Scientifically accurate sf novels with help from NASA

Samantha sez, "Tor/Forge authors will be teaming up with NASA experts to pen a series of scientifically accurate novels with the hope of generating more interest in science."


    1. Um, didn’t this used to be called “hard” sci-fi?

      It still is, and it’s still alive in the pages of Analog and a few other places.  Some of the best writers in this field though, like Australia’s Greg Egan, write things that are probably waaaay too speculative / high-concept for what NASA has in mind. 

  1. The enormous popularity of science fiction is a key element in this collaboration

    Really?!  This is the most optimistic thing I’ve seen written about Science Fiction novel sales in two decades.

    It’s great news for Tor and great news for the genre, but I’d love to see the market research that inspired that comment!

  2. Oh, good.  I need some help with my novel about the adventures of a time-traveling steampunk spaceship powered by unicorns in giant hamster wheels.

  3. NASA probably doesn’t like them so grim, but Moon (as a sci-fi story) is pretty interesting in a realistic way.  Actually, one of the realities NASA has to push to people is that there are accidents, and people die.  But probably not the part about backup clones.

  4. “We need to depart right away”, said Tom swiftly to the crew, as he verified the 300 item checklist for the fifth time during the second postponed launch of their spaceship.

  5. I picture this being super boring. Then we played solitaire while our code compiled. Then we got coffee. All our mice got parvo and our data was not quite significant at the N we achieved. At least that’s what my accurately scientific life looks like!

  6. This will eithe rbe really good or really bad. On the one hand, it could easily turn into Desert Bus. On the other hand, they could discover the next Asimov or Clarke and inspire a generation of astronauts.

    I’d be more hopeful if the *previous* generations of hard sci-fi had ended up inspiring us to do the things they promised we could (and which really are technically feasible)- like colonizing earth orbit and the moon.

    [Edit] Come to think of it, if we still haven’t done any of the things hard sci-fi predicted 40 years ago (A manned mission to Saturn or Jupiter is as far-off now as Clarke and Kubrick though it was 45 years ago), why do we need new ones? Just tweak the old ones a bit :-)

    1. I think it’s not really being accurate to say that we haven’t done “any” of the things that sci-fi was predicting 40 years ago: this link has a pretty good list of sci-fi that became reality.

      Off the top of my head, global communication devices (satphone), ebook readers, industrial robots, genetic testing, MRI, space tourism!, pocket computers, voice recognition, face recognition, drone aircraft… oh, and how about that global communications network accessed by slim touchscreen interfaces from anywhere…?

  7. Call me pedantic but this sure seems like Tor and NASA are making a category error.  Grading Science Fiction novels on factual accuracy is like grading a poem on it’s correct use of apostrophes: it’s nice if it’s correct, but beside the point.

    The real subject of Science Fiction is, like all fiction, the world around us, filtered through the author’s sensibilities.  That it’s counterfactual is a given.  Science Fiction does something straight fiction does not: use thought experiments to explore the world.  The fact that giant one-eyed green guys land in Times Square is interesting, but the what would make it a satisfying story is how the people react.

  8. If this is going to work, they’re going to have to be as careful placing the right authors with the right scientists as they would arranging the crew of a long-range mission. We don’t want a repeat of the ST:TNG technobabble experience.

    “Hey, scientist-guy! I need something that will rescue the protagonist from the event horizon of a black hole!” “Well, you can’t really—” “Never mind that, just give me words!” “[Sigh] Ergosphere. Gravitons. String theory….” “Will antimatter work?” “Sure, why not?”

  9. The most influential publication predated NASA by many years. It was “Men Into Space” by Wiley Ley with illustrations by Chesley Bonestell. Bonestell’s plates were very exacting in their detail. No flights of fancy for him. It got a lot of teenagers interested in space who, as adults, would work in the space program. It was published in 1949.
    During one of the earliest flybys of Jupiter, Scientists brought Mr. Bonestell to Ames in Mt. View to see the incoming images.

    1. I just ordered a copy of “The Exploration of Mars” by von Braun and Wiley Ley, with Bonestell illustrations.  You can’t beat that stuff.

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