Marianne DysonHi! I'm a children's author, science fiction writer, technical editor, and former NASA flight controller with a degree in physics who has always been infatuated with space and astronomy (and cats!). I live in Houston where I enjoy life with my pilot husband and cat.
Short bio for promotional use
Inspired by Star Trek and Apollo in the 1960s, Marianne Dyson dreamed of working for NASA. School counselors advised her to learn how to type. She did, on her way to a degree in physics and a job as one of the first female flight controllers. Dyson worked the first Space Shuttle flights. After leaving NASA, she took to writing about space for adults and kids. Her books have won top awards including the NSTA Best STEM book Award for Welcome to Mars, co-authored with Buzz Aldrin. “Space Nanna” now writes science fiction and serves as the volunteer historian for Mission Control
Biographical BackgroundI became interested in space through observing the stars, following the Apollo missions to the Moon, and reading science fiction (Robert Heinlein's books 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 female 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 female 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. I became a frequent contributor for Odyssey and Ad Astra magazines, and the Publications Coordinator for the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (through 2013).
I'm currently self employed as a writer and speaker on space topics.
See my BIBLIOGRAPHY for complete list & links.
My 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 Girls Save the Day. 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 (my stories reprinted on Kindle).
In 2006, I wrote "Martian Mice" for the Callahan Kids: Tales of Life on Mars anthology. Space and Astronomy: Decade by Decade, a historical reference, was 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 for a physics series dubbed Push and Pull. My first novelette was published in the July/August 2010 issue of Analog magazine and was reprinted in their anthology and is the cover story for my collection Fly Me to the Moon and other stories.
Two of my books came out in 2015: Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, a children's book coauthored with Buzz Aldrin for National Geographic that was designated as a Best STEM Book by NSTA; and A Passion for Space: Adventures of a Pioneering Female NASA Flight Controller, a space shuttle memoir from Springer.
To the Moon and Back was published by NatGeo in 2018. It is a pop-up celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo, coauthored with Buzz Aldrin with art by paper engineer Bruce Foster. Buzz's son Andrew Aldrin commissioned a follow-up book to Welcome to Mars, called Welcome to the Moon for summer 2019 release by the Aldrin Family Foundation.
With in-person events and trips cancelled/postponed in 2020, I wrote Shuttle Mission Control: Flight Controller Stories and Photos, 1981-1992, or rather revised/updated the original that I wrote in 1992, and published it via Amazon in 2021. Later that year, I published a children's book via Ingram and Amazon for my grandkids, Up in Space, to introduce them (and other preschoolers) to the wonders of the International Space Station.
I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and highly recommend aspiring children's writers join this group.
I am on the Board of Advisers for the National Space Society and on the Board of the local chapter. I'm a member of the Planetary Society and the Johnson Space Center Chapter of the NASA Alumni League, an organization for former NASA employees, and the Mission Control historian for the Manned Spaceflight Operations Association, an organization for former flight controllers.
As a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, I recommend stories and books for the Nebula and Norton awards. I can neither confirm nor deny what I do as a member of SIGMA, a group of SF writers who are also scientists and sometimes advise DoD.
I am a member of Sigma Pi Sigma (the Society of Physics Students) and a Presbyterian Deacon. I am a retired Precinct Chairman, but still serve as an election clerk or judge and work 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.
SIGMA, science fiction thinktank
Family/FutureI still dream about 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 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, I can encourage others to join me in overcoming the challenges that remain to building human settlements on the space frontier.
Am I immortal now? See my Wikipedia page!
I was inducted into the Nevada Space Hall of Fame, May 2018.
Hanging out with my famous coauthor, Buzz Aldrin, in Houston in 2018.
My husband Ted & I admired Space Shuttle Endevour on its stop in Houston, Sept. 2012.
If I close my eyes, I can imagine that our Cessna is actually a spaceship.
I love the sky!
I was born in Canton, home to the Football Hall of Fame.
I lived with my mom, dad, and brothers.
I dreamed of being a famous actress.
My 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Brady, didn't laugh when I said I wanted to go work for NASA.
Maia Kitten wonders if she can be a writer, too?
The cats dream of floating in space.
Pumpkin started a story, but got distracted.
Maia reminds me what I will accomplish if I am NOT in my chair writing.
Athena is shocked--I actually FINISHED a story? No? Then why are you taking cat photos?