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‘Life Beyond Us’ unites scientists and science fiction authors

12 Apr 2021, 10:23 UTC
‘Life Beyond Us’ unites scientists and science fiction authors

Life Beyond Us unites scientists and science fiction authors

Life Beyond Us, a new anthology by the European Astrobiology Institute and Laksa Media, depicts the timeless quest for finding alien life in 22 science fiction stories and 22 short science essays and has just started its Kickstarter campaign. Its goal is to publish brilliant science fiction by authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal or Peter Watts and support science understanding and critical thinking.

Science fiction has always been inspired by science and inspired scientists in turn. Its power of imagination and use of narrative, as well as its popularity, make the genre especially suited for raising interest in science. Life Beyond Us aims to achieve this with a unique approach of merging together original science fiction stories revolving around astrobiology, written by world SF authors, and engaging essays by scientists tailored to each story’s topic, answering some burning questions and leaving some open for science yet to discover and science fiction to explore. The story-essay combination blends entertainment and scientific knowledge to arouse curiosity and a deeper interest in science, carrying the reader to the boundary between science and science fiction. Effective science communication and critical thinking support are more than essential in today’s world, and projects such as Life Beyond Us seek to fulfill these complex goals and entertain at the same time.

The book is edited by editor, author and scientist Julie Nováková, who co-leads the outreach working group of the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI), and the book’s publisher Laksa Media editors Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest, who produced award-winning anthologies such as Where The Stars Rise and The Sum of Us. A stellar line-up of authors are contributing stories to Life Beyond Us: Mary Robinette Kowal, Peter Watts, Gregory Benford, Tobias S. Buckell, Premee Mohamed, Julie E. Czerneda, Stephen Baxter, Malka Older, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Geoffrey A. Landis, Bogi Takács, Simone Heller, Rich Larson, Eugen Bacon, Eric Choi, DA Xiaolin Spires, Arula Ratnakar, Tessa Fisher, Valentin Ivanov, Tomáš Petrásek, G. David Nordley and Lucie Lukačovičová.

A Kickstarter campaign for the book has just started, offering backers the book in both print and e-book formats and exclusive editions, videochat sessions with authors, editors and scientists, virtual tours of labs and observatories, story critiques, naming a character after the backer and other rewards. Stretch goals to include SF stories in translation and open submissions are planned.

Life Beyond Us is the second astrobiological SF anthology by EAI, following Strangest of All, the “proof-of-concept” e-book anthology of reprint SF stories and original essays by Julie Nováková. With over 6,000 downloads, positive reception and use as a science teaching material, the book showed the merit of such outreach approach. EAI was founded in 2019 with the aims to support research in astrobiology across Europe and beyond, and promote education and outreach by organizing summer schools, supporting the AbGradE forum for students and creating unique outreach projects such as Life Beyond Us. With NASA’s Perseverance on Mars, ESA’s Rosalind Franklin planned to launch soon and other missions to shed light on life in the universe on the way, astrobiology is a booming scientific field bound to create general interest, and SF is a perfect tool to bring it closer and let people feel the curiosity and joy of discovery at the core of science and SF.

Links:

Kickstarter campaign for Life Beyond Us 

EAI website

Laksa Media website

Available for further information and interviews:

Julie Nováková (anthologist, scientist): julie.novakova@gmail.com

Lucas K. Law (anthologist, publisher): lucas.law@laksamedia.comWolf Geppert (EAI Chairman, scientist): wgeppert@fysik.su.se

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