One of my favourite books as a kid was Robert A Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. It was the last of his ‘juveniles’, written in 1958 as a deliberate riff on space opera and 1950s teen culture. It’s set in an undefined ‘near future’ and pivots around a spacesuit won by teen genius Kip Russell,… More Have Spacesuit, Will Be a Klutz In It
Single climate worlds are all through the Star Wars universe – worlds that, inexplicably, have a single ecosystem – ice, desert or forest, usually. Yet they’re all habitable by humans. I can see where the idea comes from. Here on Earth we often travel from one climate to another. Islands, particularly, often have a single… More The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets
I’ve always been dubious about using slang in writing. Slang has to be one of the trickest things to write. Done well, it gives the material a sense of up-to-the-minute modernity – it adds colour and an authentic feel, if that’s what you’re after. It adds place. What would a story about Cockneys be if… More Slinging slang into your styling
My nephew has a three-bladed toy lightsaber, the one used by Star Wars’ latest villain, the petulant emo Kylo Ren. Push a button and it makes some pretty cool ‘whom whom’ sounds. I managed to hit myself in the head with it while checking out the sound, but rather than share any photographic evidence of… More Don’t do this with Kylo Ren’s lightsaber
I ran into Elvis in a spaghetti restaurant the other day He lives on Mars, disguised as a walrus – something that tells me he probably isn’t the real Elvis. But he talks sense, and he’d just seen the new Star Wars movie. As had I. Elvis was devouring a plate of bolognaise when I… More In which Elvis chats with me about ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
I had a chance the other day to glance through Randall Munroe’s new book Thing Explainer (Houghton Mifflin 2015), explaining science and technology in ‘simple’ language. It’s something New Scientist has been trying for a while, too. And it’s great to see science presented in straight-forward ways. It’s important. The problem I’ve got is that… More How I got confused by Randall Munroe’s new book on science
I first saw Star Wars a long time ago in a cinema far away. It was 1977. I was at high school. Disco music was king. And so was Star Wars – so much so that nobody could get into the movie. First time I tried, the theatre manager came out to tell the disappointed… More Should I watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Advice please.