Thursday, March 28, 2013

Extreme Science (Phil Clarke)

Extreme Science
Phil Clarke
Chartwell Books
Nonfiction, YA? History/Media Reference/Science
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Reanimated corpses, two-headed dogs, electronic brain control... they sound like the stuff of science fiction, but all have happened in the laboratories of real-life scientists, pioneers pushing the boundaries of their age's knowledge by any means necessary. Journey to the very edge of science, where the line between fact and fiction, triumph and tragedy, even genius and madness, is scalpel-thin.

REVIEW: This book attempts to encapsulate a vast subject - scientists at the very edge of knowledge, often ahead of their times - in accessible terms. It also delves into theorists, war atrocities, serial killers, and Hollywood treatments of extreme science subjects. That's an awful lot of ground to cover... too much to do more than merely touch on any given topic. It also can't help but feel random, insofar as topics and historical figures covered. The Hollywood section in particular is haphazard, picking and choosing among feature films (and omitting some landmark sci-fi in the process.) I would've preferred spending more time with the real scientists and experiments. As a general introduction to extreme science, though, this book isn't bad.

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