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Science in fiction booster

25 additions to the Lab Lit List

Jennifer Rohn 2 May 2010

Upstanding: lab lit on sale in Foyles

The more lab lit novels that sell, the more this demand might stimulate an increase in supply

It’s been seven months since we last updated the Lab Lit List, and I’m pleased to report that we’ve been able to add 23 novels, one film and one television show to our growing collection of fiction featuring scientists as central characters. For the first time since we started the List in 2005, the number of novels has finally exceeded the 100-book mark.

Some of these suggestions stemmed, as usual, from you our readers, but we owe a special debt of thanks this time around to the London bookshop Foyles, which ran a special feature on science in novels a few months back. Having heard about the display from our regular contributor Bill Hanage, I initiated some covert ops and went along to the Westfield branch to check out the display – and experienced a genuine thrill when I saw a fair number of unfamiliar titles amidst the usual suspects. (I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that one of the paperbacks, The Sun and Moon Corrupted by Philip Ball, featured a blurb from on its back cover.) As the security gorilla guarding the main entrance eyed me suspiciously, I scribbled down all the titles to look up later. Happily, most of the new titles turned out to fulfil the main ‘lab lit’ criteria.

Opinionated: puffs Phil Ball

It’s a diverse bunch, as always. In our new additions, you will find fictionalized scientists from history (Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Srinivasa Ramanujan) as well as the present day; you can follow researchers plying a diverse range of disciplines from astronomy, hydrology and theoretical physics through to mathematics, genetics and demography. The oldest addition is from 1882 (Two On A Tower), whereas Percival’s Planet will be published in a few months. The newcomers also include quite a few well-known authors – Lionel Shriver, Thomas Hardy, Ian McEwan and Richard Powers to name a few.

We hope that you will enjoy discovering scientists and their way of life in the pages of these books. And if you are inspired by them, tell your friends: the more lab lit novels that sell, the more this demand might stimulate an increase in supply. So do check out the List: by custom, newest additions are added to the bottom. If you think we’re still missing some titles, please contact us. We also publish retrospective reviews, no matter how old the book, so please get in touch if you’re interested.