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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Putting the science in fiction

9:30-17:00, Wednesday 25 April 2012

View tweets by panelists and members of the audience, lots of images, links to papers, blogs, media etc on Storify:

Many people look suspiciously at science in fictional media and may ask themselves: Why don’t the creators of fiction ever talk to real scientists? In fact, those who write novels, craft television scripts, create movies, and produce stage plays do speak with scientists on a regular basis. This workshop explores how science provides challenges and opportunities for the creators of fiction.

By bringing together leading entertainment professionals, novelists, arts scholars, and scientists the workshop aimed to forge new relationships between the scientific community and the arts/entertainment community. One goal of the workshop has been begin discussions about creating a “Science and Entertainment” collaboration programme in the UK, equivalent to the Science and Entertainment Exchange run by the National Academy of Sciences in the US.

Putting the Science in Fiction is sponsored by the University of Manchester's Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), Centre for New Writing, Faculty of Life Sciences, and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts (CIDRA). There is no cost for the workshop, but spaces are limited so you will need to book a place by contacting

For further details contact the organisers, Dr David Kirby and Geoff Ryman.

Workshop Schedule

9.30am. Welcome to the Workshop and the Issues

10am. Session 1: Creative Collaborations Between Scientists and Writers

  • Ra Page, Founder and Editorial Manager of Comma Press
  • Justina Robson, Author of Silver Screen, Natural History and the Quantum Gravity series
  • Simon Ings, Author and Editor of New Scientist's Fiction Magazine, Arc
  • Matthew Cobb, University of Manchester, Professor of Zoology
  • Tim O'Brien, Jodrell Bank, Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics

11.30am. Coffee

12 noon. Session 2: Science in Television, Movies, and Theatre

  • Ant Neely, subthunk, Composer and Screenwriter, Dimensions
  • Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford, Author of Science on Stage
  • Phil Manning, University of Manchester, Paleontologist, Science Consultant for Bizarre Dinosaurs and Fossil Detectives
  • David A Kirby, University of Manchester, Author of Lab Coats in Hollywood

1.30pm. Lunch
2.30pm. Session 3: Science and Science Fiction

  • Geoff Ryman, University of Manchester, Scholar and Author of Air, The Child Garden, and editor of When It Changed
  • Paul J McAuley, Author of the Four Hundred Billion Stars series, the Confluence series, and the Quiet War series
  • Ken MacLeod, University of Edinburgh, Scholar and Author of the Fall Revolution series and the Engines of Light trilogy
  • Alastair Reynolds, Scientist and Author of the Revelation Space series, Pushing Ice and House of Suns

4pm. Discussion of the Issues and Next Steps
5pm. Workshop Ends

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