Fiction for Engineers

For some reason, very few people write novels with engineers in them. It’s almost as hard to find novels with an engineering attitude (to me, the engineering attitude is a mixture of curiosity about how the world works and an I-can-and-will-fix-this mindset).

That said, here are the novels I’ve found that do speak to the engineer’s soul in me.

(Note: I do not count hard sci-fi as engineering fiction on the basis of its technical accuracy. This is partly because hard sci-fi without a human element bores me to tears, and partly because a character that ‘is an engineer’ but has no inner or outer life does not count. Engineers are human too!)

Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ms Bujold is my go-to author for engineering-related fiction. Her father was a professor of welding engineering and her books abound in engineers, engineering professors, people with a scientific or engineering background, people who use their engineering skills to save the day (or the drains), etc, etc.

Particular mention goes to:

Falling Free

The first book in the Vorkosigan Saga has an engineer as the protagonist and the following quote:

The human mind is the ultimate testing device. You can take all the notes you want on the technical data, anything you forget you can look up again, but this must be engraved on your hearts in letters of fire.
There is nothing, nothing, nothing more important to me in the men and women I train than their absolute personal integrity. Whether you function as welders or inspectors, the laws of physics are implacable lie detectors. You may fool men. You will never fool the metal. That’s all.

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The Sharing Knife

This is an epic fantasy-romance saga but features ‘makers’ who design and create magical items with the same process and effort and, sometimes, personal cost as engineers in the real world.

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I seem to have gone on a bit too long about Ms Bujold. The rest of the list will follow next week.

What engineers fiction do you read and love?

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