Will "NASA-Inspired Fiction" Make Space Cool Again?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 24 2011 2:09 PM

Will "NASA-Inspired Fiction" Make Space Cool Again?

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Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Star Wars and Isaac Asimov inspired many to enter science, engineering, and aerospace. Now NASA is apparently hoping to revive that link between the sci-fi and the real-sci. The space agency has announced a new partnership with Tor/Forge Books to produce “NASA-inspired works of fiction” for young readers. According to a NASA press release, the goals are for the books to serve as “a gateway to the general public and generate awareness of the significant role NASA plays in our everyday lives” and “to attract and retain students focused on STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] studies, strengthening the agency and the nation's future workforce.”

The Tor/Forge authors will have access to NASA scientists, equipment, and data to bring the books that extra dash of realism. IO9’s Charlie Jane Anders, who calls the announcement “great news,” writes, “Even apart from how this could benefit NASA, I'm hoping we get some kick-ass hard science fiction out of it.” But CNET’s Eric Smalley is a little less enthusiastic. “I'm a little queasy about a government agency influencing popular culture to promote itself. And exactly how science fiction-worthy are NASA operations? Still, it could be worthwhile.”

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Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.