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I only recently found you very interesting and fun on-line magazine and reviews. If you haven't received any positive comments and re-enforcement, then shame on the people who use your services regularly.
I understand why you want to take a break from the tedium of producing FTL. I've had to back out of similar 'eaters of time' myself in the past. When it gets to the point of no fun anymore, the product suffers as well. Photography was like that for me. The worst mistake I made was to go semi-pro. The pressure was on. Several years later, I've gotten into digital photography in a big way but have kept it under control and without demands from well meaning people.
Anyway, good luck. I hope you come back to it on your terms and not ours, the great unwashed out here in the great digital black hole.
Earle Rich
Mont Vernon, NH, USA

Geoff Perry missed
I have just been reading your article about the sad death of Geoff Perry. I was a pupil of his, and a member of the group from 1973 to 1978. I worked with him on the Apollo-Soyuz monitoring, and also on the tracking of two Cosmos satellites that he suspected (correctly) were using nuclear ion-thruster propulsion units. I have a copy of a report to the US Senate, written by Charles Sheldon, that mentions Geoff's work at length, and mine briefly. A highly treasured possession!
Stuart Ganney

Dear Editor/reviewer,
I must admit to being peeved with your review of The ZONE #9, in FTL's 'Read Out' page.
I have a number of gripes about the review, especially the factual errors it included. For a start -
"When a magazine which looks like a fat fanzine..."
What's wrong with fanzines, fat or slim? SF was built on fanzines! Any genre historian will tell you that. Isn't FTL a fanzine, too..?
"...solicits a review in FTL..."
I did not solicit a review for The ZONE. You asked for a review copy - twice.
"...when it charges a subscription then in the editor's view, it must compete with the pros."
Why is that, exactly? It sounds like you're objecting to there being a price on the magazine at all! Well, how many 60+ page small press magazines are given away for free?
"...the editor talks about getting a computer and then calls Terry Pratchett a genre funster..."
OK, I admit I don't like Pratchett's work. But why did you take such obvious offence at that..?
"...there are assembled within some good pieces of writing..."
That's grudging praise when you fail to offer any examples. Did you bother to read beyond my editorial..?
"If the magazine ever makes the quantum jump from amateur..."
Now, there you go again - The ZONE actually pays its contributors...
"...looks too amateur (vide the webaddress - cheap)..."
Shall I conclude that you take issue even with my website's address..? Does paying for web space make for a better print magazine? Please explain to me how this works. Though I've been publishing SF for a decade, I've only been online a year - and still have much to learn.
The only worthwhile review in your whole Read Out page if Andy Sawyer's piece on Frank Robinson's Science Ficiton (ed sic)of the 20th Century. A great, review of an excellent book.
Please feel free to publish this letter in your 'Communications' page, but only in whole and complete form.
Tony Lee editor The ZONE Pigasus Press 13 Hazely Combe Arreton Isle of Wight PO30 3AJ ------ phone: 01983 865668 mailto:pigasus.press@virgin.net ------ the Pigasus Press website is at: http://freespace.virgin.net/pigasus.press/index.htm features include: dragon's breath newsletter - now available online VideoVista - monthly vhs and dvd reviews plus info and ordering details for The ZONE and other Pigasus Press magazines ----- subscribe to interocitor - the newsletter of Pigasus Press send a blank email to: mailto:interocitor-subscribe@topica.com

Dear Tony
Thanks for your email. However, I stick to my main point - once a magazine starts to charge and to pay its contributors it becomes a commercial operation, attracting no doubt the attentions of such people as the Inland Revenue, and it moves into the ranks of the semi-pro at the very least (it will no longer qualify for a Nova award, for example).
The reviews carried generally in FTL are for a different readership to those carried in your magazine, or, for example, by the Science Fiction Foundation, which are both of a much more literary bent. FTL's are a general guide as to whether the book is a pleasurable read and have no pretensions otherwise. Does that make them less worthwhile?
Having a good website does not make a better print magazine, of course, but your web address is again illustrative of your ambivalence, since it costs only a very few £ to become a .co.uk or whatever.
You have missed entirely my point. Good content; time to decide whether amateur or pro - with all the responsibilities that entails such as adherence to laws of libel and so on (which is why editors always reserve the right to edit letters for example, since libel costs a lot of money. I have been a professional journalist for 30 years and know the law on defamation. I hope you do also, as the person with the title editor is the one sued).
best wendy

Just a quick note to say that I've just come across your site - and I like it....
I've doing some searching on the web for more info on the announcement this week (July 21 st?) - an article in Nature, about FTL. Its hard to sort through all the dross, but you must thank "Google" search engine for finding you. I've read Ian Stewarts work for many years - not only in the New Scientist, but I'm sure he worked for "Scientific American" as well some years ago.
Are you also planning a regular newsletter? Thanks for a well thought out site. I'm going to recommend your site as a link at the ABC Newsradio Links page... I may not succeed, but I'll try.
Last thought--- Dr. Who stuff??? Here in Australia we have not seen much of the Doctor on free-to-air TV since the ABC stopped running it some years ago..... What's happening in that sci-fi part of town???
Ciao, Peter

Jodrell Bank Threat (See databank)
From Mr Roy Grey
Jodrell Bank replaced by ESO
Daresbury by Rutherford.
England is moving South (or South East)
No point in writing to an MP he's/she's moved to London as well.
Jodrell Bank ran a behind the scenes open day last year. I went along and very good it was too. They make specialised equipment for radio telescopes world wide. They wouldn't let us climb the telescope though.
There will probably be another open day this autumn. Go while you can. It won't be there for long now. I bet local builder/developers are rubbing their hands in anticipation already. We'd get 200 desirable residences and a golf course on the site.
Roy Grey, by email

Dear Wendy
I found your review of my book on the FTL site (which is a very nice site by the way) and I wanted to say thanks for what struck me as a very fair piece. (I'm probably violating some code which says writers shouldn't correspond with reviewers, but what the hell!) I'm sorry you found it such a slog, of course - but I think I know exactly how you feel, having read one or two like that myself... best wishes, and I'll certainly be checking out the site again...

Dear Editor
I had the good luck to catch Feb 3rd's transmission of the BBC 2 Horizon documentary on magma chambers and supervolcanoes, and noted comments by Professor Rampino on Yellowstone and the supervolcano eruption of 74,000 years ago in the Java sea As I understood matters, these supervolcanoes have the potential to essentially destroy the complex web of our civilization, both by regional massive destruction, and by global climatic changes with agricultural wasting over several years - a situation likely to kill billions and impoverish more. On top of this of course we would have to add epidemics, explosive growth of vermin ( rodents, cockroaches etc) and psycho-social collapse/regression - all unquantifiable at this time but highly pertinent. I am sure we could agree that, even given prior notice, we could not expect to prevent such an event nor yet survive it in culturally or biologically significant numbers. The resurrection of a culturally dynamic liberal civilization based on values of Liberty and Opportunity, and with it our potential for further scientific technological and mental development, would surely be aborted for a Dark Age of unimaginable length and horror. This being so and since, as was made abundantly clear, Yellowstone is certain to bring this about, it follows logically that our only realistic option is to ensure that such an event fails to capture all or most of Humanity within its compass. In plain language, a human Diaspora into Space remains the best- indeed the only viable - option for our species if we are to continue useful development. Just as the Diaspora alone has ensured the survival and growth of Jewry in the face of manifold threats of annihilation, so must human evolutionary cosmic Destiny serve for our future as a kind of Universal Astrozionism. It must, indeed, become a creed of the New Millennium in preference to currently fashionable notions of Limits to Growth or "Green" Statism, if we are to face this prospect with anything other than final despair. We must build our future around a sense of Destiny and Diaspora, or be but a brief streak of Mind against the backdrop of a (mostly, so far as we know) inanimate cosmos Such, it seems to me, is the true import of this programme.
Dr Michael Martin-Smith BSc MRCGP FBIS

Dear Editor,
Here is a short response to Andy Nimmo's article.
I have read Andy Nimmo's 'A New Proposal Of Continuous Creation In Interstellar Space' and I have done my own back of envelope maths.
The solar system's bow wave, shockwave or heliopause, is not solid and should be permeable to much of the matter impinging on it. In any case most of that matter will be moving with the galaxy's rotation, as the sun is, and hence its velocity at contact should be well below 217 kps.
If the impinging particles are charged then they could be deflected by magnetic and electrical fields in the shockwave but I expect the interstellar gas is neutral overall so let's assume that half would be repelled and half attracted. So half might enter the solar system and the rest would build up a charge and have to move around the spherical bow until it was shed. On Andy's figures the circumference of the shock wave will be near 460 AU so a particle hitting front dead centre would need to move a quarter round before it could join Andy's river. A distance of 114 AU which would take 2.5 years to cover at that unlikely 217 kps. Obviously we need some calculus to integrate over the entire hemisphere but, as more material would be piling up at the shockwave in this time, a fairly complex situation would result. Meantime bombarded by cosmic and solar radiation this would leave plenty of time for particles to be neutralised or take on a reverse charge so that they could penetrate the shockwave.
I expect the rivers will turn out to be mere streams under 'normal' circumstances but a much more rigorous treatment is required than back of envelope I'm afraid. Is there any real observational evidence? The HST would surely have seen these rivers if they were as ubiquitous as Andy appears to suggest.
Massive young/new forming stars are recognised sources of dust jets and the radiation from Wolf Rayets is known to tear apart dust clouds and evaporate gaseous globules. It is likely that both effects can mimic dust emission in a complex star forming region from certain viewing angles.
Roy Gray
Eddress roygray@cwcom.net

Dear Editor,

I was very pleased to note the thought put into Roy Gray's reply to my article "Rivers of Dust" and would be much obliged if you might permit me to reply to one or two of his points.

He says, "The solar system's bow wave, shockwave or heliopause, is not solid and should be permeable to much of the matter impinging on it." I would imagine this is probably true, however as I understand it, the nature of this shockwave is still to be determined, so what can and what cannot penetrate it is yet to be known for certain.

He goes on, "In any case most of that matter will be moving with the galaxy's rotation, as the sun is, and hence its velocity at contact should be well below 217kps." On what evidence does he base this? The 217 kps is our velocity relative to the galaxy's rotation as I said in the article - particles outside our shockwave will not be affected by our Sun's proper motion until or unless they impinge on that shockwave, so why should they orbit the galaxy at the same rate as we do?

It is true that nearby stars are also orbiting the galaxy as we are, but each has its own proper motion. Our Milky Way Galaxy does revolve at higher rates the further away you are from the centre, but it does not do this evenly, like the spokes of a wheel - which is one of the things that has puzzled cosmologists throughout much of the past century. However the particles NASA and others have observed entering our Solar System are doing so at 20 kps. This is very much slower than the 217 kps in the article, but in the long run the results are the same. The point of my article is to point to a process, and the more dramatic velocity illustrates this process more clearly than the lesser one would have, which is why I chose to use it.

His points about the charges of the particles are very valid and may well alter cases one way or the other, but as yet we simply don't know what kind of charges such particles have. However, let's assume he is right and half enter and half do not.

He points out quite rightly that "a particle hitting front dead centre would need to move a quarter round before it could join Andy's river." Once on that shockwave however, it would be at least partially attracted to our Sun. Accordingly, it would more probably follow the shockwave round much farther than a quarter of the way. Also, most particles would not be hitting at that centre point, but at points between it and the centre of the tail - and therefore be beginning their journey from positions nearer that centre. The tail of internal particles within our Solar System is such that astronomers have already detected Earth passing through Venus's tail. There will inevitably be a much larger, though more diffuse tail in interstellar space, behind any star. That is the point I am making.

Roy says, "Meantime bombarded by cosmic and solar radiation this would leave plenty of time for particles to be neutralised or take on a reverse charge so that they could penetrate the shockwave." Apart from pointing out that the shockwave is where the solar radiation is at its most diffuse and weakest, I don't really disagree with this, but when he goes on, "I expect the rivers will turn out to be mere streams under 'normal' circumstances" he strikes me as being a mite silly. They will still stretch for light years before they are interrupted, and when that happens they will ball up, and when that happens they will still have more than enough matter in them to form new interstellar bodies from comets right up to around K6 size stars, depending on the factors involved. I get the impression he simply hasn't grasped the quantities of mass involved at any one time, let alone over years of any star's lifetime.

His final paragraph simply indicates that present theories are known facts, which is not the case, even though he concludes from this that observations may look different. I very much agree with his call for a more rigorous analysis - both of my own proposal and those present theories.

As I understand, most present astrophysics is based on Hoyle's excellent Stellar Evolution Theory. It was superb for its day, but based on an understanding of nuclear science before the discovery of aneutronic reactions, which it therefore fails to take into account. When they are taken into account, you can get very different results, and the presently accepted theory of stellar formation simply doesn't stand up.

Andy Nimmo.

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