Why, Yes, We DID Totally Call That on SG:U

People keep sending me links to it as if I hadn’t heard about it already, so:

Yes, in fact, I did hear about Sir Roger Penrose’s theory of “echoes” in the cosmic background radiation possibly being evidence of a universe that existed before our “Big Bang”;

Yes, in fact, that theory of Penrose’s has some at least superficial similarities to an ongoing Stargate: Universe subplot involving a heretofore undiscovered possible structure teased out of the background radiation of the universe;

And yes, in fact, as Creative Consultant to SG:U, I had a hand in developing that subplot, although I’ll note that consistent with my role as consultant, I didn’t come up with the initial idea. My role was to make it appear both reasonably plausible and reasonably consistent with what we already know about the universe, once the producers came to me with it.

How do I feel about our little plot element being caught up to by current scientific events? Well, as you can imagine, I think it’s pretty cool. Also, from an entirely ego-centric point of view, it tells me that I’m doing a decent job in my role — and we as a series are doing a decent job at building a plausible universe —  if what we concocted for the purposes of our science fiction television series shows a reasonable similarity to something one the planet’s pre-eminent physicists and cosmologists is thinking very hard about. I mean, seriously: Go, us.

Having said that, intellectual honesty requires me to note the following:

1. The similarities to this point are coincidental. I am as well-versed in recent cosmological thinking as any layman, but Sir Roger has not been calling me (or, I am reasonably sure, the SG:U producers or writers) and providing tidbits regarding his latest research. We just happened to play with something for the series that just happened to superficially resemble his actual theorizing.

2. I’ll note also that data for Penrose’s theory are at this point both speculative and incomplete, and that Penrose himself notes that what are needed now are even more detailed data, such as the sort that upcoming instruments might be able to provide us. Since Penrose’s theory would wreck some very well-regarded models of the universe, let’s just say it has a high bar to leap over before we can say anything about it beyond “well, that certainly is an interesting theory, isn’t it.” In other words: Early days yet, folks. There’s still plenty of opportunity for this theory to be disproved.

In short: Let’s keep our pants on, shall we. But no matter what, it’s still kind of cool to have taken a science fictional leap into the dark and discover we may have in fact stuck the dismount. It’s neat when that happens.

Wait ’til you see what we’ve got in store for you for the second half of the season.

Translation Awards Fund Raiser

I promised Cheryl Morgan that I would write something about the newly-created The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards, which are for works of speculative fiction translated into English, and the fund raiser designed to promote them. But then, I thought, hey, why should I write something when I can just repost everything she’s written — like a retweet, only much much larger! So here, here’s Cheryl Morgan telling you about the Translation Awards:

Hello USA. Everyone recovered from their turkey-induced stupor yet?
As you almost certainly didn’t notice last week, being preoccupied with other things, I’d like to draw your attention to the fund raiser that we are running for the SF&F Translation Awards. There are a bunch of cool prizes available for some lucky donors, and since we started the thing I have had a few kind people contact me with offers of additional prizes. We’ll announce them in due course, once we are sure we won’t be paying out more in postage than we get in from donations.

I shall probably be a bit boring about this over the next month or so, because I do want these awards to be prestigious and not just something that a bunch of nutty fans and academics care about. There are loads of fabulous authors in the non-English-speaking world, but we’ll only get translations published if we can get our own publishers away from thinking that no one will ever buy a translated novel, which sadly many of them do.

It would be great if I could tap into arts funding for this, but money for that has been horribly slashed in the UK recently. The EU has arts money available, but only for projects that are limited to EU countries. As our winners may come from Japan, or Brazil, or anywhere else outside Europe, we wouldn’t qualify. And of course it is always likely that any grant application would be turned down on the grounds that science fiction isn’t worth supporting. So it really is down to us. If you can’t afford to donate anything yourself, please at least blog about it to help spread the word.

Full details, including the current list of prizes, are available here.

If you want to see Cheryl’s original post (which is just like this one, only without me in it) it’s here.

December Notes

I’m delighted to say that, at least where I live, snow waited until December to show up on the doorstep. Mind you, it apparently did not wait one second longer than it had to, but still. In my opinion, November is meant to be a snow-free month. December, fine, let it snow. They even have a song for that. So good timing, Mother Nature.

In other news relating to me, December is promising to be a busy month. I don’t plan to take another hiatus, or even to suggest I will write here less than I usually do, because that never works. But if I do end up writing less here this month and/or writing later in the day than I normally do, you’ll know why. As to what I’m doing that’s taking up my time, well, it’s no real mystery — I’m working on a book and on SFWA stuff. Plus, you know, the holidays and family and setting fire to those who annoy me. The usual.

I figure it’s a good idea to let you folks know this stuff because often if I haven’t updated the site by three in the afternoon I start getting the “hey, are you dead?” e-mails. No, I’m not dead, so far. If I do die, I’ll let you know (in fact, I have a canned entry along the lines of “Hey, remember when I said I’d let you know if I was dead? Well, guess what?”). Otherwise, for December, assume I’m alive, even if I’m not posting on my usual manic schedule. Thanks.


Sci-Fi: The New Western?

A reader of my FilmCritic.com column was inspired by the Cowboys and Aliens trailer to think about the genre of Westerns and the genre of Science Fiction, and how the latter has in many ways replaced the former. Does this mean that science fiction films will one day be as scarce as westerns are now? I share my thoughts on the subject in this week’s column. As always, check it out and be sure to leave your comments and thoughts there.