Tor/Forge + NASA = Better Hard Sci-Fi?

“When I was a boy, books by Isaac AsimovRobert Heinlein and their colleagues excited me, inspiring a lifelong fascination with space and the science and technology that would get us there,” said Tom Doherty. “From Fulton and his steamboat, through Alexander Graham Bell and Edison, to Silicon Valley and the advent of the internet, innovative Americans have built a future in which we lead the world.”

And so an idea was born, and it was good. A couple of weeks ago, Tor/Forge announced an upcoming collaboration with NASA to publish “science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as ‘NASA inspired Works of Fiction.'” The idea behind the team-up is two-fold:

Tor/Forge and NASA hope that pairing scientists and engineers with the imprints’ award-winning roster of writers will raise awareness and inspire the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), in line with the President’s Technology Agenda.  They also hope to contribute towards the goal of attracting and retaining students in the above fields, thereby strengthening NASA and the nation’s future workforce in a compelling manner.

The project pairs new and established Tor/Forge authors with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Subject Matter Experts (SME), in a move they hope will create new, engaging hard sci-fi that’s both mainstream (read: salable) and educational. Probably not inadvertently, the project also draws attention to the usefulness of NASA’s research in real-world applications–a much-needed boost to the struggling agency in a time of difficult financial constraint and public (near) invisibility.

It would likely be a time-consuming task to find an astrophysicist or astronomer working today who wasn’t inspired in some way by science fiction in his or her formative years. Speaking as both a reader and a lover of sciency things, this collaborative project seems like a great idea. How it will translate to the public en masse, however, is something we’ll have to keep an eye on. I imagine already that there are naysayers who would rather NASA spend its time and money in other ventures, but for this geek, getting NASA and Tor together couldn’t be more perfect.

Read the full press release for more information.

[Tor blog]

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