Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Thought lab life was dull and boring? Think again!

One of the scientists at the lab I am writer-in-residence in sent this around yesterday and I think it's wonderful! It's for all of you non-scientists who think science is about hard fact, about right and wrong, about automatons in lab coats who reveal the truth of existence on a daily basis. Umm, no, not quite...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Perfect Egg in Nature

I'm delighted to have a short story in the Futures section of the venerable science magazine Nature this week - it's just gone online today and is in the print issue which I believe comes out tomorrow. It's called The Perfect Egg,  and it was sort of my first real attempt to write science fiction. Yes, some of the short stories in my book might be kind of SF-ish, but that wasn't my aim when I was writing them. Nature Futures is "a forum for the best new science-fiction writing, exploring some of the themes that might challenge us as the future unfold" and I never expected to get my first submission to them accepted. This story seems a bit different from the other Futures stories I have read, so I am delighted to have made it - and rather thrilled that in their email to me they addressed me as "Dr Hershman"! (Don't worry, I put them straight on that...) Anyway, comments can be left on the online version, should you feel moved to! (No pressure). Read it here.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Short story inspired by the discovery of GFP

Manchester-based independent publishers Comma Press are doing something very close to my heart: commissioning fiction writers to be inspired by "eureka" moments in science across various disciplines, pairing them up with a scientist, and asking them produce short stories that explore this concept which will be published in an anthology in May.

Being commissioned is both wonderful and fairly scary. First, there was quite a detailed brief for this project. And second, it had to be a minimum of 2500 words. For someone like me who hasn't written anything over 1500 for 3 years, that was like asking me to write a novel (ok, not quite, but fairly daunting!)

 Transgenic tadpoles expressing Green Fluorescent Protein

Well, I managed it by approaching it as a set of short short fictions, and got to 2500, just... And the result, We Are All Made of Protein but Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, is inspired by the discovery of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which has transformed molecular biology, as I have learned well from the biochemistry lab here and from Nicholas Love, the researcher in the Amaya Lab at Manchester University that I was paired with. GFP allows a researcher to see inside a living organism in real time. It's amazing, as the pic above from his lab shows...

You can read my story here and Nicholas' afterword here. And there are more stories on the Comma site, for physics, chemistry and neuroscience, written by, among others, Annie Clarkson, Stella Duffy and Kate Clanchy. This is very exciting, I'm delighted to be involved...!