Monday, April 24, 2006

Blinded by science

Lablit is publishing a series of "science in fiction" short stories by Harrison Bae Wan, following the career of a scientist called Fluke "from graduate school to Nobel prize". (Arrowsmith, anyone?) The first episode is called "The Coomassie Blue Kid" and the second, just out, is "The CBK and the plasmid of doom". I haven't had time to read them yet, but they look good, so, in link rather than think mode, I'm bookmarking them here so I can return. According to lablit, you don't have to know about science to read and enjoy these stories. Worryingly, though, they provide a glossary. Now when was the last time anyone had to have a glossary to understand a piece of, say, science fiction? If you don't understand the technicalities, you gloss over them, you don't need to get a degree in the subject before you can read the next sentence. Much of my education about the USA has come from reading crime fiction novels and picking up alien cultural references, it is all part of the fun. When I first visited New York, I fulfilled a longstanding ambition of going into a deli and asking for a "pastrami on rye" (which at that time you could not do anywhere in the UK, though you probably can now). Of course the guy there did not understand my stupid English accent and I could not do a passable Jimmy Cagney, but it was great to give it a whirl. I'll reserve judgement on lablit's glossary until I've read the stories myself, but I don't think it bodes well for unfettered reader enjoyment.