Which leads of us course to exoplanets. Planets around other stars have long been a standard trope in science fiction, but until recently the existence of such worlds was only an assumption—one based on a single test case: that of worlds around our particular star. It’s only been during the past decade that we’ve gotten clear indication of how prevalent such worlds are and begun to learn their nature (and indeed, in some cases actually image them.)
They’re moving from science fiction and imagined properties to science fact and measured properties. This, I think, makes them especially fun to write about, and even though First Fleet’s Onaway doesn’t correspond to any particular exoplanet, imagining Cam and Paul’s world in the context of current exoplanetary discovery was one of the most exciting things about writing it.
Of course this list doesn’t even scratch the surface. I haven’t discussed black holes and time-dilating gravitational fields (and I still haven’t—to my student’s enduring chagrin—yet seen Interstellar). Nor does it treat exotic locales like globular clusters (which I don’t know if I’ve seen explored thoroughly so far in science fiction writing) or venture to the edge of the galaxy or the great voids beyond.
But it’s a start. Happy exploring!
Check out Stephen's novel First Fleet here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014LZJS0C