The science of Aquaman. How deep is Rapture? The ecology of Middle Earth. Here at Southern Fried Science, we love taking a hard-science detour into some of our favorite works of fiction. It’s good practice projecting known phenomena into hypothetical universes and figuring out how the mechanics of those worlds shape and are shaped by the principles of ours. And it’s darn fun, to boot.
But diving into “The Science of…” series comes with some pretty huge pitfalls. Not the least of which is the wet blanket nature of criticizing a work of fiction for scientific inaccuracy. Push too far in one direction and you’re left with a dry dissertation on why an obviously fictional world couldn’t work. It’s like being the kid in the room pointing out that professional wrestling isn’t real. No kidding?
There’s a craft to commenting on the science in fiction. After walking this line for a few years, here the simple set of guidelines I use when constructing a commentary. Read More
We blocked off an entire month, primed it with some of the best speculative fiction from our ocean’s future, wrapped it in a narrative to connect seemingly disparate topics, and launched Field Notes from the Future, 41 blog post imagining the issues we would face in 2041, 25 years in the future. This was the first time in the blog’s almost 8-year run that we dedicated an entire month to a single concept. It was also the first time that the authors collaborated and coordinated our content.
I am incredibly happy with the results. Field Notes from the Future gave us a chance to flex our creative muscles in new and exciting ways. It gave us an outlet to express our hopes and fears, to expand on our concerns, and to look beyond the horizon and imagine the conflicts that have yet to emerge.
Science and Science Fiction have always been deeply connected. For all the great work of the “heroes of science communication”, the STEM-advocates, the science outreach professionals, it was Clarke, Verne, Shelley, Wells, and Le Guin who inspired me to pursue a career in science. Science shows us the world as it is, Science Fiction imagines the world as it could be.
There is probably no one in the science geek/nerd community who has not heard of Doctor Who, even if they can’t recite the names of all 13 actors who have played a regenerating incarnation of the Doctor (I’m including the awesome John Hurt in this list), or don’t own an exceedingly long, multi-colored scarf. Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV show in the world (first airing in 1963) and consistently gains peak viewing figures in the UK, and has a substantial number of viewers around the world. It’s the British equivalent of Star Trek, although instead of phasers the Doctor has a sonic screwdriver – which is basically the science/engineering equivalent of a magic wand. Also there is distinctly less snogging of aliens and gratuitous bare-chested scenes in Doctor Who compared to Star Trek.
I’ve watched Doctor Who almost religiously since 1974, and as a youngster owned a complete set of Doctor Who novelizations, decades of annuals and a subscription to the magazine. I’m a dyed in the multi-colored wool Whovian (as fans are called).
Prepared: A novella from the world of Fleet went live in the Amazon Kindle store this afternoon. This short story expands on the world the we first encountered in Fleet, where sea level rise and global pandemic have reduced human civilization to a few scattered enclaves. In Prepared, we are taken to the beginning of the end, the fall of the last major coast metropolis, where a small group of doomsday preppers are making their final stand.
You can find Prepared on Amazonand at Smashwords. Nook, iBook, and other editions are coming.
Early this month, I completed and self-published my first science fiction novel through Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing service(and, a few days later, as a paperback through Createspace). The ideas for the book were conceived over a long week in August, while vacationing with my parents at a rental house in St. Michaels, Maryland. Wandering through the low-lying eastern shore towns started me thinking about the kinds of stories we would tell hundreds of years from now. Thus, the central conceit of Fleet — that it was not a tale of environmental devastation but of people living their lives in a post-sea-level-rise world — surfaced.
Writing Fleet was a marathon. All told, from the first day that I started outlining characters and deciding what the central story of Fleet — uncovering a human disaster caused by desperation and betrayal, then buried at sea — to the day I hit publish on the Amazon server, Fleet took a little over 3 and a half months, during which time I was also moving across the country, finishing several scientific manuscripts, and looking for a job.
Having now had a few weeks to decompress, I think it’s a good time to reflect on the book, what I tried to accomplish, and where it goes from here.
It’s the near future, the rising tides have swallowed much of the world’s coastlines, and the last survivors of a deadly plague are scattered across a new and vastly different ocean. But all is not well in the Reach. The fish are dwindling, the currents are shifting, and secrets long thought lost are rising to the surface.
Fleet is my experiment in semi-serial science fiction self-publishing. Every month I’ll reveal three more chapters in this epic saga, starting today. Check it out in the Amazon Kindle store — Fleet: The Reach.
This is an experiment, so I want to here your thoughts and comments, what you loved, what you hated. Part 1: The Reach is only $0.99 (please note, subsequent parts will be $1.99) and all parts will eventually be compiled into an omnibus edition, with a few extras. Please leave your impressions in the comment field below.
And, of course, if you like it, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon!
Longtime readers have occasionally humored my attempts at short science fiction stories, the like of which can be found in Eno Magazine and Nature. Writing these short pieces is fun, but there’s a longer story that’s been festering in my head for the better part of a year and it’s finally time to come out.
Welcome to the Fleet.
Fleet is set in the near future, in a world of maximum sea level rise where the human population has been reduced to a few small enclaves and disease outbreaks are rampant and devastating. Amid the hardships, a trio of fishers slowly begin to unlock a long buried mystery that will challenge their loyalty to the fleet and each other.
Until March 9, 2013, I’ll be at sea. I love that phrase. At sea. For this expedition, we’re leaving from Jamaica, returning to Antigua, and spending several days on a research program separate from ours. I have a lot of travel and a little downtime to look forward to. When I started going to sea almost a decade ago, this meant that I carried a couple books and dozens of research papers, and traded them around with the rest of the science team, the crew, and the ship’s library.
Now, thanks to kindles and other e-readers, I can carry entire libraries with me, loading them up with all the books I want to read and stockpiling thousands of research papers. This. Is. Awesome.
So, if you find yourself with a kindle and a long stretch of travel time, consider checking out some of my favorite ebooks. I’ve read all of these over the last year and they all look great on an e-reader. This reading list should keep you occupied during the quieter moments of your travels.