________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2000

cover Packing Fraction.

Julie E. Czerneda, ed.
Toronto, ON: Trifolium Books, Inc,, 1999.
122 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-895579-89-9.

Subject Headings:
Science fiction.
Science in literature.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


"I've always liked to think that there was more to love than just chemistry," her mother said taking a sip of water. "Though that's part of it," she conceded.

"It's all of it," Paul insisted, looking smug. "Every move you make, every perception, every feeling you have is, in essence, a complex chemical reaction. We're really nothing more than just walking chemical factories. Which is why by next year I might be a millionaire."

Packing Fraction is the students' companion volume to the teachers' resource, No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction, which illustrates how teachers can use speculative fiction to link language arts and science. In the main, the five original stories and three poems in Packing Fraction find their roots in the H.G. Wells school of science fiction which is concerned about the possible social effects of scientific developments. In the title story, a chemist, while attempting to develop a commercial process to pack more fuel for rockets into a smaller space, is unaware of the "physics" of what she is doing and unwittingly creates a more compact fusion bomb. Crystal, the 14-year-old central character of "Love is Chemistry" steals her uncle's artificial pheromone which he claims "will get you more love than you can handle" and discovers the truth of his prediction. "Stream of Consciousness, " in which humans encounter alien life, demonstrates how easily we humans fall into viewing the "new" in ethnocentric ways. "Ancient Dreams" finds future archeologists excavating on other planets and encountering resistance from some of the local inhabitants who view their actions as a form of desecration. In the closing story, "Prospect Park," which is set about half a century from now, a man seeks to escape the incessant communications which are delivered to his brain by implants through his visiting Prospect Park, "the Affordable Wilderness Experience." A delightful addition to the collection are the three short poems by Carolyn Clink which may give science-oriented students a new appreciation of and perspective on poetry. For each of the award winning authors, editor Czerneda includes a brief "Meet ..." biographical section, a bibliography of the writer's works, plus the author's "Top Three" recommended science fiction novels for further reading.

Packing Fraction can be just another SF story collection in the library, or English and science teachers may want to buy it in classroom-sized quantities and use it as a resource for team-teaching.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364