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Fiction About Science, Not Science Fiction

Not to be confused with science fiction, "in which the action takes place in speculative worlds and may not involve scientist characters," Jennifer Rohn writes in Nature that "lab lit," or "realistic novels that contain scientists as central characters plying their trade," is increasing in popularity. "Rather than reflecting society's hopes and fears about technology as science fiction does, lab lit tends to focus on the intricacies of scientific work and scientists as people," Rohn writes. Still, the editor of says that, when compared with more popular genres — such as crime fiction, which generates around 600 new books per year in the UK — lab lit falls short, though it is on the subtle rise. "The number of lab-lit books has risen dramatically in the past two decades," she writes, adding that in her studies, she has identified 118 lab lit novels published since 1900, and, since the 1980s, five to 10 lab lit novels were published each year.

The Scan

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