Workshop: Putting the Science in Fiction

University of Manchester, UK

9:30-17:00, 25 April 2012

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 will forge new relationships between the scientific community and the arts/entertainment community. One goal of the workshop is to 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 & Editorial Manager of Comma Press
  • Justina Robson, Author of Silver Screen, Natural History and the Quantum Gravity series
  • Simon Ings, Author of Hotwire, Headlong and Painkillers
  • Matthew Cobb, University of Manchester, Professor of Zoology
  • Tim O’Brien, Jodrell Bank, Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics

11:30AM - Coffee

12PM – Session 2: Science in Television, Movies, and Theatre

  • Barbara Machin, Writer and Television Producer, Creator of Waking the Dead and Kiss of Death
  • Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford, Author of Science on Stage
  • Phil Manning, University of Manchester, Dinosaur 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 Children’s Garden, and The King’s Last Song
  • Alastair Reynolds, Scientist and Author of the Revelation Space series, Pushing Ice and House of Suns

·      Stephen Baxter, Author of the Manifold trilogy and the Xeelee Sequence

·      Ken MacLeod, University of Edinburgh, Scholar and Author of the Fall Revolution series and the Engines of Light trilogy

4PM – Discussion of the Issues and Next Steps

5PM – Workshop Ends