I have encountered some people who believe that fiction about science should be an ambassador for the profession. These sorts feel very uncomfortable when they read stories that feature the less savory side of the scientific life – be they tales of fraud, or misdoings, or even just stories that paint the profession as non-aspirational, or even depressing.
But I don’t agree with this point of view. Science is a human endeavor, practiced by human beings. As such, things are not always rosy. The joys of discovery are real, but so too are the failures and the questionable behavior that pepper all activities of life. It is the duty of writers to reveal the sort of world that they wish to reveal – not to peddle fantasy in the name of PR. There is, in short, a place in lab lit fiction for the good, the bad and the ugly.
It wasn’t on purpose, but I realized today that the last three stories we’ve published have dealt with science’s dark underside: today’s “Copy No. 8″ by Evelyn Gutierrez (a fine debut); “Graviton scattering” by Zu North, and “Sales” by João Ramalho-Santos. All three of these authors are also practicing scientists – so while they are not autobiographical per se, they are definitely inspired by the rich and colorful world around them.
I do hope you will enjoy reading them.