One of the most pleasing, if disconcerting, things about writing is the way that when you’re developing ideas into a story, reality spontaneously throws up supporting data.
During a panel at Eastercon I was asked which science I’d like to get more of in my fiction. I answered ‘Biology’ partly out of cowardice, because aside from astronomy (which I studied in a largely maths-free format) biology is the only science I took seriously during my education – although I’m still peeved I never got the chance to study physics, which wasn’t on the syllabus at my school. Biology is closer to my comfort zone than any other ‘hard’ science, and I’m moderately confident using what little knowledge I have. Unfortunately, that knowledge is over a quarter of a century old.
The current novel (which I’ll refer to as DS and say nothing more of for now, tease that I am) requires some basic understanding of certain biological processes, specifically those related to mutation and genetic modification. I realised, last week, that I needed to bone up on this. But where to start? Also, how to find the time.
This week, listening to BBC Radio 4 (as I am wont to do when washing up/cooking/doing the day-job) I have heard not one, but two, programs which have provided both a refresher on and update of my scanty biological knowledge. Given biology is not the sexiest science and gets relatively little media coverage, this was a result.
And then there was the film I watched last night, which was a Chinese historical epic. No science there but a few useful snippets that may find their way, peripherally, into DS.
Sometimes, the project you’re working on is everywhere you look.