"Science-in-fiction is not science fiction. Is it autobiography?"

- Carl Djerassi
Several factors have always influenced the conduct of scientific research: the quality of the mentor-disciple relationship; trust in the reliability of scientific results; and like it or not, the drive for scientific priority. A more recent aspect of the scientific scene is society's recognition that women should play a much greater role in hitherto male-dominated disciplines. Topics such as these should be presented to a general public, but writing about them in specialized journals will not bridge the gulf between the two cultures. My bridge is a special literary genre, science-in-fiction, wherein I illuminate in a projected tetralogy of novels the tribal culture of scientists, rather than dwelling on the science they do. The reception of the first volume, Cantor's Dilemma, which addresses these issues, convinced me that science-in-fiction is an effective way of smuggling serious topics of scientific behavior into the consciousness of the scientifically illiterate.

The second novel, The Bourbaki Gambit, published in late 1994, deals with three other important subjects: the passionate desire of scientists for recognition by their peers; science's inherent collegiality; and the graying of Western science (hence five out of the six main characters are above the age of 60!). In the process, a fictitious account is presented of the discovery of the PCR methodology - an invention that won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and also formed the unacknowledged basis for the Jurassic Park fantasy as well as the chief bone of contention in the O.J. Simpson trial. In other words, a fiction format is used to explain PCR to a lay public while weaving a story around scientists and their tribal behavior.

The third volume, Menachem's Seed (focusing on recent advance in male reproductive biology and on the involvement of scientists with international policy issues), has just been published, while the final volume, NO (dealing with the "biotech" industry and the treatment of male impotence) appeared in 1998.

However, in between the second and third installment of my tetralogy, I departed from my stress on the scientific community by writing a novel, Marx,Deceased (1996), which centers on creative writers rather than creative scientists. Although seemingly departing from the central theme of my "science-in-fiction" tetralogy, there is an important common thread:

A recurring motif in my fiction is the compulsive drive of research scientists for peer approval and hence for name recognition. Most writers also display a need for approbation by their peers and such preoccupation with their own image is not very different from a scientist's hunger for peer validation. In each instance, that urge is both the nourishment and the poison of a creative mind. But writers also lust for recognition beyond the community of their peers-for acclaim by the general public (which is of no concern to scientists) and by professional book reviewers and critics (a breed that does not exist in the intellectual world of the scientist). The difference between these two groups of creative minds-the issue of individual identity and ego, the ultimate source of all this hunger for success-is the focus of Marx, Deceased.

A few years ago, I published an autobiography, The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse. A reader could well ask: How much of Djerassi's science-in-fiction is autobiography and the corollary: How much autobiography is fiction?

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