Today’s rec is Andrea Barrett‘s Ship Fever!
I only read this book, because Simon Singh recommends on his website, and I’m a mindless sheep fangirl sheep.
And if it hadn’t been for Simon Singh, I probably would have never even heard of the book, because USian authors aren’t exactly my area of expertise, and Barrett, despite being a really great author, seems to be virtually unknown outside of the US. Which is a terrible shame.
Ship Fever is a collection of short stories about science, its history, about people who do science, and for me, about how really totally absolutely awesome the world is.
The short stories are nothing like you expect fiction about science to be: there are no info-dumps, and very little in the way of explanatory prefaces. I also found Barrett’s writing style very engaging and fun to read; there’s very little exposition, as if the reader were expected to know everything from the start, which makes you pay more attention to the text, and it might just be me, but somehow, when it seems that you’re expected to understand everything from the beginning, you feel that you are more inside the text than you normally would.
My favourite story was the Ship Fever, which is about a quarantine station for Irish immigrants who are fleeing from the potato famine, or at least, this provides the background for many people to do many things, try to do many things, and to die.
It’s like The Plague without all the stuff I didn’t like about The Plague. Also, there are more women.
I also lenjoyed The Rare Bird (about the theory that swallows hibernate under water during the winter, and women in science), and Birds with No Feet (about how it is when you don’t get to be the person who always discovers everything first).