Neuron Culture

Selling a work fiction is difficult; publishing in Nature is a long-shot; yet somehow writer and genomeboy Misha Angrist managed to publish fiction in Nature.

The only way I was ever going to get a first-author publication in Nature [Angrist explains] was if I just made it all up. So that’s what I did. Hat tip to David Dobbs for providing the scientific inspiration.

The short story/fantasy Angrist publishes actually pulls little, it seems to me, from my story about the orchid/plasticity/differential susceptibility hypothesis, though it does work ground seeded by both genetics and botany, and orchids are important, so perhaps he’s right and I’m wrong.

It’s behind a paywall, and I’m not about to get both myself and Angrist in trouble with Nature. (It’s not nice to …) But I can offer fair-use helpings of my favorite passages.

The lure:

Celeste flashed me wistful black eyes and a rueful smile, the lioness still a force to be reckoned with, even at the end of a long and bitter winter.

The background:

Celeste was the product of emogenics, the breeding programme to optimizes genes and environments for those with heightened sensitivities to external stimuli. She was about as close as anyone had come to the ideal: she was a human nerve-ending in a cotton sundress.

For a time things were good in the shade of the Orchids.

And later, near the story’s, um, climax:

When she leaned into me and spoke about wearing black, I turned around and folded her into my arms. I closed my eyes; the smell of fresh-baked bread was in my nose and a field of poppies appeared before me.

 

It ends with dancing.