Literature is full of weird and wonderful scientific inventions. But behind every amazing feat of fictional science is a brilliant scientist. To celebrate International Week of Science and Peace, we bring you the very best and absolute worst scientists in fiction.
Mind bogglingly brilliant fictional scientists…
The Story of Dr Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
In the fictional village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh lives the much loved character, Dr Dolittle. Invented by writer, Hugh Lofting during World War One, Dolittle shuns human patients in favour of talking to and treating animals. A pioneer in his field, Dolittle refuses traditional veterinary medicine, favouring a much more holistic approach of simply listening.
The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan
Major-General Sir Richard Hannay not only holds a ridiculous number of titles, but also narrates the ever-popular novel, Thirty-Nine Steps. Our protagonist is an outstanding mining engineer who finds himself caught up in a dangerous political plot. Hannay uses his science acumen to protect England’s military secrets from the enemy on the eve of the First World War.
James Bond: the Spy I Loved, by Christopher Wood
Though Q never featured in Ian Flemings original Bond novels, this much loved scientist has become a highlight of subsequent books and films. Head of the fictional ‘Q Branch’, Q is known for his amazing inventions which frequently save Bond’s life. Eternally frustrated by Bond’s inability to return his equipment intact, Q and his technology are probably the main contributing factors in Bond’s invincibility.
Emmet Lathrop “Doc” Brown
Creator of the famous time-travelling sports car in Back to the Future, Doc Brown is one of the world’s most loved mad scientists. Equal parts genius and crazy, Doc Brown is known for his outbursts of “Great Scott” as much as his mastering of time travel.
Peter, Raymond, Egon and Winston
Peter, Raymond, Egon and Winston are parapsychologists: they battle ghosts. Designing incredibly sophisticated technologies to restrain and capture ghosts is no mean feat, but this crew of genius inventors manage to save New York from ghosts on a daily basis.
Scientists of questionable ethics and skills…
The Island of Doctor Moreau, by HG Wells
A formerly eminent physiologist in London, Doctor Moreau has his own remote island where he conducts gruesome animal experiments. When our narrator, Prendick discovers that Moreau is actually creating human-animal hybrids, things turn ugly.
Dr Henry Jekyll
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Caught in a constant battle of the good and evil within himself, Dr Henry Jekyll decides to solve all his problems with a potion. His attempts completely backfire when he ends up transforming into Mr Hyde. As the dark side of his personality, embodied by the violent Mr Hyde, grows ever stronger, Jekyll lacks the power or scientific know-how to reverse his experiment.
Dr Victor Frankenstein
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly
Things are never going to end well when you steal body parts from graves and sew them together for your science experiments. Nonetheless, this is exactly what Dr Victor Frankenstein does when he decides to see if he can create a sentient man from scratch. When he does actually succeed, Victor Frankenstein is left riddled with regrets for having tried to play God.