Springer, a leading science publisher, is seeking titles for a new series that will explore the “narrow frontier” between science and science fiction —
A unique new book series.In many respects the intellectual challenges of discovering new science and creating plausible new fictional worlds are two sides of the same coin. They both demand an understanding of the way the world is and, based on this, an ability to imagine how it might be.
The characteristics Springer’s looking for are books that:
- Indulge in science speculation – describing, in accessible manner, interesting, plausible yet unproven ideas
- Exploit science fiction for teaching purposes and as a means of promoting critical thinking
- Analyze the interplay of science and science fiction – throughout the history of the genre and looking ahead
- Publish essays on related topics, probably with a philosophical tenor
- Publish short works of fiction where (i) the scientific content is a major component and (ii) the text is supplemented by a substantial summary of the science underlying the plot
Gregory Benford is a member of the editorial and advisory board. I asked him what existing works might be considered examples of what Springer hopes to publish. Benford says:
They cited Beyond Human that I did with Elisabeth Malartre, and Deep Time from 1999… plus some writings of Zebrowski and Asimov and Clarke’s Profiles of the Future, much Dyson, Rees Our Final Hour, Time Travel by Gott, Nahin’s Time Machines, a lot of Paul Davies — a wide range on the mutual inspirations of science and sf.
The Editorial and Advisory Board is loaded with prestigious scientists and writers.
Mark Alpert, author of Final Theory, The Omega Theory, and Extinction, is a contributing editor at Scientific American.
Philip Ball worked at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology. Ball’s latest is Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything (Bodley Head, 2012)
Gregory Benford, in addition to being one of our most honored sf writers and the author of over 20 novels, is a professor of physics at UC Irvine. He conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics. He has published over a hundred papers on topics including condensed matter, particle physics, plasmas and mathematical physics, and biological conservation.
Michael Brotherton, an astronomer on the faculty at University of Wyoming, studies the supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. He is also the author of Star Dragon (2003) and Spider Star (2008), and founder of the NASA-funded Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers, which brings a dozen award-winning professional writers to Wyoming every summer.
Victor.Callaghan credits his love of “SciFi” for drawing him into “Science and Engineering and, ultimately, to teaching and researching in a university …. the best job in the world.” Callaghan and his colleagues have made many contributions, a couple examples being the development of a novel real-time self-programming fuzzy-logic based genetic algorithm for robot control, and the development of the world’s first network camera (NetCam – a spinoff of robotics work).
Amnon Eden is a computer scientist and the co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on the singularity hypothesis.
Geoffrey Landis is a NASA scientist who works on Mars missions and developing advanced concepts and technology for future space missions. His sf has won two Best Short Story Hugos and a Nebula, and as a poet he has won a Rhysling Award.
Rudy Rucker is a mathematician who worked for twenty years as a computer science professor. He’s the author of 30 published fiction and nonfiction books, including 2 Philip K. Dick Award winners.
Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s researchs the interaction of microbes with their natural geological environment in an aqueous medium. He is interested in the presence of liquid-rich environments on other planets and moons inside and outside of our Solar System and how these environments can serve as a potential habitat for microbial life.
Rudy Vaas is editor of Beyond The Big Bang: Competing Scenarios for an Eternal Universe and cod-editor of The Arrows of Time: A Debate in Cosmology.
Ulrich Walter is a physicist/engineer and a former DFVLR astronaut and a professor of astronautics.
Stephen Webb has written on such cosmological subjects as If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens … WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life.
Summing up the project, Benford says: “I hope this can be a new vehicle for such approaches. Plainly as we accelerate into this turbulent century, facing unprecedented problems like climate change and the population/resource crunch (see The Windup Girl), we need all the thinking we can get.”