“Frank Herbert” by Timothy O’Reilly

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For anyone who wants to learn more about Frank Herbert’s life and philosophy, I recommend picking up Timothy O’Reilly’s biography of Frank Herbert. O’Reilly’s book is an intellectual biography of the man, his influences, and his thought process. He also interviewed Herbert for the book. It’s available for free on Tim O’Reilly’s website.

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“So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman

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The original Battlestar Galactica brought groundbreaking effects to the small screen, while Ronald D. Moore’s reboot remains the gold standard for serious science fiction on television. Yet, while BSG has easily earned its place in the science fiction hall of fame, few books have documented the story behind the camera. In So Say We All, Mark Altman and Edward Gross attempt to do what they did with the Star Trek franchise and provide a complete oral history of the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

Continue reading ““So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica” by Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman”

“Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” by Bob Batchelor

61szh04fjpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I come to this book less as a Marvel fan and more as someone interested in the history of pop culture. Given the recent explosion of superhero films, Stan Lee has come to rank as one of the most important figures in pop culture history. Yet, I realized I knew remarkably little about him. I’ve enjoyed some of the Marvel movies, but had never read any of Stan Lee’s comics.

Bob Batchelor’s new biography is a good start for the uninitiated. He provides a comprehensive overview of Stan Lee’s life and work. It’s a largely sympathetic – but not uncritical – biography of a man who brimmed with creative energy and occasionally made bad financial deals.  Continue reading ““Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel” by Bob Batchelor”

“Beyond Words” by Carl Safina

51zurwqtBNL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_In the 1980s, astrophysicist and science-fiction author David Brin wrote the Uplift series, in which humans elevate chimpanzees and dolphins to near-human intelligence. The idea of chimps conducting scientific research or dolphins piloting starships is somewhat ridiculous, but perhaps not as ridiculous as we once thought. As biologist Carl Safina shows in Beyond Words, many animals have complex emotional and intellectual lives. Safina invites readers to view animals as individuals who have their own “personalities” (“who, not what”). The chimps and dolphins in Beyond Words are even more interesting than anything in the Uplift novels – and they happen to be real! Continue reading ““Beyond Words” by Carl Safina”

“The Science of Battlestar Galactica” by Patrick di Justo and Kevin R. Grazier

In honor of Glen A. Larson’s recent passing on November 14, 2014, I am running several reviews about books related to Battlestar Galactica, his most famous and greatest creation.science-of-bsg

The Science of Battlestar Galactica is written by Kevin R. Grazier, science advisor for the Battlestar Galactica remake during the 2000s. This gives him a unique insight into both the science and the production of the show. Continue reading ““The Science of Battlestar Galactica” by Patrick di Justo and Kevin R. Grazier”

“The Theology of Battlestar Galactica” by Kevin J. Westmore

In honor of Glen A. Larson’s recent passing on November 14, 2014, I am running several reviews about books related to Battlestar Galactica, his most famous and greatest creation.battlestar

Battlestar Galactica clearly deals with issues of faith and religion. One of the most controversial twists in the BSG remake was that the Cylons believed in God. In later seasons, religious themes become more prominent as various cults come into conflict with each other. However, I admit that I didn’t quite appreciate the complexity of the show’s treatment of faith until reading Kevin J. Westmore’s The Theology of Battlestar Galactica.

Continue reading ““The Theology of Battlestar Galactica” by Kevin J. Westmore”

Battlestar Galactica and International Relations

In honor of Glen A. Larson’s recent passing on November 14, 2014, I am running several reviews about books related to Battlestar Galactica, his most famous and greatest creation.9780415632812

In academic literature about popular culture, scholar-fans have to strike a delicate balance between analyzing the work through a scientific lens  and appreciating the work as art. I suspect most potential readers would not read Battlestar Galactica and International Relations just to learn basic international relations concepts (there are plenty of good IR textbooks). However, readers also expect the academic discipline to provide new insights into the show. Fortunately, most of the chapters in this book pass the test; they both enhance my enjoyment of Battlestar Galactica and raise thought-proking questions about politics.

Continue reading “Battlestar Galactica and International Relations”