Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Real Science" Fiction

There is more than one type of science fiction. The one that many people first think of would have the words such as “ Long ago in a galaxy far far away...” or something of this ilk. Well, this post is not about that type of science fiction. The fiction I am going to concentrate on are stories that feature real science and/or scientists (or at least with scientific words in the title.)

I first heard of the scientific term “golden mean” from a Dan Brown novel. Annabel Lyons takes this premise and wrote a wonderful novel entitled The Golden Mean (M), which was nominated for three major Canadian Literary awards and won one. The philosopher, Aristotle is ordered by King Philip of Macedon to tutor his children. One of these children will go on to transform the world as Alexander the Great. Aristotle takes Alexander on an educational journey from the age of thirteen to nineteen. which includes history, biology, science, literature, medicine, politics and, of course, philosophy.

A Geography of Secrets (M) by Frederic Reuss is the tale of an unnamed cartographer and Noel Leonard. Leonard works for the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center in Washington D.C. This organization is responsible for mapping coordinates for military actions halfway around the world. Leonard discovers that an error in his office is the cause of a bombing of an Afghanistan school. The story weaves its way between the two men with a skill that has been compared to Graham Green and John le Carre. One really neat feature Reuss includes is providing the reader coordinates that can be followed using Google Earth to see where the characters are located.

Two time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey has done it again with Chemistry of Tears (M). Carey is famous for writing about huge topics and with this novel he writes about the fate of the world itself! On the day of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Catherine Gehrig learns of the death of her secret married lover. Her boss also sets her up with a new assistant, Amanda Snyde, to work on the reconstruction of a mid-century automation silver swan. Amanda is a crazy young woman, literally. She has gone off her medication and may be a spy for the Swinburne Museum. The swan comes with a box of 11 notebooks which outline it's history, including Henry Brandling's original plan to give the swan to his sickly son. Carey has been quoted as “if you ask why are you so interested in the 19th century...we are living in it...living with the consequences of it....growth is good....at the same time growth is killing us...”. Carey proves once again that he is a master novelist.
Here are some other novels with scientific titles you might consider:

by Marisha Pessl
(which has a wonderful website: http://marishapessl.com/main.htm.)

Geometry of Sisters  (M)
by Luanne Rice

by Emma Darwin

by Jennie Shortridge

by Gregory Keyes

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