Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scientific Fiction

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this term before, it’s made up. I needed a new term to describe the type of fiction I enjoy reading. I find generic SciFi to be too broad, sometimes including fantasy, social science, whimsical themes, and other soft-science areas. I prefer the storylines based on hard science. Even better, I like fiction based on science fact that includes clever and often brilliant extrapolations of the science to new, weird, and exciting directions. The nice thing about reading scientific fiction is that you can actually learn some real science while reading it.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered a number of authors that routinely write in this genre, and some are quite prolific. One author is Gregory Benford who is a professor of physics at UC Irvine in Southern California specializing in plasma physics and astrophysics. He has published over twenty fiction books. The first Benford book I read was “Artifact” (1985), but I also enjoyed “COSM,” and “Timescape.” In my opinion, they’re all excellent. Other authors you might consider taking a look at are: Greg Bear, John Cramer (“Einstein’s Bridge” and “Twistor” are outstanding examples of scientific fiction), and Stephen Baxter (“Manifold” series). Another author that includes a lot of technical detail is Ben Bova and his planet series (I’m saving the Mars book for the next rainy day).

Scientific fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve never tried it, you might like it. Lately, I’ve been trying my own hand at writing some scientific fiction. Let me tell you, it’s not easy! I respect the guys who do it and do it well.

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