I spent a few hours last week with a bunch of science fiction writers, giving them a tutorial on modern cosmology as part of the (first) “Physics for Fiction” workshop organized by my Imperial Astrophysics Colleague Dave Clements. The participants were some very big names in modern Science Fiction, and some hot up-and-coming writers, including Stephen Baxter, Pat Cadogan, Jaine Fenn, Paul McAuley, Hannu Rajaniemi and Alastair Reynolds. There are some photos, including a couple of me in full-on lecturing mode, by photos by Simon Bradshaw on Flickr.
Science fiction writers are a tough crowd: many of them are technically literate (there were a few science PhDs among them) but it’s also clear that, for their writing at least, they don’t just want to know the facts, they want to know what’s cool, and what can be relevant on a human scale, and how they can pass that along to their readers. If it can be vaguely realistic, all the better. So there was perhaps more interest in planets and quantum cryptography than in the origin of the Universe (although that’s a subject that some of our participants who dabble in the grandest “space opera” could sometimes touch on.