A Look Inside Big Science From a New Pasadena Publisher

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The first work of adult fiction by Pasadena publisher Bitingduck Press, Susy Gage's novel A Slow Cold Death shows how scientific competition can lead to data theft, fraud, and even murder. Review copies are available through NetGalley and signed pre-release copies at Kickstarter.

Slow Cold

Slow Cold Death

How far would you go to control the space program?

It's a tough time for science PhDs. A small fraction succeed at obtaining faculty positions; those who do face increasing demands to bring in millions of dollars of grant funding, while still excelling at teaching, research, and service.

Several recent books have explored the impact of these problems on the quality of undergraduate education. No one has told the story from a the point of view of postdocs or young professors, for the simple reason that early-career faculty are too busy to write anything except the books and articles that will earn them tenure.

An exception is novelist Susy Gage, a young physicist telling tales of "science in the trenches." Set at the fictional Superior Technological Institute of Pasadena, her stories give a real view of big-ticket science and of the atmosphere of competition that sometimes results in scandal and violence. Although entirely fictional, the books give an insightful portrait of how academia works right here, right now, at America's most competitive research institutions.

Her first book, A Slow Cold Death, is a cozy mystery featuring a nerdy detective who is just trying to get a grant proposal out--until the department's only female student dies mysteriously. It turns out that what appears to be a personal vendetta has a six-hundred-million-dollar motive, as rival factions battle to control the space science program. Review copies of the book are available to media and through NetGalley; the publication date is November 1, 2012. Publicity for the project is being funded through Kickstarter, with donors receiving electronic or print pre-release copies of the book.

The author has also signed for a second book, Not Easy Being Green, to appear in Fall of 2013. Publisher Bitingduck Press, founded in early 2012 by two PhD physicists, aims to provide a publication platform aimed specifically at academics (and geeks of all ages). Along with the Gage series, the press is offering one young adult title and three non-fiction titles in its Fall catalog. Fiction is available in trade paperback and all electronic formats (epub, mobi, pdf, and soon Epub3); most non-fiction is electronic only and DRM-free. Submissions for the Spring and Fall 2013 catalogs are currently open with guidelines available on the website. Are you a scientist with dreams of publishing a novel? Bitingduck Press wants to hear from you!

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Jay Nadeau
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