Signs Taken For Wonders



Science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry explores the meeting point between classic fiction and scientific discovery.

The dialogues and debates that occur in both the emerging sciences and the literary fiction of the period of the novel are fascinating. Take, for example, the creative and psychological power of electricity in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

Vivienne Parry considers the literary imagination's response to marginal sciences such as mesmerism, galvanism and spiritualism, and literature's interrogation of scientific sites and conflicts, from the laboratory to the séance room.

With authors, scientists and critics, Vivienne also opens up the changing nature of literary vision as engineered by scientific discovery, and reflects on how the boundaries of classic fiction were continually breached by scientific and technological innovation - from Mary Shelly, Wilkie Collins and HG Wells to present-day writers, like Ian McEwan, who champion a renewed dialogue between science and fiction.

Producer: Simon Hollis

A Brook Lapping production for BBC Radio 4.