I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have a soft spot for sci-fi. Halo is one of the most important video game franchises in my life. Books like Ender’s Game have been some of the most enjoyable reads I’ve ever had! In my youth, I was a huge sucker for series like Star Wars and Star Trek (until they were both ruined). Point is, I love sci-fi.
I also love real science. It’s an incredibly fascinating topic to me! From the periodic table to stars and space, everything about science has always been interesting to me! I may not have excelled at it in school, but I always had an interest in the topic.
But even more fascinating to me was the following question: how closely did sci-fi follow the laws of actual science? How realistic was the Starship Enterprise? Could the Firefly become a real spaceship? Could humanity, by the forty-second century, have intergalactic travel?
Enter the subject of today’s book review: The Science of Sci-Fi.
The premise of this book is simple. A qualified teacher in science goes over science commonly seen in sci-fi (gravity, interstellar travel, faster-than-light speeds, time travel, so on and so forth) and compares it to science fiction stories. She goes over how the writers bend the rules, follow them, or straight up break them.
Essentially, this book is a series of college-level science lectures. The first few are entirely based on real science, teaching you all that you need to know for future lectures. The ladder few are all about science fiction, breaking down how different sci-fi shows, books, and games tackle various problems that still perplex real-life scientists.
Name a sci-fi gimmick, this book tackles it! Warping in Star Trek? This book will explain why it’s awesome but it won’t ever work! Artificial gravity on space stations? Here’s how Mass Effect handles it! You want to know how black holes work? You’ll get that too! This book is a science nerd’s dream! It’s an incredibly fascinating read!
Now, it isn’t perfect. The writer’s sense of humor is about on par with the average American father, which can be a bit painful at times. It’s also a very niche book; if you aren’t interested in science or intelligent sci-fi, then you’ll find yourself quickly getting bored.
Again, it’s like a college lecture. If you like the topic, you’ll have a blast! But if you’ve never been one to think about how shows like Star Trek and Firefly work, then maybe you should pass. It’s a great book for a science nerd. But if you’re not into that, you’ll quickly get bored.
That or the writer’s jokes will kill you. It can go either way.