'Science Into Fiction'

(not 'Science Fiction')

Since 2009, Comma has been coordinating a series of science-inspired short story commissions, inviting authors and research scientists to collaborate on stories around particular areas of technology, theory, treatment or science history. As a form, the short story has always allowed authors to venture out from their comfort zones and to experiment with new techniques, new themes and new contexts. The Science-into-Fiction series is designed to exploit this 'portability' of the short story, enabling literary authors to consider new areas of scientific thinking in a way that is both informed and engaging. So far, the project has produced five anthologies, pairing writers with scientists to produce scientifically accurate stories accompanied by short, explanatory afterwords, written by the consulting scientists themselves and contextualising the research behind the stories:
   When it Changed, 2009 - a collection of short stories responding to a diverse pool of modern research, from skin-printing to intelligent clothing...
   Litmus, 2011 - which re-imagined breakthroughs and 'eureka moments' from science history;
   Bio-Punk, 2012 - which examined biomedical research and ethical implications of such research,
   Beta-Life, 2014 - which focused on artificial life and unconventional computing, and imagined what these will mean in the year 2070.
   Spindles, 2015 - which focuses on the new science of sleep (supported by The Wellcome Trust).
   Thought X, 2017 - a literary exploration of thought experiments and their role in science, supported by the Institute of Physics.

Along the way, other projects emerged. One author - Sara Maitland - was so inspired by the first of these commissions that she went on to write a whole collection of stories based on conversations with scientists: Moss Witch, 2013. Also, in 2011, Comma published a series of stories, essays and appreciations to celebrate the science-driven visions of Stanislaw Lem, Lemistry. The project also had a pilot anthology, in 2008, The New Uncannywhere authors were asked to select items from Freud's famous list of uncanny phenomena and write stories that found new examples of 'the uncanny' in modern contexts (but didn't work directly with scientists).
   Comma continues to work on a host of other science-into-fiction projects, using the above consultation format.

Praise for the Series...

'Highly engaging and fascinating' – The Guardian on When it Changed

'Thought provoking at worst and stunning at best' – New Scientist on When it Changed 

'Exquisite... delectable’ – New Scientist on Litmus 

'Ingenious' – The Independent’s BOOK OF THE WEEK on Litmus 

'Very alive, illuminating' – The Observer’s BEST BOOKS OF 2011 on Litmus 

‘Fascinating reading’ – Financial Times on Bio-Punk 

‘An exhilarating read.’ – The Short Review on Bio-Punk 

A timely…strong anthology’ – The Guardian on Beta-Life 

‘Will appeal to any fans of futurism’– Publishers Weekly on Beta-Life


Radio Appearances...

BBC Radio 4, Open Book, Dec 2014

Prof. Martyn Amos and writer Sarah Schofield discuss Beta-Life with Mariella Frostrup

BBC Radio 4, Open Book, Sep 2013

Prof. Tara Shears and writer Sara Maitland discuss the physics behind the short story ‘The Beautiful Equation’ from the collection Moss Witch 

BBC Radio 3, The Verb, June 2012

Writer Jane Rogers reads from her story ‘Morphogenesis’ from the collection Litmus

BBC Radio 4, Front Row, September 2011

Writer Alison MacLeod discusses her story ‘Heart of Dennis Noble’ from the collection Litmus which was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award

BBC Radio 4, Front Row, Aug 2011

Editor Ra Page and writer Sarah Hall discuss Litmus






Sale

Moss Witch

Sara Maitland

Each story in Sara Maitland’s new collection enacts a daring kind of alchemy, fusing together raw elements of scientific theory with ancient myth.

The New Uncanny

ed. Ra Page, Sarah Eyre

14 leading authors have here been challenged to write fresh fictional interpretations of what the uncanny might mean in the 21st century, to update Freud’s famous checklist of what gives us the creeps, and to give the hulking canon of uncanny fiction a shot in the arm, a shock to the neck-bolts...

Lemistry

ed. Ra Page, Magda Raczynska

British and Polish novelists join screenwriters, poets, computer engineers, and artists, to celebrate and explore Lem’s legacy through short stories and essays.

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Bio-Punk

ed. Ra Page

14 leading authors have here been challenged to write fresh fictional interpretations of what the uncanny might mean in the 21st century.

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Litmus: Short Stories from Modern Science

ed. Ra Page

This anthology draws out and distills science’s love of narrative from a wide range of scientific disciplines, weaving theory into very human stories, and delving into the humanity of theorists and experimenters as they stood on the brink of momentous discoveries.

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When It Changed

ed. Geoff Ryman

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.

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Beta-Life

ed. Ra Page, Martyn Amos

Short Stories from an A-Life Future

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Spindles: Stories from the Science of Sleep

ed. Ra Page, Penny Lewis

Short stories informed by explorations of the science of sleep

Thought X: Fictions and Hypotheticals

ed. Ra Page, Dr Rob Appleby

An anthology of specially-commissioned stories exploring thought experiments and their use in science to crack fundamental problems.