Stephen Gaskell is a name you might have seen in a few places, such as Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, or even the Mutation Press anthology Music For Another World. It seems he and I share a common view of science fiction…
First off, let me say thanks to Ian Sales. Over the last couple of decades science fiction that is informed by hard, scientific reality seems to have lost its popular appeal somewhat. Why this is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s issues of scientific literacy, maybe it’s the increasing fragmented and specialised nature of our sciences, maybe it’s simply that the sense of wonder that’s inherent in today’s speculative epics like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter is difficult to marry with writing that deals with the quotidian and scientifically realistic. Like I said, I don’t know. What I am convinced of is that fiction that combines the kernel of scientific rigour with personal, compelling stories has an important role to play in helping us cope with the inevitable upheavals of the coming century. Ian Sales’ Rocket Science project will, I’m sure, show that off-Earth environments are more deadly, yet more beautiful than we ever imagined – but with an understanding of how the physical world works together with a little human ingenuity, could be places that we one day reach.
The starting point for my own piece ‘Fisher’s Gambit’, like much of my fiction, began in my awe of landscape. In this case not the terrestrial vistas that populate much of my work (like the frozen tundra of Siberia in ‘Under an Arctic Sky’ or the thin-aired heights of the Annapurna Sanctuary in ‘Cold Trail Blazing’), but the million sparkling shards of the Kuiper Belt. I have to admit to being a knowledge junkie, and I love nothing more than digging into the details. I’d heard of the Kuiper Belt, knew it existed out beyond Neptune’s orbit, but didn’t really know what it was exactly. What were these ices made of? How far apart were they? How far did they extend for? The trick I’ve learnt over the years is to work out why somebody might by in any given environment. My stories often come together when I figure that one out. ‘Fisher’s Gambit’ certainly did.
Stephen Gaskell is the driving force behind Creepy Treehouse, a lively blog that aims to highlight the basic science and maths that underpins everything from robot jugglers to apocalypse survival. He would love for you to visit, comment, take issue with controversial claims, and generally stomp around on the virtual carpet! Rocket Science blog readers may also be interested to know that for today and tomorrow only he is giving away for FREE his co-written novella, Strata, at the Amazon Kindle store. Set on one of the dozen-or-so massive energy mining platforms that circle through the sun’s chromosphere, Strata features worker uprisings, colossal feats of engineering, and deadly skimmer races through fiery tunnels over the surface of the sun. Grab it before it goes back to full price – and please tell your friends so as to gain maximum geek-chic street cred! For scintillating snippets of wisdom under 140 characters and entirely devoid of my eating habits follow me on twitter @stvgskll.