APL Colloquium

January 5, 2018

Colloquium Topic: Science Fiction Goes to Washington

SF writers were ahead of reality in predicting tanks, jet-packs, cell phones, moon travel, and a host of new technologies that we take for granted now in our daily lives. SIGMA, a think-tank of science-fiction writers, consults for the U.S. government on the future we might be entering over the next few decades. Catherine Asaro, a member of SIGMA, discusses how SF writers are using their skills as futurists on behalf of the government and military.

Colloquium Speaker: Catherine Asaro

Propped against the bookcase in Catherine Asaro's home is the diploma of her Harvard Ph.D. in chemical physics. Nearby, dangling from the doorknob, is a bag stuffed with the tights and leotards she wears when she pulls herself away from her writing for ballet class. A former professional dancer, this California native has little time for the ballet barre these days. Instead, she's fielding speaking offers and meeting deadlines for her novels. Catherine is a bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. She has won numerous awards, including the Nebula® for her novel The Quantum Rose and her novella "The Space-time Pool." Her latest book, The Bronze Skies, came out in September 2017. It is a standalone science fiction mystery in the Major Bhaajan universe (part of the Skolian Empire). Her story “The Wages of Honor,” set in the universe of Ruby Dynasty, is included in the October 2017 anthology entitled Infinite Stars: Definitive Space Opera and Military Science Fiction, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Catherine earned her doctorate in theoretical chemical physics from Harvard. She has coached numerous math teams, in particular the Chesapeake ARML program. She is a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government on future trends affecting national security. She is also known for her advocacy in bringing girls and women into STEM fields. She has been an invited speaker at various institutions, including the National Academy of Sciences, Harvard, Georgetown, NASA, the New Zealand Context Writer's program, and the US Naval Academy. She has also been the Guest of Honor at numerous Science Fiction conventions, and looks forward to having that honor at Balticon 52.