Science and the City: Incoming

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis, but given that it’s due to be published in less than 5 months (eeeeeeep!), and it’s officially a long weekend (though I’m working, obvs) I thought it was time for an update 🙂


** UPDATE: 30/03/2016** The cover is here! What do you think?



When last I wrote, I was awaiting Editor Anna’s feedback on the first draft. Well, I’m delighted to say that she liked it! She made lots of excellent edits to the content, and suggested a few changes to the tone – I took them all on board and made some big changes of my own too. In the end, I cut 10,000 words out of the first draft… firmly ‘killing my darlings‘ in the process. Then it went to Copyeditor Catherine, who did a bloody great job on it. A round of reviews and some edits followed, and it’s now sitting with the production editor (name unknown). The illustrations are all done too, and I’m really happy with them.

This means that, rather terrifyingly, the first proofs of the book are expected to be ready by the end of Mar / start of Apr! This is the version that goes out to early reviewers (people who write quotes to include on the cover), so it’s all hands on deck to find some victims / willing volunteers 🙂 I’m at peak-shameless right now – I’m not above begging to ensure I get some awesome people involved,and it’s going ok so far. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, alongside that, I get the chance to make further edits, before it goes to the second proof stage. This is when it is typeset and the index etc. is put together. The press day (when it is brought into the world as a newborn book) is scheduled for the end of June, and the launch day (when you can hold a copy in your hand) is 11th August!

Launch Event

Plans for this are in the works, but they are VAGUE. I’ve gotten as far as thinking that a panel on the challenges facing future cities might be fun, and I’ve asked one or two people if they’d be up for being panellists. I’ve also approached my lovely friends at Crossrail to ask for their help to find a central London venue. And I’m hoping to be able to offer free / extremely cheap tickets for everyone (but a book purchase would be appreciated!). But that’s it. I promise, I will get more organised, and soon. I’m targeting the 12th August for this event…. another date to add to your calendars 🙂

General stuff

I have a few talks already lined up, including in the book tent at Wilderness Festival, held in Oxfordshire. I’m also going to be interviewing the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier about the move to polymer notes planned for the autumn –  that interview (inspired by Chapter #7) will be published in BA Business Life Magazine in June, so if you’re flying anywhere that month, keep an eye out for it! I have lots of ideas for other articles too, and will keep you updated.

You can read a mini-version of the preface here (although this has changed quite a lot now)

The Table of Contents is here too, along with a flavour of what’s in each chapter:

  1. Up: This chapter is about the most visible bit of a city – the iconic skyscraper – and hidden engineering they rely on
  2. Switch: In this chapter, we’ll explore electricity, and I promise you’ll finally understand how the grid works
  3. Wet: This is a chapter of two halves – water and waste. There will be plenty of toilet humour, I assure you!
  4. Way: We’ll head out on the open road in this chapter, and explore beautiful bridges and the science of traffic jams
  5. Drive: What good is a road without a car? In this chapter, we’ll talk about everything from tyres to fuel cells
  6. Loco: We’ll dig our very own tunnel in this chapter, and I’ll tell you why ‘leaves on the line’ cause such a problem
  7. Connect: This chapter will talk about the less obvious networks that tie a city together – food and goods, communications and money
  8. City: This chapter will be a bit different from the others, maybe a bit more sci-fi than sci-fact 🙂 But it will be fun.

Since January, I’ve also been working on a load of interesting projects as a fully-fledged science writer and communications consultant – no rest for the wicked! But I’ll have to blog about that separately. I think this post has gone on long enough!

I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by. In just a few short months, ‘my baby’ will be a real book, available for purchase. And while I’m nervous / petrified about what you’ll all think of it, I can’t wait to share it with you.

L x



PS: Can we all just take a second to admire this incredible fabric? It’s called Hoffman Skylines and I fell in love as soon as I saw it. Oh, I wonder what I could make with it? Just you wait and see!