Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 25, 2007

Imagination and Science

I know Madeleine L’Engle’s death is last week’s news, but mourning is long, yes? One of the reasons I loved her work was that she put some science in her novels. Not that it was always particularly good science, but that it was there. I admire her boldness and curiosity, and wonder – would she face stricter copy editors today?

I don’t know the “rules” of “science fiction.” I do know that certain gate-keepers get stronger says, and sometimes to the detriment of what might spark a child’s imagination. There’s enough various kinds of foolishness and what I feel is a certain ill will in the Dr. Doolittle books that kept me from ever putting them in my animal-loving daughter’s hands. But I’m also aware that Jane Goodall found them charming and hugely inspirational as a child. For her, what mattered was that they were about talking to animals, and this opened the imagination of one of the best scientists and kindest people the world has. Much of her formal training came after or during her field work; again, something that would be rare today.

As a writer sometimes it’s hard to know when to sit on your editing hands.



  1. I must admit I was a Dr. Doolittle fan too! Limitless possibilities – it stretched my imagination in a good way, I think. And then the movie…who didn’t fall in love with Anthony Newley? Oops, was I the only one?

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