November 23, 2006

Enough with the science books, already

Via Critical Mass, a two part interview (one, two) with science author & journalist Michael Lemonick in the Kenyon Review.

A great interview with lots of interesting bits on the life of the science writer. A taste from each of the two parts:

LL: Is it difficult for you to write science stories for things you don’t necessarily have a background in?

ML: It’s certainly harder. What that just means is that I have to ask more questions, and ask for more basic explanations than I might for other areas I’m more familiar with, but my strong belief is that with a bit of effort, I can understand pretty much any area of science at the level I need to in order to explain it to—well, to you. Except mathematics, which I don’t think is possible to write about in a coherent way. Mostly. There’s a very small number of things.


LL: You also blog. How does writing for the blog differ for you?

ML: It’s a more informal form, and also the choice of topics is much looser. In the magazine, everything is done by committee. Everything is done by getting a group of people to agree at many levels to do the story. But the blog—I don’t get permission, I just do what I feel like. Some things I write about are very silly, some are serious, and some are argumentative. It’s more informal in writing style and also in the way I think about the whole process. I think of a blog as a conversation, and the sort of thing like where I run into a friend and say, “Oh, you’ll never guess what I just heard! Did you know they are doing such and such?”
Horgan seems to have started a bit of a meme on science books, with posts turning up all over. Horgan's third post on the worst books is here. If you poke around in the various search engines, you'll also get a lot of interesting hits. Some examples: Technorati, ScienceBlogs, Google Blog Search. From what I can tell, Richard Akerman of Science Library Pad is the only other one from the biblioblogosphere to weigh in.

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