulting in ten chapters dealing with murder, witchcraft, ghosts and gods. As their journey continues, a larger mystery entangles Gordianus and Antipater with spies and other enemies of Rome. (more…)

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