The Science of Herself

Widely respected in the so-called “mainstream” for her New York Times bestselling novels, Karen Joy Fowler is also a formidable, often controversial, and always exuberant presence in Science Fiction. Here she debuts a provocative new story written especially for this series. Set in the days of Darwin, “The Science of Herself” is a marvelous hybrid of SF and historical fiction: the almost-true story of England’s first female paleontologist who took on the Victorian old-boy establishment armed with only her own fierce intelligence—and an arsenal of dino bones.

“The Pelican Bar,” a homely tale of family ties that makes Guantánamo look like summer camp; “The Further Adventures of the Invisible Man,” a droll tale of sports, shoplifting and teen sex; and “The Motherhood Statement,” a quietly angry upending of easy assumptions that shows off Fowler’s deep radicalism and impatience with conservative homilies and liberal pieties alike.

And Featuring: our Outspoken Interview in which Fowler prophesies California’s fate, reveals the role of bad movies in good marriages, and intimates that girls just want to have fun (which means make trouble).

Table of Contents
The Science of Herself
The Motherhood Statement
The Pelican Bar
More Exuberant Than is Strictly Tasteful: Outspoken Interview by Terry Bisson
The Further Adventures of the Invisible Man


“Fowler (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves) is best known for her novels, but these selections showcase her range and agility with briefer forms. Set in Lyme Regis, England, in 1814, “The Science of Herself” draws on the true story of Mary Anning and mixes it with the work and life of Jane Austen. An essay, “The Motherhood Statement,” calls for change in science fiction terminology and assumptions, and Fowler’s persuasive ideas on the amorphousness of motherhood are illuminated further in “The Pelican Bar,” set in a remarkably vivid, terrifying, and Atwood-esque boarding school run by the decidedly nonmaternal Mama Strong. In “The Further Adventures of the Invisible Man,” narrator Nathan deals with bullies; his single mother hardly notices. An informal interview conducted by Outspoken Authors series editor Terry Bisson serves as an entryway into Fowler’s mind, revealing her politics, sensibility, sense of humor, interests and influences, and approaches to writing and teaching. This is a must-own for diehard Fowler fans, and an ideal pocket-sized primer for the uninitiated.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness, than she does.”
—Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

“Fowler’s witty writing is a joy to read.”
USA Today

“An astonishing narrative voice, at once lyric and ironic, satiric and nostalgic… Fowler can tell stories that engage and enchant.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Fowler manages to re-create both life’s extraordinary and its ordinary magic.”
New York Times Book Review

“Unforgettable… incandescent… bewitching.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

About Karen Joy Fowler:

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season. In addition, Sarah Canary won the Commonwealth medal for best first novel by a Californian, and was listed for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize as well as the Bay Area Book Reviewers Prize. Fowler’s short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and her collection What I Didn’t See won the World Fantasy Award in 2011. Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and five grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California.

She is the co-founder of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the current president of the Clarion Foundation (also known as Clarion San Diego).

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