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Science(ish): The Peculiar Science Behind the Movies Hardcover – 5 Oct 2017
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Fascinating and hilarious. What a wonderful book. Rick and Michael take you on a whirlwind guide around the science you don't know and the movies that you do. You will feel cleverer after reading this. - Richard Osman, co-host of Pointless
If you are a geek, a film buff, curious or simply want to know whether you still get BO in space, this is the book you have got to have. - Kate Humble BBC TV presenter and author of Humble by Nature
Deeply funny, academically accomplished, and unfalteringly engaging. Entertaining as it may be, it's difficult to escape the fact that Edwards and Brooks have just made the world of popular science much harder work for the rest of us. - Ben Miller - comedian and author of It s Not Rocket Science
Informative and captivating... Cult podcasters Michael Brooks and Rick Edwards lead a jolly romp through the borderlands of research, sci-fi and movies. - Roger Highfield Director of External affairs at the Science Museum and former editor of the New Scientist
A terrific, engaging read that brings to life some of the fascinating science that lies behind the movies. - Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Genetics, University of Surrey
As a series, it works beautifully...delivered with both enthusiasm and a reassuring dose of scepticism.--The Financial Times on the Science(ish) podcast
Two bestselling authors with a huge combined platform, provide the perfect way into science: the Hollywood sci-fi movies we all know and love.See all Product description
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I think the secret to their success is that they don't try to cover all the science of a particular film, but rather that they use each of their ten subjects to explore one particular topic. It also helps that, rather than focus entirely on franchise movies we get some great one-offs, including The Martian and Ex Machina. I suspect you may find the interest level of the chapters reflects to some extent whether or not you've seen the films. So, for instance, In found 28 Days Later and Gattaca, which I haven't seen, less interesting. The only other topic that suffered a bit for me was Planet of the Apes, which I have seen but hated (even the authors say it's a terrible film, which makes you wonder why they picked it with so many others to choose from).
For the rest, though, Edwards and Brooks impressively manage to weave a whole lot of science into the topics they link to the movies. As well as the obvious subjects of The Martian and Ex Machina, Jurassic Park is good on de-extincting (is that a word?) from ancient DNA. Similarly, Interstellar on black holes (even managing to get a very up-to-date chunk on gravitational waves in) and Back to the Future on time travel, for example, all balanced readability, fun and a fair amount of science. It would have been nice if each chapter had ended with some further reading suggestions, as in each case, inevitably, the topic had to be covered in quite a summary fashion.
One of the reasons I liked the book a lot was that it turned my initial impression around. About page six I was close to giving up. This was partly because of the agonising attempt at humour in the constant backbiting 'conversation' between the authors that tops and tails each chapter (I can't say this got any better, but I got used to it). But mostly it was because of the painfully juvenile adjectives in the main text. We are told something is a ‘bum-busting 33.9 million miles away’, and something travels at a ‘pant-soiling 36,000 miles per hour’. Thankfully, this style disappears after page six, making me wonder if the whole book was like this originally and page six missed the edit.
There were a couple of small errors - John Wheeler is credited with originating the term 'black hole' (something most of us thought until a few years ago, but it's now widely known he didn't), and the year of the first direct detection of gravitational waves is given as 2016 on one page and 2015 on another (it was 2015), but this is minor stuff. It doesn't in any way undo the fact that this is a great book which will appeal to a wide range of readers. Recommended.