NASA: Sci-fi Publisher

Posted on 06 September 2011 by VinnieAve

In what might be the longest post based on a few words, I will be talking about NASA’s new initiative. They have teamed up with a publisher to start publishing hard sci-fi works. The reason for this is quite possibly the best reason I’ve heard for starting this initiative, to get students and other younger kids interested in science and technology. In this short podcast, two names are invoked, that of Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. These are both authors that I have enjoyed greatly and I personally consider a major influencing force in works that I enjoy.

With many things I write about, I have some reservations. I do not particularly keep up with too many sci-fi writers that are active today. Also, in much of the hard sci-fi I’ve read it can be really boring. Too often it gets bogged down in the tech and doesn’t really tell a story. It just tells you about the world and how a few things work. I know there are people who really love this stuff but I do not really enjoy them. Asimov and Bradbury wrote works that were grounded in reality but there were things that went more or less unexplained. In the early robot books how the positronic brain worked never was really discussed, it was just the technobabble that kept things moving. As similar thing that can applied to Bradbury.

What makes the greatest of sci-fi works great is not that there is technology but its the people that makes things great. Having a lush and full setting and improve a story but first and foremost there needs to be a story. Sci-fi has influenced the real world in so many ways, every few months on History or Discovery there is a special about this, they can be fun but these things that have shifted into our world were not plot points. You don’t want Star Trek to hear Scotty talky about dilithium crystals but to see Kirk be a badass. I fear that the way this is talked about it could end poorly for the line. I hope for the best with this line and I may pick up the first of these books to see if this is going to be a successful project. If this fails though Seth McFarlane and Neil Degrasse Tyson are remaking Cosmos for Fox (NYT citation).

Scientific American 60-Second Podcast

For additional reading about how science influences Sci-fi check out this New Scientist article about Bradbury and how his works were influenced by the goings on in his day.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. PMaher Says:

    I’m a lead on this project for NASA and I hear you. The biggest challenge is to get the scientists to talk about the human side of their jobs and discoveries so that authors can find characters and plots.

  2. alphageek Says:

    I can imagine, having worked in a lab for a few years now I know that some scientists can be either long-winded and not find the human element and others will just not talk to people. It’s a rare gift to be a scientist who can communicate science well. I can’t wait to see the fruits of this labor.

  3. CCBunrs Says:

    How does one contact NASA about his initiative?

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