NASA has announced plans to branch out of science fact and into the realm of science fiction, entering into a partnership with Tor-Forge Books to publish a series of titles aimed at boosting public interest in science and technology.
The books, which will be launched under the heading of 'NASA Inspired Works of Fiction," will be published under the Tor-Forge banner in an effort to rekindle the public's interest in the sciences and boots awareness of the work carried out at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre and other facilities.
"Ultimately this agreement will benefit the public, as we look for innovative ways to communicate our past and current achievements, while focusing on the needs of the future," claimed Nona Cheeks, director of Goddard's Innovative Partnerships initiatives.
While the stories portrayed in the books will be fictional, NASA has indicated that they will be based on concepts pertinent to current and future operations and missions carried out by the agency, providing a compelling link between fact and fiction and helping to educate a less-technical audience about the agency's aims and goals.
The books themselves will be written by Tor-Forge writers, who will receive support from NASA engineers and scientists to ensure that the situations and technologies portrayed don't veer too far away from reality.
It's certainly true that, as NASA suggests, many in the sciences credit fiction, rather than education, as the root inspiration for their choice of career. Throughout the years authors like Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov have boosted interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
NASA's move into fiction comes at the end of the Shuttle programme, and at a time when the organisation needs all the public support in can get in the face of disappearing funding as the US struggles to deal with spiralling national debt.