Editor’s note: This list will be a continual work-in-progress; nominate your favorite work here. (We always have a dozen or so under consideration and updates take place about once or twice a year. Our next update is due in Summer 2020!)
Please note that ‘lab lit’ is not ‘science fiction’; briefly, lab lit fiction depicts realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic – as opposed to speculative or future – world. The action does not have to take place in a laboratory per se, just anywhere where scientists are doing what they do, such as a field station. Although some science fiction does indeed have elements of ‘lab lit’, and the boundaries can be fuzzy, this list is meant to feature real scientists in the real world. Those that deviate slightly from this definition, or are crossover works, are annotated as such. In the interest of promoting scientists in fiction, this list also includes novels in which the scientist character(s) are not wholly central (‘lab lit lite’).