The book is a compilation of various science essays by the author Jay Ingram. It is arranged in five sections, starting out with Human Behavior and enThe book is a compilation of various science essays by the author Jay Ingram. It is arranged in five sections, starting out with Human Behavior and ending with How Things Work. Both of those sections I didn't enjoy as much as the Science and History and Natural Battles which were in the middle going towards the end. This leaves the second section being Curiosities of Life, which was mixed. For me the book started off slow, picked up in the middle, then crashed at the end, well sort of....the ending wasn't that bad.
Without listing off titles of the essays, I'll just say that when Ingram investigates the history and strange tales that science keeps trying to solve, these become interesting. Or perhaps it is my own tastes, as may be expected. I did find the essay about Joan of Arc fascinating, as well as the essay on the Salem witchcraft episode with the attempt to find scientific explanations on why these women behaved differently than one may expect in their society. The Vinland Map, perhaps the oldest map of North America was an intriguing tale of attempting to discover the origin, whether a fraud or actually from before Columbus. Perhaps what was the most fascinating with these essays was they end inconclusively. Science has not solved them definitively there are only theories, which are possibilities but nothing solid.
All in all the essays were decent. On a few occasions, particularly in the beginning it seemed the author tended to insert himself a bit more than you'd typically find for a reporter, but as Ingram is a host on the Discovery Canada show, maybe it's the role that he plays. I haven't seen the show, so it's hard to judge if the book follows his format. Overall a decent book.
The last 13% of the book is this glossary of made up words by the author which define situations that occurred in the book. Honestly, it was lame. CouThe last 13% of the book is this glossary of made up words by the author which define situations that occurred in the book. Honestly, it was lame. Could hardly make myself read through the whole thing. The book overall reminded me of utopia books, where the author has something to say, but creates this fiction for characters to speak his ideas, and usually you have to bear with this device and it’s actually all very awkward. There are several parts in the narrative where these stranded people are talking about what they’ve learned in life, and it feels very false. Not what people would do in this situation. Not how a conversation would go. And really, the premise is hardly believable either.
The premise is the world immediately goes into chaos once the price of barrel of oil gets over $250. While there is a price, even to the limit of impossibly high, would wreak havoc on our current society, I just don’t see it happening all in an instant like it did in the book. Also the end was summed up too tidily, very quickly, which resolved the high oil price so neatly that everyone went back to their “normal” life. Another aspect of unbelievability.
All in all the ideas Coupland was trying to get the reader to think about: time – humans perception of time, being stuck in a linear mode; your life as a story, or not; intelligent species outside of humans; and what about your belief in God, or not, does it give your life meaning….Well these are thought provoking topics. Just not dealt with very adeptly throughout. Sorry but this book is a fail. My first Coupland book I attempted, not sure how quickly I’ll read another. ...more