Geneticist’s Newest Book: a Guide to Those Writing About Science

Dan Koboldt aims to help scif-fi, fantasy and other writers to make it real in print and on screens

Dan Koboldt, MS, a principal investigator in the Institute for Genomic Medicine, is also a nighttime writer, who just had his fourth book published: Putting the Science in Science Fiction.

Koboldt is triply suited to be editor and frequent chapter author of this paperback. The book provides advice to authors and writers for the big and small screens who want to get the science right in science fiction, fantasy or any genre the involves science, medicine or technology.

He’s got unquestioned science chops, spending his days sequencing the genomes of families and children to find answers when a child has an undiagnosed disease and a genetic cause is suspected.

Before this non-fiction book, he wrote a sci-fi trilogy published by HarperCollins. And for years, he’s been writing about genetics and discussing other sciences with experts on his “Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy” blog.


“It’s my night hobby, in my spare time after the kids go to bed,” says Koboldt. He and his wife Christina are raising three children. “They’re surprisingly tolerant,” he says.

Koboldt began writing books about a decade ago, pumping out a pair of manuscripts during National Novel Writing Month (November), an annual internet-based creative writing program. The third, about a Las Vegas magician sent into an alternate, medieval world, he thought was good enough to try to sell.

After the torment of waiting for publishers’ decisions, eventual rejections and then revising the book, The Rogue Retrieval was bought by Harper Voyager and published in print and e-book more than a year later.

He proposed a second in the series, which he’d already written, and the third, which he’d already been drafting. The publisher said yes.

“I grew up reading The Lord of the Rings and always had a trilogy in mind,” Koboldt says.

After the third book was out, his agent approached him with the idea for the fourth: a nonfiction book based on his blog series.  Many chapters come from Koboldt’s blog articles; others are new. The advice comes from scientists, physicians, nurses, engineers, teachers, science writers and more.


Koboldt is lead author of a small team that wrote a 10-part fictional serial for Serial Box, whose app allows you to read or listen to an audio version. The serial follows a team trying to solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, and is expected to be available by spring.

“It’s still a hobby,” Koboldt says from his second-floor office in Research Building III. “This job actually pays the bills.”

To learn more about his new book, see a CNET article here.