This Week 25–31 December

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Here is my list of the best sci­ence fic­tion films. I tried to lim­it it to three films from each decade, start­ing from the 1950’s and con­tin­u­ing through 2019.  Of the three, I chose a best and a run­ner up for the decade.  I also cre­ate a cat­e­go­ry for hon­or­able men­tion.  I’ve tried to avoid let­ting space trav­el films dom­i­nate the list, though there are sev­er­al that I could not ignore.  I’ve grav­i­tat­ed toward films that have a good sci­ence theme. You will notice that some of the fran­chise favorites are left off the list.  I did so delib­er­ate­ly since my favorite films of those fran­chis­es have weak science.

Each of these movies has a strong point and each has some flaws. Of the decades rep­re­sent­ed, I found a mixed bag of movies that either had bad sci­ence in them or none what­so­ev­er. There are cer­tain­ly bet­ter movies than the ones I select­ed,  but they almost all fall into the mixed bag. As time goes on, I will pro­vide reviews of these movies to explain why I think these are the best.



Here is the List:


  1. For­bid­den Planet
  2. The Day the Earth Stood Still
  3. Them!


  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Plan­et of the Apes
  3. Day of the Triffids


  1. Androm­e­da Strain
  2. Alien
  3. Soy­lent Green


  1. Blade Run­ner
  2. Cocoon
  3. Abyss


  2. The Pup­pet Masters
  3. The Matrix


  1. Pitch Black
  2. The Man from Earth
  3. Pan­do­rum


  1. The Mar­t­ian
  2. Ex Machi­na
  3. Coher­ence


This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 25 2022 [25th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 28th at 9 PM EDT (29th 2AM GMT)]

  • Torn’s take on the best films of Sci­ence Fiction

Realistic Large Scale Space Construction

To date, the largest struc­ture built in space is the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion (ISS).  ISS took over a decade to build and required over a decade to assemble.

The fol­low-on space sta­tions that are expect­ed to be built in the com­ing decade are all small­er but are expect­ed to be com­mer­cial outposts.

But the real­ly big space sta­tions that could have there own spin grav­i­ty remain on the far hori­zon.  Two exam­ples are the Stan­ford Torus Space Set­tle­ment, and the O’Neill Cylin­der.

In a recent dis­cus­sion, Anton Petrov reveals a study on the con­struc­tion of an O’Neill cylin­der.  His video is avail­able below.

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on

Space Habitat with Spin Gravity

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week, I offer a return to the Moon sto­ry:  Golf and Out­gassing.

For those of you inter­est­ed, I include an arti­cle that peels back the fic­tion and dis­cuss­es the sci­ence behind the sto­ry: Sci­ence of Golf and Outgassing

Big News in Science

The Hun­ga-Ton­ga vol­canic erup­tion of last Jan­u­ary con­tin­ues to pro­vide a wealth of new sci­ence. Vol­canos con­tin­ue to sur­prise us. And this erup­tion is no excep­tion.  In the arti­cle below, the authors explain how the erup­tion effect­ed Earth­’s ionos­phere more than many solar storms.


Ton­ga Erup­tion Made Waves in Earth’s Ionosphere

Extrasolar Planets


Meth­ods for find­ing exoplanets:

This helps deter­mine the frac­tion of stars hav­ing plan­ets and the num­ber of plan­ets per star for the Drake Equation.

Using spec­tra to deter­mine com­po­si­tion and chem­istry of atmosphere:

This relates to frac­tion of worlds hav­ing life from the Drake Equation.

This Week 18–24 December 2022

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


In sci­ence fic­tion, there has been a dis­cus­sion as to what con­sti­tutes sci­ence fic­tion.  In mod­ern terms, the thoughts are that mod­ern sci­ence has to be a part of it.  How­ev­er, this is not a uni­ver­sal opin­ion.  Many works in mod­ern times are not even close to being  sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly accu­rate. What about works from the past where the sci­ence was valid then but lat­er has found to be flawed?

In Kepler’s Dream (Som­ni­um), we find one of the ear­li­est works of sci­ence fic­tion.  It is filled with the spec­u­la­tion of trav­el to anoth­er world.

One that would not be real­ized until the 20th cen­tu­ry that used the sci­ence that Kepler him­self had laid the foun­da­tion. Kepler, using obser­va­tion­al data col­lect­ed by Tycho Bra­he, devel­oped a set of three laws that gov­ern plan­e­tary motion.’s%20Laws%20of%20Planetary%20Motion&text=They%20describe%20how%20(1)%20planets,its%20semi%2Dmajor%20axis).


This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 18 2022 [18th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 21st at 9 PM EDT (22nd 2AM GMT)]

  • Kepler’s Dream (the first work of Sci­ence Fiction)

Fusion breakthrough

Though not a pow­er­plant, NIF man­ages to show through exper­i­ment that we aren’t wast­ing our time look­ing for the panacea of nuclear fusion. In my opin­ion, this is a break­through moment such as the Apol­lo 11 land­ing on the Moon.  There are things that human­i­ty learns to do that ensures the sur­vival of our­selves and the rest of the plan­et. Fusion is one of them.

In my arti­cle about the Kar­da­shev scale, I dis­cuss the lev­el of civ­i­liza­tion estab­lished by the amount of pow­er avail­able. With the devel­op­ment of nuclear fusion, our Earth­’s civ­i­liza­tion will reach the lev­el of Class 1.  This brings ben­e­fits almost beyond belief:

In a recent dis­cus­sion on Star Talk, Neil deGrasse Tyson dis­cuss­es the impli­ca­tions of the suc­cess­ful exper­i­ment at Lawrence Liv­er­more Nation­al Lab’s Nation­al Igni­tion Facil­i­ty. Check out the video below.

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on


This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week I rec­om­mend  Stranger a vignette fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester. Enjoy!

Big News in Science

Astronomers have a list of things that we assume will be found on exo­plan­ets. In the video below, Dr. Becky reviews JWST’s life detec­tion capabilities.

These capa­bil­i­ties have an impact on the para­me­ters in the Drake Equa­tion. Specif­i­cal­ly, the frac­tion of plan­ets that sup­port life, f_l, can now be con­strained by obser­va­tion. Using the data  col­lect­ed from JWST over the next few years, we’ll have some idea val­ue of this parameter.

Here is anoth­er arti­cle about plan­e­tary atmos­phere spec­tra as it applies to habitability:

This Week 11–17 Dec 2022

Short science fiction by Torn MacAlester


Con­grat­u­la­tions to NASA for their suc­cess­ful Artemis 1 mis­sion.  From launch until splash­down, this has been an intrigu­ing series of firsts. Though I write sci­ence fic­tion about the Moon, I rec­og­nize the efforts to make this sci­ence fact.  I look for­ward to the Artemis II mission.


This week’s discord chat

Week of Dec 11 2022 [11th at 1 PM EDT (6 PM GMT), 14th at 9 PM EDT (15th 2AM GMT)]

  • Why Sci­ence is impor­tant in Sci­ence Fiction

Artemis 1 Splash Down

Thunder Moon Tussle by Torn MacAlester available on

This Week’s Short Fiction by Torn MacAlester

This week I rec­om­mend Clash of Titans a short fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters from Thun­der Moon Tus­sle by Torn MacAlester. Enjoy!

Big News in Science

Astronomers have a list of things that we assume will be found on exo­plan­ets.  Here is some­thing that we now have ‘data’ to prove.  Check it out.


Discord Chat with Torn MacAlester: This week my novel “Thunder Moon Tussle”

This week the Dis­cord Chat with Torn MacAlester will be my nov­el “Thun­der Moon Tus­sle”.  Chat will be on Sun­day 1–2 PM EST (6–7 PM GMT) and Wednes­day 9–10 PM EST (2–3 AM GMT Thurs­day).  This will be at Torn’s Dis­cord Chan­nel.

Discord Chat with Torn MacAlester: Kardashev Scale

This week’s topic: The Kardashev Scale

Hi, I will have my Sun­day Dis­cord chat at 1–2 PM EST (6–7 PM GMT) and the Wednes­day Dis­cord chat on wed 9–10 PM EST (2–3 AM GMT Thrurs­day).  This weeks top­ic is the The Kar­da­shev Scale. Torn’s Dis­cord Channel

Short Fiction: Cold Contact by Torn MacAlester

Cold Con­tact is a sci­ence fic­tion short orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten for the Fic­tion Foun­tain. Of the cur­rent sto­ries on my web­site, it is the one not work­ing on the sim­i­lar theme to the others.

You can read more of my short fic­tion at: Short Fic­tion.

Most of the short fic­tion fits into a time­line of events: Time­line.



Short Story: Morgan’s Road

Nel­son once felt inde­pen­dent. His life as a lunar prospec­tor at least seemed that way. With his mon­ey sup­ply dwin­dling, the stark real­i­ty of his free­dom had fad­ed to dis­ap­point­ment. The moon would like­ly win, and Nel­son would return to Earth. Then the stranger Mor­gan arrived mak­ing Nel­son ques­tion every­thing he knew about the moon, prospect­ing, and inde­pen­dence. Nel­son strug­gles to resolve his finances and the mys­tery pre­sent­ed by Morgan.

Find out what hap­pens to Nel­son and Mor­gan in: Mor­gan’s Road a short sto­ry by Torn MacAlester

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