Books about Scientists

Goethe_Faust_I_1808
Goethe_Faust_I_1808

Faust. Eine Tragödie. 1808. 309 Seiten, Hagen 310 D1, a photo by H.-P.Haack, Wikimedia Commons

My biggest urge to write fiction came from my desire to communicate my ideas including thoughts on science. When I was a kid I was inspired by science fiction books by Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Doing science is much harder than learning it though. You must be devoted and make sacrifices if you want to do great not just average science. One needs inspiration, I find it in art and communicating science and literature. So, it’s not surprising that some of my favourite books are about scientists.

So, here’s my top 5:

Faust takes place in multiple settings, the first of them is in heaven: Mephistopheles makes a bet with God: he says that he can lure God’s favourite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits …

white garments

a screenshot from White Garments (TV series, Russian language), TV series, Belarusfilm, 1992

This drama is a story  about how Soviet genetics was destroyed by ignorant and ruthless people in Stalin’s oppressive machine. It’s a story about the eternal struggle between good and evil, a tale of a man who needs to choose between his life and his honour.

This Russian version of the book is available digitally here. Also, there’s a seven episode Russian TV series. I really wish the creators made English subtitles to share their film with international audience.

 

the solitude of prime numbers

A prime number is a lonely thing. It can only be divided by itself or by one, and it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia are both “primes”-misfits haunted by early tragedies. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. Years later, a chance encounter reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. But can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together?

Paolo Giordano is definitely one thinker to watch , so I look forward to read his new books.

atomised

Bruno and Michel are half-brothers abandoned by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous hedonist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale.

The book was made into film and the trailer is below:

solar

It takes a great authour to make an interesting story featuring a totally repulsive central character. In brief, the professional and personal worlds of a past-it, Nobel-prize-winning physicist collide in a freak accident.

Recently, an entire literary genre emerged called lab lit, which is about realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic – as opposed to speculative or future – world.

Lablit.com gives us a very good perspective on it and provides us with a list of novels featuring scientists.

What is your favourite fiction/non-fiction book about scientists? Since it’s a resource blog post, your feedback will be valuable to other readers.

P.S. Here’re some links to my other book lists.

And finally, my book Becoming Agie: The Adventure of a Russian transgender scientist entangled in fiction, romance and mystery is now available in print.

trans

 

 

 

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  • Ashen

    I recently re-read and re-liked ‘The Dispossessed’ (74) by Ursula Le Guin. The splendidly reticent MC is a physicist whose work on Simultaneity is being stifled in his anarchist world. A thoughtful exploration about how human values and social politics affect a scientist’s work.

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

      thank you for the comment, Ashen. I have deep respect for Ursula, I haven’t read The Dispossessed, but it sounds very interesting. Happy New year!