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  • Jack McDevitt


People ask: “Where do you get your ideas for science fiction stories?” Harlan Ellison’s famous answer was ‘Sheboygan.’ I suspect, if Harlan had been caught in a serious mood, he’d have said something about science books.

Some titles that have caught my attention: Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History by astrobiologist Lewis Dartwell. Changing conditions, land eruptions, climate changes, shifting circumstances of numerous types have led to the development of tools, agricultural techniques, weapons, and so on.

Invisible Women: Data Bias In a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado-Perez, who shows the reader through statistical analysis, assorted data, social designs, and various other analyses, that women have been largely overlooked. The world we live in, the jobs we hold, the bathrooms we use, the social conditions that surround us have been designed for men. Science and society have developed a world mostly arranged to accommodate males. Women get breaks largely by accident.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants. Bill Bryson is back, examining human anatomy, suggesting what we should look out for, how to keep the circulatory system running, and so on. As typical with his work, there are lots of laughs, insights, and anecdotes.

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Described as ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.’

Others that caught my attention are Quantum Questions by Ken Wilber, and The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

And I couldn’t pass on The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. It’s a collection of 24 essays about brain functions and malfunctions, by neurologist Oliver Sacks.

Finally, it’s a good idea for anyone with SF ambitions to keep up with at least one of the major science magazines.

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