Can we resurrect dinosaurs, Jurassic Park-style? Are we living in The Matrix's digital simulation? Do aliens with acid blood exist somewhere in the universe? Will we ever go back and visit 1955? And just why were the original Planet of the Ape movies so terrible?
In Science(ish), Rick Edwards and Dr Michael Brooks confront all the questions that your favourite movies provoke. Inspired by their award-winning podcast, this popular (hopefully) science (definitely) book dedicates each chapter to a different sci-fi classic, and explores the fascinating issues that arise.
Covering movies from 28 Days Later to Ex Machina, this is a ride through astrophysics, neuroscience, psychology, botany, artificial intelligence, evolution, and plenty more subjects you've always wanted to grasp.
Rick Edwards is best known as a TV and Radio presenter, but one who just happens to have a degree from Cambridge in Natural Sciences. Dr Michael Brooks holds a PhD in quantum physics, and has become known as a journalist, broadcaster, and author of a weekly column for the New Statesman. He's also written several books - including the brilliant "13 Things that Don't Make Sense". The two came together to produce the podcast "Science(ish), which discusses the science behind popular films - and it's those conversations that form the backbone of this book.
Starting with recent film "The Martian" and continuing to cover films as different as "Back to the Future" and "28 Days Later", Science(ish) explores and, where possible, explains the concepts at the heart of these films, and explores just how possible the scenarios imagined with in them, are.
Now, I have to be honest – I’m no scientist. So much so in fact, that I received a D in Double Science at School, and that sorry affair fifteen or so years ago was the last time I dared pick up a test tube or attempted to remember the rules of physics.
However, the theories and thoughts contained within “Science(ish) are explained in such a way that a layman like me wasn’t lost – instead I found myself engaged with well explained concepts, intelligent humour and a heap of respect for some of the iconic films that are mentioned here.
Edwards and Brooks appear to have a great rapport together, and it’s conveyed nicely here, letting the reader in on the jokes whilst dazzling them with some popular science.
Don’t go into this expecting a science textbook – but also don’t go into it expecting an extremely light science read, as there are some rather complicated concepts involved which, even with the excellent explanations, still took me a while to get my head around! However, this is an incredibly fun read that pays tribute to some magical moments on the silver screen whilst educating and informing the reader with wit and knowledge.
Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
It’s 1592. Europe is in chaos. Religious factions have torn the region apart and witch-hunts have become a part of everyday life.
In the Company of Wolves follows three groups of travelers – a fearless female pirate roaming the North Sea, a priest and his wife escaping to England to avoid persecution, and a young thief from the slums of Germany looking for a better life. Each has a different reason for venturing out in such tumultuous times – fear, greed, family secrets.
Is the Werewolf of Bedburg still alive, roaming the countryside and killing innocent citizens? Many believe he’s still out there—that religious and political leaders have forsaken the truth in their cunning quest for power.
As each traveler searches for individual answers, these three seemingly separate stories converge in a place which may hold the key for them all. Based on true events involving one of the deadliest witch trials in European history, this tale of adventure, mystery, and the search for truth reminds us that, ultimately, no one is safe . . . in the company of wolves.
"In the Company of Wolves" is the sequel to "Devil in the Countryside" - a book I reviewed earlier in 2017 (review here). An intriguingly dark true story given the historical fiction treatment, it was a compelling read that blended excellent characterisation with a dark, genre-crossing plot. Cory has returned to that world and those characters in "In the Company of Wolves" - and it's a read that's just as compelling as the first.
In fact, it appears to me that Barclay has really hit his stride in "In the Company of Wolves". The interactions between characters seem more natural, and the pacing is fantastic, with the switching of viewpoints allowing for a huge amount of brilliant cliffhangers to crop up through out the course of the book. The distinct viewpoints are interesting enough that, whilst I was left eager to know what had happened to a character, I wasn't too annoyed when I was torn away from one journey and showed another - especially as, for a lot of the book, the individual chapters are rather short - allowing for a swift and interesting read that keeps the reader moving through this dark and dangerous world at considerable speed. It's a nice touch, and reminded me somewhat of the Victorian Penny Dreadfuls - dark stories told in quick, easily readable snippets.
A real draw of these books is that Barclay shines a light on historical events that have been all but forgotten - and shining a light on the "Trier Witch Trials" makes for immensely fascinating reading. The characters drawn from history are brought to life with considerable skill, joining the already impressive fictional creations of the author in order to guide the reader through dark, dramatic but ultimately incredibly well researched historical events
Things feel a little unfinished towards the end - but I'm sure they'll be resolved well in Book Three, which I'm already looking forward too! Thanks to Cory for the copy - and make sure to pick up "Devil in the Countryside" first in order to make sure you know what's going on!
Novelist Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier, a writer who has influenced her deeply, in this immersive new biography. A portrait of one writer by another, Manderley Forever recounts a life as mysterious and dramatic as the work it produced, and highlights du Maurier's consuming passion for Cornwall.
De Rosnay recreates Daphne's childhood, rebellious teens and early years as a writer before exploring the complexities of her marriage and, finally, her cantankerous old age. A thrilling, intimate and beautifully written journey into the life of a writers who, despite being hugely loved by her public, remains mainly critically ignored.
Tatiana de Rosnay is a French journalist and author. English, French and Russian of descent, she was born in Paris, living in Boston USA, then Norwich England, before returning to Paris in 1984. She has published twelve novels in French, and three in English, with her most successful, "Sarah's Key" published in 2006, and later made into a film starring the superb Kristin Scott Thomas.
A lifelong fan of Daphne du Maurier, Tatiana de Rosnay clearly did huge amounts of research to write "Manderley Forever", and visited relatives of du Maurier's, as well as her beloved hometown of Fowey. As a result, she's written a biography that is both immediate and intimate and provides the readers with a warm, affectionate and personal recreation of a life that was immensely fascinating.
Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907. The daughter of actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier, she grew up in a rather fascinating world - spending time with her cousins the Llewelyn Davies boys (the inspirations for Peter Pan) and her Uncle Jim - better known to us as J.M. Barrie. Growing up she attended finishing school in France, where she may well have entered into an affair with one of her female teachers - but soon returned to England where she began to write.
Over the years her works ranged from short stories to novels to plays to biographies, all changing in terms of style and setting. Never one to be scared of experimenting or alienating her audiences, du Maurier allowed her passion and imagination to run wild when it came to writing - which resulted in many of her books being beloved by her readers, but not so much by the critics.
Visiting Cornwall as a young adult, she swiftly fell in love with the place and, apart from short spells abroad due to her husband's military career, Cornwall was where du Maurier remained until her death. An author who rarely gave interviews, she was often perceived by the public to be a cold, isolated hermit - which is a far cry from the fascinating, social and often rather fun life that she's is depicted as having here.
Such a lively life would, I imagine, be rather dulled by a biography that relies on figures, dates and footnotes - so the author chooses to forgo these, instead writing this biography far more like a novel. It's a style that works well - and whilst some readers may initially be a little uncomfortable with it, the effect it has is hugely transporting - and du Maurier such an interesting, intelligent figure, that it's rather impossible not to be swept along. Some moments do feel a little strange - the author perhaps inhabits du Maurier's mind a little too much at times, and conveys thoughts and feelings that she has no way of knowing - but it adds to the "novel" effect and certainly kept me hooked. Additionally, it's a style that du Maurier herself employed in several of her novels - so it's absolutely fitting for de Rosnay to engage the reader with it here.
A beautiful depiction of a woman whose life was endlessly fascinating, "Manderley Forever" breathes new life into an author who was rarely critically acclaimed in life, but remains beloved by her readers - and should pick up a legion of new fans should they choose to read Ms de Rosnay's fantastic work.
Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.