A Chat with Jim E. Beall at the Intersection of Science and Science Fiction

JimBeallDDA nuclear engineer for over 40 years, a war gamer for more than half a century, and an avid reader of science fiction for even longer, Jim E. Beall has life experience including work as a U.S. Navy nuclear officer as well as design, construction, inspection, and/or policy work for public and private agencies. He attended Dragon Con for the first time this year. I ran into Beall before he returned to Virginia and he kindly answered some late questions.

Daily Dragon (DD): What has impressed you the most at Dragon Con?

Jim E. Beall (JEB): I think the intensity and size has to be what impressed us the most, as did the quantity of high-profile guests.

DD: How can Con-goers benefit from science panels and scientists at Dragon Con?

JEB: I (and others) get asked on the QT by some SF authors about “how to” (I was once asked/challenged to come up with a nuclear sword), and this can play out in panels. In my opinion, there would be great value in having science types on the same panels as writers. Take Alternate History, for example. The tech implications, the limits of material science, and the ability to take advantage of historical items or discoveries are all things engineers/scientists could help with during such panels. Another would be military-type panels. Problems of energy, density, storage, and material limits could be included in discussions of future weapons. In SF Literature, the interplay of tech and fiction can really be helped by a science/engineer type or two.

DD: What insights have you discovered at Dragon Con vis-a-vis the intersection of the fan and science communities?

JEB: I think fans love both the science and the science fiction! As I said, the intersections are also neat. I have also been on some really cool panels discussing the intersection of Art and Science/Engineering.

Read more of Beall’s remarks at https://www.facebook.com/james.beall.142.

Author of the article

Amy L. Herring (Louise Herring-Jones) writes speculative fiction, with a preference for historical fantasy and alternate mystery. Her stories, appearing in fourteen anthologies, include “The Poulterer’s Tale” in God Bless Us, Every One—Christmas Carols beyond Dickens (Voodoo Rumors Media, 2019). Amy is a NaNoWriMo co-municipal liaison. She also coordinates the Huntsville (Alabama) Literary Association’s writers’ group. Visit her online at http://www.louiseherring-jones.com.