‘Up Against It’ explores life in the asteroid belt | MarketingwithAnoy

Up against ita science fiction novel by environmental engineer Laura J. Mixon, explores life aboard the asteroid 25 Phocaea. The book takes a more realistic approach to space adventure and avoids familiar tropes like FTL drives and instant communication.

“When I read science fiction, one of the things I can really get into is stuff that has a lot of scientific grounding,” Mixon says in section 517 of The nerd’s guide to the galaxy podcast. “As I write, I’m really trying to dive into the challenge ‘How can I make this believable but still really blow the reader’s mind?'”

Up against it paints a vivid picture of a space colony full of asteroid miners, gene hackers and Mars gangsters. An interesting detail is “The Circuit”, a rite of passage in which characters make a 13-year journey around the asteroid belt. “Especially because people are living longer [in the future], they feel they can afford it, ”says Mixon. “It’s a bit like the people who climb Everest, but I think there’s a little more of a feeling that you’re not really a ‘stroider’ unless you can say you did this.”

One of the main characters of the book is Jane Navio, Commissioner for Resource Management at 25 Phocaea. For inspiration, Mixon drew on his own experience as a business leader in a scandal-ridden investment bank. “I think Jane regrets her past and having to deal with all the political intrigue and how to get things done when people may have very different agendas than yours, which greatly affected Up against it,” she says.

She hopes the book will help promote human settlement elsewhere in the solar system. “I think storytellers are a really important part of creating the future we want to see,” she says. “You have to be able to imagine it before you can do it, so I wanted to write stories about that.”

Listen to the full interview with Laura J. Mixon in episode 517 of The nerd’s guide to the galaxy (over). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Laura J. Mixon on her first novel Astropiloter:

Melinda Snodgrass were friends with Ellen Datlow, who was the acquiring editor of this new YA series they launched. They were looking for suggestions, and all of a sudden I just got a glimpse of what I knew I wanted to write. I sat down and wrote the first three chapters and an outline in a very short time – while I was still sick with the flu on Thanksgiving weekend – and then sent it out. And then, within a week and a half or two, Ellen contacted me and told me she would buy it. I was amazed. I never thought it would be so easy.

Laura J. Mixon on her novel Proxies:

I learned to write it while walking. It is a story with many views. The first character you meet has memory loss and it turns out that the person is actually one of three personalities occupying the same body. This person is a young man who has been trained to fundamentally split his consciousness – he basically has [dissociative identity disorder]- but it was developed so that he could control different representative bodies at the same time. One of them is a woman and she is one of the main characters of the book. It’s a challenging thing to write – and probably to read – but I like that book a lot.

Laura J. Mixon on asteroids:

The first scene I wrote [in Up Against It] was actually from Jane’s perspective when she swings out on the vines. They have these reins, which is one way they can travel between different asteroids. There are three that are pulled together in the same circuit and they use ion correction beams to keep them in line, but the rest of it, there is what I call “wooden paths”, which are these rigid cables that span from the cables among the three asteroids – because asteroids are really far apart. When you look in the movies where they have all these asteroids together, this is not how it really looks.

Laura J. Mixon on research:

One of my clients was a mining company, BHP Billiton, and David Porterfield was my main contact. So many of the mining details, he was very happy that I interviewed him and got information about the kind of challenges that miners face and wonder, “What would it be like in a micro-gravity environment?” I told him I wanted Geoff and his friends to have something plausible but funky and weird to fight the bad guys when they get hit by Geoff’s little claim, and he told me about potato guns. He said, “I actually have one and we can go out and fire it.” It was lots of fun.


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