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Cosmic Stories Blog

This blog exists to explore conceptions and representations of science or science communication through the medium of fiction. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction in literature, film and television, as well as other adventure fiction and their various paratexts. I decided to create this space as a forum in which to present my own views and activities in this area, which are - inevitably - presented from the point of view of an active research astrophysicist, rather than a literary theorist or specialist in communications or media. Nonetheless, I choose to make these thoughts public in case they provide entertainment or interest to others, and in the hope of stimulating conversations in the interface between the realities of our Universe and the ways in which we choose to represent and explore it in fiction.

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09 Jan

Survival on Mars

Today we look at three stories, each of which imagines a single Earth astronaut stranded alone on the Martian surface, and considers what they tell us about changing conceptions of Martian habitability.

26 Dec 2021

An Annual Treat

For the many young people who thrilled to the adventures of characters such as Dan Dare or Doctor Who, the factual information presented in Annual gift books may well have provided their first insights into the genuine science and sweeping discoveries which lay behind their idols.

12 Dec 2021

Journey of (more than) a Lifetime

In a universe in which faster-than-light travel is, to the best of our current underssanding, impossible, journeys to other stars are likely to be measured in decades or centuries rather than days or weeks.

28 Nov 2021

A Universal Language?

If the laws of mathematics and science are the same everywhere in the Universe, then these might provide a key common ground for communication - as science fiction has explored.

14 Nov 2021

The Incredible Shrinking Man

The visual imagery of humans struggling with everyday objects many times their own size, or encountering usually benign animals as terrifying monsters, captures the imagination. Hence the popularity of the SF of miniaturisation.

31 Oct 2021

Planets for Sale!

Is it possible for individuals to own entire planets? Science fiction has explored this question more than once, in a range of different contexts.

17 Oct 2021

Off on a Jaunt

A common theme in science fiction is to consider the possibility of teleportation - the ability to move instantaneously between two locations, whether through natural mental abilities or mechanical means

03 Oct 2021

Areoforming Earth

Many science fiction stories consider the possibility of terraforming Mars - but what about the reverse: areoforming Earth?

19 Sep 2021

All the Suns in the Sky

Exotic binary and multiple star systems, so very different from our own Solar System, have captured the imagination of many astronomers. But these strange environments also captured the imagination of the public and of science fiction writers too.

05 Sep 2021

The Alternate History of Science

Alternate histories are one of the mainstays of science fiction. A subset of these are notable for the attention they pay to our scientific history, and how it influenced the development of modern culture.

22 Aug 2021

Religion and the Preservation of Knowledge in SF

The role of organised religion in the preservation of knowledge across extended time periods has been explored in the science fiction of religious futurisms.

08 Aug 2021

Technocracy and Scientism in SF

Looking at science fiction which considers rule by science in a variety of forms.

25 Jul 2021

The Risks and Rewards of Automated Buildings

One of the key functions of science fiction is to explore both the potentialities and the risks of technologies, particularly those which are new or to which we aspire. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, automation has been a preoccupation of SF almost since it began.

11 Jul 2021

Who Wants to Live Forever

The quest for highly extended or eternal life, in the form of longevity treatments, technological solutions or genetic improvement, has been a staple of science fiction almost since it started

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Comments are very welcome, including those disagreeing with my views or conclusions, but should be phrased respectfully and will be moderated before posting.

The views and ideas expressed in this blog are my own and do not in any way represent the views of the University of Warwick.