Friday, November 23, 2018

S.L. Huang

SL Huang is an Amazon-bestselling author who justifies her MIT degree by using it to write eccentric mathematical superhero fiction. Her debut novel, Zero Sum Game, is recently out from Tor, and her short fiction has sold to Analog, Nature, and The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016. She is also a Hollywood stuntwoman and firearms expert, with credits including Battlestar Galactica and Top Shot.

Recently I asked Huang about what she was reading. Her reply:
I've talked in a lot of interviews about what fiction I've been reading lately, so I thought I'd talk a little about the nonfiction I'm finding most compelling.

I write a lot of science fiction and fantasy. And my favorite inspiration books for that, hands down, are the popular science books of theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku has a fascinating, readable style, and he seems as excited about extrapolating into the future as we fiction writers are.

Two of my longtime favorites by Dr. Kaku are Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible. In the first, he talks about what's likely to come true in the coming century, including expansions of space travel, medicine, and artificial intelligence. But for those who want to dive even further into the realm of "what if," Physics of the Impossible speculates about technologies that currently feel far outside our realm. Just how impossible are these advancements, Dr. Kaku asks, and then provides the answer, splitting up science fiction staples like force fields, teleportation, and time travel into categories according to whether they actually violate the laws of physics or whether they're technically possible but we just don't see how to get to them yet. When I was reading Physics of the Impossible, I wanted to read—or write!—an entire library of stories based on Dr. Kaku's reality-based imaginings.

Now I've just started a third Kaku book, The Future of the Mind. Subtitled "The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind," it promises to delve into questions of consciousness and neurobiology that scientists don't yet fully understand. It also speculates further afield on topics like telepathy and telekinesis, and I'm excited to read about just how realistic those so-called superpowers might be.

The human mind has always fascinated me. My debut thriller, Zero Sum Game, explores questions of mind control and manipulation, and I've written more than one near-future science fiction story about the possibilities (and dangers) that might come with more advanced mental health treatment. The brain compels me and intrigues me—there's so much we don't understand, and yet it's such a personal part of each one of us.

I can't wait to see what future fiction The Future of the Mind might inspire for me, and I highly recommend Dr. Kaku's work to any writer—or anyone who simply wants to spend an afternoon delighting at what might be possible.
Visit S. L. Huang's website.

The Page 69 Test: Zero Sum Game.

--Marshal Zeringue