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Real-Life Exoplanets Inspire Science Fiction Short Story Anthology

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ColdFireOkay, this is one of the cooler ideas I’ve run across in a long time. A NASA scientist has put together A Kepler’s Dozen, an anthology of science fiction short stories based on real-life exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space telescope. Kepler project scientist Steve Howell edited the book with Kitt Peak telescope operator David Lee Summers.

Launched in 2009, the Kelper spacecraft was tasked with discovering signs of orbiting planets in other star systems. As of February 2013, Kepler has found 2,740 potential exoplanets, of which 114 have so far been confirmed. We don’t know that much about the exoplanets, but the press release explains that:

Each individual story in this book is prefaced by actual scientific data for a particular planet and its host star, based on Kepler discoveries and follow-up. This gives the reader a feel for the type of sun and planets that exist in these alien solar systems. For example, a story titled ‘A Mango and Two Peanuts’ deals with Kepler 37, a star just slightly cooler and less massive than our own sun, now identified as having three planets in orbit around it, all smaller than earth.

Needless to say, we don’t have the technology to reach any of those exoplanets just yet, so the stories in A Kepler’s Dozen rely on old sci-fi standbys such as warp drive and wormholes to get our fictional surrogates from here to there. The tales also have explorers making use of genetic manipulation to adapt for the less hospitable planets’ conditions. And those conditions have been fact-checked by Howell, ensuring that each of the stories at least begins from a place of science before launching off into fiction.

You can order the book from Hadrosaur’s online book store or via Amazon. Here’s the official blurb for the collection:

A new anthology of action-packed, mysterious, and humorous stories all based on real planets discovered by the NASA Kepler mission. Edited by and contributing stories are David Lee Summers—best selling author of Owl Dance, The Pirates of Sufiro, and other novels—and Steve B. Howell, project scientist for the Kepler mission. Whether on a prison colony, in a fast escape from the authorities, or encircling a binary star, thirteen exoplanet stories written by authors such as Mike Brotherton, Laura Givens, and J Alan Erwine will amuse, frighten, and intrigue you while you share fantasy adventures among Kepler’s real-life planets.

Header image “Cold Fire” by Inga Nielsen

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