Category Archives: Science Book Challenge 2012

Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

Harper Collins, New York, 2010

From my library hold list.  I have Vasilly to thank for this one.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

From the epigraph:

With apologies to Marie Curie, who said,

“There is no connection between my scientific work and facts of  private life.”

A biography told through words and pictures.  A history of the discovery of radioactivity and the development of the atomic bomb.  The story of a woman, her loves and her scientific curiosity.

I love it when an author truly admires her subject.  Lauren Redniss has created a work of art that is also a wonderful biography of Marie and Pierre Curie, and of Marie after her husband’s death.    Much of the text comes from the Curie archives, from scientific papers and from the press.

Mixed in with this biography are  pieces on the impact the discovery of radioactivity has had on culture, science, medicine and politics.  It is a book about what scientists thought they knew, on how that knowledge can affect society in ways that are creative and destructive.  And Redniss’s art reflects this.

Colors bloom out of darkness with a strange glow.  Tall ghostly figures are interspersed with maps of contaminated landscape.  Redniss as created a science book unlike any I have ever read.  Even if you have no love for the graphic genre I suggest you read it.

Other reviews:

1330v

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Filed under Biography, Graphic Novels, Science, Science Book Challenge 2012, Thoughts

After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

Small Beer Press, East Hampton, 2011

From my TBR pile.

Throughout high school, college and into my young adulthood I read science fiction.  Ray Bradbury, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Anne McCaffery,  Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Harlen Ellison and many other authors held my attention for a decade or more.  I carried beat-up copies of Dune and A Canticle for Leibowitz as I hitch-hiked around New England.  I named my cats Ylla,  Gandalf and Genly (there was, of course, fantasy mixed in).

Then somehow I drifted away.  Once in a while I’d pick up a sci fi book, some I liked, most just didn’t grab me.  Was I growing away from the genre?  Did I feel too “grown-up” to read science fiction?  I don’t really know.

Luckily, in the late eighties, I discovered a bookstore in my neighborhood that was entirely devoted to science fiction and fantasy.  There I found William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Gene Wolfe, Jane Yolen, Emma Bull, Neal Stephenson and many others, including Maureen McHugh.  I have never looked back.

After the Apocalypse is a collection of short stories about, well, life after the apocalypse.   But these stories feel real, they ask what such a world would really feel like.  Disasters have happened somewhere else, a dirty bomb in Philly or a massacre at DisneyWorld.  A mad-cow like disease entering the food system through something as innocuous as chicken nuggets.    These stories are about how American people cope, or fail to cope.  Simple, spare and devastating, sometimes even funny, they are filled with the unexpected and completely mundane.  These things could really happen, maybe even have happened.

McHugh is smart, her stories are smart, and the possibilities they hold are utterly frightening.  If you’re paranoid, you might want to skip this one.

Because I don’t read science fiction magazines this is my first time with McHugh’s shorter works.  I love her novels and have now added her first story collection, Mothers & Other Monsters to my wish list.

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Filed under 2012 Speculative Fiction Challenge, Science Book Challenge 2012, SciFi, SpeculativeFiction, Thoughts

Science Book Challenge 2012

Thanks to Jeff at Scienticity for organizing the Science Book Challenge again this year.

The rules are easy.  From Jeff’s introduction:

Read three (or more!) nonfiction books in 2012 related to the theme “Science & Culture”. Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or the relationship of science with our culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books, from the bookstore or your local library. We take a very broad view of what makes for interesting and informative science reading, looking for perspectives on science as part of culture and history.

After you’ve read your book you can visit this link and write up a book note.  There is also a Facebook group!

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Filed under Challenges 2012, Science Book Challenge 2012