Radio Active #48: Sickness Returns, Crafty Podcasts, D&D Manager, Jupiter

Radio Active PodcastA particularly nasty round of family colds sidelines Radio Active for a month, but the show’s finally back with an update on Baby Nuke’s new love of Cheerios, news of Nuketown’s new Top of the Pile comic book review column, a rundown of my wife Sue’s favorite crafty podcasts, and news of a new D&D utility for the Mac.

Rounding out the podcast is a review of Ben Bova’s science fiction novel Jupiter, in which a science team searches for life in the deep, high-pressure water ocean beneath the king of planet’s cloud deck.

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Show Notes

  • Nuketown News
    • Sick, Sick Sick … Again: This time, it’s a sinus infection.
    • Reign of the Cheerios: NeutronLad starts eating finger food (though refuses to actually put the food in his mouth himself). Cheerios everywhere, even with the canine cleaning crew to help out.
    • Baby Gate Olympics: NeutronLad is into everything: cabinets, toys … Xboxes. So the baby gates are back up after a two-year hiatus.
    • Top of the Pile: Nuketown’s new comic book column.
    • Correction: I messed up the name of a podcast last time around: it should be “2d6 Feet in a Random Direction”, not “Roll 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction”.
  • Promo: Geek Acres
  • Netheads
    • Suggestions from Wacky Lisa:
      • Craft Borg
      • CraftyPod:
      • And a bunch of knitting podcasts that I’ll pass on to my sister, who’s just taken up knitting.
    • A few that I found:
    • d20 character and combat manager for Mac OS X. Always good to see more software options for the Mac, but why do people insist on making and remaking character tools? Initiative tracking I get, but character creation … so many have already done it. That said, look forward to checking it out.
    • Crafty Podcasts
    • D&D Manager
  • Book Review: Jupiter by Ben Bova
    • Part of Ben Bova’s “Great Tour” series of novels, in which he writes about almost every planet in the solar system. The books share a setting — a mid-21st century future where Earth is ruled by various fundamentalist factions, all of whom are struggling to regulate and control dissidents and unbelievers living in the human colonies scattered around the solar system.
    • I previously read Saturn, in which a space habitat containing 10,000 scientists, dissidents, and other trouble makers is sent into permanent exile around Saturn, where they would then explore its methane-shrouded moon Titan.
    • That story’s political shallow maneuverings — particularly the lack of any organized resistance to the totalitarians who scheme to seize control of the settlement — bothered me. But Bova’s impressed me with his other novels, so I decided to give Jupiter a try.
    • It takes place on space station Gold orbiting Jupiter. It’s science crew is tasked with exploring the local moons and cataloging their oceanic lifeforms. But there’s a secret mission at well, one that descends to the high-pressure ocean deep beneath the clouds of Jupiter.
    • Grant Archer, a graduate student in astrophysics is pressed into mandatory “volunteer” service, and sent to the station by the New Morality to spy on this secret project.
    • Archer, like his would-be New Morality, believes in God, but he’s also a scientist. He’s furious about being sent to Gold, particularly because his tasks there have nothing to do with his field of study, and partly because he was just recently married … and his wife is staying on Earth.
    • Once on site, he struggles with his status as a spy, even as his own personal and professional curiosity about the secret project grows.
    • Eventually he finds himself drawn into the project which will take him into the depths of Jupiter to confront the strangest forms of life in the solar system.
    • It’s a much better novel, in large part because there’s far more science than politics. The cut scenes that take place in the Jovian ocean are fascinating, and fuel the reader’s desire to join the science expedition to the planet. The expedition itself makes for a good read as the crew struggles with the planet’s extreme environments and the possible madness of one of their own.
    • Grant’s personal struggle to balance faith and science — particularly against what he and his friends find in the deep — makes a good counterbalance to novel’s more epic story elements.
    • Bova does a good job of attacking religious extremists without ridiculing day-to-day believers. He may not reconcile the eternal debate of science vs. religion, fact vs. faith, but he does show how they can reach an truce (at least in one person).
    • The actual expedition to the planet is a long time coming, and there are hurdles put in place that feel like plot obstacles rather than real challenges, but ultimately the pay off is worth it.
    • Details
    • Summary
    • Review
  • Outro
    • Kids and games. Book review Learning the World. Game review of The Book of Nine Swords martial supplement for D&D. Music by George Hrab.
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