Susan M. Gaines is the author of the novels ACCIDENTALS and CARBON DREAMS, and of the science book ECHOES OF LIFE. Her stories and essays have appeared in the North American Review, Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review, Nature, Best of the West, and other anthologies, and they have been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Gaines holds degrees in chemistry and oceanography and is the recipient of the 2018 Suffrage Science Award and of an Art in Science Fellowship at the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study for her writing about science. Raised in California, Gaines has spent much of her adult life in South America and Europe. Currently, she divides her time between Santa Cruz, CA and Bremen, Germany, where she was one of the founders of the Fiction Meets Science program.
"This is a book about all the things we don't yet know; all the things we know but keep hidden; and all the things we once knew but have lost. Gorgeous, smart, and surprising, this family saga takes us into the large world of nations and politics, but also the microscopic world of mud and microbes. Tender and powerful. Also with birds! "
– Karen Joy Fowler
"In clean, beautiful prose and with an environmental sensibility evocative of Stegner, Accidentals sings with the vibrancy of the living world. It is a novel both erudite and emotionally compelling, suffused with science and natural history, and one which places Gaines firmly in the company of Richard Powers, Barbara Kingsolver, and Anthony Doerr."
– Christian Kiefer
"An intimate family story with an astonishingly epic scope. Alive with history, politics, science, romance, and birds, it is as entertaining as it is intelligent, as beautiful as it is wise. Gabe’s evolution from a passive observer to the passionate creator of his own destiny is a life-changing experience not only for him, but for readers as well."
– Jean Hegland
Carbon Dreams2022 New Edition
Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel2021
Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History2009
Awards and Recognition
- Suffrage Science Award, 2018
- Art-in-Science Fellowship, Hanse Institute for Advanced Study
- Pushcart Prize nominations, 1991, 1996
Press and Media Mentions
- Accidentals By Susan M. Gaines — Review by GrrlScientist, Senior Contributor
- "Accidentals" review, Publisher's Weekly
- Library Journal review of "Accidentals"
- ‘Gaines takes complex scientific hypotheses and translates them into a believable and riveting saga of one woman’s quest for scientific truth…. Skillfully written and deftly plotted, this novel of science set in the early 1980s is unexpectedly compelling.’ – Booklist (Diana Tixier Herald)