Marianne DysonHi! Let me introduce myself... I'm a children's author, science fiction writer, book reviewer, and former NASA flight controller with a degree in physics who has always been enfatuated with space and astronomy (and cats!). I'm currently coordinating publications for the RNASA Foundation, teaching astronomy part-time in the WAVE program, reviewing space-related books, writing science fiction and my memoir (Fire in Mission Control) about my experiences as one of the first women flight controllers, and enjoying life adventures with my pilot husband (and cats!).
BackgroundI became interested in space through observing the stars, following the Apollo missions to the Moon, and reading science fiction (Robert Heinlein's books shown here at a school visit were my favorite).
I grew up in Canton, Ohio, graduated from Glenwood High School, and then went off to college planning to become an astronomer. (This was in the 70's — there were no women astronauts back then!) I went to Ohio University my freshman year, and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I graduated cum laude with a degree in physics. That summer I served as a Congressional Intern in Washington, DC, and learned how important it is to participate in our democracy.
I came to Texas to attend graduate school at Rice University in space physics and astronomy. After one year, I went to work for CSC, then NASA, and was fortunate to become one of NASA's first women flight controllers. (I was a Flight Activities Officer, or FAO for short.) I worked the first five space shuttle flights.
I left NASA to raise my children. I continued working part-time as an aerospace consultant for Hernandez Engineering, and began sharing my passion for space through writing nonfiction, poetry, and science fiction for both adults and children. My first poem was published in Redbook, first activity in Highlights, and my first science fiction in Analog. One of my poems was selected for Poet's Market. I became a frequent contributor for Odyssey magazine, and the Publications Coordinator for the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement.
PublicationsMy first book Space Station Science won the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for best nonfiction book of 1999. The second edition is available in paperback from Windward Publishing. My second book, Homework Help on the Internet was published in August, 2000. I wrote the cover story for Girls to the Rescue #7 (Meadowbrook Press 2000), which was reprinted in Best of Girls to the Rescue. Home on the Moon (National Geographic 2003) won the 2004 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award in the children's category. I wrote The Space Explorer's Guide to Stars & Galaxies as book 8 of Scholastic's Space University series. Two of my Christian science fiction stories were in Eat My Martian Dust that came out from Baker in March 2005, and are now available via Kindle.
In 2006, I wrote "Martian Mice" for 4Frontiers, now available in the Callahan Kids:Tales of Life on Mars anthology. Space and Astronomy: Decade by Decade a historical reference published by Facts On File in 2007. I served as assignments editor for Ad Astra, the magazine of the National Space Society in 2008, and served as a National Geographic Explorer in 2009. My first novelette was published in the July/August 2010 issue of Analog magazine and was reprinted in the e-anthology Into the Next Millennium.
To learn more about my work, check out my books, writing, and book review pages in the navigation menu at the top of the page.
AffiliationsI'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and highly recommend aspiring writers join this group, which is very active in Houston.
I review books for the National Space Society and serve on their Board of Advisors and Publications Committee. I also serve on the Board of Advisors for the Moon Society. I'm treasurer of the local combined chapter of both, Clear Lake Area NSS/Moon Society. I'm a member of the Johnson Space Center Chapter of the NASA Alumni League, an organization for former NASA employees. I'm also a member of the small, but enthusiastic American Lunar Society.
As a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, I recommend stories and books for the Nebula and Norton awards. My favorite contemporary SF authors are Catherine Asaro and Lois Bujold. I continue to add to an inherited science fiction collection that includes copies of Science and Invention edited by Hugo Gernsback in the 1920s, and can neither confirm nor deny what I do as a member of SIGMA!
I am a Founding Sponsor of the Challenger Center, a member of the Planetary Society, a Senior Associate of the Space Studies Institute (SSI), a member of Sigma Pi Sigma (the Society of Physics Students), and a Presbyterian Deacon. I am a retired Precinct Chairman, but still sometimes serve as an election clerk and delegate to conventions to educate voters and politicians about aerospace issues.
I am a retired 2nd-degree black belt (called a Kyo Sa Nim) in the Korean Martial Art of KuK Sool. Korean friends, note that my first book, Space Station Science is available in Korean.
For News MediaI am available to the news media (and aspiring young reporters) for interviews and as a guest on radio or TV programs or via SKYPE to discuss our future in space. Reach me at 281.486.4747.
Family/FutureI still dream about seeing Mother Earth from space, kangaroo hopping on the dusty Moon, and rock climbing in Nirgal Vallis on Mars (with cats!). I have not been in space, but my husband, Ted (or Thor to our "Valhalla" friends!), is a pilot, and we enjoy flying our Cessna 182. I experienced weightlessness first-hand on NASA's infamous "Vomit Comet." (Yes, it is aptly named!) I hope that through my writing and speaking and political participation, I can encourage others to join me in overcoming the challenges that remain to building human settlements on the space frontier.
My husband Ted & I admired Space Shuttle Endevour on its stop in Houston, Sept. 2012.
I was a guest on NPR "To the Point" July 8, 2011 hosted by Warren Olney about the impact of the last Space Shuttle Flight. The entire show is available for listen or download, but my part starts about 14 minutes in, so I broke it up into four WMA files in order: Me & Architect Thom Mayne, Mayne & Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, and Me & McDowell.
Watch my MoonandBack.com interview about My Path to NASA, and My Writing at the International Space Development Conference in Huntsville, AL in May.
I attended the press conference for the last Space Shuttle crew, 6-30-11.
I'm a member of the SCBWI-Houston Chapter. I'm one of the authors in this YouTube video from our 2011 conference.
I joined panelists Susan Niebur & Stephanie Shipp to address the topic of alternative careers in science at the Lunar & Planetary Science Conference March, 2011.
I was a guest of Debra Duncan on Great Day Houston on June 10, 2009, discussing the inspiration of Apollo.
Marianne on CSPAN. I moderated a panel on the Future of the ISS at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference on May 30, 2008. Watch the video on the NSS Web site.
Me and former astronaut, Dr. Rhea Seddon, spoke at the annual Butterfly Luncheon on April 30, 2008.
Our Cessna 182! (My husband is a pilot.)
/nss.html - Clear Lake NSS/Moon Society Chapter.
www.kuksoolwon.com - Martial Art of Kuk Sool Won.
www.authorsden.com/mariannedyson - My website on AuthorsDen.
rnasa.org - Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation.
www/spacequotes.com - Sylvia Engdahl's collection of quotes of reasons to explore space.
thomas.loc.gov/ - Follow Science and Appropriations bills.
Project Vote Smart - Know your politicians.
The Citizen - My local paper.