Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mary Doria Russell Interview

Elliot points to an interview on Mary Doria Russell's website. I was struck by the same passage:

In general, my overall background in science certainly comes through very strongly, especially in Children of God. I recently had a marvelous e-mail exchange with Sir Arthur C. Clarke [You wanna talk about Major League Thrills!? God, my heart almost stopped when I got that first message from Sir Arthur!] and Father George Coyne, SJ, the Pope's astronomer at the Vatican Observatory. Sir Arthur had arranged for The Sparrow to be sent to his old friend Father Coyne, who loved the book but said he really didn't think it was science fiction! I pointed out that they don't give the Arthur C. Clarke Prize to mysteries, and argued that The Sparrow most certainly was science fiction.

George Coyne finally admitted that, being an astronomer, he secretly believed that only physics, mathematics and astronomy are Real Sciences, so any book that didn't involve those sciences couldn't be SF. I wrote back, "Look, I hold a Ph.D. in biological anthropology, and I call myself a scientist with a straight face. My books don't rely on mathematics or physics, but they do grow directly out of nearly a dozen other sciences: paleontology, ecology, geology, biological evolution, cultural anthropology, economics, sociology, political science, botany and clinical psychology." Father Coyne eventually conceded that he needed to make an attitude adjustment about what constitutes the science in science fiction!

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