Sunday Times Interviews Astronaut Applicant Dr. Emma J. King

Dr. Emma King, Tessa Naran and Dr. Jackie Bell. Photo by Tom Barnes.

Dr. Emma J. King, longtime fan, chair of Lazlar Lyricon III and known for her science fun experiments at conventions, is one of over 23,000 applicants to become an Astronaut as part of the European Space Agency drive to find six new recruits.. There is a six-stage process, of which the first is still ongoing, although 20% of applications were immediately found ineligible and have already been informed.  

5,500 of the applicants are women, approximately 25% of all applicants. Applicants have been very resourceful about supporting one another through various platforms, including Discord. 

1000 applicants are from Britain. 

Emma was interviewed by The Sunday Times along with three other hopeful applicants for an article published this past weekend: “The British women hoping to become Europe’s next astronauts”. (Full article is behind a paywall.)

Emma is planning on doing an MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University in the Fall. 

Emma was the recipient of the Best Physics student in the national Science, Engineering & Technology Student of the Year Awards for her MPhys project on Scalar Fields in Cosmology and went on to win best student overall in the Millennium Science, Engineering and Technology awards presented at the Guild Hall in London in 2000. 

Emma hopes to attend Novacon in Buxton, England, SMOFcon in Lisboa, Portugal and DisCon III in Washington DC, Covid permitting.    

Emma noted to File 770, “I also applied in 2008 when I had just finished my PhD and was rejected. The odds of getting through are slim and it is important to be realistic. I have greatly enjoyed applying and connecting with other applicants as well as people in the space industry, who’ve been very generous with their time. I will let you know how I get on.”

Dr. Norah Patten, a special Astronaut Guest at Dublin 2019, has also applied for one of the roles.  

We wish them the best of luck. 

People’s Vote March Features SFF Iconography

Left: James Bacon. Center: Emma King.

By James Bacon: I attended the People’s Vote March today in central London, which seeks to have a referendum about Brexit and whatever deal the country ends up with. A political matter not normally of interest here to Filers.  

I was expecting to see some interesting placards and posters but was quite astonished to see so many that were literary, media or genre related, and so Emma King and I, took photos to share due to this fascinating connection.  

[This BBC link will take you to an explanation of the march – and itself features some anti-Brexit cosplay.]

Many more photos follow the jump.

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Stargazing In Staffordshire

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon offers you the stars next summer in Staffordshire, England where he and Dr. Emma J King, an award-winning science communicator with a Ph.D. in cosmology, will inaugurate, an annual astronomy event, August 7-9, 2015.

People of all ages and from all walks of life are invited to enjoy a series of astronomy-related talks, workshops and activities led by experts in the field. Each night there will be star gazing, facilitated by experienced astronomers.

Attendees will camp in Huntley Wood, a 170-acre outdoor event venue in the heart of the Staffordshire moorlands.


The date has been picked because it is during the summer holidays, when families can attend together, also because the second weekend of August tends to be near the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, one of the best and brightest meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere

The programme for the weekend already includes bestselling popular science author Simon Singh giving a talk about his book Big Bang, which tells the story of the Big Bang theory from its birth in the 1920s to the observational evidence that backed it and then clinched it.

There will be a talk from Prof. Paul Roche, Director of the Faulkes Telescopes Project, the UK National Schools’ Astronomer and the Space Ambassador for Wales. He has spent over 20 years researching massive stars, neutron stars and black holes, and working in astronomy education, outreach and science communication.

Also speaking is Dr. Ed Trollope founder of science website Things We Don’t Know

Ed studied at several UK universities before cruelly being exiled to “get a job and a haircut!” After originally studying space physics he turned to the dark side (spacecraft engineering), then realised how poorly structured his code was and opted for software engineering too. Now he works in Germany, where he helps to land robots on other worlds and predict the weather.

There will be workshops by Emma Wride of AstroCymru, plus an undercover 3D Celestia and Stellarium, just in case the weather turns bad.

More items will be added, as well as fun activities suitable for children. No previous experience or knowledge of astronomy is necessary to enjoy astro.CAMPhw. Tickets are already on sale via the website which offers an early booking discount.

Keep up-to-date with the event through its website,, Facebook ( and Twitter (

Journey Planet Tempts Fate

If there were any triskaidekaphobes on the editorial staff of Journey Planet would they have dared fill issue #13 [PDF file] with arguments about sexual politics?

Guest editors Emma King and Helen Montgomery rounded up nearly three dozen fans to discuss gender parity on convention panels, a topical controversy ever since Paul Cornell announced his personal plan to do something about it, and the 2013 Eastercon made it a policy.   

A few writers uphold the 50/50 side of the argument against all comers, and a good thing they’re able to do it because most of the contributors oppose a fixed male-female ratio of panelists.

As Carol Connolly frames the question:

After all, this is the 21st Century! It’s not as if anyone is deliberately keeping women away. Surely as long as the con has a generally welcoming environment towards women, they’ll just turn up on panels. Like mushrooms in a field (translation for city folk: “like Starbucks franchises”).

Except that hasn’t happened, has it? Although women make up over 50% of the population, that fact is not mirrored in panel demographics.

That fundamental disparity is always on my mind as a program organizer, even if I am not a 50/50 advocate.

Opponents of 50/50 make forensic arguments about whether panels should mirror the population when the community of pro writers does not, and logistical arguments about the difficulty of aiming for 50/50 amid all the variables of assembling a convention program. Several women even argue that 50/50 would not advance feminist principles. For example, Emma Jane Davies feels 50/50 might be an impediment to dealing with the genuine issue:

Panel parity effectively makes a genuine problem invisible to fandom and the rest of the world. Are we so ashamed by the paucity of female SFF writers that we must deny the disparity, even to ourselves? Would the truth not act as a better motivation to those who wish to correct the real problem?

Certainly the zine will be must reading for conrunners because so many of their colleagues are in it and it’s a great way to see some of the other players’ cards.

(Full disclosure: I wrote for #13, too. Was that good luck for the editors, or bad?)

WexWorlds Friday Report

Eoin Colfer at Wexworlds Library Talk

Eoin Colfer at Wexworlds Library Talk

James Bacon tells what happened on November 20, opening day of WexWorlds in Wexford, Ireland:

Friday is over, but it was mental. In lots of good ways.

644 children in a hall is awesome, especially if you get them cheering and booing. Eoin Colfer had them laughing and screaming and it was very good to see. It was a very full venue.

The Oisin McGann Library talk was excellent, he is very personable with kids, but the best bit was at the end, the library are one of the venues where we have free comics, so the kids went into a bit of a frenzy at the end, taking comics. Was pretty cool.

Chairman of the Bourogh Council, Anna Fenlon opened the festival, but councillors and TD’s in attendence.

Dr. Emma J. King’s “Fun With Liquid Nitrogen” talk and instant ice cream, full house again, and hugely popular. Lots of cheering and excitement as the experiments took place.

Followed by Eoin and Andrew Donkin’s amazing talk about the mechanics of comics, and something I think that should be seen again, elsewhere.

Sarah Rees Brennan did a superb job leading the discussion on Paranormal Romace, while Bui Bolg were a costume workshop in an hour and half and good with it. 3 sewing machines on the go.

Cosplay disco was more cosplay, live Gig, with teen band Discord. This is something that we need to change, having band(s) is great, much more real, the tech set up in WAC is amazing, beyond anything I have worked with before. 30 mins to go from discussion of set-up to full band rig – including monitors and everything.