NPR/All Things Considered Interview Tomorrow

I did a phone interview with NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday, not about the Obama thing, but about the Phoenix Lander on Mars. The fellow who was interviewing me was asking me about whether the Phoenix mission wasn’t a little bit boring, and what I might do as a writer to spice things up. For my part I explained why, yes, some of the details of the mission might be a bit of a snooze unless you were an engineer (in which case, they’re really, really interesting), but that was not only okay, but necessary for actual science, because a) science features a lot of process, and b) the process of science does not fit a convenient narrative structure most of the time. And so on.

In any event, the interview, or some portion thereof, will be on the weekend edition of All Things Considered, tomorrow (Saturday) at 5:40pm or thereabouts. Says my notification e-mail: “Best to check the schedule with your local station to see when the show airs, because sometimes they delay it.” Indeed.

In any event, if you’re an NPR listener, listen tomorrow!

25 Comments on “NPR/All Things Considered Interview Tomorrow”

  1. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, in plain view of children


    Yet agin another reason why I hate that my Saturday’s are crammed full of stuff to do when important things are happening on radio.

  2. A follow interviewed you?

    Did you mention The Amazing Photograph? I didn’t see a single major news outlet show it, regarding the landing of the Phoenix Lander.

    Dr. Phil

  3. Sounds cool!

    Having worked on Mars research until recently…I really, really feel sorry for the Phoenix team. They’ve got some really great scientific stuff there, but…well, MER was going to be an incredibly tough act to follow no matter what, but to be following it as a lander, not a rover…

  4. I’m trying to remember what this “radio” thing is. If I recall correctly, it’s like a podcast, except you can’t pause it and you can’t decide when to listen to it. I didn’t realize that was still around…

    Hopefully they will have it up in some sane format soon enough so I can listen.

    Is this the start of a new career as a science “expert”? Should we expect to see you on TV attempting to explain science to talking heads? (Something on the order of teaching pigs to sing, I imagine.)

  5. Carol Elaine – Spend my days being creative with acting stuff & cleaning up after animals for money. Spend my evenings cleaning cat puke for free. 'Tis a glamorous life.
    Carol Elaine

    It might be dry, but I love the Phoenix’s Twitter feed.

    Then again, I do work at JPL…

    However, I was distracted by the news on the Twitter feed that Tim Russert died today while recording voiceovers.

    I’m sitting here, absolutely stunned.

  6. To John – Congrats on the interview, I’ll listen for it tomorrow.

    Carol Elaine – thanks for the notice on Tim Russert’s death. I’ve been on-line job hunting all day and haven’t had either NPR or the TV on all afternoon. YIKES!

  7. When Mars Pathfinder touched down, lo these many years ago now, one of the science team members was an internet person and science fiction writer named Geoffrey Landis.

    He’s the one who started naming rocks after cartoon characters, as it happened, and he spent a good deal of effort (in between his actual science team duties and watching his experiment run) on PR stuff.

    With the right attitude, to some extent you can help popularize stuff that’s otherwise sort of boring for normal people, space and science wise.

  8. Ray.

    It’s an hour long program. Wait for the beginning, and then count 40 minutes and there he’ll be.


    (I have to wait until I get home tomorrow to listen.)

  9. Are we really that boring… get back to our toast?!?

    I suppose most of us are.

    Nice piece, how did it end up in your capable hands?

  10. Amusingly, there was a link on the NPR site to another “science” piece about procrastination, something I know that John knows a bit about… the guest’s name is John Perry.

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