Monday, October 24, 2022

Five top SFF stories set in academia

At James Davis Nicoll tagged five favorite SFF stories set in academia, including:
Starfarers by Vonda N. McIntyre (1989)

Rather than leave academia behind, the academics who staffed Starfarer convinced a consortium of nations to provide them with a space-going university. Propelled by solar sails, the diverse and brilliant crew will hook on a passing cosmic string, leap past the gulfs of space, and begin the age of human interstellar exploration. That’s the plan.

America provided the lion’s share of Starfarer’s funding. President Distler believes this makes Starfarer American property. America has no particular need for interstellar exploration. A heavily armed orbiting battle-station, on the other, could secure American safety in a divided world. The only thing between Distler and his bold plan to repurpose Starfarer is a collection of unarmed idealists. What are they going to do, steal an entire starship?

Stealing entire starships is such a common development in science fiction that there are good reasons for funding agencies to invest in better locks and keep ignition keys in trustworthy pockets. Starfarers is notable for a dramatis personae unusually diverse for its era, and for having its genesis in a series of convention joke panels about the non-existent Starfarers TV show.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue