More on Engineers Can Write!

By Thomas Moran

The IEEE-USA E-Book, Engineers Can Write!, introduces a number of engineers who became successful creative writers, producing award-winning poetry, short stories and novels.  The e-book describes how many of these engineers discovered similarities between processes they used in their engineering careers and those they followed in their writing, and offers insights that can help all engineers improve their own workplace writing.  Many of these literary engineers have new books that are now available in stores and online, or are scheduled for publication later this year and early next year.   A summary of the new work from some of this very talented group follows.

A review in The Economist hailed aerospace engineer Stewart O’Nan’s novel, Songs for the Missing, as an “elegantly crafted, memorable book.”  It is currently available as a paperback (Penguin) and O’Nan’s new novel, Emily Alone, will be released in a hardback edition in March (Viking Press).

Nick Arvin’s first novel, Articles of War, won numerous awards, and is still available in a paperback edition (Anchor).  A new novel, The Reconstructionist, is based on Arvin’s experiences as a forensic engineer, analyzing the scenes of accidents to determine their cause.  It is currently available in Great Britain (Hutchinson) and will be published in the United States next year.

Homer Hickam is well known for his popular memoir, Rocket Boys, the basis for the movie October Sky.  Earlier this year, My Dream of Stars, a memoir of Iranian astronaut Anousheh Ansari that Hickam co-authored, was released (Palgrave McMillan).  His newest book, The Dinosaur Hunter, a thriller that arose from the retired engineer’s own interest in fossil hunting and paleontology, will be available in November (Thomas Dunne).

Two  novels in David Poyer’s popular series of novels about U.S. Navy officer Dan Lenson are currently available: The Crisis, in hardcover (St. Martin’s Press) and The Weapon, as a mass market paperback (St. Martins Paperback).  Sailing is naval engineer Poyer’s passion, and the subject of his newest adventure novel, Ghosting, set for publication in November (St. Martin’s Press).

A Kindle edition of Drums, the rock-and-roll novel written by mechanical engineer Brad Henderson and first published in 1997, has been released this year (Oak Meadows Press).  Henderson also writes what he labels neo-cowboy poetry, using the pen name beau Hamel.  A chapbook of Hamel’s poetry, Speed, Horse-Sweat, and Unboxed Sky, is also set for publication this year (Oak Meadows Press).


Gene Wolfe’s books and stories have garnered many awards, including induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  The retired mechanical engineer’s most recent novel, The Sorcerer’s House, was published earlier this year (Tor Books).  A new book, Home Fires, is scheduled for publication (Tor Books) in January of next year.

Once an Engineer: Song of the Salt City, Joe Amato’s memoir of growing up in Syracuse, New York, and starting out as an engineer in a brewery, was released earlier this year (SUNY Press).  Amato has two new novels on the horizon. Big Man with a Shovel is due out this year (Chax Press), and Samuel Taylor’s Last Night will follow (Dalkey Archive Press).

If the latest books written by these engineers are not available at your bookstore or library, a short search or inquiry should easily lead to riveting work by contemporary literary engineers like novelist Karl Iagnemma, short story writer George Saunders, and mystery novelist Aileen Schumacher, as well as some from the great engineer writers of the past discussed in Engineers Can Write, including Fydor Dosteovsky, Henry David Thoreau, Robert Musil, Freeman Wills Croft, Nevil Shute and, believe it or not, Norman Mailer.

You can purchase the IEEE-USA E-Book, Engineers Can Write!, at

Thomas Moran is the author of Engineers Can Write!



Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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