against it, a science fiction novel by environmental engineer Laura J. Mixon that explores life on the asteroid 25 Phocaea. The book takes a more realistic approach to space adventures, eschewing familiar tropes such as hyperdrive and instant communication.
“When I read science fiction, one of the things that I’m really exposed to is the stuff that has a lot of scientific basis,” Mixon said in episode 517. Geek Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “When I write, I try to really delve into ‘How can I make this thing believable and still surprise the reader?'”
against it Paints a vivid picture of a space colony full of asteroid miners, gene hackers and Martian thugs. An interesting detail is the “Tour,” a passage ritual in which the characters sail around the asteroid belt for 13 years. “Especially because people are living longer [in the future], they feel like they’re capable of doing it,” Mixon said. “It’s a bit like someone climbing Mount Everest, except I don’t think you’re really a ‘stroider’ unless you can say you’ve done it. “
One of the main characters in this book is Jane Navio, resource management specialist at 25 Phocaea. For inspiration, Mixon drew on his own experience as a corporate executive at a scandal-ridden investment bank. “I think Jane’s regrets about her past and having to deal with all the political intrigue and how to get there when people’s agendas can be very different from yours has affected her a lot. against it,” she says.
She hopes the book will help encourage human settlements elsewhere in the solar system. “I do think storytellers are a very important part of achieving the future we want to see,” she said. “You have to be able to imagine and then you can do it, so I wanted to write some stories about it.”
Listen to the full interview with Laura J. Mixon in Episode 517 Geek Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Laura J. Mixon on her first novel space pilot:
Melinda Snodgrass is friends with Ellen Datlow, their acquisition editor for this new YA series. They were looking for advice, and all of a sudden, it occurred to me what I wanted to write about. I sat down, wrote the first three chapters and the outline in a very short time—I was still cold, Thanksgiving weekend—and sent it off. Then, a week and a half or two later, Ellen contacted me and told me she wanted to buy it. I was taken aback. I never thought it would be so easy.
Laura J. Mixon on her novel Proxies:
I learn how to write as I go. This is a multi-angle story. The first character you meet has amnesia, and it turns out that person is actually one of three personalities occupying the same body.That man was a young man who had been trained in basic schizophrenia—essentially he had [dissociative identity disorder]——But it was induced so that he could control different agencies at the same time. One of them is a woman, and she is one of the main characters of the book. It’s a hard thing to write — and maybe hard to read — but I did love that book.
Laura J. Mixon on asteroids:
The first scene I wrote [in Up Against It] It’s actually from Jane’s point of view, when she’s swinging on the vines. They have these tethers, which is a way they can travel between different asteroids. There are three strung up in the same orbit, and they use ion-corrected jets to keep them aligned, but the rest, what I call “treeways,” these rigid cables extend from these three asteroids — because Asteroids are far apart. Whenever you see all these asteroids clumped together in a movie, that’s not what it really looks like.
Laura J. Mixon on the research:
One of my clients is BHP Billiton, a mining company, and David Porterfield is my primary contact. So a lot of mining details, and he was glad I interviewed him about the various challenges miners face and guessed, “What would it be like in microgravity?” I told him that when Jeff and his friends were at Jeff’s When stuck in a little proposition, I wish Jeff and his friends had something plausible but funky and weird to fight the bad guys, he told me about the potato gun. “I actually have one, and we can go out and fire,” he said. It was funny.
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