Can You Find the Story in this Science?

by Christina De La Rocha

Perhaps I’m an old fart, but I like my SF to have S not only in it, but at its heart. Action, adventure, and character-building crises unfurling across a stage that contains the Universe is fine and dandy, but it’s a million times better if it involves beings grappling with the consequences, amazing or appalling, but always “emergent” enough to take some dreaming to predict, of reasonably plausible scientific and technological breakthroughs. This is Analog, so I’m preaching to the choir, but being able to explore what might happen if . . . and how would we respond to . . . and what would people make of the space this opens up . . . is science fiction’s super power. You don’t get to do that in any other genre.

The internet is full of the sage advice to write the books and stories you’d like to read, but, honestly, I prefer to read other people’s stories. I already know what I think about things. It’s more fun to be surprised by other people’s cool ideas and awed by their imagination.

Then one day it struck me, I could go look for stories in between the lines of breakthroughs we’re aiming to attain, but, as a lapsed scientist (for no one is ever truly a former scientist), I could also provide a service to help other people go and do that. Like setting up the girders that someone else will come along and fill in with a skyscraper that yet other people will inhabit, I could rivet what I know of the cutting edges of science into frameworks for other writers to decorate to their tastes, drop characters into, and explore.

The fact article “Geoengineering: Coming Soon to a Planet Near You” in the November/December 2019 issue of Analog [on sale now] is my first shot at this.

Because the attempt would take at least a book, the article is not about every possibility proposed for intentionally manipulating Earth’s climate to put some brakes on global warming and the dangerous climate change that it drives. The article is not even about every way we’re considering sucking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and storing them safely somewhere, nipping the global warming problem in the bud. And the article is not about every means we’ve imagined for cooling climate directly by deflecting sunlight. Instead, the article explores several geoengineering projects we’re likely to try to bring us closer to releasing no more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere each year than we’re able to remove or to slow down or reverse global warming, independent of our efforts to attain carbon neutrality.

It goes without saying that I’d love for you to read the article, full stop. I worked hard on it, and I am proud of it and the more people who read it, the better, yay!

But {goes all schoolteacher on you for a moment} I also hope you will read it to learn more about the intentional global-scale tinkering we’re considering engaging in without having fully grasped the environmental, social, climatic, public health, and geopolitical consequences. All of these intertwined aspects are complex and there will be unexpected effects, some good, some potentially disastrous. It would be good to have as many people ruminating over them as possible.

But, lastly, the fun part: I want the scientific warp the article strings up to inspire you to find threads you can weave into a story—in particular, the sciencey sort of SF story that is my favorite sort to read.

Good luck!

I’ll be thrilled if you come up with something. And I look forward to reading it somewhere, somehow. Who knows? Maybe even in the pages of this very magazine.


Christina De La Rocha, once a professor of marine sciences, now a friend to chickens, who must, sorry, give a shout out to Miss Chickie!!!! and Bertram Wilberforce Rooster!!!!, writes science fiction and popular science. Follow her blog, find links to her books, articles, and stories, or just drop her a comment at http://germanium-geranium.com.

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