Related to: 'Astronomy: All That Matters'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Teach Yourself

Patrick Moore's Astronomy: A Complete Introduction: Teach Yourself

Patrick Moore, Percy Seymour
Authors:
Patrick Moore, Percy Seymour
Hodder & Stoughton

Land of Hope and Glory

Geoffrey Wilson
Authors:
Geoffrey Wilson

Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is the author of the Wayfarers books, which currently include The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, among others, and won the Prix Julia Verlanger in 2017. She grew up in a family heavily involved in space science, and hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.

Ben Bova

An award-winning editor, President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, Ben Bova is also the author of more than one hundred futuristic novels and non-fiction books.

Brian Herbert

Brian Herbert is a widely-published science fiction novelist. Kevin J. Anderson's novels include bestsellers based on the universes of Star Wars and The X Files. Together they created PRELUDE TO DUNE, LEGENDS OF DUNE and THE ROAD TO DUNE, all bestsellers set in the universe created by Brian's father, Frank Herbert.Visit the official DUNE website: http://www.dunenovels.com/Follow Kevin J Anderson on Twitter: https://twitter.com//TheKJAVisit Kevin J. Anderson's website: www.wordfire.com

Christopher Farnsworth

Born and raised in Idaho, Christopher Farnsworth worked as an investigative and business reporter before selling his first screenplay. Since then, he has been coming up with new and better ways to kill monsters, bad guys and aliens. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jean Roosevelt Farnsworth, and their daughter, Caroline.

Craig Nelson

Craig Nelson, when he isn't trekking around the world, can be found in the jungle of New York City, where he is one of publishing's most recognized - and vaccinated - figures. He has spent time in locales ranging from the Amazon to the Yucatan Peninsula and plans on making Zanzibar his next trip, if only to round out the alphabet.

Daniel Polansky

Daniel Polansky was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He can be found in Brooklyn, when he isn't somewhere else. His debut novel, THE STRAIGHT RAZOR CURE, received great acclaim. TOMORROW, THE KILLING is the second novel in his 'Low Town' series, with the third publishing in 2013.

Geoffrey Wilson

Geoffrey Wilson was born in South Africa, grew up in New Zealand and then backpacked around the world before eventually settling in the United Kingdom. He studied Hinduism and Buddhism at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and has been fascinated by India since travelling there in the early 1990s.He worked in IT for several years, eventually starting a web development business with three friends.www.geoffreywilson.net

Graham Lawton

After a degree in biochemistry and a MSc in science communication, both from Imperial College, Graham Lawton landed at New Scientist, where he has been for almost all the 21st century, first as features editor and now as executive editor. His writing and editing have won a number of awards.

Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove has lived in Southern California all his life He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Los Angeles and has taught at UCLA, California State Fullerton and California State University, Los Angeles. He has written many works of speculative fiction and fantasy. He is married to the novelist Laura Frankos and they have three daughters.

Jake Arnott

Jake Arnott was born in 1961, and lives in London. He is the author of THE LONG FIRM, published by Sceptre in 1999 and subsequently made into an acclaimed BBC TV series. His second novel, HE KILLS COPPERS, was also made into a series by Channel 4. He has since published the novels TRUECRIME, JOHNNY COME HOME, THE DEVIL'S PAINTBRUSH and THE HOUSE OF RUMOUR.

Jennifer Daniel

Jennifer Daniel is the author of SPACE! a picture book explaining the universe through unusual visual forms. Her graphics have been translated into over ten languages and featured on NPR's Morning Edition, Sweden's Dagens Nyheter and in The New York Times. Jennifer has been recognised by many fancy design, illustration, and journalism awards including D&AD's Gold Pencil (London), Art Directors Club Gold Cube (New York), and Society of Publication Design Gold Medal (New York). She speaks about journalism and design for organisations such as Society of News Design, SXSW, and Creative Mornings. She lives in Oakland California, with her husband and two children.Follow her on Twitter @jenniferdaniel

Kevin J Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson has over 16 million books in print, in 29 languages worldwide. He is the author of The Saga of Seven Suns, numerous X-Files and Star Wars novels, and the co-author of the bestselling Dune prequels and sequels. He lives in Colorado with his wife, author Rebecca Moesta.

Paul Murdin

Paul Murdin has worked as an astronomer in the USA, Australia, England, Scotland and Spain. Since 1963, he has been a research scientist (studying supernovae, black holes and neutron stars), an observatory administrator and a science policy maker for the government and the Royal Astronomical Society in the UK. He has travelled to universities and science centres in capital cities, to mountain-top observatories and to remote launch-pads. He works emeritus at the Institute of Astronomy in the University of Cambridge, England. He has had a secondary career as a broadcaster and commentator for the BBC and CNN, and is a talented lecturer and writer on astronomy. He is identified as the co-discoverer of the first stellar black hole found in our Galaxy, Cygnus X-1. He has been honoured by the Queen with an OBE for his work in international astronomy and for helping make astronomy accessible to everyone.

Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe is the creator of the webcomic xkcd and bestselling author of What If?, Thing Explainer and xkcd: Volume 0. Randall was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and grew up outside Richmond, Virginia. After studying physics at Christopher Newport University, he got a job building robots at NASA Langley Research Center. In 2006 he left NASA to draw comics on the internet full time, and has since been nominated for a Hugo Award three times. The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after him: asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause mass extinction if it ever hits a planet like Earth.

Robin Furth

Robin Furth was born and raised in Philadelphia, and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She was introduced to Stephen King at the University of Maine, and worked with him as a research assistant.

Stephen Gately

Stephen Gately was born in 1976 in Dublin. One of five children, he always dreamed of being famous as a young boy. Together with Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy, he formed Boyzone who went on to be one of the biggest boybands of all time. Together they enjoyed phenomenal success with over 40 million copies of their albums sold worldwide. In 2000, the band took some time out to concentrate on solo projects and Stephen enjoyed his own top ten hits before taking to the stage and starring in Joseph and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in London's West End. Boyzone were reunited in 2007 and their greatest hits album was released in 2008. Together, the band were working on new material and Stephen was writing this, his first novel when died at his home in Majorca in October 2009.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. He is now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge.

V. M. Zito

V. M. Zito resides in Connecticut, USA with his wife and daughter. When not writing, he spends his weekdays working as Creative Director at a New England ad agency.www.TheReturnMan.comwww.twitter.com/VM_Zitowww.facebook.com/TheReturnMan