Science in fiction at Catbird

Here is an article (link: East Bay – News – Fiction Lab – eastbayexpress.com) about Catbird press, a San Francisco publisher that is "looking to turn local science into thrillers and local scientists into fiction authors". The first book to be published is called Forever and Ever: "The book’s main character is chief scientist at a drug-discovery company. Her life’s great passion is preimplantation embryo screening. Within the first few chapters, Baker has dropped phrases like "telomerase induction," "germ-line engineering," and "FDA approval process." The Bridges of Madison County this ain’t."

Several scientists are quoted as approving of the book for "getting the science right" (which does not, of course, guarantee a rip-roaring read), and Catbird is apparently intending to commission more books by Bay Area biotech and other scientists. From the article at the link above:

"You’re rarely going to get an academic to rail against his institution or provide some biting commentary about the granting process, or get a biotech or pharmaceutical person to describe their interactions with the FDA in any candid way, because that would be career suicide," Funk says. "But it’s important for the public to understand the way these interactions and negotiations occur at a level that would probably be best served by someone having at least an anonymous veneer between them and their words."

To this end, Catbird proposes two solutions: One is to encourage scientists to write under the veil of fiction, perhaps teaming them with creative writers. The other is the liberal use of pen names. "We’ll assign you a code name like ‘Goldfinger’ just for the pure hell of it and let everybody else figure out who you are!" Baker roars. In short, Catbird is looking for the next Anonymous to write the high-tech equivalent of Primary Colors."

For those interested in science-in-fiction, I also draw your attention to a longstanding member of Petrona’s blogroll, LabLit, which features articles, novels and stories, reviews, essays, blogs, advice, debating forums and more on "the culture of science in fiction and fact".

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