House on Fire, by Arch Oboler

Been catching up on my huge backlog of unread fiction lately.  Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few horror novels rereleased by Valancourt Books, which has become an incredible source of forgotten and neglected classics.  The one that I most recently finished is Arch Oboler’s House on Fire (1969).


This was the only novel by Arch Oboler (1909-1987), but not his only foray into horror fiction: he is best remembered as the most beloved writer for the radio show “Lights Out,” beginning in 1936 and running into the 1940s.  (Of which we will say more momentarily.)

Continue reading

Posted in Horror | Leave a comment

Breaking the Chains of Gravity, by Amy Shira Teitel

Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to a stunning array of achievements in space exploration, such as the Juno Mission (inserted into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016), New Horizons (passed Pluto on July 14, 2015), and Rosetta (landed on a comet on November 12, 2014). These missions are all mind-boggling accomplishments, and naturally raise the question: how did we get so awesome at space travel?  I’m not even talking about the reasonably well-known early history of NASA’s manned space flight program, but even earlier, when rocket travel out of the earth’s atmosphere was considered an impossible dream by many.

Breaking the Chains of Gravity (2016), by Amy Shira Teitel, takes an in-depth, fascinating, and compelling look at this early history.


Breaking the Chains of Gravity begins with the early rocket hobbyists in Germany in the 1930s and ends with the formation of NASA in 1959.  The path to space would be driven by some of the greatest minds and boldest hearts in the world, and would take many dramatic twists and turns along the way.  Among the stories told are the dramatic escape of Wernher von Braun from the Germans and into the protective arms of the Americans, the dramatic rocket-powered flight of Chuck Yeager that broke the sound barrier, and the insane self-experimentation of John Stapp on the biological effects of high g-forces.  All these stories are woven into a compelling and enjoyable narrative that gives a clear impression of how everything came to pass.

Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 1 Comment

9 years of Skulls in the Stars

Today, it turns out, is the 9 year anniversary of my first post here at “Skulls in the Stars,” titled “Educate or Bust!”  This post title, like the title of the blog itself, came from a story by Robert E. Howard.

Posting has been light the past couple of months due to stresses at work and in my personal life, but I should hopefully be past the worst of it over the next month and back to some detailed physics, optics and history posts!  Thanks for putting up with me and reading all these years.

First appearance of Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane, in Weird Tales, August 1928.

First appearance of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane, in Weird Tales, August 1928.

Posted in Personal | 1 Comment

Twitter Weird Science Facts, Volume 12

Time for another summary of weird science facts, as posted by me on Twitter!  Read below to see the devilish secret held within this innocent-looking cup. (Which I own, btw.)


Continue reading

Posted in General science, Weirdscifacts | Leave a comment

Hiroshi Yamamoto’s MM9

I don’t recall how I came across Hiroshi Yamamoto’s fun monster-hunting novel MM9 (2007).  Perhaps it was a recommendation for me on Amazon, based on my more recent forays into translated science fiction, such as Metro 2033 and Roadside Picnic?  In any case, I’m glad I read it: MM9 is a delightful and clever novel with surprising twists and turns.


Continue reading

Posted in Horror, Science fiction | Leave a comment

Twitter Weird Science Facts, Volume 11

Time for another round-up of weirdscifacts from Twitter!  Read below to find out what this creepy 1873 woodcut is depicting.


Continue reading

Posted in General science, Weirdscifacts | Leave a comment

Twitter Weird Science Facts, Volume 10

On a personal note: still going through a rough patch of life, and so I’m still on a sort of unofficial hiatus from writing substantial posts — though I may write one here or there. Hopefully will be back and active in a month; in the meantime, I will continue updating my weirdscifacts.

Welcome to the 10th volume of Twitter Weird Science Facts! Read below to discover the sinister secret of this otherwise adorable bird.


Continue reading

Posted in General science, Weirdscifacts | 1 Comment