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The Lab Lit List

Novels, films, plays and TV programs in the Lab Lit fiction genre

Last updated 9 December 2018

9 December 2018

The list of novels is spread over three separate pages, and other media appear on the fourth page. If you're searching for a book, please don't forget to check all three pages using the links below.

Jump to: Novels (1 of 3) • Novels (2 of 3) Novels (3 of 3) Crossover novelsFilmsPlaysTV

Crossover Novels (science fiction or other genres with particularly realistic scientists)

Blood Music

by Greg Bear
Thriller: Genetically engineered cells take over (admittedly in an over-the-top way, but the lab scenes are extremely realistic, hence the book's inclusion here).
Links: Amazon (UK)

Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton
Thriller: Ancient dinosaur DNA wreaks more havoc (also surprisingly plausibly; one could argue that dinosaurs could be cloned as Crichton describes, and the scientists are believable too).
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Gregory Benford
Drama: A Californian scientist in the 60's find signatures of tachyons in a spin resonance experiment which turn out to comprise an urgent subatomic message.
Links: the author chats on LabLit's forumsAmazon (UK)


by Gregory Benford
Drama: Amidst academic intrigue, a high-energy physicist creates an unusual object which she suspects could be a pocket universe.
Links: the author chats on LabLit's forumsAmazon (UK)


by John Cramer
Drama: A physics postdoc and graduate student access a portal to the dark-matter universe.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Secret

by Eva Hoffman
Drama: A futuristic account of a cloned young woman which contains a substantial amount of credible detail by a non-scientist who has done her homework.
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Julie E. Czerneda
Drama: A biologist studying salmon gets captured by alien archeologists for her unique perspectives on migration, featuring startling accurate field biology culture (first part of a series, 'Species Imperative').
Links: Amazon (UK)

His Master's Voice

by Stanislaw Lem
Drama: A large team of scientists try to decode a message from space, featuring a great depiction of how scientific collaborations work.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Swarm

by Frank Schatzing
Drama: Deep-sea intelligent life seeks revenge on man's careless environmental ways, with realistic scientist characters (and a cameo by a real one).
Links: Our piece by its translatorAmazon (UK)

Red Mars

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Drama: People arrive on Mars and debate the ethics of terraforming, featuring realistically drawn science and scientists (Part 1 of a trilogy).
Links: our author interviewAmazon (UK)

Green Mars

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Drama: The scientist settlers, now technically traitors, rebel against Earth (Part 2 of a trilogy).
Links: our author interviewAmazon (UK)

Blue Mars

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Drama: Mars looks beyond Earth to the future (Part 3 of a trilogy).
Links: our author interviewAmazon (UK)

The Gold Coast

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Drama: A near-future California becomes obsessed with technology and divided by a battle between weapons manufacturers and terrorists.
Links: our author interviewAmazon (UK)

Trouble with Lichen

by John Wyndham
Drama: Two scientists investigating a rare lichen make a remarkable discovery.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Master and Commander

by Patrick O'Brian (and others in the series)
Naval adventure: Chronicles the voyage of a ship with a science-friendly captain and his very scientific ship's naturalist.
Links: our related essayAmazon (UK)

A For Andromeda

by Fred Hoyle
Drama: Scientists at a radio telescope study to decode a message from space.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Andromeda Strain

by Michael Crichton
Drama: A bacteriologist helps the government contain deadly microorganisms from space.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Darwin’s Radio

by Greg Bear
Drama: A virologist grapples with a strange and ancient virus that appears to be the next phase of human evolution. (Also its sequel, Darwin’s Children
Links: Amazon (UK)

Galileo’s Dream

by Kim Stanley Robinson
Drama: Galileo’s historic world is brought to life – but he’s also transported to colonies of Jupiter to troubleshoot.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Highest Frontier

by Joan Slonczewski
Drama: A young girl goes to college to learn more about the interesting world of biology but learns that not everything is what it seems - or is it?
Links: Amazon (UK)

A Door Into the Ocean

by Joan Slonczewski
Drama: Two completely different worlds collide: a world inhabited by pacifists and the new violent rulers.
Links: Amazon (UK)

In His Genes

by Robin Stratton
Drama: A lab researcher struggles to find a cure for his son's disease.
Links: our reviewAmazon (UK)

Ratner’s Star

by Don DeLillo
Drama: In the near future a brilliant mathematician is living with Nobel prize winners to decipher transmissions from outer space.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Fluke: I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings

by Christopher Moore
Drama: A marine biologist studies humpback whales, which shouldn't be able to spell – should they?
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Robert J. Sawyer
What would you do if you saw your future in a flash? And what would the world do?
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Infinities

by John Banville
Magic realism: The family of a mathematician who contributed to the foundations of quantum physics has to deal with his terminal illness.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Jericho Deception

by Jeffrey Small
A Yale neuroscientist is on the verge of a groundbreaking discovery unlocking the secrets of God before a war breaks out.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Colony

by A.J. Colucci
Thriller: A super-colony of ants is sweeping in to attack New York City – can the world's greatest ant expert save the day?
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Jeff VanderMeer
Drama/Thriller: A biologist and her team explore dangerous and unknown territory. The first of a trilogy.
Links: Amazon (UK)

In The Garden of Iden

by Kage Baker
Drama/Thriller: A botanist travels back in time to collect samples from an Elizabethan garden. Series.
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Discovery of Heaven

by Harry Mulisch
Magic realism: An astronomer who loves fast cars, nice clothes and women meets a cerebral chaotic philologist who cannot bear the banalities of everyday life (translated from the Dutch).
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Black Cloud

by Fred Hoyle
Drama: Scientists struggle to understand a black cloud threatening Earth’s existence.
Links: Amazon (UK)

A Box of Birds

by Charles Fernyhough
Drama: A neuroscientist conducting experimental brain research gets drawn into more than she bargained for.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Sixth Winter

by John Gribbin & Douglas Orgill
Thriller: Will the next ice age start next winter?
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Alan Garner
Drama: A tortured scientist savant searches for sister and sanity (part of the Weirdstone Trilogy)
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Edge of the Sky

by Roberto Trottam
Experimental fiction: Exploring the most important ideas about the universe in language simple enough for anyone to understand
Links: Amazon (UK)

Galileo’s Daughter

by Dava Sobel
Historical Fiction: On the cusp between non-fiction and fiction, this work is a narrative treatment of great Italian scientist Galileo and his daughter Virginia
Links: Amazon (UK)

Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes
Drama: An experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns a simple man into a genius
Links: our reviewAmazon (UK)

Infinite Ground

by Martin MacInnes
Thriller: A forensic scientist finds curious abnormalities in bacteria after a man disappears
Links: Amazon (UK)

The Calculus Affair (The Adventures of Tintin)

by Hergé
Comic: A slightly distracted professor invents a novel weapon that could change the world
Links: Amazon (UK)

Odds Against Tomorrow

by Nathaniel Rich
Thriller: A gifted mathematician spends his days in a near-future Manhattan, calculating worst-case scenarios for a consulting firm that indemnifies corporations against potential disasters.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Spaceman of Bohemia

by Jaroslav Kalfar
Sci-fi: A Czech astronaut launches into space to investigate a mysterious dust cloud covering Venus.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Good Morning, Midnight

By Lily Brooks Dalton
Drama: A scientist in the Artic and an astronaut returning from Jupiter find themselves on the same journey.
Links: Amazon (UK)



(Dir. Ivan Passer)
Romantic Comedy: A grieving scientist (Peter O'Toole) tries to clone his late wife; the most realistic molecular biology labs on film, in our opinion.
Links: Amazon (UK)


(Dir. Wolfgang Petersen)
Thriller: A military softie (Dustin Hoffman), a scientist (Rene Russo), a monkey and a brilliant supporting cast save the free world from viral catastrophe.
Links: Amazon (UK)


(Dir. Robert Zemeckis)
Thriller: An astronomer (Jodie Foster) risks her career by devoting herself to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Dante's Peak

(Dir. Roger Donaldson)
Thriller: Volcanologist Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) tries to convince a city council that the local mountain is about to blow, with realistic science as well as scientists.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Deep Impact

(Dir. Mimi Leder)
Thriller: Amateur and professional astronomers feature in this realistically realized tale of a comet on a collision course with Earth, starring Robert Duvall.
Links: Amazon (UK)

I Am Legend

(Dir. Francis Lawrence)
Thriller: One scientist (Will Smith) must find a cure for a gene therapy cure gone horribly wrong.
Links: our reviewOfficial Site

The Dish

(Dir. Rob Sitch)
Drama: NASA gets culture shock when it relies on the crew of the Parks radio telescope, Australia, to relay live TV pictures from Apollo 11. Starring Sam Neill.
Links: Official Site


(Dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Thriller: A realistic tale of the outbreak of a deadly pandemic and the scientists struggling to save the world.
Links: IMDb


(Dir. Alex Karpovsky)
Thriller: A scientist becomes dangerously obsessed by a fellow researcher in the lab.
Links: IMDb

The Theory of Everything

(Dir. James Marsh)
Thriller: A biopic based on the life of Stephen Hawking.
Links: Amazon

The Martian

(Dir. Ridley Scott)
Thriller: An abandoned astronaut struggles to get home
Links: our reviewIMDb

Hidden Figures

(Dir. Theodore Melfi)
Drama/Biopic: A story about NASA’s real-life African-American female mathematicians and their work in the space program. Links: IMDb

The Man Who Knew Infinity

(Dir. Matthew Brown)
Drama/Biopic:: Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan travels from India to attend Cambridge University during World War I. Links: Amazon (UK)


Blinded by the Sun

by Stephen Poliakoff
Drama: Scientists squabble as cold fusion goes belly-up.
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Michael Frayn
Historical drama: Mr. and Mrs. Niels Bohr reminisce with Werner Heisenberg over the uncertainty of memory and quantum mechanics.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Les Palmes de M. Schutz

by Jean-Noël Fenwick
Drama/Comedy: Marie and Pierre Curie discover something hot.
Links: IMBD

An Immaculate Misconception

by Carl Djerassi
Drama: A broody scientist finally gets her gloved hands on some sperm.
Links: our author profileAmazon (UK)


by Carl Djerassi and Roald Hoffman
Drama: Scientists both past and present bicker about who discovered the humble gas.
Links: our author profileAmazon (UK)


by Carl Djerassi
Drama: More bickering (this time about mathematics and the dark side of Isaac Newton).
Links: our author profileAmazon (UK)


by Carl Djerassi
Drama/Comedy: Art vs. science as a bronze statue catalyzes love and a museum spat.
Links: our reviewour author profilePlaywright's website

Autodestruct: the ultimate cure for cancer

by Lizzie Burns
Drama: A man lives on through an immortal cell culture of himself.
Links: our playwright interviewPlaywright's website

Safe Delivery

by Tom McGrath and Julie Webb
Drama: A story about gene therapy, lab politics and life.
Links: Edinburgh review


by Tom Stoppard
Comedy: Two cultures collide in this classic tale of order, chaos and landscape gardening.
Links: our reviewAmazon (UK)

Galileo (Life of Galileo)

by Bertolt Brecht
Historical fiction: The Church battles it out against rationality in this insight-packed masterpiece.
Links: our reviewAmazon (UK)

A Disappearing Number

by Simon Burney and Complicite
Historical fiction: A time-bending fantasy account based on the real life of the genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.
Links: Complicite


by David Auburn
Drama: Catherine struggles to come to terms with the legacy of her mathematician father.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Photograph 51

by Anna Ziegler
Drama: Rosalind Franklin battles with lab politics as much as with the discovery of the structure of DNA
Links: our interviewAmazon (UK)

Experiment With An Air Pump

by Shelagh Stephenson
Historical fiction: Scientists in the past and present grapple with scientific mysteries.
Links: Wikipedia

Lenin's Embalmers

by Vern Thiessen
Dark Comedy: Two rival chemists must decide how to preserve the deceased leader's body.
Links: Amazon

Chain Reaction

by Jonathan Alexandratos
Drama: The key scientists at Los Alamos must build the A-bomb and deal with its consequences.
Links: Backstage


by Roald Hoffman
Drama: A chemist takes his own life, blaming himself for putting an easy way to make a neurotoxin into the hands of terrorists.
Links: Play website

Newton's Darkness: Two Dramatic Views

by David Pinner
Historical fiction: Two plays about two of Newton's infamous conflicts: one with Hooke, and one with Leibniz.Links: Amazon (UK)

The Hard Problem

by Tom Stoppard
Drama:A researcher tries to understand the nature of consciousness.
Links: Amazon (UK)


by Tom Morton-Smith
Historical fiction: A study of the moral issues inherent in being a scientist and a human being
Links: Royal Shakespeare Company


by John D. Barrow FRS
Experimental: Five scenarios eplore infinity, mathematics and the concept of life – without a plot or characters
Links: SIAM


by Melissa James Gibson
Drama: A clinical trial forms the backdrop for crucial life decisions
Links: Amazon (UK)

Informed Consent

by Deborah Zoe Laufer
Drama: Is DNA is our destiny, and who gets to decide?
Links: Amazon (UK)

Miss Atomic Bomb

by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long
Musical:In 1952, a Las Vegas hotel tries to lure in tourists coming to gawk at desert nuclear tests by holding a beauty pageant.
Links: The Guardian

Calculating Kindness

by Lydia Adetunji and Laura Farnworth, Directed by Laura Farnworth
Musical:A play based on the life of geneticist George Price, the man who tried to use math to explain altruism.
Links: at Camden People’s Theatre
Links: The Observer

TV Programs


USA TV series from CBS
Thriller: An FBI agent recruits his mathematical genius brother to help solve crimes.
Links: our article behind the show's consultantsOfficial CBS site

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)

USA TV series from CBS
Thriller: Forensics detectives with refreshingly realistic scenes from labs, featuring scientists who talk (mostly) like real scientists!
Links: Official CBS site


British series from the BBC
Comedy: An astonomer flees the weirdness of Britain for an even weirder experience at an observatory in the Australian outback.
Links: Official BBC site

Eleventh Hour

British series from ITV, US series from CBS (Stephen Gallagher)
Drama: A physicist helps the government deal with various scientific crises.
Links: the author chats on LabLit's forumsScreenwriter's Website


Canadian series from The Movie Network/Movie Central/Shaftsbury Films
Thriller: A crack team of scientists polices the shadowy dealings of the world's biotech and big pharma.
Links: Official ReGenesis site

The Big Bang Theory

American series from CBS
Comedy: A theoretical and an experimental physicist live across the hall from a blonde waitress.
Links: Offical CBS site

Lab Rats

British series from the BBC CBS
Comedy: Shenanigans at an inept university laboratory.
Links: Official BBC site


written by Carl Joos (Dir. Tim Mielants)
Thriller: A viral outbreak in the heart of Antwerp threatens Europe
Links: Wikipedia


by Alexandra Cunningham and Kem Nunn
TV series/Thriller: Dr. Eldon Chance, a neuropsychiatrist, is a man primed for spectacular ruin.
Links: Amazon (UK)

Jump to: Novels (1 of 3) • Novels (2 of 3) Novels (3 of 3) Crossover novelsFilmsPlaysTV