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Putting the Science in Fiction: Expert Advice for Writing with Authenticity in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Other Genres

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Science and technology have starring roles in a wide range of genres--science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, and more. Unfortunately, many depictions of technical subjects in literature, film, and television are pure fiction. A basic understanding of biology, physics, engineering, and medicine will help you create more realistic stories that satisfy discerning reader ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Writer's Digest Books
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Dan Koboldt
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Disclosure: I'm the editor of (and a contributing author to) this book.

Putting the Science in Fiction is a reference for genre fiction writers that was developed from my "Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy" blog series. Each week, I invite engineers, scientists, doctors, and other experts to discuss common misconceptions about their field and to offer advice for writers who want to get the details right. Now we've collected much of that knowledge into a book with Writers Digest.

This book contai
Beth Cato
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, writing, nonfiction
I received a galley of this book from the editor.

Dan Koboldt's Science in Sci-fi blog series has a fantastic online resource for years. This book, published by Writer's Digest, collects some forty of those pieces to create a fantastic print and ebook resource for writers or inquisitive readers. The diversity of material is absolutely fascinating. From proper lab technique to touring the human genome to correctly depicting mental illness to computer hacking to building spaceships--this has it all
Abby Goldsmith
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Full disclosure: I am one of the author contributors of this book.

The editor, Dan Koboldt, put together an excellent, top-notch collection of articles about a variety of science and tech fields that are commonly misused or misrepresented in popular sci-fi. These misuses drive actual scientists and tech people in audiences batty, because the whole suspension-of-disbelief crashes when you know the process or underlying science just doesn't work that way. It drives me batty, too, which is why I wr
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookishfirst
When I first read the excerpt of this book, I was expecting this to be boring, dull, monotone. I was wrong! I was quite suprised! Pleasantly surprised which I wanted to read more, so I signed up for the drawing of this book and I won! Thank you, Bookish First!

By the way, while I read the first couple of chapter, Sheldon and Penny from The Big Bang Theory television series popped in my head. I can actually see Sheldon handing Penny this book for her to learn about science and writing! I had to c
Audrey Adamson
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Putting the Science in Fiction is an engaging look into how to write science fiction realistically. I learned things, questions things and even had a laugh. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone writing science fiction.
The book is comprised of essays by different experts telling of things in pop culture that makes them cringe. The majority of the essays then tell you how to fix that in your own writing. Many of these have a sense of humor making education fun without having the feelin
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Are you an aspiring author of Science Fiction? Want to sound like you know what you are talking about when your character launches into an explanation of the psychology of the alien squid-like beings they discovered on that distant planet they arrived on after just a four week trip, thanks to an advanced engineering break-through? Then read Dan Koboldt's book. It's packed with great insights from a host of experts. Their knowledge and tips are informative and digestible for the layperson.

As a writer, this book is ESSENTIAL to any writer's arsenal. I don't care if you write science fiction or you don't, you NEED this book to go on your personal bookshelf or your reference pile for future stories. I am not a sole writer for science fiction, but let me tell you, this book helped me with a recent science fiction story that I did have to write. Whether or not you regularly write or read science fiction, this book will let you apply its contents into your stories and books for other g ...more
Robin Blankenship
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was interesting and fun. It really explained so much of the science I have been wondering about. It was not stuff and boring like some technical books can be. I would definitely recommend this resource to anyone looking to write a novel or who just loves the science behind it all. It was well composed and well written from top experts in the field. I very much enjoyed this and think this is a handy guide for writers of science fiction to keep handy. I also keep thinking my ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to get a chance to read and review this book. As someone with forensic psychology experience, I am often annoyed when fiction writers get psychology wrong and clearly have done littleness to no reaesarch in an area that their book has a large focus. This resource has 59 chapters written by science experts in the field aimed at educating writers, busting common myths, and with some ideas of how to get the writing to be as accurate as possible even in a fictional or fantasy worl ...more
Carolyn McBride
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have been following Dan Koboldt's blog for some time and learning a lot. So I was excited to see this book and hopeful at the same time. I'm pleased to report that I learned even more from the book! No matter if you write with a lot of sci-fi in your work or even just a little, there's bound to be something in here you'll find yourself using. Much of it is written in a conversational style, very easy to read. (Although I confess to reading the genetics section twice in order to understand part ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
What an utterly fascinating book! I love reading 'the truth behind the fiction' and this book was perfect for that. I did skim a few - very few - chapters that got a little too technical for me, but overall, this book was easily understood and extremely interesting. HIGHLY recommended for sci-fi writers.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Stephanie Sauvinet
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favorites
Disclaimer: I am one of the contributors for this book.

This book is a great resource for writers, particularly SF writers. We cannot possibly be knowledgeable in ALL fields of science in order to write SF and this book is the perfect answer. It covers an array of scientific topics and gives you the skinny on the science behind them. It allows for someone unfamiliar with those scientific topics to understand some basics, and best of all, prevent glaring mistakes. It debunks a lot of the myths fic
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

I have served on various book judging committees over the years. Recently I was part of a group picking the best science fiction for the year. I’m not going to say where or when, but it’s a list where the jury is still out.

But it made me think about what makes good science fiction – and conversely what doesn’t. Which led me to not one but two books in the virtually towering TBR pile, Putting the Science in Fiction and The Science of Science Fiction, both of
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although aimed at writers of science fiction and fantasy, this handy anthology of essays into how to accurately portray STEM fields and their array of characters will fascinate and inform anyone with an interest in how science works. The book is chock full of easily grasped explanations of a variety of scientific, psychological, medical, and technological principles that will help writers build believable worlds, convincing characters, and spellbinding plots. And each section is carefully catego ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
If I ever doubted that I am not a hard science fiction reader/writer, this book definitely convinced me.

On the science fiction/fantasy spectrum, I definitely lean more toward the fantasy end. As long as the science is "close enough" (even for things I KNOW are wrong), the story is more important to me. I'm okay with some hand waving and "comic book science" as long as the characters and integrity of the plot carry the story.

Overall, this book definitely served that end. It provided just enough
Diane Hernandez
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Whether you write mysteries, fantasy or science fiction, Putting the Science in Fiction is an exceptional way to avoid factual errors. But it is also just a great way to catch up with current technology trends.

When your spaceship dramatically explodes into a fiery cataclysm, scientists everywhere are screaming (with laughter). Of course, in space no one can hear you scream. However, you should also know that without oxygen, you know like in outer space, fiery explosions can’t occur. To avoid gig
Since I first read the synopsis for Putting the Science in Fiction, I knew I needed to read it. I already like science based nonfiction like one of my recent reads, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, so this one was right up my alley. This book is comprised of a collection of advice written by experts in their given field. And I just have to say that it’s awesome to have so much information that can be a great help with developing technology and environments for science fiction, fantasy, or any typ ...more
Hannah Brat
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it

This book is clearly informative and enlightening. For anyone interested in STEM fields or medical fields, this book is a must. Clearly written with expert precision, smart people will gobble this book up.

The cover is not the most impressive thing to ever hit this planet, but that's okay for the type of book you're getting. If you want to be a thousand times smarter, pick this book up and get going.

I personally am not the person that this book is geared for. I'm not crazy intelligent, but even
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book as an ARC from Netgalley. That being said, I fully intend to buy a physical copy for myself and request that my library buy a copy as well.

This is a useful book. I haven't quite finished it, but I haven't found a useless essay so far. There's been a few that didn't really apply to me (viruses for the most part) that I found a little dry, and there is a tad bit of repetition between essays on similar topics, but I doubt most people will r
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
**I received a copy from BookishFirst **

This book is amazing! I am so happy to find that there is someone out there informing writers to get behind the real science in their story subjects. I see so many books where one little thing is wrong that messes up the whole story to me. The biggest, and it’s like a stab in the heart, is for example, there’s a really popular book out now about a nurse working in an ER and a vampire is raiding the bloodbank. First of all, ERs don’t have bloodbanks, labs d
Danielle Hammelef
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Write what you know is something that has been drilled into my head at every writers' conference, pod cast, and lecture I've attended or watched. But when you love science fiction, unless you are a genius, how can you know everything about the medical, psychological, physiological, and other "logicals" you need to make your reader believe in your world? With this book, you have the tools and the direction to proceed with your writing dreams of creating worlds your reader won't question or scoff ...more
Gina Denny
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are a writer, you NEED this book.

Dozens of subject matter experts share quick tidbits about what writers get wrong about their area of expertise. Not only are a lot of your assumptions wrong, but the truth can give you more ideas than you know what to do with. Psychology, psychiatry, genetics, biochemistry, environmental science, and the list just goes on and on. Every essay is organized in an easy-to-read format with headlines to catch your attention and help you find that interesting t
Philip Kramer
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
***Disclosure: I am a contributing Author in this book.***

While I contributed a short article to this book, the vast majority of it was not written by me, so this is my review of those other articles.

I became a Hard SciFi writer about the same time I became a scientist. During that time, I realized how difficult it was to spot inaccuracies on TV and in books without being well-educated on the subject. While reading through this book, I found I had made a number of inaccuracies in my own works o
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a great compendium of pieces to assist writers in understanding the science behind so many of the science fiction elements we so dearly love. The authors collect works on biology, astrophysics, chemistry, engineering, and medicine, making it an incredibly useful resource for authors who lack a strong background in science. In fact, even those with strong science backgrounds could find great use from this book, because it covers so many different topics. No scientist is an expert in ...more
Brianna Carosi
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think it's important to note that the copy I read was an advanced uncorrected copy I got at nycc so I'm not sure what changes could have been made with the final copy of the book. Based on what I read I loved this. It's presented as a tool for science fiction writers utilizing the expertise of many different professions complied as short essay like chapters about the real science seen so much in science fiction with a huge focus on how to correct the scientific mistakes. Even if you aren't a S ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won an ARC from, thank you to them and the Publisher.

This was incredibly informative and quite humorous as well. There’s a ton of information in this book to help you write a science fiction book or to simply learn in general, as in my case. So many topics are covered in this book from how to properly use lab equipment to correctly presenting mental illness, and yes, even lightsabers. I would think anybody would enjoy this book that likes to read or watch science fiction as it
Jennifer Maben
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What is not to love about this book? Honestly, it is well-written, informative, and humorous. Even the titles of the chapters are funny which makes it seem relatable instead of giving a textbook feel. Some of the topics might typically be a little boring, but not in this book. Each topic is discussed by explaining tropes and myths and correcting them or by explaining exactly how something works. There are topics from poisons to the brain and psychology, and animals, diseases, space, genetics and ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book.

Writer's Digest never fails to impress with their books on writing and this one definitely doesn't disappoint! The information contained in this book is invaluable, especially the section on mental health and neuroscience. It helps with character building, especially in my favorite genre to write in: literary fiction focused on mental states and disorders.

I also found the medical section useful. The other more science fiction related sections were
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Putting the Science in Fiction: Expert Advice for Writing with Authenticity in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and other genres is wonderfully written and an excellent resource for aspiring writers. This novel would make a great gift for writers as well as lovers of science fiction and fantasy. This novel includes so many helpful brainstorming ideas to create believable worlds. This is packed full of advice from experts and is a wonderful collection of research. Some of the sections in the book includ ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
From the summary, I knew the book would be well researched. The summary I read mentioned the forty authors whose expertise are compiled to help budding authors avoid the common pitfalls that befall many science fiction writers.

However, what I did not expect is how all that research would be compiled in a way that makes it seem like the book was written with one voice and that the style of writing would truly be more conversational in style than like a traditional textbook.

I was also concerned t
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Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher who has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals. Every fall, he disappears into the woods to pursue whitetail deer bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the plants in his backyard.