Snowden’s answer to the Fermi Paradox and its assumptions



The Fermi Paradox is the question that, if the conditions for life in the galaxy are as ubiquitous as they appear to be, so that there should be hundreds, if not thousands of alien civilizations out there, then where is everyone?  Why have we found no evidence for any for those civilizations?  And why aren’t they here?

Edward Snowden has a proposed answer:

“When you look at encrypted communications, if they are properly encrypted, there is no real way to tell that they are encrypted. You can’t distinguish a properly encrypted communication, at least in the theoretical sense, from random noise,” says Snowden. He suggests that over time all societies realize that encryption is a necessity. “So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there’s only one small period in the development of their society where all of…

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Happy Hobbit Day!


A Tolkienist's Perspective

Gandalf vs Gandalf

Where have you all been … ?

I’ve been waiting for you to join in my festivities on this blog for over two weeks now! 😉

It’s 22 September and that means two things: Birthdays and Celebrations.

That’s right. If you’re in the loop of who’s who in Middle-earth, then you may or may not know that both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins celebrate their birthday today.

In honour of these two milestones in Middle-earth history, fans worldwide get to celebrate Hobbit Day (and Tolkien Week) in any way possible that demonstrates our love for the fandom.

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100 Basic Training Movies at Nerd Academy – How many times is your nerd card punched?


This is a list of 100 films that every nerd needs to see. Not just Sci-fi, or Fantasy, or Superheroes, etc. I mean, of every film ever.  I got 93.  How will you do?

Source: 100 Basic Training Movies at Nerd Academy – How many times is your nerd card punched?

Modern Space Horror Stories – Last Transmission of a Lost Cosmonaut


Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

Don’t go searching around YouTube at night. It’s dangerous.

Recently I’ve been watching these top 10 and top 15 lists, and some of them led me to some horror stories in the history of our space programs.  It’s worth noting because even with Grubbian physics, some of these dangers are still a potential risk for spelljammers.  And certainly the legacy of surviving those sorts of risks is something we, as fans of space travellers, should remember.  I’ll be posting a series of these over the next few days, so if you have a weak stomach, you may want to avoid this series.

The Judica-Cordiglia brothers were a pair of Italian amateur radio operators who established an enormous antenna and radio station in the 1960s to monitor space program transmissions.  In 1961 they found themselves receiving a weird transmission from a distressed Russian woman (the accent has been identified as East…

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Comes the Dawn



I know the recent Canada Council letdown(s) have hung a pall over doings here at On Spec. We’ve all tried to stay hopeful, “…at dawn, look to the East” and all that. But it does feel like we are due some good news, right?

Well it came. On September 1, our mighty Editor-in-chief Diane Walton announced on Facebook:

Happy to report that On Spec will be receiving funding this year from the Alberta Media Fund, courtesy of the department of Alberta Culture and Tourism. We’ll continue encouraging donors to support our Patreon campaign, to help us sustain the magazine’s future.

This news couldn’t come at a better time. It goes without saying we would like to give a huge thank-you to the Alberta Media Fund and Alberta Culture and Tourism. But we would also like to say thank-you to you, the loyal readers who stuck by the magazine…

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Review: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman


Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay – no word of a lie. This has to be among the best novels I have ever had the pleasure to read.

This novel is the first book in the SF Masterworks imprint series (in publication order). This is the novel, along with Heinlein’s classic Starship Troopers, that invented the space marine. If you look around you can see its influence in so many works of sci-fi that it’s become a trope: Halo, Warhammer 40000, Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It’s also hard sci-fi that deals with time dilation effects from sublight interstellar travel and wormholes as a way to somewhat address the sublight limitation.

More than that, this is a war novel. It’s a damn good war novel, written by a Vietnam war veteran, that ultimately speaks about his war experience.

I’m sure he must…

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