March 9 2016
Hi! I’m Stephen R. Wilk, and this is my first blog post.
I’m a Scientist and Engineer and a writer, and I started this blog to showcase my writing.
I’ve written many papers and patents over the years, but I always wanted to write fiction and popular nonfiction. I’ve been lucky enough to have several nonfiction articles published through the years, but it wasn’t until three years ago that I was finally able to get my fiction published in something besides student magazines. I present many of these on this website, although there are others no longer in print or posted. I’ve generally avoided my technical publications.
I try to write the kind of books, essays, and stories that I like to read, hoping that other people like the same kind of thing, and that my interest and excitement will make itself felt through the writing.
What do I like?
Science Fiction that leans toward “hard”. Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Unparalleled Adventure of Hans Pfaal” in 1835, about a man who travelled to the Moon in a balloon. There’s a lot of good extrapolation in it, and he intended it to be taken for a real story — but, you know, you can’t fly a balloon to the Moon, right? But what if you could? How could you do it, taking into account the realities of physics? That’s the background of The Flight of the Hans Pfaal. Or Why did the early humans, hunter-gatherers who, it is claimed, had much leisure time ever decide to settle down to become hard-working farmers? Various answers have been given, but no one else (as far as I know)) has suggested what I have in Putting Down Roots.
Horror that extrapolates, as well. I’m a big fan of H. P. Lovecraft’s, and I had to wonder what might become of his Dunwich Horror in the modern world. That gave me The Ipswich Abhorrence. Or how is a clean, modern, gentrified Innsmouth related to the Overthrow of Cthulhu? (The Condo Over in Innsmouth). I wondered what the world might look like from the point of view of a Zombie wandering around Boston’s North End (After the Bucket).
I love fantasies of all types, and when Plaidswede Publishing was looking for New Hampshire-based Fantasies I replied with something different — George Washington and the Dragon.
I like Weird Science, as well, and have been writing about it for the Optical Society of America and for the MIT Spectroscopy Lab. I gathered that material together, expanded and updated it, and it appeared in book form as How the Ray Gun Got Its Zap!, published by Oxford University Press. Inside you’ll find Edible Lasers, Why the Sun is Yellow, Why the rainbow has an Indigo band (what IS Indigo, anyway?), the History of the Ray Gun, how ancient people might have corrected their vision without using eyeglasses, and what the Magic Lantern of Omar Khayyam was. I continue to write such pieces, and so hope to publish another book about these things. If you want to read my Oxford University Press blog piece about the very first Ray Gun in fiction, there’s a link to it on these pages.
I also love Pop Culture, and have written a book on that (not yet published). I have been interested in Mythology since I was little, and have combined my love of it with my technical background. Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon shows what happens when you let a physicist loose on Classical Mythology. I have written another such book on mythology, tentatively called Sons of God, that is now being considered for publication. I have another in the works on the myth of Orion.
I’ve also written humor pieces, historical studies, and odd science and engineering pieces, some of which I hope to post on this site.