Check the web page for The Expeditions for current news.

Recent News:

Karl's essay "Equations and Lies" has been published in NASA's ASK magazine.

Karl's essay "The Inhuman Face" is currently posted on MSN's Open for Design.

The French rights to The Expeditions and On the Nature... have been acquired by Albin Michel.

Karl's new novel is finished! It will be published by the Dial Press on January 15, 2008. The title is The Expeditions.

Karl's writing and research has been profiled on PBS's Nova ScienceNow. Click here for more details.

The feature film version of "On the Nature..." is in development with Warner Brothers Pictures, with Plan B Entertainment and Heydey Films producing.

Karl's essay on "roboethics" has been posted on MSN's Open for Design.

Karl's essay "William Bartram's Curse" has been published in Issue 3 of Swink.

Karl's story "The Upgrade" has been published on

The Korean rights to "On the Nature..." have been acquired by Chaeksesang.

The Italian rights to "On the Nature..." have been acquired by Baldini & Castoldi.

A feature on Karl's fiction, including his story "Zilkowski's Theorem," has been published in Golestaneh: Iranian Cultural and Arts Monthly.

The paperback version of On the Nature... has been reissued by the Dial Press.

Karl's story, "Robots of the World, Unite!," which was first published on, has been reprinted in The Best American Erotica 2005.

The paperback version of On the Nature... was published by Delta on June 29.

Karl was selected to receive a 2004 fiction grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Karl was selected by SEED magazine as one of 16 people who "redefined science in 2003" (in their Fall issue).

American Scientist has an interview with Karl about On the Nature.... Read it here. has an interview with Karl (by Robert Birnbaum) about On the Nature..., among many other things. Read it here.

On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction has been selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Series.

On the Nature... was a Book Sense 76 pick for May/June.

On the Nature... was featured on NPR's "Here and Now" as part of a segment on historical fiction (June 2). Listen here.

Karl was interviewed on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC (June 2). Listen here.

The Boston Phoenix (May 15 Issue) has an interview with Karl about writing, robots, etc. Read it here.

Hour Detroit (May Issue) has a brief feature about On the Nature...

Milenio Semanal (Mexico, May 19 Issue) has a feature about Karl and On the Nature...

Karl appeared on Cambridge's Free Transfer to talk about books, robots, MIT, etc.


Between the logical mind and the heart's mysteries

Faith, to the scientist, is a necessary evil. He or she must believe in the possibility of hope--in the provable hypothesis, the laboratory experiment, the research path toward enlightenment--and yet believe, more fully, in the supremacy of empirical data...

Karl Iagnemma, who works as a research scientist in robotics at MIT, has a striking grasp of this paradox, and his perspicacity infuses the stories in his debut collection. ...[He] has the good sense and lightness of touch to render the rapture of science--and to know when its human parameters matter even more.

Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe


A rarity: Mature voice, distinct style in 1st fiction volume

On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction, a first collection of stories, brings a sure-handed empirical discipline to both sentences and the exacting sentience of the experimental mind, often rattled by what it can't control. ...That mature voice, distinctive style and broad perspective helps Iagnemma shape the refreshing imaginative territory he explores.

...In "Kingdom, Order, Species," Kaye Lindermann praises her hero J. Poole's "admixture of whimsy and precision." If she could look at the writer pulling her strings, she'd find he's pretty good at that interaction himself.

Read the entire review.

Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer


...With its sudden shifts from quotidian to fantastical, with its airy flirtations with life and death and with a cast of characters who spend their time in the company of circles, ellipses and conic sections, Iagnemma's fiction can make even the most ardent math-hater appreciate the parabolic nature of life's ups and downs.

–Mark Rozzo, LA Times


Iagnemma, who works as a research scientist at MIT, is clearly aware of various scientific investigations into the nature of atomic particles; ethnological surveys of “primitive” societies; the workings of digestive systems; the nineteenth-century explorations of the brain. He recognizes that although science and pseudoscience try to chart underlying forces that govern existence, they cannot really achieve knowledge of human interaction....

Read the entire review.

Irving Malin, Review of Contemporary Fiction


Iagnemma is a research scientist who specializes in robotics as well as being a talented and fascinating fiction writer. Among his many strengths is an ability to present a variety of worlds, with sheer authority and authenticity, most of which are underrepresented in contemporary fiction.

... The generosity of Iagnemma's intelligence offers readers something new in short fiction. These rich and varied stories form an outstanding collection.

Read the entire review.

Sharon Dilworth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The first thought that comes to mind after reading Karl Iagnemma's brilliant debut collection of short stories, "On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction," is, "How can an author who spends his professional life studying robotics at MIT know so much about love?"

... Altogether, the stories are full of ardor and introspection, a marvelous combination that could completely ruin a less artful author, let alone a newbie, but it provides Iagnemma a perfect method for crafting his unabashedly intellectual yet wonderfully human stories.

Read the entire review.

Christine Newgard, The Daily Texan


The doubts and disappointments that plague the scientist characters in Iagnemma's debut story collection, "On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction," make them vulnerable, flawed people, a deceptively simple literary device immediately appealing to readers.

... The past, apparently, engages Iagnemma's wide-ranging interests as powerfully as do science and failure. Fortunately, all these realms await further exploration by a writer of admirable skill.

Irene Wanner, Seattle Times


Formula mixes scientific minds, restless hearts

...What sticks is Iagnemma's knack for the revelatory phrase; in a few words, he can pin down a character. A prostitute has "breasts like a pair of stones dropped in silk stockings." A librarian "smell[s] archival." A forester calls sex "impending fieldwork." And how many will nod in agreement at mirrored aviator shades, "the international symbol of jackasshood"?

Over 40 years ago, C.P. Snow gave his "two cultures" lecture at Cambridge, in which he decried the gnawing chasm between science and literature. ...Iagnemma's hybridized example suggests this engineer may build a bridge that will bring the two cultures closer together.

Read the entire review.

–Ariel Gonzalez, Miami Herald


The science of love

...In this off-beat, entertaining collection of stories, Iagnemma defies the logic he must have gained on his way to becoming a robotics professor at MIT. He uses math and science as poetic devices to show feeling, to cut through the numbness that can overwhelm those caught in romantic entanglement.

In Iagnemma's fascinating world, which moves back and forth between past and present, between melancholy and hope, mathematical formulas, geometric scribblings, and even spine-worn forestry texts become lifelines for those drowning in the cold, dark sea of love...

Read the entire review.

–Bruce Lowry, the Anniston Star


Karl Iagnemma, a robotics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, captures the doubt, frustration, and tedium preceding any type of professional or emotional breakthrough in his inspired debut short-story collection, On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction.

An engineer by training, Iagnemma uses scientific references, historical fiction, gallows humor, and the deepest despair of academics to construct wonderfully original tales...

Frank Diller, Baltimore City Paper


Scientists have unlocked the secrets of DNA and mapped the cosmos but have yet to explain why or how we love. This failure is especially frustrating for the cast of Karl Iagnemma's elegant debut story collection, On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction...

John Freeman, Florida Sun-Sentinel


Karl Iagnemma, a robotics researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, skillfully blends science, history and the more nebulous world of heart and mind into complex stories of love, fear and obsession.

...The beautifully realized inhabitants of this collection are disappointed in love, but Iagnemma's rich, witty, insightful prose never disappoints the reader.

Jean Blish Siers, Charlotte Observer


Iagnemma's characters do all the unpretty things people do in pursuit of (or retreat from) love -- they lie, cheat, humiliate themselves, say cruel things and are overcome with remorse. They can't seem to get it right, but their creator records the nature of their romantic interactions with surprising tenderness.

Julia Ridley Smith, Raleigh News & Observer


What kind of short stories could a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist in robotics possibly write? The answer is very good ones...

Read the entire review.

Shaazka Beyerle, Washington Times


Iagnemma's characters are mostly scientists, authors of flawless proofs and theorems--but hopelessly confounded by love. ...Fortunately, Iagnemma, a robotics researcher at MIT, is more adept at weaving marvelous, comic accounts of romance than his characters are at finding it. Grade: A.

Entertainment Weekly


...Spellbinding collection of short stories from Iagnemma, a roboticist and fiction writer at MIT. Iagnemma evokes raw emotions as his characters reconcile their reliance on scientific facts with their need for the intangible, transient qualities of love.

Maia Weinstock, Discover


These eight stories are a testament to Iagnemma's boundless gifts and imagination for detail and language...

Kera Bolonik, The Journal News


In his fiction debut, Iagnemma delivers evocative, candid, and occasionally savage stories of love and heartbreak in university math and science departments. ...Iagnemma's first-person narrators are terse, tight and ultimately devastating: They tell of intellectuals who have mastered science, only to find themselves very messy students of life.

Time Out New York


The meticulousness of science and mathematics is applied to the mysteries of love in Iagnemma's debut collection, which features eight complex, multilayered stories in which protagonists try to balance the demands of the heart against their need for rational, orderly thinking. ... Elegant, witty and concise, Iagnemma's stories precisely capture the hopelessly imprecise nature of love.

Publisher's Weekly


Strong first collection from a robotics researcher at MIT who knows, despite it all, that heart is every bit as important as math. ...[Iagnemma] has the lonely man of science down pat: "A scientist's life, he thought miserably, was like a midnight walk through an unfamiliar field, without a lantern, without even the moon's faint glow for guidance." Meteoric, and still going up.

–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Iagnemma, a research scientist at MIT, is a rising star among short story writers, having won both a Pushcart Prize and a coveted spot in last year’s Best American Short Stories. His debut collection explores the places where faith, love, and science all intersect. ...These intelligent, quirky, and suspenseful stories offer proof of Iagnemma’s stunning talent.

–Booklist (starred review)


[Iagnemma] seamlessly blends the lyrical and the precise to create gemlike little portraits of individuals who seem suddenly to have caught their “reflection[s] in a cloudy mirror.” ...Iagnemma is pointed, but he isn’t merciless; his empathy makes these characters live. A beautifully crafted collection.

–Library Journal


Early praise for On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction:

“Iagnemma's desperate, comic, and determined heroes seek, with beautiful futility, formulas for love, loss, history, religion, and odd arts. Here are crackpots and lovelorn, bewildered geniuses, sincerely seeking impossible truths. These are wonderful stories, and Karl Iagnemma is one of our very best young writers.”

–Brad Watson
National Book Award finalist and author of The Heaven of Mercury


”Karl Iagnemma's stories are carefully written and beautifully detailed in their investigations of people caught up in the webs of science and history, and they dramatize, with great precision, the traps that the mind and body can sometimes stumble into. He is affectionate and severe about his chosen territory, the Midwest: this is a fine book.”

–Charles Baxter
National Book Award finalist and author of The Feast of Love


Click Here for Karl Iagnemma’s robotics-related webpage.
Also visit The Expeditions.

©2003 Karl Iagnemma. Website designed by Chris Costello.