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When It Changed: Science into Fiction

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When It Changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other, to re-introduce research ideas with literary concerns, and to re-forge the alloy that once made SF great. Composed collaboratively through a series of visits and conversations between leading authors and practicing scientists it offers fictionalised glimpses into the far corners of c When It Changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other, to re-introduce research ideas with literary concerns, and to re-forge the alloy that once made SF great. Composed collaboratively through a series of visits and conversations between leading authors and practicing scientists it offers fictionalised glimpses into the far corners of current research fields, be they in nanotechnology, invertebrate physiology, particle physics, or software archaeology.


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When It Changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other, to re-introduce research ideas with literary concerns, and to re-forge the alloy that once made SF great. Composed collaboratively through a series of visits and conversations between leading authors and practicing scientists it offers fictionalised glimpses into the far corners of c When It Changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other, to re-introduce research ideas with literary concerns, and to re-forge the alloy that once made SF great. Composed collaboratively through a series of visits and conversations between leading authors and practicing scientists it offers fictionalised glimpses into the far corners of current research fields, be they in nanotechnology, invertebrate physiology, particle physics, or software archaeology.

52 review for When It Changed: Science into Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nick Davies

    The premise at the heart of this collection of short stories was a fascinating one - the book is at attempt to bring together science fiction writers and scientists in producing something entertaining and educational, and consists of a number of short stories on a variety of scientific subjects interspersed with short essays by experts in the fields upon which the fictions are based. Alas though I can't accuse it of failing at this attempt, it did feel slightly inconsistent in places - due partly The premise at the heart of this collection of short stories was a fascinating one - the book is at attempt to bring together science fiction writers and scientists in producing something entertaining and educational, and consists of a number of short stories on a variety of scientific subjects interspersed with short essays by experts in the fields upon which the fictions are based. Alas though I can't accuse it of failing at this attempt, it did feel slightly inconsistent in places - due partly to variation in the quality of the chapters (some stories didn't float my boat at all, and reminded me why I stopped reading so much sci-fi around twenty-five years ago) and some of the non-fictional bits were a little clunky or oversimplified. A handful of the stories however - moss witches, astrology called into question by planetary motion, nanotechnology in protective suits - were quirky and interesting and stood out.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Raj

    This anthology's USP is that it brings together SF authors with scientists and the resulting book collects the stories that were sparked by the meetings and discussion. It's a good collection, with each story having an afterword by the scientist that the author was in discussions with, although it doesn't start particularly well with Justina Robson's Carbon being a story that completely failed to gel with me. Most of the other ones hit closer to the mark though, with Ken MacLoed's Death Knocks, This anthology's USP is that it brings together SF authors with scientists and the resulting book collects the stories that were sparked by the meetings and discussion. It's a good collection, with each story having an afterword by the scientist that the author was in discussions with, although it doesn't start particularly well with Justina Robson's Carbon being a story that completely failed to gel with me. Most of the other ones hit closer to the mark though, with Ken MacLoed's Death Knocks, about a reporter searching for the connection between recent army suicides, and Adam Roberts' Hair, about a genetic scientist who develops a way for humans to photosynthesise through hair, being the most evocative. An interesting experiment in collaborative fiction that has resulted in some great stories, and I'd like to see more of the same.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leila P

    The back cover says: "When it changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other - - Take away the fantastical clichés of space-travel, time-travel and artificial intelligence, and how much of what remains accurately represents contemporary scientific thinking?" So what is the result? Nice stories, but they were a bit boring. I liked "Hair" by Adams Roberts and "Moss Witch" by Sara Maitland, though. Each story also had an afterword by a scientist, and they were incr The back cover says: "When it changed is an attempt to put authors and scientists back in touch with each other - - Take away the fantastical clichés of space-travel, time-travel and artificial intelligence, and how much of what remains accurately represents contemporary scientific thinking?" So what is the result? Nice stories, but they were a bit boring. I liked "Hair" by Adams Roberts and "Moss Witch" by Sara Maitland, though. Each story also had an afterword by a scientist, and they were incredibly dry to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    You'd think a scientist writing the occasional speculative fiction story would love this - but I found it rather average, and occasionally boring. Quick note: interesting scientific information does not compensate for lack of plot or interesting characters. Few stories achieved both and included interesting science. I feel like some authors confused an exposition dumb for a story. It is not. Here are the stories I liked (to a certain degree at least), in no particular order: Death Knock: An intere You'd think a scientist writing the occasional speculative fiction story would love this - but I found it rather average, and occasionally boring. Quick note: interesting scientific information does not compensate for lack of plot or interesting characters. Few stories achieved both and included interesting science. I feel like some authors confused an exposition dumb for a story. It is not. Here are the stories I liked (to a certain degree at least), in no particular order: Death Knock: An interesting story about using computer simulations to design drugs, including drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The story was interesting, but the payoff was a bit week. Without a Shell: This one I really enjoyed, great character development and interesting use of science. The story takes place in a future where technology for body protection and fast healing is easily incorporated into suits and a group of kids (social status plays a big role in this one) get to 'benefit' from it by having uniforms that can protect and heal them. Bodily harm is no longer a problem for most of them - which opens the doors to emotional abuse and physical abuse in their family. Carelessness ensues. As you can guess, the body armor cannot protect us from psychological trauma and it cannot protect the main character from the pain of being brutally rejected by his love interest due to a misunderstanding. It's only when he takes off his armor that he, and others, return to humanity and find compassion again. In the Event of: This was an interesting story about individuality and the rights of clones. There were some scientific errors in it: you don't impregnate an egg to make a clone, the whole idea is to use the DNA of an already existing person (impregnation means combination of DNA from two different sources and then you don't get a clone). The narrator also says blushing is no longer occurring in underground bunkers - I can't see any physiological reason why that would happen. Blushing is caused by blood vessels expanding close to the surface of the skin. I have no idea how you'd control blushing without shutting down a bunch of other normal physiological processes. Zoology: From the story I learned there is a random element to smell - meaning the same odorant molecule binding to a receptor in the nose may or may not trigger a nerve impulse. I found that very interesting. The characters in the story? Not so much. Temporary: I really loved this one. It presents a word where people are segregated in casts based on their star sign. In this world, people born under the sign of Capricorn seem to be at the bottom of society. The main character is a girl who is able to 'listen' to stars and is co-opted to work for a high-profile organization. She is valued despite her sign and helps map the star. But she is denied access to her family and starts to lose touch with her own society. The story reminded me of the tragedy of residential schools in Canada, where native children were institutionalized, denied the right to speak their own language and learn their own culture. I found the social commentary to be moving and relevant. I also liked the idea of 'listening' to stars and it reminded me of the process of 'sonification' developed by an astronomer who lost her eyesight in her 20s as a means to study telescope data. The Bellinni Madonna: This story barely had anything to do with science and it worked fantastic! I don't believe I understood the ending properly, but I really liked it, despite not grasping all the concepts. Hair: interesting story about nanotechnology, self-assembling peptides and artificial photosynthesis. The character exploration was also good. Doing the Butterfly: A story about mind-reading MRIs, lying and determinism? Interesting character study. Here are the stories I had issues with (and why) Moss Witch: Apart from finding the story boring and the character development non-existing, there were scientific errors in the scientist's commentary. She claimed that haploid cells/organisms have "only one strand of DNA" WRONG! Unless you're a virus, your DNA is always double-stranded (unless cells are undergoing division, or copying messenger RNA, then you have areas that are temporarily single-stranded). Haploid means the cell(s) have only half the total number of chromosomes. Egg and sperm cells are haploid for example and they need to meet to sum up their chromosomes. What is a chromosome? A long piece of double stranded DNA that is packed together inside the cell's nucleus by a bunch of proteins called histones, who keep the DNA stable and safe (and also wind it up a bit so that it can fit inside the cell). So that was some disappointing science. Carbon: The story and the character had no personality. I couldn't give a damn about the science. Global Collider Generation (...): A crime fiction with no personality, revolving around a global-scale CERN-like device Collisions: so forgettable I completely forgot what it was about You: could be interesting, but the life-blog style annoyed me White Skies: bored me so much I DNFed Enigma boring story about Alan Turing as an AI

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ann Addley

    This was a very interesting read. A collection of short stories inspired by existing scientific research and theory, with afterword by the scientists. Though I did not enjoy all of the stories some of them captured my imagination. The concept of basing sci fi on evolving technology and science really appeals to me, not to mention you get to learn little interesting tit bits along the way. If you like sci fi and short stories there will be something in here for you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    What a fantastic idea: pair a writer and a scientist. The writer shadows the scientist and creates a story based on actual cutting-edge research. Can't wait to read it! What a fantastic idea: pair a writer and a scientist. The writer shadows the scientist and creates a story based on actual cutting-edge research. Can't wait to read it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Not bad. wasn't too sure at the beginning, but with all short stories books, there are some part I liked and others that weren't to my taste. Not bad. wasn't too sure at the beginning, but with all short stories books, there are some part I liked and others that weren't to my taste.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  9. 4 out of 5

    Finlay

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sumi Senthi

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caoimhin Caoimhin

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emma Towers

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  15. 4 out of 5

    Barmaley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Cramer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Falbs

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Fraser

  19. 5 out of 5

    James Wright

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom Gadd

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Gay

  22. 5 out of 5

    Isobel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dmitry

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dom Mooney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Warren

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edvardas

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joel Bass

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Teej

  31. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  33. 4 out of 5

    Rick Schultz

  34. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  35. 4 out of 5

    Shira and Ari Evergreen

  36. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  37. 4 out of 5

    John

  38. 5 out of 5

    Emily Brown

  39. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Harden

  40. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  41. 4 out of 5

    tish

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  43. 5 out of 5

    James

  44. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  45. 5 out of 5

    Paul Perry

  46. 5 out of 5

    Igor

  47. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  48. 5 out of 5

    Johan

  49. 5 out of 5

    Holly Hoenshell-nelson

  50. 5 out of 5

    Molly Powell

  51. 5 out of 5

    allynt

  52. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

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