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The potted history

Chris Lawson is a doctor and writer living in Australia. His short fiction has been published in Asimov's Science Fiction, Event Horizon, Dreaming Down-Under, Gathering the Bones, Agog! and Eidolon, as well as several Year's Best anthologies and Under Centaurus, a historical retrospective of Australian science fiction. His work has been translated into French, Czech, and Bulgarian, and optioned for feature film development.

At greater length

Chris Lawson is a writer and family doctor in Australia.

His short fiction has been published internationally and translated in French, Czech, and Bulgarian. His first sale appeared in the respected Perth journal Eidolon. Since then he has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award winning anthology Dreaming Down-Under, Spectrum SF, Event Horizon, Gathering the Bones, and Agog! His best-known stories, "Unborn Again" and "Written in Blood", have been reprinted in several Year's Best anthologies. "Written in Blood" was selected for the historical retrospective of Australian science fiction Under Centaurus (Tor, 2000). "Unborn Again" has been optioned for feature film development.

Lawson is developing a reputation for his essays and non-fiction. Snippets of these can be found on his Frankenstein Journal blog and in his first collection Written in Blood (MirrorDanse Press, 2003). His non-fiction has been published by LOCUS, Borderlands, and Ticonderoga Online, among others.

As a doctor, Lawson's main interests are family medicine, epidemiology, and genetics. He has a graduate diploma in biostatistics and epidemiology, and is recently finished a graduate course in human genetics. His working life has taken him to rural and metropolitan settings, and outside family medicine he has experienced both extremes of the health system by working for the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and for the multinational pharmacetical company Merck Sharpe and Dohme.

He lives with his wife and two children. He only speaks of himself in the third person on occasions.

My influences

Keith Roberts for his narrative sinew, Isaac Asimov for his scientific candor, Arthur C. Clarke for his clarity of vision, Pohl and Kornbluth for their lightness of touch while handling complex themes, Jim Thompson for his toughness and sly humour, Albert Camus for finding warmth and humanity in emptiness, Graham Greene for his characterisation and moral courage, and many others besides.

There are writers I admire greatly, such as Alfred Bester and Connie Willis, whom I would never dream of trying to emulate even in little ways, and so I do not classify them as influences.

What people have said about the writing

1. Selected reviews

'Consistently original, inventive and illuminating,' Garth Nix

'a unique look at the religious impacts of bioengineering,' Paul Di Filippo, SciFi.com

'narrative power and emotional punch,' Simon Brown, Eidolon: SF Online Review #3

'appropriately gruesome,' Mark R Kelly, LOCUS

'a fine example of what Event Horizon is trying to accomplish,' James S. Reichert, Tangent Online

'particularly noteworthy...a marvellously titled but horrifying story",' Kathryn Lance, Tucson Arizona Daily Star

'the truly outstanding new find in Australian sf writing,' Judges' Report, Aurealis Awards 2000

'sophisticated and ironic,' Jonathan Strahan, LOCUS

'an unusual cultural perspective,' Mark R Kelly, LOCUS

'outstanding,' Clinton Lawrence, Tangent Online

'intriguing,' Fred Cleaver, The Denver Post

'challenging...asking questions, but giving no answers,' Erika Maria Lacey, ASF Online

'a powerful story... shows he has the skills to be a major talent,' Clinton Lawrence, SCIFI.COM

'a wonderfully insightful tale of faith and technology in the modern world,' Keith Brooke, Infinity Plus

'the horror at its heart is based in real events, and real human atrocities,' Andrew M Butler, Foundation

'Lawson has a knack of making us care about the effects of the technology he so carefully posits because he convinces us that the effects impact on what it means to be human. Isn't that what all science fiction should strive to achieve?' Simon Brown, Eidolon: SF Online Review #5

'Lawson's finely-balanced ambivalence, his acute perceptions of the human factor, his detailed attention to the reality of consequences, and his sharp and understated characterisation, particularly of female characters, mark his writing as having considerable literary weight. And, ultimately, he is a staggeringly persistent writer of bloody good English sentences, in a plain and lucid style reminiscent of Orwell and Le Guin.' Robert Cook, Infinity Plus

'To attempt to synopsize this intricate story would only do it a disservice. Much like its source material, "Countless Screaming Argonauts" unfolds over a long period of time, with elements and characters who influence the outcome from decades earlier and miles away.' Aimee Poynter, Tangent


2. At excessive length

Unborn Again · Matthew 24:36 · No Man's Land · Faster, Higher, Stronger · Chinese Rooms · Frankenstein Journal · Written in Blood (short story) · Written in Blood (collection) · Body Parts · The Shape That Kills


Reviews of "Unborn Again"

Chris Lawson's 'Unborn Again' is an almost despairing look at the apparent impossibility of global action for human rights, taking the Holocaust-like horror of China's Dying Rooms as a leaping-off point. The story seems to say that even straightforward revenge has limited success as a response, but Lawson's postscript at least allows some hope, and provides useful research directions for the pricked conscience to explore.

—Robert Guy Cook, Infinity Plus


There are several interesting works [in Dreaming Down-Under] by newer writers, and of these Chris Lawson's "Unborn Again" and Paul Brandon's "The Marsh Runners" are the standouts.

—Jonathan Strahan, LOCUS


Paul Brandon's "The Marsh Runners" and Chris Lawson's "Unborn Again" provide two unforgettably chilling interludes, as much from subject matter and staging as storyline.

—Terry Dowling, The Weekend Australian


Chris Lawson in "Unborn Again" provocatively draws on the philosophy of John Stuart Mill in a tale involving the ethics of using neonatal tissue implants in medicine.

—Gary K. Wolfe, LOCUS


[Dreaming Down-Under] includes powerful work by Chris Lawson, Damien Broderick, Terry Dowling, Cherry Wilder, Stephen Dedman, Sean Williams, Lucy Sussex, David J. Lake, Simon Brown, Dirk Strasser, Sean McMullen, and others, including a first-rate novella by the late George Turner.

—Gardner Dozois, LOCUS


If "Unborn Again" reminds us in tone and implication of some of Greg Egan's medical SF, it is an indication of its narrative power and emotional punch rather than its influences. Like Egan, Lawson's strength as a writer lies in his ability to convey convincingly new technology and its possible implications, and bringing to this a human perspective that touches us deeply and morally.

—Simon Brown, Eidolon: SF Online Review

[Conflict of interest warning: Simon is a personal friend.]


"Unborn Again" shares with the other story ["Written in Blood"] a biological hard SF basis and an unusual context. After describing a recipe for cooking lamb's brains -- an appropriately gruesome signal of things to come -- it describes a customs official's visit to the hospital room of Dr. Dejerine, who's implicated in a prion disease outbreak linked to her lab and who may be demented. As her defense, Dejerine hands the official a manuscript describing her experience with Parkinson's disease. She took advice from a colleague to seek "nigral implants" (brain tissue from fetuses) in Hong Kong, a procedure illegal in Australia even if done elsewhere. Dejerine recovers from the disease, but then begins experiencing bouts of pain that leave her debilitated. She realizes she may have benefited from a procedure even more gruesome than harvesting tissue from aborted fetuses.

The story is cleverly constructed in the way it implicates Dejerine, and then reveals the back story that not only exonerates her (mostly) but reveals a far greater crime -- one the author indicates is quite real in China with its one-child policy. The story's a bit more contrived in handling the philosophical debate; Dejerine's father revered John Stuart Mill, we're told, so she grows up debating utilitarian principles and now conducts debates with Mill's ghosts in her head about the morality of receiving the treatment. In any event, the story tackles a difficult social issue in an imaginative and memorable way.

—Mark R Kelly, LOCUS


"Unborn Again" by Chris Lawson ... is a fine example of what Event Horizon is trying to accomplish. This is a somewhat preachy near future tale of one woman's regrets and her self imposed penance ... I commend this tale to you.

—James S. Reichert, Tangent Online


Among the particularly noteworthy stories in this volume [Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction 16] are "The Cuckoo's Boys" by Robert Reed...; "The Very Pulse of the Machine" by Michael Swanwick...; and "Unborn Again," a marvellously titled but horrifying story by Chris Lawson, which follows a neuroscientist as she realizes the terrible implications of her work in fetal research.

—Kathryn Lance, Tucson Arizona Daily Star

[Ms Lance goes on to say that her favourite story in the book is William Barton's "Down in the Dark." Thanks to Gordon van Gelder for sending a copy of this review.]


Chris Lawson's "Unborn Again" begins with a recipe for lamb's brain, itself horrific in an age of CJD scares and realities. Whilst the overheard tale which emerges is a kind of homage to 'Flowers for Algernon', centred on Parkinson's disease rather than increasing intelligence, the horror at its heart is based in real events, and real human atrocities.

—Andrew M Butler, Foundation

['Flowers for Algernon' is a wonderful story, but no homage was intended. I can't vouch for my unconscious mind, though.]


[Translated from French by Babelfish:] I seized the occasion to pin young and gifted authors who seem to walk on the traces of their elders: ... and Chris Lawson's story made me think of Egan, by its subject more than by its setting in Australia. Let us hope that these obviously qualified authors will be able to find their own voices.

—Pascal J Thomas, KWS


Reviews of "Matthew 24:36"

"Matthew 24:36 " is a millennial tale by Chris Lawson which postulates a world gone crazy in the wake of January 1, 2000. Lawson focuses on a survivalist in Australia who listens with grim satisfaction to reports that his fears of civilization’s collapse have been confirmed. Given the actual aftermath to Y2K, the story, which does not have the feel of an alternate history, seems strangely dated and inaccurate until the denouement.

—Steven H. Silver, Tangent Online


 

Reviews of "No Man's Land"

In most stories [in Gathering the Bones] the subtle and suggestive trump the physical and gruesome, such as "No Man's Land" by Chris Lawson and Simon Brown, where vividly described horrors of trench warfare prove an avenue to more awe-inducing terrors.

Publishers Weekly


For me, though, the most disturbing tales [in Gathering the Bones], the ones that still give me the existential creeps several weeks after reading them -- and therefore, by my initial measure, the best -- are Chris Lawson and Simon Brown's 'No Man's Land', Mike O'Driscoll's 'Sounds Like', and Robert Devereaux's 'Li'l Miss Ultrasound'...

Lawson and Brown's 'No Man's Land' is set in the trenches of WWI France, with a rapidly dwindling squad of Tommies telling each other ghost stories between aborted forays over the wire. The stories they tell focus on the carrion-craving ghouls that are thought to roam the eponymous field of mud and bones between their own trenches and the Hun. The narrator finds the line between story and reality blurring as more of his comrades are lost in pointless attacks, until he discovers for himself exactly what it is that lurks in the lethal non-space between the lines. This story is soaked in a constant and remorseless sense of contrast. The first words plunge us into the endless din of battle, and we veer from that to the sibilant quiet of night and whispered ghosts and back to the brain-shattering noise until we wonder, much like the grunts in the trenches, what is really being heard, and what is the very last thing they might hear.

Tellingly, 'No Man's Land' is also marked by a contrast-that-isn't: this is a horror story, and a scary one at that, but it's not as scary as some of the others in Gathering The Bones. The real horror here is the war itself, something that actually happened, that was real. The fact of it, the fact of what war makes men do to survive it, washes into and through the imagined horror, so that the fiction -- the monster, the bogeyman, the dreaded thing itself -- becomes the filtered, manageable aspect of the reality. The imagined thing is still, always, terrifying, incapacitating, not of this world and therefore beyond understanding -- and so, finally, almost a relief. It is the end result of something we made, though we did not ourselves make it; so all we have to understand is that we are frightened of it. War, on the other hand, we are too frightened of to understand. 'No Man's Land' is neither the best written story in the collection, nor the out-and-out scariest (though it's in the top third on both counts). But it tells us to be frightened of something that matters. It compels us to see that horror is always, finally, real.

—Robert Guy Cook, Infinity Plus


Review of "Body Parts"

The best piece by far [in Borderlands 4] is a non-fiction article, “Body Parts”, by Chris Lawson. As an editor who has been commissioning the occasional piece from Lawson over the last 5 years, “Body Parts” is one of his best pieces, and certainly better than anything he has ever written for me. This article describes the history of anatomical discovery and future implications of ownership of body parts, in straightforward language often lacking in other articles written today. Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, Chris Lawson is one of the best writers Australia has produced in the last few years, and “Body Parts” is worth the price of the issue.

—Russell B. Farr, Ticonderoga Online


Reviews of "Written in Blood" (the collection)

It's the people who haunt you. The grieving mother, the dying biologist, the proud father, the farmer who clings to his belief in a better world even as he watches the apocalypse. These people wrestle with responsibilities, passion, ambition and the big questions that confront us all: who am I? What is my place in this world? Am I real? Do I matter? What matters most to me?

Chris Lawson's anthology, "Written In Blood", starts with an interview in which he resists being labelled a scientist (he's a medical doctor as well as a writer). The six short stories that follow are clearly science fiction, dealing with topics like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Similarly, the five essays in "Written In Blood" demonstrate a resolutely rational approach to understanding the physical and intellectual world around us. The essays are what Lawson describes as definitive versions of articles previously published in his weblog, Frankenstein Journal.

Lawson's interests are broad. Recently he's delved into World War I history, and currently he's exploring Byzantium. He applies clear logic to demolishing creationist and AI fallacies, and he understands large chunks of astrophysics, mathematics and other 'hard' sciences.

Science, in Lawson's writing, is not inherently beneficial or dangerous. Lives and worlds are changed not by the science itself but by how it's used and (mis)understood by fallible, passionate, intelligent, ordinary people. Emotional resonances are the heart of "Written In Blood", in both the fiction and the essays.

OK, here comes the obligatory Greg Egan comparison.

Egan is currently regarded as a leading writer of 'hard' science fiction. He's Australian, and several of his works have been set here or in the South Pacific. It's been said that Egan's form of 'hard' science fiction, with its reliance on detailed, sophisticated maths and physics, is written for an audience that hasn't been born yet. It's also been said that Egan's more recent work needs a good editor.

Lawson has a good editor, Bill Congreve, whom Lawson credits with significantly improving the quality of "Written In Blood". (Note to the cognoscenti: "In the study of history, it is important never to confuse William Congreve with either William Congreve or William Congreve." Macinnis, 2003, chapter 4)

Lawson has another advantage over Egan. He pays attention to rhythm, character and concise storytelling. He uses different writing styles to communicate ideas and portray characters, and he rarely stumbles on matters of technique. In short, he's a better writer.

Launching "Written In Blood" in Melbourne this month, Russell Blackford predicted great things from Chris Lawson's writing future. Buy this book. Read it. Bookmark the weblog. Send him an e-mail. Grab the opportunity to watch this promising writer fulfil his potential.

—Margaret Ruwoldt, sneedle flipsock

[Conflict of interest warning: Margaret is a personal friend.]


Some writers are prolific to the point of saturation. Every time you open a magazine there they are, lurking in the contents page, until you can't make out the signal from the noise. Others are slower, less easy to find, a rare truffle nestled amongst the mountains of common dirt. Chris Lawson is one of these (although I'll bet you real live actual Australian dollars he's never been called a truffle before).

Lawson's writing is superb. This collection of 'hard' SF stories from MirrorDanse Press is imbued with the kind of deep, personal, insights many other hard SF writers can only dream about. Lawson's ability to infuse his technologically-based work with a deep understanding of humanity marks Written in Blood as an extraordinary collection, far superior to many of his contemporaries. If he were more prolific he would rightly be considered the finest writer of technological SF Australia has produced. As it is, there are only 6 stories in this slim volume, although they are joined by 5 essays from his "irregular pseudoblog for both cultures", Frankenstein's Journal.

Don't think you're being shortchanged, though, by these essays. Lawson is as adept at the opinion piece as he is at fiction, and while some may grinch at the thought of spending money on something they can trawl the web archives for in their own free time, the fact is they form a perfect counterpoint to the often heavy themes presented in the stories, and are thoroughly entertaining in their own right. In particular, 'Evolutionary Pressure on Creationists' is an acerbically fun take on a subject dear to my own heart, and provided your barely-humble reviewer with more than a few "Yeah!" moments along the way. But it's the stories that are the crux of the matter. And the stories are, without fault, brilliant.

"Chinese Rooms", which opens the collection, is a masterful examination of the ramifications of artificial intelligence, and what may happen when the mind that controls the mind has an ulterior motive. "Unborn Again" is a truly unsettling tale, a skin-crawling mixture of medical technology, human weakness, and moral bankruptcy that had me putting the book aside for almost a fortnight while I attempted to contemplate the ramifications Lawson presents. "Lacey's Fingerprints" is a straight-out detective story, on the surface, but the secret lying at its heart once more displays Lawson's uniquely bleak view regarding the results of technology handled by the inept and greedy. "Matthew 24:36" is an all-too-plausible dissection of the effect of religious fundamentalism (and let's face it folks, if you're religious, you're a fundamentalist of at least one description) on the kind of folk who believe in things like Y2K and the Millennium. My personal favourite, "Faster, Higher, Stronger" falls into Lawson's own field of expertise, the medical profession, to give us a human, and humane, account of the effects of performance enhancing drugs on athletes, and the price they have to pay to stay clean in a world founded upon cheating. And then there's "Written In Blood", the story that gives the collection its name, a tour-de-force effort that brings together many of Lawson's personal hobbyhorses: religious fundamentalism; the ability of technology to both enhance and inhibit our lives; the damage that can be done to the human condition by those small-minded power-cravers we allow to run our lives. It is a fitting summation of Lawson's power as a writer, and a marker to the great talent he can exhibit at will.

There's something rotten in the writing state of Denmark when the shelves are filled with firelighter after firelighter of the brands Jordan, Feist, Wurtz, and all the other boring sub-Tolkein hacks who clog the arteries of literature like low grade cholesterol, and skilled practitioners like Lawson are consigned to small press, small run editions that are only accessible if you meet someone in the know. You've read this review. Now you're in the know. So go buy it.

—Lee Battersby, Ideomancer

[Conflict of interest warning: Lee is a personal friend.]


 

 

 

 

Review of "Faster, Higher, Stronger "

"Faster, Higher, Stronger" by Chris Lawson considers the question of how far athletes will go to win. Long distance runner Ty Mercurio has an "old school" stance on the use of drug enhancements to improve performance, an opinion which increases as he sees his sport, and his personal life, forever altered by their proliferation and abuse. The story's science fictional elements are minimal--aside from the drugs themselves, there's not much in the way of futuristic extrapolation. This makes the story feel one step removed from mainstream fiction, perhaps, but it's still an effective cautionary tale, well written and heartfelt.

—Christopher East, Tangent Online


Reviews of "Chinese Rooms"

Chris Lawson's "Chinese Rooms" was well-thought out and challenging. Not one that was haphazardly thrown together, this one presents the idea of Searle's Chinese Rooms in a story whose storylines are, at the beginning, confusing, but intertwine by the end. Artificial intelligence; intelligent? The story revolves around a supercomputer learning, asking questions, but giving no answers.

—Erika Maria Lacey, ASF Online


Chris Lawson’s "Chinese Rooms" is a warmly intelligent tale about AI, or rather the idea of AI. Mixing philosophy with science -- and using an emotional catalyst to combine the two -- Lawson presents us with a question that does not necessarily have any answers. More accurately, there are two answers, but they are mutually exclusive. To cap it off, Lawson adds a postscript to the story that throws the original question open again.

Lawson has a knack of making us care about the effects of the technology he so carefully posits because he convinces us that the effects impact on what it means to be human. Isn’t that what all science fiction should strive to achieve?

—Simon Brown, Eidolon: SF Online Review

[Conflict of interest warning: Simon is a personal friend.]


Reviews of the Frankenstein Journal

Of course, I can’t possibly point you toward four million blogs or four thousand or even four hundred. But I’m worried that if I point you toward, say, forty excellent blogs that explore our little corner of literature, then this column might well become obsolete ... So, forty blogs, as promised. My selection criteria? Just that the posts be interesting, regularly updated and touch on genre, at least occasionally. [Frankenstein Journal made the cut]

—James Patrick Kelly, Asimov's Science Fiction


Good stuff from Chris Lawson includes a review of Dreamcatcher, and "The Standard Book of Alchymical Elementals".

LOCUS Online


Reviews of "Written in Blood" (the short story)

[Reviewing Genometry] Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" fashions a unique look at the religious impacts of bioengineering, as holy texts become literally embodied...

—Paul DiFilippo, SciFi.com


Lawson, whose unanimously chosen winning story also has a biological theme, is the truly outstanding new find in Australian sf writing. Although he began writing quite recently, he is represented here by two excellent short stories in the shortlist.

—Judges' Report, Aurealis Awards, 1999


Chris Lawson's sophisticated and ironic "Written in Blood"...tells of two Muslim Australians, a father and daughter, who travel to Mecca to commemorate the death of their wife and mother respectively. There they meet a man who has discovered how to inscribe the Qu'ran on human DNA -- it becomes an act of faith that makes biological testing for religious belief possible. Like modern Australia, it is an intensely modern and, despite its subject matter, non-secular tale.

—Jonathan Strahan, LOCUS


Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" is ... about DNA, and it comes with an unusual (for SF) cultural perspective. The narrator is an Australian and Muslim girl travelling with her father on the Muslim pilgrimage, haj. In the Holy Lands they hear tales of a "bloodwriter" and her father, a biologist, visits the man to see if he's legitimate. Father is impressed; the bloodwriter has invented a way of writing the Qu'ran into a person's blood by means of translating each letter of the alphabet into DNA codons within white blood cells. Father accepts a treatment himself and only later realizes a possible danger: the encoding makes him a potential target for a designer virus, should someone seek to target Muslims.

From the girl's perspective, the story is a lesson in intolerance; Muslims bicker among themselves about tradition and the letter of the Qu'ran; in Australia Muslims are the latest societal scapegoats. Science is available as a weapon against religion (the virus) or, as Lawson movingly shows, as a means of expressing religion's highest aspirations.

—Mark R Kelly, LOCUS

[Mark R Kelly later listed the story in the runners-up for the Top Ten Stories of 1999.]


The human genome, and junk DNA, come up once again in Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood". This tells of an Islamic girl and her father, a scientist, who are on their pilgrimage to Mecca after the girl's mother has died, and the father has just recovered from leukemia. They encounter a man selling a strange product: a serum which will alter their junk DNA to encode the Qur'an within it. The story establishes the legitimacy of this product, then suggests a couple of scary potential consequences. I found this somewhat interesting, but a long way from convincing.

—Rich Horton, Tangent Online

[Can't please everyone, dang it!]


[Translated from Spanish by Babelfish:] And "Written in Blood" of Chris Lawson is an ingenious history that fails when developed being in very little space. In the future it will be possible to write messages in the useless parts of the DNA and the Muslims begin to write the Corán in their blood. A doctor and his daughter who travel by Earth Santa, originating Australia, know the wonder and ál accepts to inoculate. The problem with the history in which there are too many ideas. For example, now all the Muslims who take the Corán written in their blood will be easily identifiable like members of that religion and therefore easy to kill with a genática plague directed exclusively to them. Or, quá would happen with the people who already suffer a genática disease and part of its DNA is sobrewritten with a message. The ideas do not have space to breathe, and although they are all interesting, no can simply reach a satisfactory solution for physical reasons.

—Pedro Jorge Romero, El archivo de Nessus


...[T]here are some surprises [in Centaurus]. One is the frequency of religious themes in the selected stories, especially in Broderick's "The Magi," Stephen Dedman's "From Whom All Blessings Flow," and Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood," all outstanding stories.

—Clinton Lawrence, Tangent Online


One of the newest writers here has one of the most intriguing stories. In "Written in Blood" Chris Lawson presents a dramatic interaction of science and religion as a woman watches her father have the Koran encoded in the DNA of his blood.

—Fred Cleaver, The Denver Post


Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" explores bigotry as an Australian Muslim scientist has the Koran written into his blood as encoded DNA... Lawson, a new Australian writer, has written a powerful story that deals with bigotry both within and outside a prominent religion in "Written in Blood." This story shows he has the skills to be a major talent.

—Clinton Lawrence, SCIFI.com


Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" painlessly explains its high concept, that of encoding the Koran in the A, C, G and T of a believer's DNA, with a crib for the language of choice. But there's not much in the story beyond the idea and the consequences.

—Graham Sleight, New York Review of Science Fiction

[To anyone wondering why I would put such a review on my own website, here's why. First, I believe in balanced reporting. Second, I have a flair for self-contempt and don't mind inviting outside help. Third, it is a reminder that one can never please everyone -- Sleight loved Gene Wolfe's story (a "standout"), but in the same issue of NYRSF and reviewing the same anthology, Thomas E. Jackson called it a "relative dud". Finally, I am a great believer in Oscar Wilde's dictum: "the only thing worse than being talked about..."]


Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" examine[s] some of the consequences, both minor and major, of genetic manipulation.

—Charlene Brusso, SF Site Reviews


Another highlight among the newer writers [in Dozois' Year's Best New Science Fiction] is Chris Lawson, with "Written in Blood". On a Ramadan pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, eleven year-old Zada and her father encounter the bloodwriters who claim to be able to use an engineered virus to write the Qur'an into pilgrims' blood. This is a wonderfully insightful tale of faith and technology in the modern world.

—Keith Brooke, Infinity Plus


As is becoming a hallmark of Hartwell's Year's Best SF anthology, several of the stand-out stories are from young and relatively unknown writers. Australian Chris Lawson's "Written in Blood" is a moving tale of a young Islamic geneticist's struggle to live up to her father's faith.

—Greg L Johnson, SF Site


The flight over was all right. I read about half of Gardner's "Best of," and there are some really fine stories in there. Greg Egan is, as always, awesome. Silverberg scores high, too, and Eleanor Arneson, James Patrick Kelly, M. John Harrison, Chris Lawson, Fred Pohl.

—Joe Haldeman, Ireland 2000 Diary


[Reviewing Hartwell's Year's Best SF 5] The stories by Chris Lawson, Robert Reed, Robert Sawyer, Curt Wohleber and Tom Purdom are competent, if not particularly brilliant stories.

—Ad Astra

[Mind you, the reviewer praised only one story from the entire collection, so it seems this is not such bad company.]


Review of "The Shape That Kills"

TiconderogaOnline Vol 1, No. 1 features a column by doctor and writer Chris Lawson, titled “Counter-intuitive: The Shape That Kills”. This is a fascinating introduction to prions, and “slow viruses” associated with them. Written in terms a layperson can easily grasp, Lawson illuminates a subject that has been used in a number of science fiction scenarios, and is one of the great modern mysteries of medical science. Even in scientific terms – especially in scientific terms - a ‘Shape That Kills’ is the-Lovecraft-kind-of-scary.

—Talie Helene, ASif!