Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

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My Worldcon Schedule

When scientists write science fiction

Format: Panel
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 12:00 – 12:50, ECOCEM Room (CCD)

Write what you know. That bit of advice has been handed down to new writers with great regularity, but what does it mean for writers whose day jobs are in the science and technology fields? What advantages or challenges do they face when writing with a science background? What does it take to walk in both worlds?

Team-Up – How Scientists Collaborate To Solve the Unsolveable

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 10:30 – 11:20, Odeon 1 (Point Square Dublin)

The media portrays scientists as lone geniuses making brilliant discoveries conducted in isolation, with no lab assistants or colleagues. But increasingly science is actually performed by large teams. What is it like to actually work in science, and what are the implications for how and why science is done?

Early Science and Genre Fiction

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 12:00 – 12:50, Liffey Room-1 (CCD)

Early science included water mills for grinding grains and basic geometry for mapping stars. How would Renaissance science look to alien cultures? How will Greek philosophy be applied in the future? Who wouldn’t love to see the architectural engineering of Egypt applied to alternate realms? We’ll dive into the wealth of early science and recast it for future/alternate/alien worlds!

Tall technical tales

Format: Panel
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 17:00 – 17:50, Liffey Room-2 (CCD)

What kind of stories emerge from the lab when scientists gather round the campfire and have too much to drink? Will they involve exploding particle accelerators, the escape of dangerous diseases, or why you should never operate a centrifuge while drunk?

Really big telescopes

Format: Panel
19 Aug 2019, Monday 12:00 – 12:50, Liffey Hall-2 (CCD)

If we can utilise the radio spectrum on planet Earth for astronomy, our descendants or alien species could build imaging interferometers the size of planets or even planetary orbits, and look for buildings on planets around Tau Ceti. What are the implications for exploring the universe – by us or aliens?

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Climate Change Tool from Science for Fiction 2019

The climate change modelling tool referred to by Jo Haigh at Science for Fiction today can be found here:


The flood modelling tool can be found here:


Other sites mentioned include:



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Books Read 2018

Yes, I’m very late to be finishing up last year’s book blog – so sue me.

Previously we had:

Night Without Stars, by Peter F Hamilton

October, by China Mieville

Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway

Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer

The Furthest Station, by Ben Aaronovitch

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

The Labyrinth Index, by Charles Stross

Emergence: Corporation Wars 3, by Ken McLeod

Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Guardians of Paradise, by Jaine Fenn

The Rise and Fall of DODO, by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland

The Obelisk Gate, by NK Jemisin

Dark State, by Charles Stross

Rosewater, by Tady Thompson

Places in the Darkness, by Chris Brookmyre

Elysium Fire, by Al Reynolds

Austral, by Paul McAuley

You Don’t Know Me, by Brooke Magnanti

And now for the continuation:

Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff

The horrors of racism outdo the mythos related horrors in 1950s America. Interesting format which is more linked novelettes than anything else, but seems to work well for the story he wants to tell. The mythos side is more sorcerers and magic as technology than anything cthulhoid, but that plays to the themes well.

Sweet Dreams, by Tricia Sullivan

Nice take on the possibilities of dream hacking and dream therapy, which I’m sure is also partly a comment on social media.

The Rig, by Roger Levy

Long novel including a crime lord’s saga and what it did to the galactic civilisation he lived in and helped to change. The disparate timelines aren’t clearly disparate at first which was a bit confusing, but it all came together in the end.

Dogs and War, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Excellent novel of a world where augmented cyber-animals are used as weapons, told from their perspective. Really enjoyed this. Bees is one of the best non-human artificial intelligences I’ve come across.

Iron Gods, by Andrew Bannister

More happenings in the artificial stellar cluster known as the Spin. An interesting mix of space opera and cyberpunk. Looking forward to the third volume.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution, by Peter Watts

A typically bleak far future from the man who does realistically bleak futures so well. When you’re on an endless mission to seed new FTL gates around the galaxy, spending most of your time in cryosleep, what do you do when you want to ferment a mutiny?

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Science for Fiction 2019

The Imperial College & Science Fiction Foundation workshop for writers to meet and talk to scientists is back once again, and we have rather more advance notice of the dates than we have managed in recent years.

The dates are 3-4 July, starting after lunch on the 3rd and running all day on the 4th. There’s a meeting of the London Fannish Circle (The Tun) that evening and I’ll be leading a trip there after we finish for anybody interested.

The cost will be £30 to cover catering. Some financial support is available via the Science Fiction Foundation if necessary. Overnight accommodation, if you need it, is extra.

Details of subjects to be covered are still being sorted out – and will in part be determined by what the attendees are after – but it will certainly include astronomy, physics and biology, possibly all mixed together.

If you are interested drop me an email at d dot clements at imperial dot ac dot uk. Please include any specific requests for subjects to be covered, and if you have any dietary restrictions that would affect what we order for lunch and tea.