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Factual science fiction? NASA partners with authors


William Forstchen’s new science fiction novel, Pillar to the Sky, is the first in a new series of “NASA-Inspired Works of Fiction,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The novel comes from a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (that’s NASA to you and me) and science fiction publisher Tor. NASA scientists now help sci-fi writers develop plot lines that could actually happen and also check manuscripts for technical errors. So no more Jedi knights then?

The plot of Mr. Forstchen’s novel hinges on a multibillion-dollar effort to build a 23,000-mile-high space elevator—a quest threatened by budget cuts and stingy congressmen. Forthcoming novels in the series will explore asteroid mining, wormholes and astrobiology.

NASA has been hosting novelists at its facilities for tours called ‘Science Fiction Meets Science Fact.’

Forstchen, 63, is a history professor at Montreat College in North Carolina. He has been obsessed with space elevators since reading Arthur C. Clarke’s 1979 novel, The Fountains of Paradise.

In Pillar to the Sky, two NASA scientists are snubbed by Congress in their bid to build a space elevator. The couple then turn to a Silicon Valley billionaire.

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