Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thirty White Horses

As promised in the last post, here's a link to "Thirty White Horses" (pdf). When I went back to clean it up, the science seemed muted, which was fine with me. The story's still got other problems, but I don't think "wheeling in Science" is one of them. I've also got a paper up about how (it seems to me) Richard Powers uses narrative structure to help get the science across Galatea 2.2 and The Gold Bug Variations. I still don't think they're good novels, but they've got a clever, pretty, operatic structure involving a tension between student and teacher that I haven't seen before, and it's a structure that I think could be useful to others. It's also nice that Powers tried it in two books, one where the student's essentially a wide-eyed undergrad, and one where the student's a strung-out RA, so you can see the pros and cons of the variation. Ordinarily I'm not a fan of academic fiction -- the settings become academic nowheres, tethered to nothing -- but it seems natural in Powers' books.

I missed SLSA '07 thanks to childcare issues, but organizer Aden Evens and panel chair Jay Labinger were terrific and generous in making sure my work got presented. For next year, I'll see if the organizers will call in some conference childcare.

I'm working on something to do with popular science illustration, but first I've got to get a 6th-grade social studies book out of the way. Who knew 11-year-olds needed to learn about trade barriers? I guess now they do. I hope the books come with a good world map, too. Meantime, enjoy the beautiful E. coli by David Goodsell.