Unbelievably Strange Planets in Space

Here is some inspiration for all the science fiction writers out there! Or people who just like cool science like me!



Science Fiction Is Really, Really White

This post by Jennings Brown originally appeared on Vocativ on 8/21/15.

The Hugo Awards, science fiction’s most prestigious prize, are just around the corner. A Vocativ analysis of the nominees and winners shows it’s almost all white people

The 2015 Hugo Awards, celebrating the year’s best works of science fiction and fantasy, will be held this weekend amid a giant squabble about diversity in the genre. A group of white writers who believe that the voting process has been manipulated to include too many minorities are fighting to steer votes towards authors that are truer to the genre.

But if you crunch the numbers, it’s pretty hard to argue that white writers are being squeezed out at the Hugos. Vocativ tabulated every writer, editor and artist associated with the 65 works nominated this year in all 13 professional categories (there are four categories for fan work). Out of nearly 100 people responsible for those 65 works (some works had multiple authors), only three were non white.


Read the full post and chart on Vocativ.

Science Fiction Is for Slackers

This post by Jacob Brogan originally appeared on Slate on 5/26/15.

It would be a mistake to say that science fiction as such is “about” laziness—no genre reducible to such a singular point of significance can flower long—but it is uncommonly good at animating fantasies about avoiding labor.

On a desert planet baked by two suns, a young man contemplates the sky, dreaming of a life beyond the workaday tedium of his family farm. He imagines that the robots his aunt and uncle have recently purchased—apparently sentient beings that work without compensation—will take on his burdens. You know his name as well as I do, and you know as well as I do that he will spend the weeks and month ahead on the run, fleeing this world of tasks and troubles as much or more as the evil empire that chases him.

Science fiction is a genre of dreams, and Luke Skywalker may be the most emblematic of all its dreamers, emblematic not because he longs for the stars, but because of what those stars represent. Above all else, Luke is a slacker, and when he looks to the heavens, he imagines release from the obligations that bind him to the surface of Tatooine.

Luke is not alone in his aversion to work: As a rule, science fiction may be the laziest of all genres, not because the stories themselves are too facile—they can be just as sophisticated and challenging as those of any other genre—but because they often revel in easy solutions: Why walk when you can warp? Why talk when you’re a telepath? Technology in such stories typically has more to do with workarounds than it does with work.


Read the full post on Slate.


Can Science Fiction Writers Predict Technology’s Future?

This post by Peter F. Hamilton originally appeared on New Republic on 10/17/14.

The October 1945 edition of Wireless World magazine carried an article from a young Arthur C. Clarke called “Extra Terrestrial Relays.” It was the concept of using satellites in geostationary orbit, 35,786km high, around the Earth, to beam radio signals from one continent to another. Remember Sputnik didn’t go into orbit until October 1957, and that only reached a height of 577km. So in 1945 the article was received as a grand idea, theoretically possible, but by the standards of post WWII rocketry, severely impractical.

Nonetheless, the first communication satellite to use this orbit (now named the Clarke Orbit) was Syncom 3, launched in August 1964—19 years after Clarke’s article. An article which was detailed enough to receive a patent had he sent it to the patent office instead of the magazine. Today, communication satellites are a multi-billion pound industry. Clarke drew together a number of sciences: orbital mechanics, radio design, rocketry, and extrapolated the combination perfectly. It’s one of the best examples of what people see as a science fiction writer’s job: predict the future.

If only it were that easy.


Read the full post on New Republic.


The Inspiration Drought

This post by Ed Finn originally appeared on Slate/Future Tense on 9/16/14.

Why our science fiction needs new dreams.

This piece is part of Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. On Thursday, Oct. 2, Future Tense will host an event in Washington, D.C., on science fiction and public policy, inspired by the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future. For more information on the event and to RSVP, visit the New America website; for more on Hieroglyph, visit the website of ASU’s Project Hieroglyph.

Why are all our narratives about the future 50 years old? We seem to be recycling big ideas as if we live in an inspiration drought. We’ve retooled Star Trek so many times, it’s starting to look like one of those 1957 Chevrolets still cruising the streets of Havana.

One reason is that writing about the near future is hard to do convincingly. Imagining life 10 or 20 years down the road requires placing the same big bets that science fiction always makes (in the future, we will all wear matching leotards!) but provides an incredibly short runway to get from now to then.

Storytellers can play it safe by depending on tropes that we have already been trained to expect: In the future people will use phasers and doors will swish open with a satisfying noise. We make a comfortable nest of assumptions and “rules,” allowing everyone to get on with the tale of young love or the hero’s journey.


Click here to read the full article on Slate/Future Tense.


10 Mind-Blowing Theories That Will Change Your Perception of the World

This post by Anna LeMind originally appeared on The Mind Unleashed on 7/2/14. There’s some excellent fodder here for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism and Dystopia authors.

Reality is not as obvious and simple as we like to think. Some of the things that we accept as true at face value are notoriously wrong. Scientists and philosophers have made every effort to change our common perceptions of it. The 10 examples below will show you what I mean.

1. Great glaciation.
Great glaciation is the theory of the final state that our universe is heading toward. The universe has a limited supply of energy. According to this theory, when that energy finally runs out, the universe will devolve into a frozen state. Heat energy produced by the motion of the particles, heat loss, a natural law of the universe, means that eventually this particle motion will slow down and, presumably, one day everything will stop.


2. Solipsism

Solipsism is a philosophical theory, which asserts that nothing exists but the individual’s consciousness. At first it seems silly – and who generally got it into his head completely deny the existence of the world around us? Except when you put your mind to it, it really is impossible to verify anything but your own consciousness.


Click here to read the full post on The Mind Unleashed.