August marked the arrival Loncon 2014, the annual science fiction convention which visits a different city every year. There’s also a lot of science fact presented at such meetings – we were showcasing the results from Herschel and Planck, for example. In fact there are a lot of places where, to a greater or lesser degree, science fiction meets science fact.
It’s not just the stories where the two meet, either, but also the people involved in producing them. For this month’s instalment of Pythagoras’ Trousers, I spoke to Alastair Reynolds, a science fiction author who used to be an astronomer. Having worked in St Andrews University and in ESA, Alastair is now based in Wales. Most of his novels, not to mention the many short stories, are set in worlds based on the science we know about today – albeit extrapolated centuries into the future. Our conversation ranged from his astronomical career, how novels are written and the importance of scientific accuracy. We even even touched on some of the latest technological innovations taking place in Africa – where some of the action of his latest trilogy is set. You can listen to the extended version of the astronomy segment below.