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Experimental Heart: A Novel. Paperback – November 13, 2008
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“Scientific publishers usually work diligently to avoid any allegation of publishing fiction. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, renowned for its prestigious scientific journals and books, smashes that mold with publication of its first novel...It’s a thriller whose subject is romantic self-discovery, and its milieu is the complex world of basic and applied life science research. It’s a good read, as Rohn makes her characters in the laboratory and the biotech communities come alive. I hope it’s a harbinger of more ablity to come...Rohn’s skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work.” --Cell<br /><br />“Scientific publishers usually work diligently to avoid any allegation of publishing fiction. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, renowned for its prestigious scientific journals and books, smashes that mold with publication of its first novel...It'Â’s a thriller whose subject is romantic self-discovery, and its milieu is the complex world of basic and applied life science research. It'Â’s a good read, as Rohn makes her characters in the laboratory and the biotech communities come alive. I hope it’s a harbinger of more ablity to come...Rohn’s skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work."
"At the heart of the story, which Rohn tells well...is a mystery that turns on a question of science...Along the way we witness the shifting, nomadic international fellowship of scientists, and especially of postdocs. Rohn aims to change the way in which the reading public thinks about scientists." --Nature
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Top Customer Reviews
People have argued whether this book, or this sub-genre of books, is "science-fiction" or just plain fiction. Not too keen on that distinction, I am content if a book reads well. Experimental Heart does not disappoint on that count. It is a work of fiction involving people who work in Science disciplines - people who are not hallowed supernatural beings, but everyday human beings who are capable of looking at, analyzing and solving problems in a different way by virtue of their training, and at the same time, who are equally capable of making mistakes, thus emphasizing their essential humanity.
Dr. Rohn's description of the environment of the storyline - the research laboratory environment - was impeccable. As a bio-science researcher, I could imagine effortlessly sliding into each of the characters she created with care - the under-grad, the finishing grad student, the post-doc trying to hold together the vestiges of his or her sanity. These are I and my people. The situations she dealt upon are mine and ours, down to the ethical dilemmas of animal experimentation, the paucity of social life, the long hours spent at the bench working as well as trying to untangle results from piles of data, uncertainties over the translational nature of one's research, the inherent angst of post-doctoral life - so quintessentially familiar! And that alone made the book so enjoyable, not to mention the interesting plot and the psychology of the characters! Dr. Rohn has captured the essence so well.Read more ›
It wasn't the correct use of experimental controls that kept me up reading at 4 A.M. and made me struggle to put the book down during a social gathering. It was the well-paced plot and the depth of the characters that pulled me in, while cliffhangers and foreshadowing seduced me to rapidly turning "just a few more" pages at odd hours.
For a few days I cared more about Andy's experiments than about my own, so I suppose waiting until after my thesis defence to pick up the book had been a wise decision...
Yet other professions do not suffer from similar opprobrium. Lawyers, police, teachers, nurses all have sympathetic portrayals in popular entertainment. Even the sociopathic House, M.D. is a hero. The discrepancy is puzzling: after all, every mother believes her offspring is going to cure cancer--if they show any scientific proficiency at all. But in films scientists are usually either holding the world to ransom, creating unimaginable terrors or just generally stuffing things up. Similarly, the portrayal of science itself is lacking: although we think we have a pretty clear idea of police procedure or what happens in an emergency room, how, when it comes down to it, is science done?
Jennifer Rohn (a researcher at University College London, with a PhD in virology) started the online magazine LabLit.com to examine the portrayal of science and scientists in fiction, the media and popular culture: not so much to increase sympathy for the scientific profession but to raise general awareness.
Her first novel, Experimental Heart (CSHL Press), is firmly in this genre, the story narrated by a scientist whose life and concerns will be recognizable to many scientists and their families, and revealing to everyone else.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fun read. While not in the same thriller league as Hunt for Red October which was the first (only? Read morePublished 16 months ago by Edward E. Murray
As a molecular biologist and avid reader, I thought this book was quite a find. It turns out that I was wrong. Read morePublished on April 29, 2013 by S. Worden
If you are curious about what cell biologists are, read this book. If you are a scientist yourself, in particular a post-doc, you will love it. Read morePublished on July 7, 2011 by Silvia Paracchini
As a scientist I can certainly vouch for the authenticity of "Experimental Heart"; it really captures the essence of laboratory life, particularly from the standpoint of a... Read morePublished on November 15, 2010 by Steven H. Caplan
Jennifer Rohn is famous for promoting the idea that we need more fiction with realistic scientists in leading roles, via her website lablit.com, and other outlets including Nature. Read morePublished on July 1, 2010 by Michael Gross
Start with the fact that this novel is published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, a resepected publisher of research journals and advanced science texts. Read morePublished on October 26, 2009 by wiredweird
Experimental Heart by Jennifer Rohn is a first-rate example of a rather new genre of novels- What the scientist-author Carl Djerassi calls "Science in fiction" (as opposed to... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by Peter Mazur