Science is always telling stories. Whether in the creation myths of evolution or the Big Bang, or in the eureka moments of science history, narrative – just as much as metaphor – is a key tool in the scientist’s surprisingly literary toolkit. Perhaps the most interesting use of story is the thought experiment, the intuition pump, that draws on the most instinctive parts of the imagination to crack otherwise perplexing problems.
From Newton's Bucket, to Maxwell’s Demon, from Einstein's Lift to Schrödinger’s Cat – all are examples of 'fiction' being used at the highest level, not just to explain, but to deduce, to prove. In this unique anthology, authors have collaborated with leading scientists, to bounce literary, human narratives against purely theoretical ones, alloying together real stories with abstract ones, to produce truly extraordinary results.
Full list of thought experiments: The Twin Paradox, The Grandfather Paradox, Maxwell's Demon, Laplace's Demon, Mary's Room, The Chinese Room, Schrödinger's Cat, Galileo's Boat, The Infinite Monkey Typing Pool, Einstein in a LIft, Einstein Chasing a Beam of Light, Newton's Bucket, Olber's Paradox.
Ra is the founder and Editorial Manager of Comma Press. He’s the editor of numerous anthologies, including The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin, 1999), co-editor of The New Uncanny (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, 2008) and Litmus, voted one of 2011’s books of the year by The Observer. Between 2004 and 2013 he was also the coordinator of Literature Northwest, a support agency for independent publishers in the region (until it formally merged with Comma). He also coordinates Comma Film, an on-going film adaptation project which regularly commissions filmmakers and animators to adapt short literary texts (poems and short stories). He is a former journalist, having been Deputy Editor for City Life magazine, and a former Director of Manchester Poetry Festival. His critical work has been published in The Journal of the Short Story in English, and he’s been a producer, co-writer and co-director on a number of short film projects. He read Physics and Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and has an MA in English from the University of Manchester.
Dr Rob Appleby is a Reader of physics at the University of Manchester, a member of the Accelerator Physics group and of the Cockcroft Institute. His primary research interest is the physics of particle accelerators, including the motion of particles and new accelerator concepts, and he has worked for many years on the Large Hadron Collider and particle accelerators for cancer treatment. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Manchester and a Masters degree in theoretical physics from the University of York. He has previously been a consultant on Comma’s Litmus and When It Changed anthologies.
How will storytelling respond to this new and emerging science of sleep? Here, 14 authors have been invited to work with key scientists to explore various aspects of sleep research: from the possibilities of ‘sleep engineering’ and ‘overnight therapies’, to future-tech ways of harnessing sleep’s problem-solving powers, to the challenges posed by our increasingly 24-hour lifestyles. Just as new hypotheses are being put forward, old hunches are also being confirmed (there’s now a scientific basis for the time-worn advice ‘to sleep on a problem’). As these responses show, sleep and the spinning of stories are still very much entwined.
Featuring scientific contributions from: Prof Russell G. Foster, Isabel Hutchison, Dr. Simon Kyle, Dr. Penny Lewis, Dr. Paul Reading, Stephanie Romiszewski, Prof Robert Stickgold, Prof Manuel Schabus, Prof Ed Watkins, Prof Adam Zeman, Dr. Thomas Wehr.
This project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury is a storyteller without peer, a poet of the possible, and, indisputably, one of America's most beloved authors. In a much celebrated literary career that has spanned six decades, he has produced an astonishing body of work: unforgettable novels, including Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes; essays, theatrical works, screenplays and teleplays; The Illustrated Mein, Dandelion Wine, The October Country, and numerous other superb short story collections. But of all the dazzling stars in the vast Bradbury universe, none shines more luminous than these masterful chronicles of Earth's settlement of the fourth world from the sun.
Bradbury's Mars is a place of hope, dreams and metaphor-of crystal pillars and fossil seas-where a fine dust settles on the great, empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn -first a trickle, then a torrent, rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars ... and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a classic work of twentieth-century literature whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time's passage. In connected, chronological stories, a true grandmaster once again enthralls, delights and challenges us with his vision and his heart-starkly and stunningly exposing in brilliant spacelight our strength, our weakness, our folly, and our poignant humanity on a strange and breathtaking world where humanity does not belong.
The driving motors behind many of these changes will be artificial life (A-Life) and unconventional computing. How exactly they will impact on our world is still an open question. But in the spirit of collective intelligence, this anthology brings together 38 scientists and authors, working in pairs, to imagine what life (and A-Life) will look like in the year 2070. Every kind of technology is imagined: from lie-detection glasses to military swarmbots, brain-interfacing implants to synthetically ‘grown’ skyscrapers, revolution-inciting computer games to synthetically engineered haute cuisine. All artificial life is here.
Featuring scientific contributions from: Martyn Amos, J. Mark Bishop, Seth Bullock, Stephen Dunne, James Dyke, Christian Jantzen, Francesco Mondada, James D. O'Shea, Andrew Philippides, Lenka Pitonakova, Steen Rasmussen, Thomas S. Ray, Micah Rosenkind, James Snowdon, Susan Stepney, Germán Terrazas, Andrew Vardy and Alan Winfield.
Supported by TRUCE (Training and Research in Unconventional Computation in Europe).
Two men while away the days in an Antarctic research station. Tensions between them build as they argue over a love-letter one of them has received. One is practical and open. The other surly, superior and obsessed with reading one book - by the philosopher Kant.
As a storm brews and they lose contact with the outside world they debate Kant, reality and the emptiness of the universe. The come to hate each other, and they learn that they are not alone.
But when Lizbreath is drawn into a dark conspiracy she will have to rely on more than her beauty and her vicious claws the size of sabres ...
A dragon has disappeared, one of a secretive clan. As Lizbreath delves deeper into their history she realises that these dragons will do anything to defend their secrets.
Welcome to the world of The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo. A world of gloomy Nordic dragons leading lives uncannily like our own (despite their size, despite the need for extensive fireproofing of home furnishings), a world of money hoarded, a world of darkness and corruption. A world where people are the fantasy.
Jack Glass is the murderer. We know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel tells the story of three murders committed by Glass the reader will be surprised to find out that it was Glass who was the killer and how he did it. And by the end of the book our sympathies for the killer are fully engaged.
Riffing on the tropes of crime fiction (the country house murder, the locked room mystery) and imbued with the feel of golden age SF, JACK GLASS is another bravura performance from Roberts. Whatever games he plays with the genre, whatever questions he asks of the reader, Roberts never loses sight of the need to entertain and JACK GLASS has some wonderfully gruesome moments, is built around three gripping HowDunnits and comes with liberal doses of sly humour.
Roberts invites us to have fun and tricks us into thinking about both crime and SF via a beautifully structured novel set in a society whose depiction challanges notions of crime, punishment, power and freedom. It is an extraordinary novel.
This is an authoritative and engaging introduction to writing science fiction and fantasy for the complete beginner. This book provides all the information, guidance, and advice you need to write great science fiction to captivate your readers. It will help you understand how the genre works, the big dos and don'ts - as well as giving you the inspiration and motivation you actually need to write. Written by a leading science fiction novelist and a Professor in Creative Writing at the University of London - you'll discover how to let your creativity flow, create incredible worlds, and get your novel finished.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Teach Yourself Creative Writing series helps aspiring authors tell their story. Covering a range of genres from science fiction and romantic novels, to illustrated children's books and comedy, this series is packed with advice, exercises and tips for unlocking creativity and improving your writing. And because we know how daunting the blank page can be, we set up the Just Write online community at tyjustwrite, for budding authors and successful writers to connect and share.
Unique twisted visions from the edges and the centre of the SF genres. Stories that carry Adam Roberts' trademark elegance of style and restless enquiry of the genre he loves so much.
Acclaimed stories, some that have appeared in magazines, some in anthologies, some appearing for the first time.
Stories to make you think, to make you laugh, to make you wonder, to make you uneasy. Stories that ask questions, stories that sow mysteries. But always stories that entertain.