Unlike science fiction, lab lit is generally set in some semblance of the real world, rather than a speculative or future one, and it deals with established scientific knowledge or plausible hypotheses. In other words, lab lit novels are mainstream or literary stories about the practice of science as a profession. They may or may not center exclusively on the science or the workplaces of scientists, but all tend to feature scientists as central characters. Examples of lab lit include Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, Cantor's Dilemma by Carl Djerassi, Intuition by Allegra Goodman and Mendel's Dwarf by Simon Mawer. Novels set in the past featuring fictionalized explorations of real-life scientists can also be considered lab lit, such as Enigma by Robert Harris or Kepler by John Banville.
History and origins
Fiction that incorporates real science into works of fiction that are not science fiction has also been referred to as "science in fiction."  Jennifer Rohn coined the term "lab lit" with the launch of the Lablit webzine in 2005. It was relatively rare throughout most of the twentieth century, but began receiving attention in the cultural pages of science magazines during the first decade of the 21st century  and has been championed by such scientist novelists such as Carl Djerassi, Ann Lingard and Jennifer Rohn. An upturn in the publication of lab lit novels occurred around 1990, with five to ten new titles appearing annually in more recent years. This is also reflected in a course at Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State University devoted to lab lit, and The New York Times' The Learning Network. The reasons for this increase are unclear, but may include factors such as an increased interest in science on the part of the general public, publishers, and established authors.
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- List of Lab lit novels at LabLit.com
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