Godling, Go Home!

By Robert Silverberg

Rating: 3 stars

This is a rather good Silverberg collection from the mid ’60s. The title story is pretty memorable and takes a different view of the old ‘humans worshipped as gods on a primitive alien planet’ theme which I found interesting. The stories are generally pretty inventive, although, as with a lot of the SF of that period, the ideas are more interesting than the characters.

Book details

Publisher: Belmont
Year of publication: 1964

Darwin: A Graphic Biography

By Eugene Byrne

Rating: 3 stars

This short graphic novel was being given away free as part of the Darwin 200 celebrations. It’s a sketch (no pun intended) charting Darwin’s life and the decisions and milestones that led to natural selection. The language is clear and pretty simple and the art is sketchy but clear. The book is framed by the device of a group of anthropomorphic apes making a documentary about an orchid and nebulously tying that to evolution.

A good way to get an overview of Darwin’s life.

Book details

Publisher: BCDP
Year of publication: 2009

Memoirs of a Spacewoman

By Naomi Mitchison

Rating: 4 stars

I very much enjoyed this book but find it difficult to describe. It is written as exactly what it says on the tin. A space explorer by the name of Mary is writing a record of her adventures. Set at some point in the undefined future, the heroine is a scientist, explorer and “communications expert” who explores and establishes communication with alien species. It’s never stated what “communication” is, although it’s clearly not just language, and it’s suggested that some form of telepathy is involved.

This is very much the antithesis of gung-ho SF of the Heinlein/Doc Smith variety. It’s thoughtful, with no up-front conflict, more concerned with the ethical concerns of exploring space and the problems of communication. Despite, or perhaps because of this, I found it compelling reading.

Book details

ISBN: 9780704339705
Publisher: The Women's Press Ltd
Year of publication: 1962

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments

By George Johnson

Rating: 4 stars

This book takes as its starting point the idea that an experiment can be elegant and simple and devised and carried out by a single individual. He choose his ten favourite and gives each one a short, descriptive chapter. Including Galileo’s work with gravity, Harvey’s discovery of the heart as a pump, Newton’s optical work and more, it’s a whistle-stop tour through some of the most interesting science since the Enlightenment.

Clearly written and easy to read, while remaining descriptive, it makes it easy to follow the logic of the experiments themselves. Well worth reading.

Book details

ISBN: 9781400041015
Publisher: Knopf
Year of publication: 2008

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