US: New novel satirises scientists, universities

"Tech Transfer" is the deceptively mild title of a mordant satire about scientists and universities and how they do business, writes Nicholas Wade for The New York Times. The best scene in this hilarious first novel is a meeting of the trustees of Kershaw University, an elite research university only 200 years younger than Harvard.

The trustees have to select a new president. They listen with mounting dismay as the professional head-hunter in charge of the search reads out the polished résumés of each candidate, but notes in each case the fatal flaws revealed by background checks, ranging from spousal abuse to bestiality and, even more fatal, plagiarism. As the trustees hasten to leave for the airport, they agree on a nonentity, Mark Winner, an economics professor with a thin résumé and a clean rap sheet.

The author, Daniel S Greenberg, is a leading science journalist with a deep knowledge of the academic world and science policy. Seeking to add an extra dimension to the waste, fraud and abuse he was reporting, Greenberg from time to time would run 'interviews' with an increasingly celebrated scientific entrepreneur, "Dr. Grant Swinger" of the Center for the Absorption of Federal Funds. "Tech Transfer" is the world of Swinger writ large.
Full report on The New York Times site