Field of Science

Chemical fiction

Topi Barr's Antithiotimoline is in this vintage Analog
Seven years ago, Andy Mitchinson, an editor at Nature, wrote at The Sceptical Chymist (Episodes II and III) about the dearth of science fiction that involved the science of chemistry in a substantive way.  Why isn't there more of it?

He pointed to a list put together by Connie Willis, an award winning SF author, and an article by Philip Ball in Chemistry World.

I'm working on a column for Nature Chemistry about the ways in which chemistry and science fiction play off each other.  Is science fiction more than escapist entertainment?  Should chemists care that there's not more chemistry inflected fiction out there?  Should we deliberately expose students to science fiction? Should we encourage them to write it?

To go alone with the piece, I'm trying to create a periodic table of chemical fiction (not including articles called out by Retraction Watch).  Are there pieces on my list you particularly love?  Something I'm missing?  I'd love to hear in the comments!

For a full set of periodic science fiction short stories, I encourage you to browse Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction.  What really happened to the Hindenburg?



Author Work
As Asimov, Isaac Whiff of Death, The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline, Thiotimoline to the Stars, Pate de Fois Gras
Pb Ball, Philip The Sun and Moon Corrupted
Ba Barr, Topi “Antithiotimoline”
B Bujold, Lois McMaster Vorkosigan series
Ac Christie, Agatha "The Blue Geranium” in The Thirteen Problems
Cl Clements, Hal Phases in Chaos
Co Conan Doyle, Arthur Holmes
Md Dewar, Michael “Temporal Chirality:  The Burgenstock Communication”
F Foster Wallace, David Infinite Jest
Ag Goodman, Allegra Intuition
He Heinlein, Robert Glory Road, Have Spacesuit will Travel
Hf Hoffman, Roald Oxygen
Li King, Laurie Russell & Holmes series
U Le Guin, Ursula “Schrödinger’s Cat”
Sn Lem, Stanislaw “Uranium Earpieces” in Mortal Engines
P Levi, Primo The Monkey’s Wrench
Am McCaffrey, Anne Pern series
H Piper, H Beam Omnilingual
Kr Robinson, Kim Stanley Mars series
O Sachs, Oliver Uncle Tungsten
Dy Sayer, Dorothy The Documents in the Case
Sm Smith, Edward Elmer “Doc”  “Tedric,” “Lord Tedric" in The Best of E. E. “Doc” Smith
Ne Stephenson, Neal Anathem
Br Stoker, Bram Dracula
Fr Vance, Jack “Potters of Firsk”
K Vonnegut, Kurt Cat’s Cradle
V Vourvoulias, Sabrina INK
Hg Well, H.G. “The Diamond Maker” in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents
C Willis, Connie The Sidon in the Mirror

11 comments:

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  2. Cr Crichton, Michael "The Andromeda Strain" - my favorite science-in-fiction of all time.

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    1. That's a great book, and a great addition to the list! pH, as I recall was the key.

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  3. Leigh Krietsch BoernerMay 10, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    Not science fiction, but science-in-fiction, the Flavia de Luce books. Alan Bradley is the author. It's a series of mysteries where the main character (and sleuth) is a 12 year old genius chemist. They are hilarious and wonderful.

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  4. Asimov's "The Dust of Death" is one of my favorite chemistry-themed mystery story. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dust_of_Death

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  5. For Ge and Ga you could cosnider Blood Music by Greg Bear and Wang's Carpets by Greg Egan

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  6. Great post! Thank you for sharing. Hope to hear more from you.

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  7. Asimov's "The Dust of Death" is one of my favorite chemistry-themed mystery story Webpage

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