|Posted by Mark Cantrell on November 8, 2017 at 3:30 PM|
Science fiction authors take literary festival to Mars and beyond
Best-selling authors Philip Reeve and Alastair Reynolds are headline guests at the Literary Leicester festival later this month, writes Mark Cantrell, so are you ready to see some stars?
SCIENCE fiction author Alastair Reynolds is taking his audience on a trip to Mars this month – figuratively speaking – with an exploration of the red planet’s place in the solar system of our mind, both real and imagined.
The former scientist is taking part in this year’s Literary Leicester event, organised by the city’s university, and held – appropriately enough – at the National Space Centre. His talk ‘Red Planet Dreams’ is one of the centrepieces of the four-day festival, which blasts off later this month.
Reynolds’ Mars mission is set to follow a flight of imagination with Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve, who will be sharing his vision of a universe populated by aliens, androids, and sentient trains. He’ll be talking, of course, about his writings and will be reading from his books Railhead and Black Light Express.
Reeve’s book Mortal Engines won the Smarties Gold Award, the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter ‘Book I Couldn't Put Down’ award. Peter Jackson, the director of The Lord of the Rings, is currently adapting it into a movie, expected to hit the big screen in 2018.
Reynolds, meanwhile, has won acclaim for his approach to ‘hard’ science fiction, which attempts to remain consistent with current thinking in science. The novels of his Revelation Space series have received several nominations for British Science Fiction Awards, with Chasm City winning Best Novel in 2001. His other works have also received nominations for two of the science fiction world’s most prestigious awards: the Hugos and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
Mars has long held a fascination among writers and scientists, since way before the advent of the space age. In trying to imagine the conditions on the red planet, based on our then limited means of observing our sister world, some came to speculate that it could have been home to an advanced civilisation.
Wishful thinking, perhaps, but as the Twentieth Century wore on, advances in astronomy and space travel slowly dismantled this hopeful vision. Instead, we came to appreciate its barren – though no less fascinating – desolation. For all that, the possibilities of this distant planetary relative continue to excite the imagination.
Once again, as the festival organisers point out, writers, thinkers and space enthusiasts are beginning to talk about Martian exploration and even the prospects for colonisation. As always, science fiction has played a game of leapfrog with science fact, sometimes being behind, sometimes ahead of speculation, which is where Reynolds comes in with his talk.
This month marks the tenth year that the University of Leicester has held its international literature festival. The free event runs from Wednesday, 15 November to Saturday, 18 November. Reeve and Reynolds will take to the podium at the National Space Centre on the last day of the event.
“This year’s Literary Leicester will explore new places both figuratively and literally – as we invite two very popular science fiction authors to take our visitors to possible new worlds,” said festival director, Professor Martin Stannard from the university’s School of Arts.
“We will also be taking Literary Leicester into the very apt environment of the National Space Centre. This will be a wonderful opportunity for the centre’s visitors to get involved in the festival, and to learn how science and literature can inform one another.”
For more information about the festival visit the website.
Images courtesy of Pixabay