Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

LabLit – A new fictional genre?

I focused on stimulating the dorsal nerve of the clitoris and felt the erectile, spongy tissues dilate in response to parasympathetic nerve action. Acquiring a working knowledge of anatomy could be such fun. I hoped the examiners would set a question on this in the next exam, because I was sure I would excel…

Upon reading this passage, one might assume it is taken from a bad romance novel whose author has a penchant for precise scientific descriptions of sex scenes. Actually, the author of this… startling quote could be the tutor you see every week.

Clear a space on your bedside table, for a new genre of literature has emerged; ‘LabLit’ is the name given to fiction that is dedicated to the portrayal of scientific culture and concepts. The latest to contribute to the rapidly growing genre is a highly respected British university professor. Said professor has started a new series of ‘adult fiction’ that he hopes will make readers ‘appreciate that scientific research can be both fun and iconoclastic’. The author wishes to remain anonymous, which, after reading the first raunchily ‘scientific’ chapters of A Professor’s Tale: Adolescence to Adultery, seems advisable.

The author, ‘A. Professor’, aims to entertain the reader with amusing stories that incorporate scientific theory effortlessly and painlessly; he maintains that the novels are a combination of real-life stories, personal experience, fiction and scientific research. Whether this synthesis has been particularly painless is debatable. For as the above quote illustrates, LabLit may be painful to read for all the wrong reasons. 

Five novels have been written, with the next installment, A Professor Lives To Tell The Tale, due to be published in May 2013. The stories track the adventures of professors and students, and are intended to be both entertaining and educational. The author argues that ‘life is too short to be reading textbooks; it’s far more fun to create a character and put him or her in awkward situations to illustrate why science is important’. So, medics and science students, cast away your dusty tome of ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ or whatever you all read, and replace it with the A Professor’s Tales series. In the novels, science collides with girlfriends, divorce, career problems, and the major issues that face today’s society, such as the difficulties women face in reaching the top of academia and the financial strain that students face. What more could you want from a fictional genre? Well, if you want to know ‘the pressures that medical researchers are subject to’ and ‘how they manage to relax between and during long haul trips to the next scientific conference’, spending £1.92 on a kindle copy of Adolescence to Adultery might be the best £1.92 you ever spent. Yes, £1.92!

The author, who is the editor of an international journal as well as being actively engaged in scientific medical research, was inspired to write LabLit fiction after being shocked by ‘the poor level of scientific knowledge shown by the general public’ towards a range of scientific developments, and their ‘apathy about the implications for themselves’. Thus the novels aim to provide a good story that simultaneously allows one to gain an insight into scientific principle and application. According to the author, they are a ‘must for anyone who remembers their student days fondly, who will soon set out to university, and for those who work in science, medicine or academia’.

If a synthesis of sex and science is your cup of tea, order one of the five titles now. And if one day this LabLit series appears on your reading list, you would do well to do a little more research on your professor’s current writing projects. Yet something tells me that no one will be quoting A Professor Gets Down To Business in their essays or science reports.

Support student journalism

Student journalism does not come cheap. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles