A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

When Science and Fiction Collide

When science meets fiction something amazing starts to happen.

As our understanding of the universe expands so do the possibilities. Even before the first rockets launched into space we were already pondering the wonders that might exist on distant worlds. Was there life on Mars? Was it hostile?

What better way to explore the possibilities than through fiction. In fiction the limitations in technology that stop us doing something can be easily overcome. There’s no point in telling an author that faster than light space flight isn’t possible. Certainly it isn’t with our current technology.  But in fiction this isn’t a problem. Bring on the hyperdrive, the warp drive, stargates and cryosleep.

In the world of fiction anything is possible.

But science fiction isn’t just about technology and engineering, Any branch of science is fair game, the recent rise in Climate Fiction or Cli-Fi being a fine example. Yes, the science is real, the effects of anthropogenic climate change extrapolated to its logical and potentially terrifying conclusion. Some Science Fiction provides a salutary warning, exploring the dangers as well as the positives.

Of course the science has to be plausible. Your readers need to believe in whatever technology or innovation you’ve come up with, and often those readers will themselves be scientists, or budding scientists. They want scenarios and situations that extrapolate the possible, rather than the ludicrous or implausible. The reader has to think – this really could happen. We could be living in this world someday.
In some cases we already are. (In fact I sometimes feel that we might already be living in one of those dystopian novels that have been so popular of late!) Ideas and technologies that started out in fiction have become science fact. We’ve all seen Jean-Luc Pickard using an i-pad on the Star Ship Enterprise, men have walked on the moon, and we all have computers and use robots to help us with our daily lives.
Science fiction is also the inspiration for the next generation of scientists. I’m not the only person to follow a career in science, influenced by the books I read when I was a child. And the authors of these books were often well renowned scientists in their own right, Isaac Asimov and Fred Hoyle being two that spring to mind.
This is what makes science fiction so special; the ideas and possibilities it allows us to explore. Let today’s science fiction become tomorrow’s science fact! (The good bits that is! I’ll pass on the dystopias!)

Kate Kelly is a marine scientist by day but by night she writes SF thrillers for kids. Her debut novel Red Rock, a Cli-Fi thriller for teens, is published by Curious Fox. She lives in Dorset with her husband, two daughters and assorted pets and blogs at

2 comments on “When Science and Fiction Collide

  1. AH
    January 20, 2016

    This is a lovely post. As an engineer who’s in love with both science and literature, I totally agree with you. “Science fiction is also the inspiration for the next generation of scientists.” Great work!

  2. V. Kathryn Evans
    January 20, 2016

    Yes yes yes – and don’t forget Huxley and Wells!

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This entry was posted on January 20, 2016 by .

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