So I’ve recently been really inspired by a couple of hard SF writers in Toronto, Peter Watts and Robert Charles Wilson. “Hard” SF is grounded in real science, often plot-driven, and I usually find it lacking on the character and prose-style front. Not so in the case of Watts and Wilson, who are great stylists and whose characters are nuanced and believable — plus the science extrapolation is mind-bending. So while I’ve always been an unapologetically character-driven storyteller, seeing them pull off traditional, “big idea” SF in this manner has made me want to play too.
This dovetails nicely with my recent enjoyment of Nature’s weekly podcast. Nature is the science journal — it’s where DNA pioneers Watson and Crick published the double helix model — and I find their approach feeds my appetite perfectly. I don’t tend to like stuff explained to me by a professional explainer: it’s digested and mediated, where the Nature podcast is mostly interviews with scientists on their recent discoveries. You get their jargon, their excitement, their accents, all first hand and for the most part comprehensible even to a science ignoramus like me.
So each week for a while I’m going to write a SF story that riffs off of something I heard on this week’s podcast and post it in the comments. I’m only going to take an hour to write it, so it’ll be pretty rough, and I’ll add the mental steps that I took to get there in notes at the end in case you care. Add your links to the comments if you have creative riffs of your own off the podcast. Dance remixes, for instance. It’s dying for a dance remix for the science geek parties.