Why Scientists Should Read Science Fiction

by Hannah Waters at geekosystem
I write this post going into science fiction as a fan, but also unaware of how most scientists think about it.  I can imagine two central viewpoints: (1) scientists who enjoy it (like myself), simultaneously as entertainment and a bit of critical thinking and (2) scientists who dislike it due to its tendency to portray “evil scientists” and/or science and technology gone awry, destroying the world.

Many of the stories do deal with technology taking over civilization – but embedded within this framework is a great deal of excitement, along with some deserved anxiety. The best way for me to explain these conflicting emotions is with an example of something that happened to me in the past few weeks.  We are slowly inching closer to developing lab-produced organs, which would be incredibly beneficial for a lot of obvious reasons.  Just this month there have been developments toward mass-produced red blood cells, as well as bioartificial lungs.  Eerily, I read about these discoveries as I was tearing my way through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

[S]cience fiction is one of the ways that non-scientists absorb science.  Oryx and Crake is a national bestseller, suggesting that millions of people have read Atwood’s tale of bioengineering gone wrong.  While we should assume that the public knows that this is fiction and doesn’t take it entirely seriously, these stories do raise questions about the potential misuses of science that might not be as prevalent otherwise.

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Words to live by: advice from 34 science fiction/fantasy authors

By Charlie Jane Anders at io9
Great science fiction and fantasy novels don’t just expose us to other worlds and alternate timelines — they expand our minds and give us compass to steer by. Here are our favorite bits of advice and maxims from SF books.

You could do a lot worse than living your life according to principles espoused in science fiction books — in fact, here’s somebody who claims that it’s impossible to live a moral life unless you read science fiction. We won’t go quite that far, but here are some words to live by from science fiction. Please do post your own favorite maxims and aphorisms from SF in the comments — I have a feeling it’ll be a really amazing comment thread!

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” — Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless.

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Mockingjay Book Tour Dates

via My Hunger Games
From August 23 Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games series kicks off a 12 city book tour to promote the Mockingjay.  She will be visiting bookstores in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, California, Seattle, and Vancouver.

From our last contact with Scholastic, the tour schedule is still being finalised, but here’s what know:

In August – Suzanne Collins will be in NYC, New Jersey, Conneticut, Boston

August 23, 8:00pm – 1:30am– Books of Wonder, New York City, NY – this is the official launch party for Mockingjay with a midnight release party.

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New Mass Effect novel penned by sci-fi writer William C. Dietz

by Joystiq at Game Daily
In a recent interview with our PC-centric sister site Big Download, science fiction novelist and experienced game-to-book adapter William C. Dietz revealed he was recently “hired to write a Mass Effect tie-in.” When pressed for details about the project, Dietz, who has also written books for the Resistance, Hitman, Halo and StarCraft franchises, could only reveal that it was due to his publisher in early 2011.

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I’ve seen a lot of documentaries saying that science fiction stories (tv, movie or books) are the reason scientists became physicists/astronomers, etc, in the first place. I think Science is influence by science fiction nearly as much as the reverse. Why else would scientists be trying to transport matter, if not influenced by Star Trek? I’m really looking forward to Mockingjay. I’ll have to re-read the first two (darn). I absolutely love Douglas Adams, he is one of the funniest writers ever. He’s brilliant.

Do you think Sci fi influences science? Are you looking forward to Mockingjay?