Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rachel In Love

In honor of Valentine's Day a little free science fiction with a biology twist:

Pat Murphy's moving story, Rachel in Love, features a teenage girl trying to come to terms with living in a chimpanzee's body. The story won a Nebula Award for best novelette in 1987.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Peter Watts on Aliens in "Darwin's Universe"

In a recent interview with SFF World, Peter Watts discussed his recent novel Blindsight, and crafting of "realistic" aliens:
Well, I was a little tired of aliens, both literary and cinematic, that basically seem to be humans in rubber suits with one or two cultural knobs cranked to eleven. On the other hand, it's a bit too easy to throw a big black slab at the audience and say "There's no point in even trying to understand the aliens because they're, you know, alien". If something evolved in Darwin's universe, it's damn well going to adhere to certain natural laws, and that makes it tractable. So I wasn't so much breaking a convention as I was treading the razor's edge between two conventions. I tried to ensure that everything was deeply weird-- life without genes, intelligence without conventional cephalisation-- but nothing was unjustifiable.
In Blindsight, Watts introduces "vampires" that have their development rooted in science rather than fantasy:
And of course there are the vampires. That was just a kind of intellectual wank for my own amusement: I wanted to see if I could take one of the most absurd and unjustifiable creatures ever to spring from myth, and plausibly handwave a scientific justification for all those absurd elements. Again, I wasn't really shattering a convention (although I was definitely poking it with a stick and laughing at its discomfort); I was reinforcing the standard mythology using biological rationales. I didn't know if I'd be able to pull it off until I came up with the Crucifix Glitch; after that it was, Hah! Bring it on!
Watts also suggests that he's been thinking of related publications.
I still have novels incubating in my head - I'm even playing with the idea of a faux-documentary coffee-table book called "Proceedings of the First Biennial Conference on the Evolutionary and Biology of Vampires", although Tor has told me they aren't interested.
Read the whole interview. You can download many of Watts books and stories for free, but, if you want to encourage him to publish more, buy one of his books!

Biology in Science Fiction Reference Library

There are a number of books available that look at the science in science fiction which are written with the non-scientist in mind. I've included the links to some of these works below - take your pick between purchasing a copy from or checking out the book from the nearest library. I'll update the list as I find new books.

To Seek Out New Life:
The Biology of Star Trek|Library Search

Life Signs:
The Biology of Star Trek|Library Search

The Science of Star Wars|Library Search

The Biology of
Science Fiction Cinema|Library Search

The Real Science
Behind the X-Files|Library Search

Science of Jurassic Park
and the Lost World|Library Search

The Science of Aliens|Library Search

The science of ... Aliens Library Search

Aliens and Alien Societies|Library Search

Barlowe's Guide
to Extraterrestrials|Library Search

A Field Guide for Earthlings|Library Search

The Science of the X-Men|Library Search

The Science of Superheroes|Library Search

The Science of Supervillains|Library Search

The Science in Science Fiction: 83 SF Predictions that Became Scientific Reality|Library Search

Fantastic Voyages:
Learning Science Through Science Fiction Films|Library Search

Teaching Science Fact
with Science Fiction | Library Search

Older Books