I have a confession to make. My motives in creating this website were not totally altruistic. Surprise, surprise.
I suppose that as an SF novel reader, I was spoiled in my youth by reading Heinlein, and later Pournelle and Niven. For whatever reason, I have been quite disappointed in the SF novels that have come out in the last couple of decades. In particular, the scientific accuracy was abysmal.
So this website is part of my master plan, to give a resource to SF authors that will assist them in getting the science correct. The end result is that I will have more more SF novels to read that are to my liking.
Much to my surprise, my plan is actually working.
A couple of SF authors have contacted me and noted that this website was most helpful in providing technical information. I have read the manuscripts, and I can definitively state that I have gotten more enjoyment out of reading these than any other novels I have read in the last twenty years. With any luck, more novels will follow.
The best part is when I see a nice detail in the novel and I know exactly which part of this website supplied the information.
Please note this page is for novelists who have directly acknowledged that this website has been helpful. Other novels that have the Atomic Rocket seal of approval that the author created with no help from me can be found here.
Here Be Dragons is Craig Alan's first novel, but you'd think it was his 100th. Polished, gripping, engrossing, it is all that. But the scientific accuracy measures up to my vanadium steel yardstick. As well it should, the acknowledgements thanks this website by name (along with rec.arts.sf.science and SFConSim-l). He mentioned to me that he spent a lot of time with Atomic Rockets site open in one browser window while writing. As I mentioned above, that was this website's primary purpose.
Several decades before the novel opens, some one or some thing suddenly appears and claims the outer solar system. The nations of Earth cannot find out anything about these "outsiders", except that any spacecraft that ventures past the asteroid belt is hunted down and converted into metallic swiss cheese by kinetic energy weapons. Finally Captain Elena Gonzales and the crew of the Gabriel are given orders to penetrate the line in the sand in a desperate bid to discover the nature of the invaders.
Craig Alan has a believable warships design, plausible weapons, details about shipboard life, military protocol, a future history, the complete package. And the ship has heat radiators!
And at the end of the novel is a nail-biting spaceship to spaceship duel that will have you on the edge of your seat. That battle is just begging to be made into a game scenario.
Trigger Warning: One Amazon reviewer sees anti-Semitic elements to the pilot's denouement, although the others do not. For what it is worth I did not see any such thing when I read the novel.
Amazingly enough, Mr. Cambias has managed a way to make the vintage old SciFi troupe of Space Pirate actually work in the real world. All it requires is:
[a] a reliance upon unmanned semi-autonomous cargo spacecraft
[b] computer hackers
[c] the Terra-Luna Lagrange One point as pirate infested waters, right on the direct low-energy path where all the valuable cargo will pass by
Now why didn't I think of that?
You may have noticed I've used quite a few quotes from him in various parts of this website. It is really hard to find a person more qualified to write a novel with a "Atomic Rocket" levels of science-hardness than a person who is one of the experts used as a source for the Atomic Rocket website.
Full disclosure: I did receive an unsolicited autographed copy of the hardback from Mr. Cambias along with some praise that made me blush. But the fact that I have been quoting him on this website for the better part of a decade demonstrates that my high opinion of his work predates this novel.
Hegemony is an exciting starship combat novel by Mark Kalina. He tells me that he made use of information and ideas from this website, but I could see that by just reading a few pages. Most of the science is gratifyingly hard, and the other parts (such as the obligatory FTL propulsion) have sensible limitations established. He even postulates a plausible solution to the mass-duplication problem inherent in "uploading" a person's mind into cyberspace. A most enjoyable read. It is currently only $0.99 which is a steal for such a good book.
Artist Francis Drake collaborated with Mark Kalina to create some artwork based on the novel. They show the lance ship Fire Blossom over Formalhauts protoplanetary disc, and a lance ship launching interceptors, powering them with its primary laser arrays.
The Flight to Oz does not sound like a hard science novel, but it is.
Everything is bright and green in the Wonderful Land of Oz. At least until the spacecraft S.R.E.S.S. Haley arrives, with LT David Benjamin commanding.
Mr. Krych used this website for technical details, and I may have given him one or two bits of technical advice.
But now he is branching out into science fiction with his new novel Her Brother's Keeper. Which was partially due to an interest in science fiction kindled by this website.
And Mr. Kupari is no stranger to Atomic Rockets. In fact, the Sidearms: Slugthrowers contains quite a few quotes from him, writing under the pseudonym "Nightcrawler".
He has a free short story online called "Ember of the Past", which also was helped by Atomic Rockets. How do I know? Well, it seems that in the story the protagonist's spacecraft is a Polaris Class from Winchell-Chung Astronautical Industries.
Mr. Lineberger was born, as far as I can tell, in 1980. His blog has not been updated in quite some time. He can generally be found on the StarDestroyer forum, where he goes by the handle RedImperator. He can be contacted there by private messages.
Mr. Lineberger's novel is The Humanist Inheritance (now renamed The Last Great War). For a short while it was available online, but has been removed for copyright reasons. He said that the story started originally when he read the Atomic Rockets website and found himself intrigued with the idea of creating a "hard" (or at least, harder) sci-fi universe.
The novel's science is gratifyingly hard, there is plenty of action, and the characters are engaging. It also has an incredibly broad scope. The reader starts off thinking this will just be a novel about North American and Chinese military spacecraft shooting each other. Then the reader gets sucker-punched as the situation spirals out of control and they realize that Mr. Lineberger is just getting started.
And of course all of the space battle scenes would make intriguing scenarios for your favorite space combat simulation game that used vector movement.
Regrettably, Mr. Lineberger warns that "As for publication, no word yet on that, save that it's a very long process -- I expect to have another novel written between when I start looking for a publisher and when The Humanist Inheritance shows up in print. I haven't even begun the process of looking for an agent or publisher yet--actually writing and editing the book consumes enough energy as it is."
Jennifer Linsky is a nurse and US Navy veteran who has several featured quotes illuminating topics in this very website. She is on record that the Atomic Rocket website assisted her in getting the science correct in her debut science fiction story Flowers of Luna.
Well, I've read a pre-release copy of her story, and I can assure you she did her homework. I could not find a single scientific glitch in it. The story is about a young woman starting college at Lunograd, Luna. But the background has nice tid-bits such as her annoyance that since her mother is a passenger on the good ship Gray Maru currently passing Mars on its Hohmann transfer to the Jovian Trojans, the light-speed lag makes a conversation almost but not quite impossible.
Flowers of Luna has just been released on Amazon
Mr. Lumpkin's novel is Through Struggle, the Stars. It does include FTL travel, but done in a thoughtful and responsible way. The science is of top quality hardness, the geopolitical situation is deep and well thought out, the military intelligence details are terrifyingly real. The writing style is clear and flowing, it reminds me of early Heinlein, and of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations. Mr. Lumpkin cites as influences Heinlein, Pournelle, Niven, Forester, O'Brien, early Clancy, and Daniel Keys Moran.
And yes, the novel has plenty of space battle scenes just begging to be made into game scenarios.
You can find a list of outlets at his website. The site also includes background information on the novel and sample passages.
Mr. Lumpkin is a Senior Fellow and contributor to GlobalSecurity.org since June 2006. He runs the site's Terrorism Profiles Project. Previously, he was a reporter with The Associated Press in Washington, D.C., where he covered military affairs, homeland security and intelligence matters, breaking several key stories during the Sept. 11 investigation. His professional travels include Iraq, Afghanistan and China. Prior to joining AP, he covered military affairs for the Albuquerque Journal.
This is why the counter-terrorism details in his novel are dead accurate. The geopolitical aspects of his novel are uncommonly realistic as well, for the same reason.
I haven't asked him, but it appears to me that Mr. Lumpkin has also done his homework at the Atomic Rocket sister website: Three Dimensional Star Maps. The stars used are real, the positioning is accurate, and he has gone to the trouble of putting the interstellar colonies around stars with a high probability of hosting planets with life.
If you find this interesting, and are a publisher, agent or established author, he asks that you get in contact with him.
Late breaking news:
- Through Struggle, the Stars is now available in paperback format in addition to eBook format
- The Desert of Stars, the sequel to Through Struggle, the Stars, is now available in eBook format
- Paperback version of The Desert of Stars is expected shortly
Brian Mansur has been reading the Atomic Rockets website since 2007 to help him write his first novel "Captive Embers". He has been taking pains to keep the science as accurate as possible. I've only read selections from early drafts, but what I've read is really good! This will be the start of a four book series.
If you want to keep up on the status, sign up for his newsletter.
A Sword Into Darkness is Thomas Mays' debut novel, and it is a blockbuster! Kept me on the edge of my seat up til the end. And unlike so many other novels, when it promised a revelation of a dread secret at the end, it actually delivered. Puzzling occurrences make perfect logical sense as the reader learns more. And the ships have heat radiators!
The action starts when astronomers notice something odd in-line with the star Delta Pavonis. Hilarity rapidly ensues.
The cherry on the top is a couple of spacecraft combat scenes crying out to be made into game scenarios.
In hindsight, one could have predicted that the background of the novel would be well thought out and solid enough to walk on. Yes, Mr. Mays does acknowledge he was helped somewhat by the Atomic Rockets website. But more importantly, he has not one, but two degrees in physics. And to top it off, he is an 18-years-and-counting veteran of the US Navy, working as an officer in the surface fleet aboard destroyers and amphibious ships, as well as assisting with research into ballistic missile defense.
There is only one piece of hand-waving magic-tech in the novel (the propulsion system), but its limitations and implications are carefully charted. Science fiction authors are allowed one bit of hand-waving in each novel, I think that's a rule I read somewhere. Otherwise the scientific accuracy is spot on. Well, there also is the mumbly-mumble field used by the mumbly-mumble, but that is actually not totally outside the laws of physics. You'll know it when you read it.
Further: Beyond the Threshold is the first novel in a new thinking-person's space opera series by award-winning author Chris Roberson. Yes, it is set in a post-Singularity universe, but Mr. Roberson has thought out the ramifications of the various techno-magic items he introduces. But it has some good old fashioned hard science as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
And I suspect he was helped in part by this website, which is OK by me. What clues do I have? Oh, subtle easy-to-miss ones like these:
I'm sure somewhere Mr. Roberson is smiling genially, with an impish twinkle in his eyes. I rather suspect he inserted these delicious clues to see if I was paying attention. "Winchell Chung" is of course my name, that's subtle enough. The "Pole Star" is of course Polaris, the name of the spacecraft in my worked example. Which you will be utterly unsurprised to find out is forty-three meters tall from tip to tail, has an interior volume of five hundred and four cubic meters, and masses out fully loaded at three hundred seventy eight metric tons.
To Mr. Roberson goes the tip of the hat, and an Atomic Rocket Seal of Approval.
I'd like to say that I discovered this myself, but in truth the novel was pointed out to me by Marc Thomas.
Mr. Steele does not belong on this web page, since he is a world-class two-time Hugo Award winner who was getting the science right in his novels long before this website even existed. His "Coyote" and "Rude Astronaut" series are delicious hard-science SF.
However, back in 2009 he approached me out of nowhere, since he was attempting to calculate the distance between 47 Ursae Majoris (Coyote) and a certain other star. A cursory Google search suggested that I was a likely resource person. Since I love his books I was honored to do the calculations for him, and give step-by-step instructions for future reference. He needed the distance information for his novel Hex, which was published June 7th, 2011. I won't reveal anything that was not already revealed in the cover blub, I'll only mention that it features a fascinating and innovative variant of a Dyson sphere.
So I'm using my peripheral involvement to justify including him on this web page.
Mr. Steel's novel Hex includes illustrations by Rob Caswell.
Mr. Stoner's Iceni Queen is a rollicking tale of space pirates. But it does have a surprising amount of scientific accuracy. Mr. Stoner tells me that this website was a big help to get the science straight. I did thoroughly enjoy the novel.
Sample chapters of the novel can be found here.
The novel can be purchased in eBook format here.
Mr. Willrich was born, as far as I can tell, in 1967. He is a longtime fantasy and science fiction (and RPG) fan. He has sold a handful of short stories; the ones that have gotten the most attention are a sword-and-sorcery series about the poet Persimmon Gaunt and the thief Imago Bone.
The June 2009 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine has his "Sails The Morne" as their cover story. He tells me that he did obtain useful technical data from this website for this story, and it shows. Granted some of the highly advanced aliens possess magic-tech, but the human's technology is quite scientifically accurate.
The story is quite good, a sort of futuristic "locked-room" mystery.
There is available a sample chapter from the story. Do check it out.