Free and Largely Scientifically Accurate Science Fiction
Posted on February 18, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 12 Comments
Via the always-fantabulous Mary Robinette Kowal, I bring to your attention Diamonds in the Sky, a free-to-read, online anthology of (mostly) new science fiction, edited by Mike Brotherton. Brotherton, who is an astronomer as well as a science fiction writer, wanted to highlight stories that got the “science” part of science fiction right, and pitched the idea to the National Science Foundation as a good way to do outreach and to help science teachers jazz up their lessons. It’s likely to be in their top tier of projects with the best benefit-to-cost ratios, I suspect. And as a tax payer, I consider this an excellent use of my tax dollar (or, considering the likely low cost of the project, my tax mill).
Contributors to the anthology include Hugo-winning NASA scientist Geoffrey A. Landis, Hugo winner David Levine, Nebula nominees Jeffrey A. Carver and Wil McCarthy, Campbell winner Mary Robinette Kowal, and a bunch of other people who are good with that there science as well as that there fiction. Right now all the stories are online, but an official download component will be available soon.
So go and get some fun free science fiction. It’s the most fun you can have learning about stellar nucleosynthesis, planetary rings, dark energy and black holes. Or, you know. Your money back.
God, I love astronomy, have since I was a kid.
Thanks for the link.
You’re welcome. Spread it around.
I have a new goal in life: get an NSF grant to write fiction, What a fabulous idea, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
Scientifically accurate science fiction? I thought this day would never come!
I spread it to our county science curriculae supervisor. :)
One of the other folks who contributed to this is Dan Hoyt, otherwise known as “Sarah Hoyt’s husband.” And if you don’t know who Sarah Hoyt is, you need to correct this oversight. Trust me; you’ll thank me later. ;-)
Should be an interesting collection to read.
I’d be interested to read what people’s views are on the subject. As someone with a grounding in physics, I often find what I read in SF to be like fingernails on a blackboard.
Most SF ignores the details of the physics (more SF than ever is based on biology, but I don’t know enough for it to be an issue). Assume faster-than-light travel for properly shielded spacecraft is practical, and go on from there. This is not a problem for me. From what we know, we cannot conclude that such a thing is feasible*, but it makes for an interesting story. Hand-held laser weapons, electron personality transfer, and so on fall into this category.
What causes nearly physical pain is more or less the opposite – when an author prattles on about the details of a particular thing, and gets it completely wrong. Inertia-canceling interstellar drives don’t bother me, but if you are going to write endlessly about orbital mechanics and what happens to a small ship attached to one end of a very large ship, get it right! Similarly, either shut up about relativistic time dilation or recognize that talking about relativity and “simultaneous” long-distance communication in the same paragraph marks you as a hopeless scientific poser.
* I chose these words very carefully. Evidence of possibility does not equal no evidence of impossibility, etc.
As a future high school physics teacher (who just so happens to be double majoring in physics and English), this excites me quite a bit!!!
Thanks for spreading the word, John! It looks like you’ve got some people here who will appreciate the collection. C-, I don’t think your pet peeve will come up very much with these stories. There is at least one story with FTL put to good use, to put the focus on a different issue, and a few other potentially feasible things. Mostly stories to get across some key concepts from current thinking in astronomy and to get readers to think about them. Some good writers on the contributor list and some good stories. Hope you enjoy them.
This is wonderful. I’ve already forwarded it to my kid’s school. They teach thematically and mixing science and literature fits into that model perfectly. My only regret is that I didn’t know about this when the theme was cosmology! I hope this is the first of many such collections.
IS it just me, or is the webdesigner in need of a lecture on Evilness of “Click here”?