Mind Over Ship asks: What would a thousand years in space feel like?

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Mind Over Ship, the new novel by SF author David Marusek, is a sequel to Marusek's critically acclaimed first novel, Counting Heads, and picks up right where that book left off.

"I spent a lot of time in Counting Heads setting up the world, and most reviewers have commented favorably on the realism of my world-building," Marusek said in an interview. "In Mind Over Ship, I take the world and cast of characters as given and put more emphasis on the plot. And whereas CH was set almost entirely on Earth, MOS spends about a third of the time in space, at the Lagrange-point space colony of Trailing Earth."

When Marusek wrote Counting Heads, he came up with a story arc for a whole series. That arc will see the cast of characters (or "their descendants or assignees," as he put it) on a full thousand-year voyage of colonization, from the struggle to depart from our solar system on generational starships, through a millennium of shipboard life, to the arrival at a new home planet and the efforts to settle it.

Because Mind Over Ship spends so much time in space, Marusek researched the nuts and bolts of life aboard a space station. "There are some neat video documentaries and Web sites about the International Space Station, as well as an online virtual tour of some of the modules," he said.

"I found NASA astronaut Michael Collins' memoir, Carrying the Fire, particularly useful for the minutiae of space programs," Marusek continued. "And I consulted a physicist and an astronomer on some fine points of planetary orbits and weightlessness. Last summer I attended LaunchPad, which is [SF author] Mike Brotherton's extraordinary astronomy camp for SF writers at the University of Wyoming, funded by NASA. What I learned there will feed into future installments of the series."

Marusek has spent much of his writing career exploring the milieu of Counting Heads and Mind Over Ship; besides these two novels, it's the setting of some of his short fiction as well, most of which was recently reprinted in his collection in Getting to Know You. He's currently taking a break from it, however, and is working on a number of short stories set much closer to our time, as well as his first work of fantasy.