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The Far Future is Before Our Very Eyes

The second annual Science in My Fiction Contest is on and bedeviling writers! This year, in addition to asking writers to base their short story submissions on recent scientific developments, all contest entries must also be stories set off-Earth.

At a stretch, nearly any scientific advance made on Earth could be applied to the far-future, and authors of speculative fiction should ideally always practice that kind of literary yoga. But while some technological leaps are more obviously applicable than others, many things are taken for granted on Earth to the extent that we need to be reminded that they require re-thinking for all other settings. 

Because of the contest’s secondary requirement, I’ve been tweeting daily links to recent space travel and far future-relevant scientific developments. Not everyone follows me on Twitter, however, so I’ve decided to bring a few examples of SiMF Contest-ready science to the blog for helpful discussion and speculation. 

Wherever else in the galaxy humans are ever able to settle, we will first need to travel there. Everything we take with us may become lighter than feathers once outside Earth’s gravity, but before then, it must be launched. Every ounce of weight correlates to the amount of fuel required for lift-off. Once weightless, all cargo still has volume and mass, so we must also account for how much room is required to store it when it’s not in use, without cramming in the crew like so much ballast. These issues are tricky for short missions and incredibly problematic for long missions, but some far future dilemmas may have answers rooted in ancient arts. I give you Textiles in Space

Essential items like food, water, tools, and people are not the only things we send to space. On short journeys, of course we include materials for science experiments, and satellites to be put in orbit, but we also allow astronauts a few small personal items. For example, several flutes recently circled the Earth. On short missions, these little things are of arguable worth in space, but on long missions they could become hugely important – psychologically, if in no other way. But again, every item aboard ship takes up valuable ‘real estate,’ and so the size of allowable personal items must be carefully reconsidered for long-term space travel. Fortunately, we humans are capable of placing remarkably high significance on our virtual possessions. Talk about space-savers. 

Astronauts are scheduled to within an inch of their sanity. Every moment is carefully planned to ensure that the science gets done, all maintenance is performed, and everyone sleeps and exercises enough to protect their health. Even their so-called ‘free time’ is scheduled in advance. But people are people, no matter how far off-Earth we may travel. Even if we take great pains to send no trouble-makers into space, it’s only a matter of time before somebody starts some shenanigans. Why? Well, rules are all well and good, but rule-breaking is powerful stuff. Eventually, every long space mission will have to deal with man-made mischief. Perhaps if we designate time for it on ships’ calendars we can mitigate the damage… 

Those are just three examples of obvious or easily ignored science that could be useful for writers speculating on the future. I’ll bring up more like these as the contest progresses, but in the mean time, what are your off-Earth science suggestions for SiMF contestants?

And Still She Moves: A year of Science in My Fiction

Today marks one year since we launched Science in My Fiction!

Since then our amazing contributors have written over 100 blog posts, ranging in topics from sapient dolphins to piezoelectrics to quantum gravity to the color of alien pants.

In late April, less than 2 months after our launch, we were approached by the editors of the popular science site io9 with a request for the rights to reprint occasional SiMF posts on their site. Numerous SiMF posts have been reprinted on io9 since then.

In late July, Kay Holt’s tongue-in-cheek post I Know Why The Vampire Sparkles (Inspired after a grudging read of Twilight) was picked up on BoingBoing; it spread from there, being linked literally hundreds of times and translated on numerous international sites. To date the post has been read by over 125,000 people on the SiMF site alone.

Over the summer, SiMF hosted the first annual Science in My Fiction short story contest! The contest was a big success and we hope to host more contests soon!

And in October SiMF began publishing monthly science-inspired fiction with our first story, Stephanie King’s “Ending Alice“.

We have lots more in store for the future, including (if there’s enough interest) a print collection of Science in My Fiction posts, with proceeds going to science-based charities. Thanks to everyone who supported us during this remarkable first year, and please keep reading and writing!

SiMF article gets BoingBoing’ed!

Congratulations to Kay Holt, whose SiMF article “I know why the vampire sparkles!” was linked on the enormously popular site Boing Boing! Said Maggie Koerth-Baker:

In what may possibly be the best fantasy fanwanking ever, writer Kay Holt presents a creepily dead-on theory explaining the characteristics of Twilight-series vampires (up to and including the sparkliness) via revised taxonomy.

LAST DAY to enter the Science in My Fiction contest!

TODAY (Wednesday, June 30) is the final day to get your entries in to the Science in My Fiction contest!

Remember, there are $400 in cash prizes to be won, plus more! And the finalists will be read and voted on by an amazing panel of judges. Each of the top 3 stories will be published: the original cover art will be provided by Julie Dillon, and each of the 3 stories will be accompanied by original black-and-white artwork.

- 2,500-10,000 words
- 1 entry per person
- Only unpublished work
- Authors MUST cite the discovery/innovation which inspired their story, and provide relevant URL(s).

Entries sent after midnight US Eastern time will be discarded without consideration. Now’s the time!

We’ve gotten some great entries already. Wow us with SCIENCE!

Submission guidelines
Judges
Entry form

TWO DAYS LEFT to the Science in My Fiction contest!!

This Wednesday, June 30 is the final day to get your entries in to the Science in My Fiction contest!

Remember, there are $400 in cash prizes to be won, plus more! And the finalists will be read and voted on by an amazing panel of judges. Each of the top 3 stories will be published: the original cover art will be provided by Julie Dillon, and each of the 3 stories will be accompanied by original black-and-white artwork.

- 2,500-10,000 words
- 1 entry per person
- Only unpublished work
- Authors MUST cite the discovery/innovation which inspired their story, and provide relevant URL(s).

We’ve gotten some great entries already. Wow us with SCIENCE!

Submission guidelines
Judges
Entry form

TWO WEEKS LEFT to enter the SiMF contest!

Wednesday, June 30 is the FINAL DAY to enter the Crossed Genres Science in My Fiction contest!

* 2,500-10,000 words
* SF/F inspired by a recent scientific discovery or innovation (Citation required)
* 1 entry per person
* Only unpublished work

10 finalists will be selected, and the finalists will be voted on by a panel of 6 judges:

Athena Andreadis – Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek.
Nicola Griffith – Nebula, World Fantasy, Tiptree, and Lambda Literary Award-winning author
Michael Kabongo – Agent; owner, The Onyxhawke Agency
Randall Munroe – Creator of the webcomic xkcd; Programmer
Cat Rambo – Author; Managing Editor of Fantasy Magazine.
Brett Savory – Editor-in-Chief of Chizine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words and co-Publisher of Chizine Publications.

The winner gets a $250 prize. 2nd Place gets $100, 3rd gets $50. The top 3 stories will be published on the Crossed Genres website, and in limited-run print and digital editions. There will also be 3 Honorable Mentions.

Just two weeks left! Read the detailed rules, and then get those entries in!

Winners will be announced on or before July 21. The top 3 stories will be published online at the time of official announcement.

3 weeks left to enter the SiMF contest! And 6 days for the flashfic contest!

(Originally posted at Crossed Genres.)

The Science in My Fiction short story contest has just 3 weeks left before the deadline for entries! Entries thus far have been fewer than expected, though we’re still anticipating a rush at the end. There are $400 in prizes up for grabs – be sure to get your entries in! And please help us spread the word about the contest!

The Flash Fiction contest is also approaching the cutoff date for entries: June 15 is the final day! Entries to the flashfic contest have been surprisingly robust – though perhaps not surprising when considering first place gets pro rates or better. 6 more days to go! Voting will begin on the 10 finalists on June 23.

Crossed Genres is currently accepting submissions to the Invasion issue. June 30 is the deadline.

Finally: June is the last month to read Crossed Genres Issue 8: ANTHROPOMORPHISM. This diverse and unusual issue, containing an interview with SiMF contributor Athena Andreadis, will no longer be available! Please read it if you haven’t, and consider picking up a copy.