back to article NASA to work on approved sci-fi books

NASA is working with a publisher to create a series of sci-fi books inspired by NASA's work. The US space agency has inked an agreement with Tor-Forge Books to work on "NASA Inspired Works of Fiction" that will contain stories relating to current and future missions and operations. NASA's space shuttle programme came to an …


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  1. hplasm

    The way things are heading-

    they will be a series of history books...

    1. Mips

      You mean....

      ..It will take so long to write them.

      Anyway NASA are not known for short books. See the Apollo flight manual.

  2. Willington

    Science Fiction?

    If they are scientifically accurate doesn't that make them just fiction?

    1. ZankerH


      Poor wording, perhaps "scientifically feasible" would be more accurate. As in, keeping the handwavium and technobabble to a minimum.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Speculative fiction

    While the works of NASA have added quite a bit to our tech base, it's been... ineffective the last couple of decades. An objective analysis might even find that the shuttle --in how it worked out, not dissing the basic idea here-- has actually stymied and impeded progress, for it was so expensive that it precluded alternatives from being contemplated.

    So instead of coming up with cheap alternatives, they're continuing daydreaming. C'mon NASA, that isn't the right move right this moment. It's about as useful as insisting that teaching creationism in science class "teaches critical thinking". Syeah right.

    Putting a man on the moon for under a million quid is what would win hearts and minds, find engineers battling for a chance to work for you, and sf writers write about you.

    As with the top-down design process of the shuttle and the management living in bass ackwards crossing, this too NASA has the wrong way around.

    Feynmann laid bare a lot that was wrong then. He also said "we know better now". Heck no. We could, but we choose not to.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Hey AC

      Did you just call NASA ineffective? 0 to 18000mph with a big fiery firework thing is ineffective? I'd put that in the impressive category if I was you! Also - do you sell flying cars?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hey hey AC

        Why yes, yes I did. And to understand why, consider: How much does each fireworks show cost, how often does it blow up, how often per year did they even try to ignite it, and how often do they succeed on the first try? Oh, and then look at how much training it costs to play passenger on one of those things.

        You can't build something like Freeside with that sort of "access" to space. Nevermind exploit it. Of course, commercial exploitation of space is not NASA's job. Their job is one of trailblazing. But they can only just nip into space, and that's it. For anything more you basically have to fall back on simple big fat rockets, that you can't even get from NASA these days. There's no expansion, there's no progress.

        The display might be impressive, but that's not the point. The point is to get up the well, and that should be far easier, quicker, safer, and cheaper, than the shuttle has shown to be capable of delivering. And there's no alternative from NASA. Thus, NASA is ineffective.

        I'd rather this wasn't the case, but there you go. Ask not fellow ACs where the flying cars are. Ask NASA.

  4. kevin mulholland

    Surely books that inspired NASA would be better

    Which books inspired people to join NASA, become astronauts/engineers etc.

    I know that lots of ones by Arthur C Clarke and Robert Heinlein would be topping the charts

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not a new idea

    Stephen Baxters Voyage (alternate history about manned flight to Mars) I believe he credits NASA with assistance.

  6. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


    SiFi stories about moon landings.... is NASA trying to tell us something?

    How about a love story, the shuttle pilot who has an affair with another shuttle pilot and then embarks on a cross country trip to confront her love rival?

    How about a disaster story when part of the spacecraft blows up leaving the crew on disable spacecraft heading for the moon but running out of air.

    I think I've read these already

  7. BoldMan

    Uh Oh

    So there will be a lot of books about unmanned probes with cute/nasty/funny (delete as appropriate) personalities?

    Does the original Star Trek movie count - after all it did have a Voyager probe as the main "protagonist" oops, should I have put a spoiler alert there...

  8. Antony Shepherd

    Voyage? Titan? Moonseed?

    So long as they don't get Stephen Baxter to write them.

    Those tend not to end well!

    1. Jay 2

      As recommended (sort of) by El Reg

      Funnily enough I picked those up 2nd hand some time back when mentioned on El Reg's comments page.

      Voyage was pretty good, I reread that recently. Titan was OK, a bit downbeat. I didn't really like Moonseed at all.

  9. Jean-Luc

    What about really out-there fiction?

    Like... a story in which the International Space Station actually contributed something to science, after costing $100B? I know, I know, that is taking serious liberties with the facts.

    There are plenty of _very_ useful ways to spend money on space. Few of them involve putting meat in orbit.

  10. Majid

    If you don't have the funds/guts to travel to Mars...

    Making a sci-fi story about it, makes for a good alternative I guess..

    1. Tom 13

      Please, don't make suggestions like that.

      I know YOU used the Joke icon, but the plods at NASA might have icons disabled.

  11. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Oh FFS

    There is plenty of "near term" science fiction out there inspired by various space programs, or even written by Scientists involved in them.

    Rather than pissing their time and money up the wall NASA should go back to doing what they are meant to do - getting people and machines in space.

    Maybe they have forgotten - they currently lack a man rated launch system and are meant to be pulling their finger out for a NEO to MARs mission?

  12. StuartMcL

    NASA Inspired Works of Fiction?

    They've got the talent for it. Jim Hansen's been creating fiction for years.

  13. Captain DaFt
    Thumb Up

    So NASA's going back to the days of yesteryear...

    And reviving Hugo Gernsback's (1884-1967) "Scientifiction"?

  14. David Gillies

    NASA is a silly fable all by itself

    NASA has been essentially a fictional organisation since about 1973, so sponsoring sci-fi is really some sort of grim epistemic closure.

    I was a few weeks away from birth when the first man set foot on the moon. I was three when the last one did. It angers me that now I have grey hairs and wrinkles and no other bugger's been back. It's not like it even costs that much, compared to the fire-hose of cash spent on welfare.

    1. MajorTom

      @David Gillies

      Happy Birthday mate - I too was born a few weeks after Neil and Buzz set foot on the moon. Our ages might be identical.

      I've been a manned spaceflight fan all my life, but never saw a launch. Tried to, though, last November, journeying all the way down to Cape Canaveral to see the Discovery go. Unfortunately its launch was delayed to Feb as we all know, and I couldn't afford a second trip.

      I've been sad for some time about NASA's lack of progress in spaceflight. And yet I'm somehow in mourning over the end of the shuttle.

  15. Entropiated

    From the darkest corner of the Amazon...

    I hope they don't plan on trying to peddle these for the Kindle reader on I've got a book for sale on there ( and it never sees the light of day because of the millions of others just like me that are clogging up the works. And didn't I read a story here not long ago about how some people are making a quick buck by pasting in random text from the internet and peddling the e-books to unsuspecting readers? Sad thing is they still sell more copies than I do. Depressing.

  16. Steven Roper
    Thumb Up

    One of my earliest childhood memories

    is of Dad getting me out of bed at night to watch to Armstrong and Aldrin make history on TV. I was three at the time, and it influenced my love of all things space ever since. Like you, I am royally pissed that space program has gone backwards ever since. I remember thinking that the space shuttle, when it started, was the beginning of the road to Mars; we'd been to the moon, and Mars was the logical next step, especially in view of the front-page coverage of the Viking landers that were providing spectacular photos of the Martian surface at the time. And then it all just seemed to... fizzle out, and the dream died.

    One more thing: If you want to know where the money's really going, I would change just two letters of your last sentence - "It's not like it even costs that much, compared to the fire-hose of cash spent on wARfare."

  17. Monkeywrench

    Why write books about it when....

    The Russians and Chinese are doing the real thing. Even the Iranians have put a few satellites in orbit. All NASA has to do is provide coverage of other space programs.

  18. VoodooForce

    Jobs for unwanted Shuttle Astronauts

    surely they can get jobs as mini van drivers... just without the "Glorified" bit at the start

  19. Mako

    Let's just hope...

    ...that they don't suffer the same problem that all Sci-Fi writers seem to get as they age; the urge to include poorly-written sex scenes:

    "Soyuz quivered as the mighty Apollo thrust toward her aching docking ring"


    I'm looking at YOU, Niven. And Asimov.

  20. illiad


    do you mean that "Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)" is STILL on someones 'yet to watch' list???????

    1. Sam Therapy

      Not really

      It's on my "Avoid at all costs" list, though.

  21. Craig 28


    If it is I'd recommend they not waste their time and skip to Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Khan. That one was actually good, unlike that first pile of crap. The rest of the Kirk ones I'd skip but that's my personal taste, the next generation ones I can take or leave.

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