Pippa Plugging (and a bit of Chas)

Had a rather jolly evening last night. I went to a book launch. I’d never been to one before and didn’t quite know what to expect – lots of air kissing and long fingernails I guess. In fact it was full of nice normal looking peoples, who divided into three tribes – aspiring writers, civil servants, and astronomers. The common link you see is that they were all friends of Pippa Goldschmidt, who just published her first novel, The Falling Sky. Some of you will know that Pippa used to be an astronomer in Edinburgh and Imperial, then moved into government, and has now re-invented herself again as a writer. You can buy the book from Amazon, or, if you prefer to support the UK tax system, from Freight Books. The novel is about a young female astronomer who makes an unexpected discovery which at first is very exciting but which throws her career into confusion and hostility, at the same time as her personal life is unravelling. Thats enough given away. I just finished reading it, and its really v.good indeed. I hope a lot of astronomers will read it, and half of them will think they know who the characters are. Here is a picture of a happy Pippa at the launch, with her PhD supervisor Lance Miller. Who is DEFINITELY not The Deathstar.

The Internut is a wondrous thing, as we daily re-discover. I found myself thinking how intriguing it is to finally see someone portray the real life of a scientist so accurately. There are books and movies and plays about famous scientists like Galileo and so forth, and of course squilliards of entertainments featuring nutty or mad scientists, but how often do you see real ordinary scientists? So I Googled “Scientists in Fiction” and found that there is an entire web magazine devoted to this subject – the rather marvelous LabLit.com. It has a long list of books I now want to read. Thats me sorted for about thirty more birthdays. (He said optimistically).

Its been a good month for astronomically related authors. Old RGO chum Chas Parker has just published his fourth – no hang on – his fifth – book about motor racing. His Amazon page is here. Somewhere in deepest Sussex, Chas still has my beard in a tin, but I can’t explain why without breaching the Official Secrets Act.


7 Responses to Pippa Plugging (and a bit of Chas)

  1. Matt Pitkin says:

    Of the few books on the LabLit list that I’ve read I’d definitely recommend Timescape by Gregory Benford and Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (and his three related Baroque Cycle books).

  2. Thanks for the plug, Andy! Timescape is an excellent book – a very realistic portrayal of physicists at work. Cryptonomicon is vast and ultimately a bit overwhelming. Another great lablit book is Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd. Maths and chimps and African civil wars…

  3. “The Internut is a wondrous thing”

    Indeed, Guv’nor, but don’t be surprised if the title of this article generates traffic looking for, shall we say, non-astronomical black holes (pardon my French). 🙂

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