The Geek Test: What’s Your Score?

I believe people of all types should be able to join in geek events and have fun whether they’re sufficiently geek credentialed or not, but I wondered how one might one go about quantitatively evaluating “geekiness”

Does Science Fiction Kill Interest in Science?

A good number of PhD physicists and astronomers,…are writing marvelous stories humanizing and extrapolating from our latest understanding of real science. Through such stories, science can become exciting and inviting

What’s in a Nova?

There’s a new star in the sky, or rather one that’s on the order of ten thousand times brighter than it was a few days ago.

What is the Vampire of Science Fiction?

I’m not talking about the salt vampire of Star Trek or anything so literal. I’m talking about vampires in the sense that they fill fantasy and horror in a continuing and ubiquitous fashion despite being done to death (so to speak), and that there is at least one candidate for the equivalent in science fiction. […]

Crossing the Divide Between Science Fiction and Fantasy

There are some people who have clear preferences among their reading genres.  Myself, I read more science fiction than fantasy, but there are times when I definitely want the fantasy.  Then there’s my dad. He’s the kind of thoughtful, rational person who has a hard time suspending his disbelief for a fantasy story.  It just […]

Blogging about the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers

Quite a few attendees are blogging this week about their experiences at the workshop.  Christian Ready has compiled a list, and will continue to update it through next week.  I offer it to you here with his permission: One of the great things about having an astronomy workshop for writers is that they tend to […]

Ten Reasons for Not Boycotting Ender’s Game

There’s a movement to boycott the upcoming movie Ender’s Game based on a popular and award-winning Orson Scott Card novel of the same name. The basis of the boycott is that Card is a Mormon who advocates against gay marriage and other groups because of his religious beliefs and puts his money where his mouth […]

Do You Think the Martians will be Free?

It’s July 4th, the American Independence Day, as I write these words.  The word “Freedom” is often heard in connection with the holiday. Essentially every permanent colony ever instituted on our planet has ended in some form of revolution or eventual independence.  It seems that far-flung empire has been unwieldy and ultimately unfair and unwanted.  […]

The Science and Engineering Applications of Zombies

I just watched World War Z last week, and it was not my first zombie movie of the year. It probably will not be my last. Zombies are the new vampire. They’re everywhere in every permutation, and show no signs of slowing. In fact, they seem to be getting faster these days. If you don’t […]

Please Support the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers

Like science in your science fiction?  Like stories set in space that aren’t full of errors?  Like to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science? Consider making a donation to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers crowdsourcing project at Rocket Hub.  Alumni of the workshop are donating books for various donation levels, […]

Bieber to go to Space! Who should be Next?

I was struck by two news items this week.  The first was that Justin Bieber has signed up for a trip into space.  He’d like to do a concert from there. Whether or not you care for Bieber, you have to agree that a concert from space would be cool, and the guy has a […]

A New Space Telescope Helps to Usher in a New Future

I think this is pretty cool.  A company with plans to mine asteroid, Planetary Resources, Inc., has just announced that they’re putting a telescope in space and they’re inviting the public to crowdfund it AND use it, too. The crowdfunding page with more information and videos is here, a mainstream news account is here, and […]

Small Star Trek Spoiled Science Spoiler

So like a lot of people, I saw Star Trek Into Darkness last week.  I liked the casting, the acting, many of the effects.  I had problems with the storyline and a number of plot holes that didn’t make a lot of sense in hindsight.  In general, I had less problems with the science in […]

To Star Trek or to Star Wolf?

Why not do both? Let’s start with Trek. The new Star Trek movie Into Darkness debuts this month.  The word of mouth seems good from the few people I know who have seen advance screenings as do regular folks reporting at IMDB.  I’m a little skeptical, as I did not love the last movie (bad […]

Psychics are Dark Fantasy

I remember being uncomfortable about the “psionics” in Dungeons and Dragons back when I was a kid.  Psychic powers seemed more appropriate in science fiction than fantasy.  I mean, we had Mr. Spock’s mind meld in Star Trek, Jedi mind tricks in Star Wars, and telepathy in X-Men.  Fantasy was for, well, dungeons and dragons, […]

Ten Science Fiction Movies that are Really Fantasy

Without belaboring the concept, let’s do it. 1. Star Wars.  The force is magic, as are most other elements.  Just because something has robots, spaceships, ray guns doesn’t make it science fiction. 2. Inception.  Entering different levels of dreams to change minds as in this interesting but speculative movie isn’t based on realistic science. 3. […]

Alien Parameter Space

I love science fiction stories with aliens. There are some good ones without aliens, but they’d probably be better if they threw in some aliens. OK, maybe not, but I still love aliens. I write space-based science fiction often, and my novels have featured aliens. To some, aliens may just be a weird, cool thing, […]

The Coolest Thing I’ve Seen All Week

I’m an astronomer, but I also have a background in engineering, and when I was six, dinosaurs rivaled space for my primary interest.  I’m grown-up now, but must admit I still love toys.  The bigger the better. This image came to me via facebook. In the future, things we like will just spontaneously appear in […]

Science Fiction Wishful Thinking

There are a number of science fiction tropes that might come true at some point, but not necessarily within our lifetimes or near future.  They’re extremely common, however, and challenging them can elicit strong emotions from some.  Let me list them here today, as I see them, and open some discussion that can be followed […]

Science and Fiction by Springer

I’m on the editorial board, and an acquiring editor for, a new series by the European academic publisher Springer.  I’m busy but agreed to participate because I love the intersection of science and fiction and am the target audience for these type of books, and I bet many of you are, too  I have some […]

The Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers

I have some news about the workshop, but first, in case you don’t know what it is… Launch Pad is a week-long workshop held every summer since 2007 at the University of Wyoming.  I founded the workshop in order to get the most out of my love for both science and science fiction, to teach […]

How to Host a Big Bang Theory Party

When the tv show the Big Bang Theory first appeared, I wasn’t sure I liked it.  I mean, weren’t people laughing at the nerdy scientists as often (or more often) than they laughed with them? Well, I learned to love the show because I think it’s generally fair, even if it plays to extremes stereotypes […]

The Science Fiction Fan’s Bucket List

I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel a lot and do many things I’ve always wanted to do.  Some of my opportunities have been work related (e.g. using the Hubble Space Telescope, and helping to decide who else has gotten to use it).  Some have just been because I’ve taken the initiative and gone […]

Ten Totally Illogical Science Fiction Premises

Over on my own blog I wrote about eight science fiction tropes of convenience, mainly about unlikely or impossible technology or assumptions that are made not because they make sense, but because they’re convenient for readers or viewers.  Things like artificial gravity on ships, universal translators, super-powered sensors that can detect a sparrow falling light-years […]

Is Science Killing Science Fiction?

Gregory Benford shared this on facebook, asking if this notion was true: Strahan, Jonathan, “Introduction,” Edge of Infinity, Solaris, 2012. This is just a short introduction to Strahan’s latest book of short stories, but he has some fascinating ideas here. He explores what he calls “the Fourth Generation” of science fiction. “Science fiction publishing is […]