Biographical information


Richard Penn


Starting with a degree in Ergonomics, I moved into the High Tech world in the seventies, emerging relatively unscathed twenty years later. I was around when the profession of User Interface Designer had invented itself, and it provided me with a decent living in Canada. I left that business in the late nineties, before the tech bubble burst, going freelance to write custom software for a number of small firms. Now I’ve retired from all that and moved back to England. I live in the summer on my narrowboat “Delta Vee” (for the uninitiated, that’s the rocketry term for a “change in velocity”, many narrowboat names refer to slowing down). The winters, I live in a up north, near Hexham. I have two lovely daughters, one a psychologist and the other a veterinary nurse.
Since reading early science fiction as a teenager, especially the books by Robert Heinlein, I have been obsessed by humanity’s future as a space-dwelling species. The non-fiction book “A Step Further Out” by Jerry Pournelle revealed the serious challenges to this idea, and got me thinking about ways of overcoming them. Several ideas and years of calculation later, I had a detailed simulation of the colonisation of the Solar System, with named individuals travelling about under the control of a realistic simulation of the motion of the various lumps of rock that fly about up there. Turning the simulation into anything other than a vastly expanded virtual train set was the challenge. This book is an attempt at that. If you spend all your spare moments in a complex imaginary world, you can be considered insane. Unless you share it with some other people, then you are an author.
The big questions people ask when I talk about this world are: why would anyone want to go, and why wouldn’t it turn into wild-west chaos. I’ve found there is no short answer to these questions, and fiction seems like the best way to address them. The “why” question seems so obvious to me I can’t assemble arguments to it. The “peace” question is so broad, it’s going to take several books for me to answer it to my own satisfaction.

Previous Works

The Dark Colony Police adventure novel set in the asteroid belt in 2060. Uses no magic tricks and spacewarps, so space travel is hard and takes many months.



Science Fiction Author

Story Ideas and Burning Questions

I am trying to make realistic space colony stories with my limited high-school physics. Would be great to get feedback on the science and the stories.