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The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Paperback – 13 Nov 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Age Range: 6 - 11 years
  • Publisher: Hodder Children's Books; 1st ed. edition (13 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340881593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340881590
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.7 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,253,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


essential for fans of the increasingly popular epic. It not only answers fascinating questions about quantum physics and whether parallel worlds exist but is also an essential reference book in itself. (What's On)

Mary and John Gribbin write with great clarity (The Guardian)

fascinating and accessible....Written passionately and with an enchanting level of clarity (Ink)

The authors...have a talent for expressing ideas in clear, simple language, and for finding good analogies for complex ideas. (TES)

any Pullman fan will be spellbound (The Observatory magazine)

Book Description

The amazing true science behind the fiction!

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
And that's why I give it three stars (although really that's more of an average between four and two, depending on who you are and what you're after). If you're a child, or someone without much of a background in science (particularly physics), and if you're interested in learning, then this book will be interesting and I think it's well worth a read. If you, say, have a physics A level, then a good deal of this book will be covering old ground, and at a pace you may find slow. If you are after something to whet your appetite while Pullman slaves away on his next installment (aren't we excited!) then this is probably not it.

Let's be fair - it's not fiction, and it's not Pullman, so you're not likely to be glued to pages. But it never claims to be. What it is, it does well, the science in here is detailed without being overwhelming, and fairly complete - to be honest you barely need to know anything at all to be able to understand the science here, you just need to be willing.

And it does show what I feel it was intended to - that a lot of what Pullman wrote about in His Dark Materials is based (on some level) in fact. And that is of course what makes Science Fiction writing so exciting and so addictive - and also what makes studying science so fascinating for science fiction fans. And it's good for the imagination of the romantically inclined, like me - the fact that the existance of parallel worlds is hypothesised at the highest levels gives me that little chance to believe that His Dark Materials might all be true...

But anyway, the book itself is a good, easy read to dip in and out of or to rattle through, and hopefully this review has given you a clue as to whether it's right for you!
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Format: Paperback
I couldn't help to but feel a little cheated after reading this book. I think Philip Pullman is a fantastic storyteller and the 'His Dark Materials' [HDM] novels are agmonst the best works of fiction published in recent years. Also, my background is science and I have a young son who has been just as spellbound by Pullman's writing as myself. So I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into this book, and hopefully my son's.
The first problem with this book is explained by Pullman himself in his introduction: 'When I heard that they [the Gribbins] were interested in writing a book about the science of 'His Dark Materials', I felt as priveleged as if Dan Dare had invited me for a flight in his rocket. But I wondered what they'd find to say... Because I wasn't writing about science, after all... Take the idea of parallel worlds. Many writers have used this idea, though it doesn't always come with a scientific explanation.'
This sums up the book up. A lot of its content could've been applied to other books, or the link with HDM is tenuous. It merely takes something from Pullman as a starting point and explains it, but in doing so, leaves the original subject behind. Don't get me wrong, the explanation of the science itself is excellent but just how illuminating it is in reference to HDM, is debatable.
The other problem with the feeling of being cheated by the price and physical size in comparison to the content. For a children's book it is expensive. And it's size is quite large. But the amount of content is fairly minimal and spread-out. Put is this way, there is alot of white space. The book would have looked a lot better value at £5.99 and a size smaller, with the text still the same size (and it could easily have fitted).
All in all, this is a good book and compliments the other book recently published on Philip Pullman, the excellent 'Darkness Visible' by Nicholas Tucker.
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By A Customer on 12 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
Amazing! I didn't think I could appreciate Pullman's Dark Materials anymore than I already did ... but this book blew me away. It has added a new dimension to Lyra and Will's worlds. Mary and John Gribbin explain in an amazingly clear way the science behind such phenomena as the Northerns Lights, the alternate worlds, the Dark Material itself. It is easy-to-understand without trivalising some of the most complicated concepts in science. If only I had had this when I was studying this stuff!!!! ... and if I had read this when I was at school I would never have slept through physics. I am almost tempted to go back and relearn it all again. What an incredible world we live in and what an incredible man Pullman is to be able to capture so many concepts across so many fields in a single series! I think this is the key to Pullman's work. Despite being a fantasy it is so real, so possible and holds so many truths about us as humans and now through the brilliance of Mary and John Gribbin it goes one deeper delving into the complex, amazing world we live in and showing us that maybe it isn't really that much fantasy at all.
I don't think you could read this book without having read Pullman's Dark Materials, but if you haven't read His Dark Materials I envy you because to discover this series is to discover the series of a lifetime. Read them and then read this book and then just sit back and feel your mind expanding.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
if you've read philip pullman's "his dark materials" you will definitely be wondering just how much is fact and how much is fantasy. john gribbin's book (co-written by the mrs) goes through much of the scientific basis of the various premises of the groundbreaking trilogy.

you will be amazed to discover that alternative realities, in the form of multiverses, are not just figments of pullman's imagination, but are indeed products of quantum theory. the nature of time, evolution, dark matter and other bits are all discussed in a manner that is both relevatory and fascinating. all-in-all you are left with the impression that pullman's novels are much more than mere fairy tales. i know that you will enjoy it like i did.
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