April 26, 2004
“Urgent: HQ Direction,” began a message e-mailed on April 1 to dozens of scientists and officials at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.Now, official recognition of the importance of science fiction to public debate has been long in coming, and of course my branch of the media welcomes the Administration’s new interest in the issue of “science fiction vs. science fact.” Presumably in the coming months we can expect Administration initiatives regarding public discussion of the Vingean Singularity, the relationship of “hard SF” to epic fantasy, the increasing role of women in science fiction (note to Karl: demographic opportunity? Discuss w. Karen soonest), and other important controversies inside our field.
It was not an alert about an incoming asteroid, a problem with the space station or a solar storm. It was a warning about a movie. […]
“No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with” the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard’s top press officer. “Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA.”
Grateful though we are for the attention implicit in a gag order of our very own, though, we have to wonder just how far it extends. Specifically, which of our authors who work for NASA, or who have served on various NASA boards and commissions, will no longer be able to discuss climate change with us? To say nothing of the several astronauts whose books we’ve published over the years. We trust clarification will shortly follow. Thanks again for the attention! [09:39 AM]