Hot maths

Actually I don’t find maths hot. I find it, truth be told, somewhat intimidating.

My equation-phobia was the only minor concern I had about the ‘Physics for Fiction’ seminar held on Monday and Tuesday of this week at Imperial College, but I needn’t have worried; the level of this largely astronomy-based set of talks and discussions was just right for the average SF author. I was privileged to be in the company of some very much above average SF authors, including Ken MacLeod, Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds, plus the various experts in their fields who were passing on their not inconsiderable knowledge. Subjects covered ranged from the huge (the latest theories on the shape, nature and origins of the universe, or possibly multiverse) through the brain-expanding (dark matter and energy) to the specific (the weather on Titan).

Outside the formal talks we could focus on the areas of interest to each of us, cornering the expert of our choice. I spent a very productive hour in the finally-cool-enough-to-think quad outside the Students’ Union bar with an astronomy lecturer from my old Uni (Hertford, or Hatfield Poly as it was then). He was happy to answer my questions, and there was something very uplifting about being able to discuss the stuff from my head with someone who could talk me through the scientific implications and restrictions of my ideas without batting an eyelid. The only problem is that I now need to tweak how my spaceflight works, which means a couple of small changes to Guardians of Paradise – which, of course, has been handed over to my editor. I had an idea this might happen and I’m sure we’ll work it out.

I’ll leave you with this short and sweet review of Consorts of Heaven (you’ll need to page down) and this short film, as created for Sci-Fi London by Molly Brown, who I met for the first time on Monday; anything that combines theoretical physics and the undead has got to have potential.

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