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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

If you've ever wondered how much real science goes into movies like Gravity, novels like The Martian, and television shows like Doctor Who, this is the book for you. Written by an author who is both a data scientist and a science fiction writer, this entertaining and accessible book uses popular science fiction movies, stories, and TV shows to explain the science behind popular narrative conce…

Blockbuster Science

by David Siegal Bernstein

Overall Book Review:

This was a heavy book, in terms of science. It was really jolly interesting – for science fiction writers; I can see this becoming a manual for writing really excellent science fiction. Even as someone who prefers fantasy over science fiction, I was really intrigued with the descriptions of quantum physics, black holes, and civilization rankings. It (almost) inspired ME to get on the science fiction train!

Be prepared for a slow read, because while Blockbuster Science is broken down into bite-sized chunks of theory and application (with lots of humor thrown in), it still contains a LOT of science lingo, which for people like me can be hard to wrap one’s brain around. But the theories are really fun to consider. The ideas of transhumanism (integrating artificial intelligence with humans) and post humanism (humanity that is no longer human) were a little disturbing, but chock-full of great material for sci-fi writers to get crazy with.

The author bases his theories off evolution and the Big Bang, so if you’re one who doesn’t believe in the Big Bang, you might have trouble with some of the content. But for pure science fiction writing, it contains a cool mix of real and nonreal. I’ve no doubt the aspiring science fiction writer will be over the moon with the detailed content available in this book. It inspires you to think big, to dig deep, and to really apply real science to your science fiction. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Prometheus Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 scatological word; 4 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture. 

Violence/Gore:  Theorizes on world development and hostile environments; mention of the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815; report of Tasmanian devils contracting a disease and going extinct; discusses the “evolution” of Homo sapiens and our close calls with extinction; description of the Frankenstein’s monster; talks about zombified ants infected through a fungus; mention of humanity’s slim survival chances off-world; discussion on how to wreak sufficient damage on a planet in order to make it habitable to humans; report of a robotic death caused in 1979; discusses the ethical use of artificial intelligence and robots for human survival and the possible dangers of such a route; mention of first-person shooting games; mention of mind-altering drugs that could be hypothetically used to prevent long-term storage of PTSD memories; joking reference of how inaccurate signs cause accidents, such as a car driving off a broken bridge into a lake; discussion on species that have gone extinct; talks about natural disasters from meteors.

Sex/Nudity:  Mention of species that are nongender specific; reference to a book character with flexible sexuality; mention of heterosexuality being abhorrent in certain settings; mention of gender swapping in a novel; reference to a character’s gender changing through time-travel; mention of natural selection and mating; discussion of genes, DNA, and mating; discussion of molecular “dating” and “birth”; theories on interspecies breeding; brief questioning of gender; theories on genetic manipulation in utero; mention of characters using others’ bodies for sensual experiences; discusses implausible and impractical ways for aliens to develop enough to mate with humans, and argues for more diversity in science fiction; a brief joke how electromagnetic drives being able to move space craft is as likely as lifting oneself off the ground with a self-inflicted super wedgie; brief mention of porn (not explicit, literally just mentions it); reference to special goggles allowing a viewer to experience a sexual assault.

Mature Subject Matter:

Survival, post humanism, transhumanism, A.I. integration, ethical applications for A.I., death, moral/ethical dilemmas, genetic engineering.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Frequent mentions of chemicals, chemical reactions, molecular reactions, and lab testing on animals; occasionally mentions applications for syringe-delivered technological medicines.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Fantasy is my bread and butter. I read and write it. I’m obsessed with world-building and fascinated with lyrical prose. I love that I can contribute to the writing community by recommending good books that can actually make a difference in a person’s life.