>Space Hop! Interview with Mark Brake

>The 2010 Summer Reading Challenge has a science fictional theme as UK libraries blast off on a Space Hop.

Over 700,000 readers are taking part in the mission to read six books from their local library across the summer holidays.

On tour as part of Space Hop are Mark Brake and science rapper Jon Chase, who are ranging far and wide across the UK to promote the Summer Reading Challenge, celebrating science fact as well as science fiction.

Mark and Jon contributed to the BBC’s Space Hoppers series, which you can currently catch on CBBC, Sundays at 5.15pm, and there’s also a Space Hoppers book.

Mark caught up with Books and Adventures for a brief interview earlier this week.

-You’re on tour with Jon Chase this summer to promote the Summer Reading Challenge. What can people expect from your visits?

A rather quirky fusion of science and music, I guess. The CBBC series upon which my book is based gets young viewers and readers to imagine what it might actually be like to go into space. The human experience of space, if you like. It’s an approach that has inspired science fiction for centuries. Science finds out stuff about the universe, and fiction tells tales of the very taste, feeling and meaning of scientific discovery.

-What is Rap Science and how did it begin?
The fictional approach mentioned above is fused with a musical approach. After each tale of adventure we relate to the young readers, Jon retells the details in musical form using rap. It’s his own unique fusion of rap to communicate science, which he does very well!

-What books would you choose for your Summer Reading Challenge?
Having read plenty of books to my 5 year-old daughter, I would choose ‘Earth Story’ by Eric Madden, and ‘Moon Man’ by David Donohue.

-A lot of science fiction is pretty wild and amazing. How accurate does the science have to be for a sci-fi story to be good?
Not at all. After all, it’s fiction, not fact, and the very point is to take our imaginations where science may fear to tread!

To find out more and sign up for a Space Hop today, visit the Challenge site at http://www.spacehop.org.uk/.

>Star Wars, but with bees

>Late last year I entered the New Scientist science fiction competition. My story told of Chilean beekeepers sabotaging New Zealand’s honey crop while being chased by wildlife protection robots.

I have to admit that one of the winning stories, about genetically modified burgers, did the whole sci-fi-food-nightmare thing a LOT better.

But I feel quite pleased to discover that just like in my story, where the robots used lidar (like radar, but with lasers) to hunt down Chilean bees by scanning for wingbeats, the latest bug-zapping technology uses lasers to scan for, and identify, insects. See here!

Almost like I was writing proper science fiction!

All of this is on my mind because a swarm of bees is shifting from tree to tree in the back garden, neither settling nor moving on. Sometimes I hear the buzzy vuvuzela horns being blown at the World Cup matches on TV and think that the swarm has invaded the kitchen.

But have you prepared for an attack…by killer BEES?

There will be more science fiction coming to this blog soon when Books and Adventures is joined in July by Professor Mark Brake and Jon Chase the Science Rapper, who are touring the country to promote this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Until then, you can find out more about the challenge here.