Molecules of incense, reordered, may contribute to the whale; molecules of jelly beans, reordered, may contribute to the tiger.
It’s been pretty quiet these days. Life in the lab has been enjoyable but uneventful (except for the infestation of maggots in the bacterial waste bin – don’t ask). And my chief stress at home has been the growing pile of reading material that I’m supposed to be finishing but can’t quite seem to get through in a timely fashion.
For our next Fiction Lab book group on 9 September, we’re reading Roger’s Version by John Updike – it’s a little hard to tell from the back-cover blurb, but a friend suggested it might be lab lit. We shall see!
I’m also reading the distinctly non-science-y Stonemouth by Iain Banks, in memorandum. Banks (without his middle initial) made a huge impression on me when I was in graduate school, starting with The Crow Road, which remains one of my all-time favorites. Later on, his stuff started to get a little more weird and violent, but I’ve been reliably informed that Stonemouth is very much a return to form. I can’t believe Banks is no longer with us – I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.
I’m also supposed to be reading an unpublished lab lit novel with a view towards supplying a puff, but I’m ashamed to admit I’ve not started that either. Ditto, regular LabLit contributor Pippa Goudschmidt’s debut novel The Falling Sky, which we’ll discuss at Fiction Lab with the author in November. Sorry about that, ladies.
If anyone out there is enjoying some good summer reading, let us know!
You may have noticed that LabLit had been on hiatus over the last fortnight – this was due to its main staff being on a well-deserved holiday. But we’ve now returned, fresh and ready to grapple with all things labliteral!
I did a bit of reading on the beach, some of it unabashedly non-science in nature (including the excellent Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn). As a result, I will probably move one recent LabLit List addition, In His Genes by Robin Stratton, out of the main area and into the crossover section, for containing a component that in my opinion makes it science fiction. I’m also still battling through another recent reader nomination, Roger’s Version by John Updike, to see whether it makes the cut. The verdict so far? Possibly.
As always, if any of you has nominations for the List, or contributions for the main site, please do get in touch on editorial[at]lablit.com. We’d love to hear from you!
On Monday, the LabLiterati met up with James Meek, author of the new lab lit novel The Heart Broke In, to find out more about the writer and his work. We recorded the entire discussion for an upcoming LabLit podcast, which should be produced within the next week or so. The conversation was fascinating – science was a big part of it, of course, but we also covered areas as diverse as religion, women in the workplace and the evils of word processing.
Do look out for it!
I just received the following tweet:
— Kev Richards (@beaker_clueless) January 20, 2013
I clicked on the link to discover a lab lit drama was going to be aired on BBC 3 later today. The blurb sounds promising:
Samantha Bond stars as a psychiatrist in this classic European farce by Friedrich Dürrenmatt about three theoretical physicists who believe they are Einstein, Newton and Möbius. They are locked in a lunatic asylum and each gets tangled in vicious murders. Amidst all the jokes is a real relationship between a scientist who may or may not be mad and his nurse who wants to save him. The Physicists was first performed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.
The serious subject behind the farce is what to do with the knowledge of weapons of mass destruction once let out of the genie’s bottle. Who controls that knowledge? Can scientists remain free, even in the free world?
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to watch this live. Some time ago I made the decision that if I were going to have time to write fiction, it was best not to own a television. Then BBC came out with the iPlayer, which undermined my resolution a little bit. (I do restrict myself to about 2-3 hours a week of watch-again TV on my iPad, but it’s not the cold-turkey ideal I’d like. But sometimes, I really just need to veg out.)
Still, I’m definitely going to make time for this one. Thanks for the tip-off, Kev!
There is nothing quite like that delicious feeling when you wake up on the first day of Christmas holidays, safe in the knowledge that you’ve left the lab behind you for a little while. It’s time to stop thinking about bad-assed bugs, cells, manuscripts (we’re juggling four at the moment), statistical analyses and grant applications, and start focusing on sleep, food, literature…and maybe a little bit of the fermented stuff. Today, I even gave my hair a leave-in treatment – for this overstressed academic, that’s the height of indulgence and time-wasting.
Here at LabLit Central, the tree is up, the gifts are wrapped, the cookies are baked and it’s time for a bit of well-earned downtime. And maybe even a few hours spent penning some fiction.
From all of us at the magazine, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday, and a prosperous new year.
What is everyone going to be reading? We’d love to hear.
In other news, these two beauties popped up on my Petri dish over the weekend. Gorgeous, aren’t they? Based on the color, they are probably in the bacterial group KESC (Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Serratia and Citrobacter). I need to do a few more tests to narrow it down…and of course finding out What It Means might take a bit longer.