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Article excerpt

SCIENCE fiction could soon become science fact for international space boffins.

For a leading Midland academic is urging them to study British sci-fi books for hints and tips for future missions.

Scientists at NASA and the European Space Agency have already developed ideas from American science fiction.

Arthur C Clarke, who later wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, came up with the idea of radio satellites in the 1930s and, 30 years on, the first one, the Telstar, was launched by the Americans. The author is now an advisor to NASA.

Professor Ian Stewart, who lectures in chaos theory at Warwick University, hopes the same could happen with British sci-fi.

'Although science fiction tends to be quite far-fetched, some of the ideas could work,' he said.

'Hard sci-fi, as opposed to the normal Star Trek-type sci-fi, is based on proven science and that's why the space agencies should be reading it.'

Prof Stewart has written several sci-fi books and has also collaborated on other work with mathematician Jack Cohen and writer Terry Pratchett, who penned the best-selling Discworld series. …