Field of Science

Moss Witch

My winter break reading included a book of science fiction short stories, entitled "When it Changed: Science into Fiction". I heard about this book through an article in Field Bryology from the British Bryological Society. I can't seem to locate the exact article, but as soon as I find it I will post it up.

This anthology piqued my interest due to the interaction between scientists and story writers. For each of the 16 short stories, a writer was paired with a scientist. Through a series of interviews the research and scientific interests of the scientist were discussed and woven into the science fiction story of the authors. Each short story is followed by an afterword from the scientist commenting on the story.

Of special interest for me was the story by Sara Maitland, "Moss Witch". She collaborated with Dr. Jennifer Rowntree, currently a researcher at the University of Manchester. The story made the 'short list' for the 2009 BBC National Short Story Award. The full story was read on air by Hannah Gordon, but the full audio seems to be no longer accessible on the web.

The story has also been made into a stop action film. It struck me that a lot of the greenery used in the scenes are not actually mosses. They are lichens some of which look to have been painted. I understand that live mosses are typically pretty wet and that might result in a lot of smearing and wetting of the painted background. However the fact that they didn't use mosses seems a little counter to the goal of integrating accurate science into science fiction.  

Overall think that it is a really vivid and interesting story. However being highly steeped in the scientific world of mosses, all of the mossy science details were distracting to my fact checking sensibilities. I was able to fully immerse myself in the adventures of the other stories in the anthology. I think that those of you with a love for but less immersion in mosses will find the story quite enjoyable. If anyone finds a full link to the audio or video for the story it would be great to hear about it in the comments. 

     Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. The article about this short story and film that inspired my post is located in Field Bryology 102:Oct 2010 p34-35.

    There is not a link to the full text online, but you can find out more about Field Bryology here.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS