I recently posted a review of the very cool book, Space Is Cool As Fuck and as a follow-up to this work I had the opportunity to talk with the primary author. Kate Howells share a bit about herself, the book, and how she came up with such an epic title. I’d like to thank her for her time.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello! My name is Kate Howells, and I guess I can fairly be accused of being a humongous nerd. My first love was brains, but as an undergraduate studying Psychology my interest began to shift from the mysteries of the mind to the mysteries of the cosmos. The deeper I delved into space topics, the more obsessed I became. Now I am a full-blown space geek, working in space advocacy and writing and speaking about space and science wherever I can.
You are part of the Planetary Society, what can you tell me about the organization and your role in it?
The Planetary Society is just about the coolest place I could have ever dreamed of working. We’re a non-profit organization supported by over 50,000 members around the world, space fans who want to do their part to make exploration happen. We do educational outreach work to inspire and excite the public, and advocacy work to channel that public interest into political support for space science and exploration programs. My job is to represent the Society in Canada and to develop ways help our members and supporters do educational outreach in their communities.
How would you describe your book Space Is Cool As Fuck?
Space Is Cool As Fuck is basically an overview of all of the most interesting and astonishing things I’ve ever learned about space, explained in a way that just about anybody can comprehend. You don’t need to get into any detail to explain that space is awesome, and you really don’t need any kind of science background to be able to grasp why. The book explains concepts and phenomena that are incredible without being complicated, that anyone can understand. And the images throughout the book give a sense of the beauty and insanity that is out there in the cosmos. Oh, and I cuss and joke around in the book because that’s how I talk!
What inspired you to create this work?
My good friend and publisher Martin Green actually came to me with the idea. He said “Kate, we’re going to use the magic of the f-word to get people’s attention and show them how cool the universe is.” The idea grew from there. I really just want more people to experience the enjoyment that I get from learning about all the crazy and amazing stuff that exists out there in the universe (and here on Earth, for that matter). It’s like a sort of evangelism.
As someone who loves space, what are some of your favorite topics connected to space?
I personally love the moons of our solar system. They’re fascinating worlds all on their own, yet hardly anyone even knows about them. All most people learn in school are the planets, but their moons are just as cool if not cooler. Just Google Jupiter’s moon Io and you’ll see. Or better yet, read the chapters on moons in Space Is Cool As Fuck!
What were some of your favorite parts of the book?
I love the artwork. Maybe that’s in part because I’m a bit self-critical, so reading my own writing is a bit cringey sometimes. But really, the artists whose work we included in the book are all super talented, and do such a great job of capturing the awesome nature of the cosmos and the wild and wacky things going on in it.
I love the title of this book, what led you to choose it?
The magic of the f-word, baby! Sure, some people are going to be offended and not pick up the book. But we’re counting on it being a draw for most people. They’re going to want to know what’s in this crazy-titled book. And once they start reading, they’ll soon be sucked in!
I grew up with Bill Nye as a major staple of science classes, what is it like interviewing him for the book?
I grew up watching Bill Nye on tv too, so it’s freaking amazing that I get to work with him now — he’s the CEO of The Planetary Society. When I called him and asked him to do an interview for the book, he was a really good sport about it. I’d put a post on Facebook asking my friends what questions they’d want to ask Bill, and Martin Green and I came equipped with our favourites among them as well as our own questions. Bill sat with us for over two hours talking about space, science, the future, his go-to salad recipe, and everything in between. He’s one of the smartest, funniest people out there and is just such a huge supporter of people trying to get science on the public’s radar.
Are you working on any other projects that you can share details about currently?
Nothing major is in the works. Right now I’m still sort of in shock that I actually have a book out there. It’s crazy to me! But once I get past that I’d love to write something else. The coolest topics for me are space, brains, and oceans. There are some true aliens out there in the seas, and they fascinate me just as much as moons or planets. I’d love to write about that.
As a bit of a random question, how would you react if you made alien contact?
If I personally made alien contact I would probably think I’d gone insane. I wouldn’t be able to resist telling people, but I doubt I’d go to the authorities.
Where can our readers keep up with you online?
I am newly on Twitter, @SpaceKateH. I’m a true noob though, so please don’t judge my pathetic lack of tweets! I’d also encourage people to follow (and better yet, join) The Planetary Society and keep up with what we do!