Science Behind the Story

Good People, I’m excited to share a recently completed project with you. This is a free curriculum guide and companion text for the fiction anthology Origins.  Origins is available from our good friends at Hadley-Rille Books, if you’re into supporting small presses directly, or there’s a Kindle version ($4) at Amazon.com.

The concept is simple: use science fiction to explore evolutionary biology. A good friend of mine, Randall Hayes, at Variation Selection Inheritance brought his scientific knowledge to bear and we developed the text with science teachers in mind. The free pdf version is The Science Behind the Story.   Here are the mobi (kindle) and epub (nook) versions. More about the manual is below, but first a little about the anthology.

Origins: Tales of Human Evolution is edited by Eric T. Reynolds Publishers Weekly said it was an “Ambitious overview of human evolution…individually excellent works…”

Clearly we agreed. Just check out these authors:

Gerri Leen (3,000,000 years ago)
Leslie Robyn (175,000 years ago)
Z.S. Adani (71,000 years ago)
Max Habilis (41,000 years ago)
Camille Alexa (31,000 years ago)
Jenny Blackford (2500 years ago)
Mike Resnick (throughout the span of human existence)

The manual starts with a chapter entitled “What Do I Do with Fiction in a Science Class?” and includes sections on “Reading for Understanding and Meaning,” “Annotation,” “Basic Story Questions,” and some “Basic Discussion Questions Template.”

Each story is broken down with the following: a Synopsis, a section on Vocabulary, the Main Characters, some Discussion Questions, Search Terms & Key Concepts in Evolutionary Science, Research/Discussion Questions, Links & Resources, and possible Assignments.

We end the manual with “What Else Can I Do with Fiction in a Science Class?” which includes a checklist for effective writing assignments, sample rubrics, peer review activities, in-class activities, and teaching strategies.

We hope science teachers and home schoolers find it instructive, useful, and engaging.

Randall runs a podcast covering biological sciences. As he notes, “VSI is a podcast about evolution, broadly defined as the behaviors of any system that displays the trifecta of variation, selection, and inheritance.” At his site, we are asking for feedback from teachers who download and use The Science Behind the Stories in their classrooms.

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Imaginings

I love my children’s imaginations. I love seeing what they come up with, the plays and pet shops, the art and dances, the worlds they create.

My oldest is crazy about sci-fi and horror. How much she “gets” always impresses me. Her imagination allows her to understand things well beyond her years. And we have great conversations about the movies and books after.

Lately we’ve been talking about equality (except for last night when we were talking about demonic possession and devil spawn — seriously). She literally doesn’t understand people who hate others for absolutely no reason. She doesn’t “get” the fear. The need to control, or worse, let others control them.

Today I put out a collection of cyber punk short stories about control, or the lack of it. It’s been sitting on my computer since last year.  Big Pulp and Silver Blade published a couple of stories and people asked if there were any more coming out. I enjoyed the characters, so I wrote a few more and asked John Hornor Jacobs to put together a cover (which, btw, looks fantastic).

Here’s where it gets tricky; my kid wants to read the collection. In general, most of my stories are not quite kid friendly. My zombie and crime pieces usually don’t bode well for young audiences.I think all but the last story is ok for her. Interestingly, I am actually nervous about her reading my work. This adds a new layer to our relationship.

While I look forward to what she has to say, I’m also concerned she’ll think I’m nuts. Or realize that I am. I hope, though, she sees me as maybe more than that; she’ll realize I’m just some kid who still lives in his imagination and that that’s ok. I want her to always nurture her imagination; I want us to grow and discuss and think about the world we want to live in.

If you are so inclined, feel free to check out the collection at Amazon.

Too Much Good Stuff

So I was looking for a classic Whodini song alluded in the title of this post, but couldn’t find it. I went with the next best thing —

Cindy Rosmus has a story up entitled Fools’ Night Out that you should go read. While you’re there at Yellow Mama take a looksie.

Do Some Damage is also rockin’ and rollin’.

If you haven’t seen this William Gibson interview, why not?

I swear the Japanese have never seen The Terminator. DVice looks at some new smarter, longer lasting robots. Further down on the page some goof is actually researching teaching robots to deceive. That sounds like a fantastic idea.

If you’re a writer and haven’t seen this post on clear writing, it’s worth a read.

Zombie Culture? What?

Oh, and the Left for Dead comic. A must read if you haven’t yet. Don’t say I never shared anything with you. And if you like comics, I’m a complete fan of what Radical Publishing is doing.

The sci-fi nior train

The series exploring Oscar and his Special Forces unit, Azreal, in the service of the PCG (Planetary Control Group) rolls along with a new story, “Furious”, up at Dark Valentine.

The set up story for the series, “Paint Me a Victim, Make Me a Cause”, can be found on Big Pulp.

The others, like “Power Surges” which was previously published at Pulp Engine, follow one of the characters in Oscar’s unit.

Again, “Furious” just came out in Dark Valentine edited by Joy Sillesen, and published by Katherine Tomlinson. What’s really cool about this magazine is not only the quality writing, but the fantastic illustrations that go with them.

If you like the series, “Breaking Knute” is in final edits and will be coming out at Silver Blade next month.