- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 10, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1633883698
- ISBN-13: 978-1633883697
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blockbuster Science: The Real Science in Science Fiction
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“The book covers everything, with a truly encyclopaedic ability to fire example after example from science fiction to illustrate the science being discussed…. Because this book is all about the science of science fiction, there are examples that blur the line between the two and really capture the imagination…. If you are looking for a primer on a wide range of sciences and a wide range of science fiction, then Blockbuster Science is your hitchhiker’s guide.”
“David Siegel Bernstein’s charming and engaging book is a whirlwind tour of the mind-bending ideas and discoveries at the heart of modern science. Reality is often stranger than fiction; Blockbuster Science is a welcoming guide to anyone who wants to explore the ever-expanding boundaries between proven science and inspired speculation.”
—Andre Bormanis, television writer and producer, and science consultant for the Star Trek television and film franchise
“It’s always scarier if it’s possible, and Blockbuster Science takes the ‘fiction’ out of science fiction. Brilliant, weird, and unnerving. Highly recommended!”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times–bestselling author of Patient Zero and Mars One
About the Author
David Siegel Bernstein has written two science fiction novelettes and many short stories for various science fiction magazines and anthologies. He works as a managing consultant for BLDS LLC, where he applies mathematical and statistical modeling to discrimination and civil rights matters. He previously worked at LECG and the Center for Forensic Economic Studies in Philadelphia.
Top customer reviews
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The author takes the science principles most frequently encountered in sci-fi, and breaks them down into laymen’s terms. He covers everything from alien civilizations to genetics and robotics. He injects a lot of humour into the descriptions, and does a good job of keeping things light and not getting too bogged down in the details.
The exception being the first two chapters, relativity and quantum mechanics. I took my share of physics and chemistry courses at university, so I’m no stranger to science, but those two chapters were awfully tough slogging. Maybe I just have a mental block on those subjects, or maybe nobody could make them understandable, but I nearly quit reading before I hit chapter 3. I’m glad I didn’t, because things were all uphill from there.
Two quibbles to deal with are the author’s use of parentheticals, and the book’s short “best by” date. At least once a page, and sometimes several times in a paragraph, the author sticks in parentheticals like (surprise!) or (almost not worth mentioning). Sometimes it’s to clarify a concept, others an attempt to be witty. Either way, the parentheticals totally disrupt your reading flow, like a big stop sign in the middle of a sentence. It gets real old real fast. Also, many of the concepts are cutting edge, as in from the headlines of the science pages kind of stuff. A year from now they’ll be as fresh as yesterday’s news, some expended on, and some will be OBE.
One nice thing is the author’s use of well-known books and movies as examples of various concepts. Some are pretty obscure, except to hard-core sci-fi junkies, but most are well known and help bring the science to life.
If you get this book -- and if you like science at all, you should -- don’t try to read it like a novel. If you get a couple of pages into a chapter and find yourself struggling, just skip ahead to the next chapter. Hey, if you never do understand string theory, you’ll be no worse off.
time and space
origin and evolution of life on earth
materials and superconductors
reality and virtual reality
the end of everything
So, obviously, you will not finish this book with a full understanding of all these things. You will understand them enough to get the point when they come up in sci fi books and films. You will be much more exciting to talk to at cocktail parties. And you'll know the terms used in discussing all these topics.
Each chapter contains a brief, clear explanation of the topic. The implications and misunderstanding found in science fiction are discussed along with the central theme of the chapter -- for example, The Planet of the Apes and X-men both sped up evolution to an implausible rate.
There is a list of key terms with brief, clear definitions. You will know exactly what a cyborg is, and how it differs from transhumanism. Then there are parting comments, which are interesting bits of speculation, sometimes with questions that your book club will enjoy discussing.
Some chapters contain "Bonus Materials." I don't get the bonus part, because they seem to be more of the information and science fiction part of the chapter. Possibly the author felt that these sections didn't fit the main section... some of them seem to be more speculative.
In any case, this is a very enjoyable read, with lots of new information that has been found since I was in school. It's accessible and witty, even playful. I learned a lot, and the next time a character says something about the Chandrasekhar limit, I'll know what they're talking about.