F144. Nerd Novels: Exploring Worlds of Knowledge in Fiction

Room 200 D&E, Level 2
Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 am to 11:45 am


In recent decades, an increasing number of novelists have looked to science and scholarship for their subjects. We discuss the challenges and payoffs of working with such rich but demanding material. How do we bring obscure realms of knowledge such as chemistry, climate science, literary criticism, astronomy, or economics to life in fiction? How can we teach readers what they need to know to understand our stories while keeping them engaged with characters who are, essentially, nerds?


Susan M. Gaines is the author of the novel Carbon Dreams and the science text Echoes of Life, and of short stories in various literary journals and anthologies such as Best of the West. She is writer in residence and founder of the Fiction Meets Science program at the University of Bremen (Germany).

Jean Hegland’s four books include Into the Forest (a film adaptation is in production) and the forthcoming Still Time, a novel about an aging Shakespearean scholar's final encounters with the plays. She teaches creative writing and literature at Santa Rosa Junior College in California.

Michael Byers is the author of the story collection The Coast of Good Intentions, the novella The Broken Man, and two novels, Long for This World and Percival's Planet. He directs the MFA program at the University of Michigan.

Peter Mountford's novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award, and his second novel, The Dismal Science, was published in 2014. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Granta, Best New American Voices 2008, Southern Review, and the Atlantic.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center