April 17th, 2012

enterprise sail

Book #5 - Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek by Susan Jenkins and Robert Jenkins

I'm doing better this year - by leaps and bounds - compared to last year, in terms of number of books read...but I really need to catch up with my reviews! :P

So here's my fifth review for the year.

Title: Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek
Authors: Susan Jenkins, MD, and Robert Jenkins, MD, Ph.D
Genre: Popular science, science fiction, non-fiction

Why do Vulcans have green blood? Why do Ferengis have such big ears? How does Geordi LaForge’s visor work? Why do Klingons have an extra heart? Is Commander Data alive? What are lifesigns anyway? Is synthehol, which offers alcohol’s pleasant effects but no hangovers, a feasible brew?

What Star Trek fan hasn’t pondered such weighty questions as these? Now, two noted scientists provide all the answers as they explore the sometimes fanciful, always fascinating, biological issues raised by Star Trek’s various incarnations.

I enjoyed reading this, the second of two ‘science of Star Trek’ books out there (the other being The Physics of Star Trek by Laurence M. Krauss) and the second one I worked through. I was glad of my AP Bio and basic chemistry class background when I read this – not that it’s too full of science for the non-scientist to understand, but it certainly helped me make sense of some parts. I wonder what I’ll think of the Physics book if I reread it now, without any recent background in the subject...

Most of the chapters of the book put out the premise that you, the reader, are part of a science team going on an away mission to a new planet the Enterprise-D (since The Next Generation (TNG) is the canon referred to most here*) has discovered. It poses a question and then explains the concept – about what kind of alien life to look for, for example.

Each chapter begins with a quote or two from a movie, episode from the series (usually Original Series or TNG), or other Star Trek-related material which ties in to the theme of the chapter. The chapters themselves are a nice mix of expansion upon a particular fictional point and examination of the science that is or could be behind it, explanation of real-world concepts, and narration.

Recommended for readers interested in popular science books and/or Star Trek fans wanting to know a little bit more about some of the real-world scientific interpretations of a franchise they enjoy.

*which is one area where the book shows its age, because there’s a section referring to the treatment of the smooth vs. ridged Klingon foreheads as a “blooper”. The issue was addressed in a two-part Star Trek: Enterprise episode, but of course that aired much after the book was published.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Another ebook yesterday...Osprey Men-at-Arms #38: Army of the Potomac. I still have my prejudices about the Civil War (I can't believe that OUR country could have fallen apart so badly over slavery that it split apart and fought itself over it...). Plates got better later in the series, the data includes pages of army lists. Not the best one I've ever read.
  • krinek

3. Last Mountain by Robert C. Fleet

Last Mountain
Title: Last Mountain
Author: Robert C. Fleet
Publisher: Ace Books
Year: 1994
# of pages: 288
Date read: 1/31/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Real World

Nancy del Rio is a teenager struggling to grow up in the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles. But Immigration wants to send her away from the only home she's ever known.

Real Magic

For centuries the Unicorn has been hunted for the magic of his horn, but the call of beauty can still draw him from hiding. Now the chase is on for both Nancy and the Unicorn. They are each other's only hope. And only together can they hope to reach...

Last Mountain

My thoughts:

This was a good fantasy book. I liked the account of Cortes in Mexico from the Unicorn's point of view. I also liked Nancy's interactions with her family and Karus, the Rider.

Book 1

My goodness it has been a long time! Sadly uni work and living abroad got in the way of my reading, but its t-minus six weeks and I get my life back again!

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Inside Jacket: M. Poirot, the hero of 'The Mysterious Affair at Stiles' , and other brilliant pieces of detective deduction, comes out of his temporary retirement like a giant refreshed, to undertake the investigation of a peculiarly brutal and mysterious murder. Geniuses like Sherlock Holmes often find a use for faithful mediocrities like Dr. Watson, and by coincidence it is the local doctor who follows Poirot round, and himself tells the story. Furthermore, as seldom happens in these cases, he is instrumental in giving Poirot one of the most valuable clues to the mystery.
Pages: 237
Thoughts: I adore Poirot and have enjoyed many of the adaptions of Agatha Christie's works, so when it was decided to bring out all of her novels as a collection I jumped at the chance to start owning them! This was the first sent out in the set and was one of my favourite episodes of the original adaptions. I love how this is written, especially so if you know the ending of the book. Wonderful and suspenseful, a great detective classic.

1 / 50 books. 2% done!

237 / 5000 words read. 5% done!