Daily Archives: March 16, 2006

An Astronomy Workshop for SF Writers?

Hey, SF writers, check this out:

Science fiction writer Mike Brotherton is also a professor of astronomy at the University of Wyoming, and is thinking about the feasibility of doing two-week workshop for SF writers about science (and particularly astronomy), possibly to be funded by NASA. But in order to pry the money out of NASA, he needs to able to show there’s a market for this — which is to say, that SF writers are interested in taking a couple weeks to learn more about the science that fuels their fiction. So he’s created a survey to poll SF writers about their interest/ability to do this. The survey is here.

Speaking as an SF writer who has also written a book on astronomy, I think this is a marvelous idea; I assume that SF writers are more literate than the average bear about science and scientific concepts, but there’s something to be said about a “hands-on” immersion into the field, particularly for SF writers who are not working scientists or science journalists/writers. As Brotherton himself notes: “People continue to learn from stories after college, and future scientists are often inspired to adopt their careers by an early interest in science fiction.” To the extent that we use current science in our work, or extrapolate from it, it’s helpful for us to get it right. Because if we don’t, who will?

The survey is open to all writing levels, so whether you’re beginner or an established novelist, you can take the survey and give Brotherton data to use to make his case to NASA. Naturally, feel free to pass this information to other SF writers you know; the more data Brotherton gets, the more useful this survey will be.

Magic Lessons

Many congratulations to my pal Justine Larbalestier, whose second novel, the delightful Magic Lessons, debuts today. It continues the journey of Reason Cansino, the young heroine who was at the heart of her first novel Magic or Madness, and see her struggling to deal with her family’s history and its implications for her own future.

In my opinion this is as strong and readable a book as Magic or Madness (which was in itself excellent). Don’t tell Justine this, but I nominated her for the Campbell Award, which is the award the SF community gives to its best new writers, on the basis of these two books (I had an ARC of Magic Lessons). If you’ll check them out you’ll understand why I did that, indeed, why I had to do that. As for me I’m looking forward to the final book of the installment, and to discover how it all ends.