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Commentaries

Questions About Genre

When I’m asked by the writers I meet what kind of fiction I write, I almost always have to clarify that my fiction about science is not “science-fiction” and has very little in common with the science is found in the typical science-fiction novel.  The time has therefore come for me to discuss why fiction […]

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A Scientist’s Coming of Age

The coming-of-age novel or Bildungsroman is a well-established genre with such venerable examples of Voltaire’s Candide, Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, Dickens David Copperfield and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.  But there are almost no corresponding novels that focus on a young scientist growing up and mastering the practice and pursuit of a science.  That’s what […]

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The Problem of Explaining Science in Fiction

In my review of Carbon Dreams I went out of my way to warn readers that they might find some passages of the novel tough sledding.  Too much (dry? dull?) science, not enough action.  It’s a criticism I’ve heard from readers many times as I’ve written and rewritten Vanessa’s Curve of Mind.  I’m still learning […]

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Future Reviews

I’ve decided to post this special note to alert readers to the titles they can expect to see reviewed in coming months.  You’ll recall that in my second post, I said that I’d read 19 of the novels on the Lab Lit List, three of which I’d recently re-read.  In my third post I wrote […]

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Is Nobel Science Noble?

My sixth grade teacher asked us to write a report on a career we were interested in.  I did mine on nuclear physics, and from then on I thought I knew where I was headed in life!  In college, however, two literature courses and an introduction to philosophy changed my mind, and I went on […]

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The Peculiar Logic of Scientific Knowledge

Understanding the role of negative results is crucial to an intelligent appreciation and application of scientific knowledge.  The amount of mischief caused by the belief that science can “prove” the truth of some statement has been incalculable, as the role of science in public policy has increased in recent decades.  No conclusion drawn from scientific […]

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Names and Websites

When I told people I was starting a blog, nobody asked me why another website on fiction and science was needed.  One reason was probably that none of them knew that there were at least three others.  In fact, few people realized that a new subgenre of literary fiction had emerged, that there were already […]

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The Lab Lit List

About five months ago, I discovered a website, lablit.com, that promotes a literary genre called “lab lit.”    I suppose this rather catchy name parallels “chick lit.”   In any case, fiction in this new genre “…depicts realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic – […]

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