Launch pad countdown

By Phil Plait | July 17, 2009 1:15 pm

Tomorrow I head up to Laramie (mmmmm, now with more nico-glycerol), Wyoming to participate in Launch Pad, a NASA-sponsored workshop held by science fiction author and astronomer Michael Brotherton. The purpose of Launch Pad is to help scifi authors learn astronomy and physics so that they can use more in their work. I think it’s a fantastic idea, and it’s even cooler that it’s got NASA funding.

The big guest is none other than famous author Joe Haldeman, who wrote The Forever War, a classic piece of satirical fiction (which is in the works for a Hollywood movie, too!). Joe is a great guy and it’ll be good to see him again. Also attending is my bud Scott Sigler and a bunch of other very cool people. I’ll be there for only a few days, because I have to get myself to Comic Con on Thursday, woohoo!

In the meantime, folks at Launch Pad posted this video of Joe talking about amateur astronomy, from a lecture he gave at LP just a few days ago. Enjoy!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Comments (20)

  1. With Asimov, Clark and Heinlein gone, I tend to think of Joe as the current “Grand Old Man” of Science Fiction. Phil, please shake his hand for me. Thanks.

    BTW, I mean the GOM term in the most endearing way. Hell, look who I compared him to.

  2. Alan French

    I am glad NASA realizes the value of getting better science into writing.

    Clear skies, Alan

  3. This is awesome idea! Otherwise it could happen like in one old joke from soviet times. Politician meets scientists and tells him:

    — Communist party decided to beat Americans and land on the Sun first.
    — But it’s too hot, it’s impossible!
    — Don’t you worry, communist party is not stupid, we will land at night!

  4. Nomen Publicus

    While I would like to see The Forever War as a movie, Hollywood has a history of optioning SiFi books and never making the film, or just making something else using the title. What has happened to the Ringworld movie? Look what happened to I, Robot!! Blade Runner is a good movie, but is is NOT Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep! In fact, has any P.K.Dick story made it to the silver screen unchanged?

    Obligatory Stupid Russian Joke…

    Why do Russian police travel in threes?

    One can read, one can write and the third keeps an eye on the two intellectuals !

  5. Rodney Lester

    You’re heading up to my old stomping grounds! Go get some coffee at Coal Creek Coffee and have a dinner at Jeffery’s Bistro, and have a beer at the Buckhorn, of course 😉

    I don’t think the bookstore I kept in business while I was in college, “Books a Go Go,” is still open. I bought probably at least one Joe Haldeman book there…

  6. I wish they had more wimmens involved as instructors. There are lots of female sf writers who could make great contributions as instructors. Heck I wish *I* could have attended! Looks like lots of fun. Give ’em heck, BA!!

  7. Rodney: Books a Go Go closed down several years ago; it was closed last time I visited. And shame on you for recommending the Buckhorn! We want Phil to come back unscathed, after all :-)

  8. good now people will understand mitichlorians

  9. PRGormley

    I consider Forever War to be the most influential book I ever read and envy you going to Laramie (for that reason, I can’t think of any other reason to head that way); having several copies in a variety of versions has given _hundreds_ of good reads over the years. I agree about the issues raised above – while Forever War would make a great flick, I ahve no faith that it would transition any better than any of Philip K Dick’s works (although those were great, they’re different stories using the same characters).

  10. Stone Age Scientist

    So it’s like SEE, but in literature. And since some films are adapted from books anyway, I think the movie industry has their work uncut out for them. :)

  11. Oh, and I met Joe Haldeman at WorldCon a few years ago. He sat in the back of one of my science talks… met him in the hallway afterwards and was beside myself with respect for his work. Talked to him like a fangrrrrl… 😉

    I think Phil can survive the Buckhorn… 😉

  12. Alex

    @Nomen Publicus

    “Second Variety”, filmed as “Screamers” is a pretty good adaptation. The location is changed, mainly because we wouldn’t accept a USA/Russian battle, but the essential essence of the story remains.

  13. hhEb09'1

    John, the Buckhorn has been safe for thirty years since I left, though it probably still has the bullet holes. Go see

  14. Plutonium being from Pluto

    The ‘Forever War’ is awesome novel -one of my all-time faves. 8)

    @ 1. Buffalodavid :

    With Asimov, Clark and Heinlein gone, I tend to think of Joe as the current “Grand Old Man” of Science Fiction. Phil, please shake his hand for me. Thanks.

    … & shake his hand again for me too! 😉

  15. DK

    “In fact, has any P.K.Dick story made it to the silver screen unchanged?”

    I might be mistaken, but I think A Scanner Darkly was rather faithful.

  16. jdac

    Man, I totally did not get that The Forever War was satire. I’ll have to reread it (not that it would be much of a chore).

    While people are swapping great SF around, I’d definitely have to mention Alfred E. Bester’s “The Stars My Destination” (published in the UK as “Tiger! Tiger!”). A fantastically visceral novella. It is brimming with fantastic elements; several times I thought I had a handle on the setting, only to have Bester metaphorically slap me in the face for my provincial imagination. And yet, nothing in it seems extraneous or wasted; each scene adds to Bester’s picture of the Freak Century of the Jaunting Age. Great stuff.

  17. Hang on, I’m paying for fiction writers to learn astronomy and physics? Assuming they went to public schools I already paid for them to (not) learn it, and now I have to pay to give them a second try.

    I fail to see how it’s a “fantastic idea” to subsidize the earning potential of entertainers with public money.

  18. My wife and I had the great good fortune to share (along with 1500 others) the 2006 solar eclipse in Libya with Joe and his lovely wife Gay. Joe is one of my favorite writers, and just an all-around great guy.


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