The human colony on the planet Argo has long explored and exploited the technology left behind by an extinct alien race. But then an archaeology team accidentally activates a terrible weapon... Read More.
Praise for Star Dragon
"Seldom does a storytelling talent come along as potent and fully mature as Mike Brotherton. His complex characters take you on a voyage that is both fiercely credible and astonishingly imaginative. This is Science Fiction."
-- David Brin
"Star Dragon is terrific fare, offering readers a fusion of hard science and grand adventure."
-- Locus Magazine
"Star Dragon is steeped in cosmology, the physics of interstellar travel, exobiology, artificial intelligence, bioscience. Brotherton, author of many scientific articles in refereed journals, has written a dramatic, provocative, utterly convincing hard science sf novel that includes an ironic twist that fans will love."
-- Booklist starred review
"Readers hungry for the thought-provoking extrapolation and rigorous technical detail of old-fashioned hard SF are sure to enjoy astronomer Brotherton's first novel."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Mike Brotherton, himself a trained astrophysicist, combines the technical acuity and ingenuity of Robert Forward with the ironic, postmodern stance and style of M. John Harrison. In this, his debut novel, those twin talents unite to produce a work that is involving on any number of levels. It's just about all you could ask for in a hardcore SF adventure."
-- Paul di Fillippo, SCI-FI.COM
NASA/Tor Collaboration to Promote Science in Science Fiction
February 13th, 2014
I got this email from Robert Roten, President of the local astronomy group here in Laramie, about a discussion they’re having:
In William Forstchen’s new science fiction novel, “Pillar to the Sky,”there are no evil cyborgs, alien invasions or time travel calamities. The threat to humanity is far more pedestrian: tight-fisted bureaucrats who have slashed NASA’s budget.
The novel is the first in a new series of “NASA-Inspired Works of Fiction,” which grew out of a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and science fiction publisher Tor. The partnership pairs up novelists with NASA scientists and engineers, who help writers develop scientifically plausible story lines and spot-check manuscripts for technical errors.
The plot of Mr. Forstchen’s novel hinges on a multibillion-dollar effort to build a 23,000-mile-high space elevator—a quest threatened by budget cuts and stingy congressmen. Forthcoming novels in the series will explore asteroid mining, wormholes and astrobiology.
Fact-based science fiction may sound like a contradiction, or a poor marketing strategy, in a literary genre that typically celebrates flights of fantasy. But Tor and NASA say both stand to gain. Novelists get access to cutting-edge research and experts in obscure fields. A NASA official says that shaping science fiction offers “an innovative way to reach out to the public to raise awareness of what the agency is doing.”
NASA has been hosting novelists at its research facilities for multiday tours titled, “Science Fiction Meets Science Fact.” At one mixer, in October 2012, some 20 sci-fi writers mingled with NASA experts at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
They toured the radar detector development lab, laser and electro-optics facility and cosmic ice laboratory.
“Getting a message across embedded in a narrative rather than as an overt ad or press release is a subtle way of trying to influence people’s minds,” says Charles Seife, author of “Decoding the Universe,” who has written about NASA’s efforts to rebrand itself. “It makes me worry about propaganda.”
Enidia Santiago-Arce, a NASA official who is coordinating the author-scientist exchanges, says the agency isn’t pushing pro-NASA story lines. The collaboration doesn’t include any NASA funding.
“They write whatever they want,” she said. “We provide them with people who have the expertise to help make it as accurate as it can be within the realms of science fiction.”
President, Laramie Astronomical Society and Space Observers (LASSO)
I didn’t know about this NASA effort to bring in novelists, but it seems very complementary to Launch Pad, and I’m going to look into it.
First, I wanted to let everyone know that Launch Pad is now accepting applications for the 2014 July 13-20th workshop until March 15. Please be encouraged to pass on the word to writers and other creators/editors who might want a crash course in modern astronomy with an emphasis on communicating scientific concepts.
I’m teaching a new class this semester (Physics 1 for Engineers) and it has been taking a lot of time to get up to speed here, keeping me from doing much more than the weekly link post. Hope that will change soon. I have various bits of news (e.g., new funding for Launch Pad and an opening application window) that I’d like to share, too, and will soon.
The coming avalanche of Chinese science. Mixed feelings about the article for me. Throwing money/people at a field really does help. Is it misguided here? Or is that wishful thinking from someone outside of China? I know that in my field, China just basically bought one of our top astronomers to establish a new world-class astrophysics center.
On correlation and causation… Funny and true! I just hate it, however, when climate change deniers try to use a similar but fatally flawed argument to dismiss the effects on CO2 and temperature. When there’s a known physical mechanism and a prediction of a correlation that is found at the right level, that’s actually evidence in favor of an effect, not meaningless. Still — Bite me, Jenny McCarthy. I’m organic!
Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham, Creation Museum founder. Mixed feelings on this, as public debates are far from the best way to determine factual information and this can only help legitimize Ken Ham, as fellow creationists will see him as the winner no matter what happens.
Why we should all fear the online mob. It’s a very disturbing trend. No matter how righteous your cause, I’m not going along any more. These mobs breed censorship, intolerance, and injustice, even when they claim that’s what they’re fighting. Here’s a real-life example, but luckily there’s only hypocrisy here, no ruined lives.
Peter Higgs: I wouldn’t be productive enough for today’s academic system. No duh. I looked up his publications, and they seemed to vanish after 1966, with only a very few after that (Note that there are a few other P. Higgs in the list that I couldn’t automatically filter). Look, Nobel-prize-winning work is quality work, but if you hire someone to do research and they stop publishing, we call that “deadwood.” So while I do think we need to shift the scales more toward quality as opposed to quantity and the system is far from perfect, I’ve seen this article passed around like productivity is bad and that we should give smart people free rides for life if they did something great once upon a time. Imagine publishers paying Haper Lee or J. D. Salinger salaries for books they never turn in, or the Bulls continuing to pay Michael Jordan today, nearly two decades after he played for them.
Smarter people stay up later, do more drugs, and have more sex. More interesting than the article was the bio of the writer Sean Levinson: “Born with a prehensile tail in an Amish commune just west of Beijing, Sean Levinson always dreamed of being crowned lord of the dance. Unfortunately, his goals were derailed after he responded to an ad for a fluffer posted by Elite Daily. It was here where Sean discovered that all he was really after was drugs, money, and a lucrative job that would get him more money to pay for drugs. You can catch him on a biographical special on MTV next month titled: He’s the Man: The Sean Levinson story.”