5 Things We Learned from the 'Bad Science Books?' Event

Category: Reading

Do authors need to know their science to write a good book? And do you find yourself believing the science you read in fiction?

Last week the Edinburgh International Science Festival saw great minds collide in the form of palaeontologist Dr Stephen Brusatte and science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds at Scottish Book Trust's 'Bad Science Books?' event. They discussed the potent marriage of science and fiction, where the boundaries lie and what responsibilities the author really has to science and their readers.

Here are some of the things we learned...


We don’t need good science for a good read

When you pick up a novel it’s unlikely you're after the science behind quantum theory and it’s nice to sit back and do a little time travel from your armchair. In terms of fun, the facts don't really matter but...

In terms of fun, the facts don't really matter


A little science doesn’t hurt...

And a little research doesn’t go amiss. Fiction with a few roots in science perhaps makes for more believable worlds and more enjoyable reads. It’s unlikely the many years Reynolds spent as a scientist has had a negative effect on his fiction.


Readers often believe the science they read

Ever become so engrossed in a book you forget it’s not real? A work of science fiction dressed up as science fact makes this even easier, and with the possibilities of science becoming ever greater, so are the possibilities of belief. But no, it’s not yet possible to bring back the dinosaurs...


Authors have a responsibility not to be scientists

The badge of 'author' brings hidden responsibilities. Readers listen to you and your opinions and it’s important not to become an authoritative voice on the science that you think you know about. This is where things could get messy.


Science sparks inspiration

The possibilities of science and consequently the boundaries of our familiar world are always changing. Think Dolly. Many things we thought inconceivable twenty years ago are actually happening now, so why not let fiction play with the possibilities? Science undoubtedly feeds our imaginations and lets us conceive the next ‘impossibility’.

There’s always a chance science fiction may become science fact at some point... 


Image credits:

Funny Dinosaur King is Biggest in the World by epSos.de

Dolly by Rebecca W

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