Science Fiction

NASA Wants Your Science Fiction to Have More Science, Taxpayer Dollars In It

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amazing!

This new collaboration between NASA and a science fiction publisher sounds pretty awesome, but it's also more evidence that NASA is a ($19 billion) solution in search of a problem: 

NASA will allow existing and new Tor/Forge authors to team up with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's (GSFC) Subject Matter Experts (SME) to create scientifically accurate and entertaining novels in a distinctly unique way.

The project is supposed to get kids excited about real science—as opposed to getting kids excited about science and then having them get all sad when they discover that warp drives are made up. 

Taxpayers are footing the bill for this little (and to be fair, it is very, very little) boondoggle, which is mildly annoying but certainly not worth getting your jumpsuit in a twist about in the grand scheme. But then the press release had to go and claim that the benificiaries aren't some very deserving science fiction authors, but taxpayers…and The Children.

"Ultimately this agreement will benefit taxpayers as we look for innovative ways to train students for the science challenges of the future," said Nona Cheeks, Chief of GSFC's IPP Office, which is managing the project's implementation.

Ah well. 

Reason wrote about Tor as a hotbed of libertarians in 2008.

Also, Heinlein!

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86 responses to “NASA Wants Your Science Fiction to Have More Science, Taxpayer Dollars In It

  1. “distinctly unique”? Is their any other kind?

    1. Uniquely distinct?

      1. non-uniquely distinct

    2. unique individual

      1. particular individual

    3. Yes, all fat chicks who have tattoos have one that is distinctly unique

  2. And I thought Goddard was throwing their money away when they hired me to work there for the summer between undergrad and grad school…

    1. Obviously this latest development is your fault somehow. Well Played, Sir.

      1. It’s baby steps… First they hire a dumbass student to work there for the summer–despite the fact there’s really no need for him to work there–and nobody calls them out on it. Then they progress to slightly more daring ways of wasting money. Eventually, they start blowing their funding on comic books. And thus the circle of life is complete.

        1. *cue musical score*

          It’s a heartwarming tale.

  3. I say we keep NASA but just be honest about it being Rocket Scientist Welfare.

    1. Why should the stubborn fucks who won’t go in to the boners/hair sector receive some charity job?

      1. Eh, fair enough.

  4. The best NASA news I’ve heard lately is that after Russia blew up their latest Soyuz capsule across Siberia last week, there are currently no launch vehicles available to send up to get the poor folks aboard the giant tin disaster known as the ISS.

    The reason this is good news is that NASA will now have to stop trying to suppress SpaceX and their Dragon capsule from testing a launch to the ISS this fall.

    Nothing like lives at stake and another Communist failure to push forward some private initiative.

    1. Please tell me the Dragon capsule is a Neal Asher reference.

      1. Actually, I don’t know why they named it Dragon, although the Asher reference would be sweet.

        1. When they name the next piece Erebus, Crane, or Cormac, then we’ll know.

        2. Probably because the Chinese are partnered with the development.

          Only a guess.

          1. Elon Musk named it. Ask him.

        3. Because dragons are cool and shoot flames?

    2. Nothing like lives at stake and another Communist failure to push forward some private initiative.

      Au Contraire, I believe this failure is due to deregulation.

  5. OT:Why, whenever discussing Prop 8, do people bring up the Mormon Church funding a campaign against it, but never mention the overwhelming amount of black people who actually voted against it?

    1. Because Steve Chapman says so.

    2. Because liberals will do anything to avoid the horrible and inconvenient truth that most black people are quite conservative and only vote Democrats because the Democrats have convinced them that all Republicans are racists.

      1. I don’t think it’s so much that blacks are quite conservative as it is that most poor and/or uneducated people are quite conservative socially but vote Democratic for social reasons.

      2. What about the soccer moms, John?
        Tell us about the soccer moms.

      3. most black people are quite conservative

        This is probably correlated to low IQ.

  6. Is it bad that I don’t care about manned space flight anymore? Yeah, it is cool and all. But to me the bottom line is either someone is going to figure out a way to make a profit from doing it or it isn’t going to happen. National vanity projects are always doomed because the public gets bored and quits paying for them.

    To me worrying about space flight is like worrying about the next generation computers or jet packs. Either people will figure out a way to make money and thus make it happen or they won’t.

    1. See SpaceX; re: Private Launch Vehicle Capital Investment.

      1. I know they are trying. And good for them.

        1. They try not. They do.

          NASA tries.

    2. Bad, very bad.

    3. To me worrying about space flight is like worrying about the next generation computers or jet packs. Either people will figure out a way to make money and thus make it happen or they won’t.

      We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Something about Cuber.

      1. Was that JFK’s way of saying that (taking my) taxes hurts them as much as it hurts me as my parents used too right before a whoopin’?

  7. Private space entrepreneurs will be declared unable to fulfill the government’s mission. Ergo, they will be nationalized.

  8. When I saw the headline for this one, I was expecting another global warming article.

    1. Was it this that peaked your suspicion:

      http://www.foxnews.com/scitech…..test=faces

      Cuz that is what I thought as well.

      1. They speculate that extraterrestrial environmentalists could be so appalled by our planet-polluting ways that they view us as a threat to the intergalactic ecosystem and decide to destroy us.

        I think I mentioned this when Reason linked to it earlier, but this is basically religion for liberals. Since we’re unfomfortable with a Christian wrathful god, we’ll use benevolent space aliens who will rid the earth of its cancer (humans) due to their greedy excesses.

        1. Which always made me wonder… how do the liberals think these space aliens achieved inter-galactic travel? Do they really believe they did it with solar power, wind turbines and deficit spending?

          What, they get to have the super-advanced kick ass society, jetting around the universe in super-slick spaceships with mega-death rays on them, but we have to go back to a simple life of farming? How fair is that?!

          1. Shut up and get back to work, huuu-man.

  9. This new collaboration between NASA and a science fiction publisher sounds pretty awesome, but it’s also more evidence that NASA is a ($19 billion) solution in search of a problem[.]

    Hasn’t it been always???

    1. Once Apollo 11 safely retrieved the Cthulonic artifacts from the Moon, yes.

  10. “Ultimately this agreement will benefit taxpayers as we look for innovative ways to train students for the science challenges of the future,” said Nona Cheeks, Chief of GSFC’s IPP Office, which is managing the project’s implementation.

    Right.

    From: “Don’t read those science fiction stories, young man! They will rot your mind!”

    To: “Read those science fiction stories, youn man! They will help you pass the science test!”

    How times change, don’t they?

  11. Ironically, it’s the more libertarian-flavored science fiction like Heinlein that usually has the more accurate science in it.

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/sf-history.html

    1. Why ironic?

      And btw Heinlein doesn’t even make this list…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…..tive_works

      Of course, I think your statement is generally not true, but Heinlein did try to include realisticish science.

      1. That list is representative, not exhaustive. It’s not on the list because whoever wrote that article didn’t think to put it on there, not because of whether or not it deserves to be on there.

        1. R,

          Sure, sure, but Heinlein doesn’t really belong on a short list of hard science fiction, imho. But the quibble I had was with two aspects of the claim…1) that libertarain science fiction somehow overlaps with hard science fiction and 2) that there would be something ironic about libertarian science fiction being hard science fiction.

          1. 2) that there would be something ironic about libertarian science fiction being hard science fiction.

            Verner Vinge is pretty damn libertarian….and every hard sci-fi writer of any note has been stuck on the singularity for at least a decade.

            1. So why is it “ironic”?

      2. LOL

        Kim Stanley Robinson, The Mars trilogy (Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), Blue Mars (1996)

        The list is a joke….its Wikipedia….did you write it?

        I do give you credit for at least including Greg Eagn…though there are three or more of his books that should make the list.

        1. I didn’t write or contribute to it.

        2. maybe you’ll like this list better…

          http://www.technologyreview.co…..ors/26836/

          Oh, wait, The Mars Trilogy show up again…(on nearly every list of Hard Sci-Fi I’ve run across). I never read it. What’s your problem with the science in it?

          Or is it the politics you don’t like?

          1. I like the part where they are terraforming Mars and starting to cool off Venus for future colonization – but can’t terraform Earth.

  12. Shouldn’t take too long to form the Department of Literature Innovation
    .

  13. I assume the program is primarily intended to make Muslims feel good about their science fiction accomplishments.

  14. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Subject Matter Experts (SME)

    The neediest must be saved from destitution and despair!

  15. The year is 15,250 …BC. Location: Mars. Spacebus Zjones is a prophet, born into a decaying Martian society. The lush martian forests are being felled by the Ghoch Twins, some of Mars’ most notorious industrialists. But they aren’t the only ones. Spacebus warns of the immenent demise of Mother Mars, and is even appointed by the messianic Mars president briefly, but it is too little and too late. Furthermore, the Ghochs and others are able to conspire for his resignation. He returns to fight the good fight and speak truth to power from the front lines of Martian Eco-community-organizing, with the full patronage of the Martian president – the One they had been waiting for.

    But it was too late. The choking gases from the capitalists rained down a fiery death upon the inhabitants of Mars, who had waited too long to spread the wealth and protect Mother Mars from the deprivation of the likes of the Ghochs, despite the heroic attempts of prophet Zjones. Let it be a lesson.

    Where do I sign up for mah monies?

    1. Kim Stanley Robinson’s house.

    2. You forgot to mention the GHOCHTOPUS subplot.

  16. If they don’t find a way to spend their money they might lose it in the next budget. Thus is why government budgets never go unspent.

  17. Normally I don’t truck with government intervention in the marketplace, but clearly something has to be done about JJ Abrams and his ilk.

  18. Reason wrote about Tor was a hotbed

    Is this blog still written in English?

    1. How.

      1. It’s encrypted.

  19. Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas did just fine without the government’s help, thank you.

    1. NASA Wants Your Science Fiction to Have More Science, Taxpayer Dollars In It…

      Was your comment ironic, or did you miss the [emphasis added] part?

    2. Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas did just fine without the government’s help, thank you.

      Star wars is not science fiction..it is fantasy.

      Jesus it even had jedi space knights…how the hell can you even get confused on the matter.

      1. A couple of geeks woke up on the wrong side of their parents’ house it seems….

  20. Scientific science fiction with real science in it?

    So does that mean turds like The Last Winter won’t be getting subsidised?

    1. More distressingly, no Bradburys; no Ellisons; no LeGuins; no Silverbergs; etc., etc.

      1. No Leiber… no Lafferty… no Sturgeon…

  21. I wondier if I could trick these guys into supporting my Mars base animated series.

    The story bible called for a strict hard science approach.

  22. Never really even thought about it like that dude.

    http://www.real-anon.at.tc

  23. Ah, yes, the often overlooked constitutional authority delegated to congress for the purpose of collaborating with favored science fiction writers.

    (I’d like to point out that NASA has quite a bit of experience with science fiction writing – “Evidence of alien microbes in antarctic rocks” – “Man made global warming!” – “Mission to Mars” – etc, etc, etc….

  24. Authors will visit GSFC for a two day workshop in November consisting of presentations, facility tours and one-on-one sessions with SMEs. NASA contributions to the project will also provide access to their data, facilities, and educational design and evaluation experts.

    Folks, it’s a two day workshop and access to data and experts! A government entity does some PR/outreach that might possibly cost .00001% of its budget: yeah, so what? Sure it may be silly and violate libertarian principles, but it’s so incredibly minor….

    1. The “We’re opening the doors – come see what your tax dollars is buyin’ and axe us some questions while you’re here!” aspect is, in fact, pretty cool.

      With that said, I have little use for NASA. We’ve done some work with them (Public/Private Partnership, doncha know!) and while their site is like science geek HEAVEN, it’s not any different than our fucking AWESOME scientific-research labs. Well, it’s not as nice as our labs, in fact. And they’re nice people and all. But they should all be employed in the private sector.

      Anyway, cool for opening the doors.

      1. You’re right, and I also approve of the opening doors aspect, which I didn’t make clear above.

  25. Just go to Mars already. For a few weeks interest on the national debt, they could put a man on another planet.

    Instead they want “realistic” science fiction — imagine the inspiration young people will get, reading about space taxis going to low earth orbit and fixing the toilets on the space station.

    1. Do you mind actually writing that story, please?

    2. I think you mean “Get youah ahss to Marhss.”

  26. Sure it may be silly and violate libertarian principles, but it’s so incredibly minor….

    Death by a thousand cuts.

    And- if we cannot cut “incredibly minor” stuff like this, how the fuck can you pretend we’ll ever make an honest or difficult decision?

  27. NASA got me interested in science by actually doing interesting stuff in space. Maybe they should spend the money on that, instead.

    If we’re trying to avoid it going to bad use, we could all try to get into the program and write some libertarian science fiction.

  28. I live close enough to NASA/Ames in the SF Bay Area to have visited it several times for seminars, etc. They make no bones about actively looking for new missions. They want to be an incubator for new technologies that help us more efficiently and benignly deal with “Spaceship Earth.” They happen to like — and are actively investigating and promoting — a technology I also like, PRT (Personal Rapid Transit), but I sure as hell hope that tax subsidy of that research is minimal.

    1. I agree with Doktor Kapitalism. If they are going to spend tax dollars, let them spend it on real science, and sending probes and people into space. THAT’s the inspirational stuff. Also, if they could loan a technical advisor now and then to movies and TV series such Star Trek, to keep them grounded in real science.

  29. I thought Baen books was where the real Libertarians hang out. John Ringo, Michael Z. Williamson, and Tom Kratman.

    Ringo started his last series with “Live Free or Die” and included an insurgency against a thinly veiled Obama Administration that wanted to surrender to alien bullies.

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