To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek Hardcover – Mar 31 1998
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From Library Journal
Harvard neurologist Andreadis validates here what some might describe as misspent youth: an analysis of the life science of the various Star TrekR television series and films. For Trekkers, this book is nirvana. For the rest of us, it is surprisingly interesting, opinionated, and funny. From disquisitions on artificial limbs to a timely discussion on cloning, readers will learn a lot more biology than they may suspect is possible. Not a scholarly tome, this screams out "Birthday Gift!" for dedicated sf fans. For popular science collections. [HarperCollins is issuing Robert Jenkins's Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek, in June.AEd.]AMark L. Shelton, Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Ctr., Worceste.
-AMark L. Shelton, Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Ctr., Worcester
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A Harvard biologist explains the real science behind the popular sci-fi TV show. With its huge cast of alien life-forms (some with powers and senses no human can match), Star Trek would appear to flout the most basic characteristics of life as we know it. But, as Andreadis points out, no matter how exotic the cast, certain Earth-based assumptions remain valid. Silicon may be able to substitute for carbon on some distant planet, but organisms based on it will be subject to gravity and electromagnetism, as well as having some form of genetic code to permit continuity of form and function as the beings reproduce. Sensory organs will still be necessary to receive information from the environment. In addition, the Trek universe is populated by a variety of machine intelligences ranging from the android Lt. Commander Data to sentient computer viruses. Andreadis uses these various fictional examples (and others drawn from such films as Bladerunner and print science fiction) to explain the current state of biological knowledge. This takes her into subjects ranging from the nature of immortality or telepathy to the problems of universal translating machinesall of which throw considerable light on the dark corners of biology. She notes the general sameness and blandness of the various cultures encountered by the Enterprise and its crewgenerally humanoid, with far less social variation than a five-year voyage on Earth would be likely to uncoverbut recognizes that by Hollywood standards, this is adventurous stuff. And while she pokes fun at other Hollywood conventions, such as the ``Snugglability Quotient''alien Good Guys tend to be cute and fuzzy while Bad Guys look like refugees from the Black Lagoonher affection for the material is always clear. And she deftly maintains the effective blend of entertainment and instruction that characterized The Physics of Star Trek (not reviewed). An entertaining book that deserves an audience well beyond sci-fi fandom. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Now, don't get scared by the title--you really don't need to have watched every Star Trek episode and series spin-off in order to have an understanding of what the author is talking about. However, being an avid trekker myself, I enjoyed her side-comments and Trek references immensely, because it just showed all the much more how much she enjoyed the subject amtter herself.
This book investigates the Star Trek universe. I've heard that THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK started this "debunk the Trek" era, but I haven't yet read it, so I couldn't say. Anyway, Dr. Andreadis does a nice job of explaining the Trek reality, then explaining our scientific reality. She uses small words, and explains the big ones. Learn about interspecies reproduction, evolution--you name it, she's covered it.
This book was done not long ago, so it covers the happenings up until Voyager and Star Trek: First Contact. Not too bad, considering Enterprise should be covering all "old" organisms, anyway.
This was really a nice read, and I would have picked it up even had I not had to do a seminar on the biological aspects of Star Trek.
Andreadis brings a strong scientific and biological background as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise in all its manifestations to bear throughout. She celebrates the more reasonable ideas shown, like silicon-based life forms. But she also deconstructs the silly, unscientific ones and showing just why they're silly and unscientific. (This includes such franchise mainstays as the holodeck, the universal translator, shape-shifters, and interspecies fertility.)
Those wanting a more objective approach and annoyed by the occasional interjection of feminist and leftist commentary might find this book annoying. However, I enjoyed the fresh approach, the clever references, and the very individual and personal viewpoint. It's well worth reading both for Trekkies and for those wanting a different approach to biology.
I first heard of this book from a part of it which was published in "Astronomy" magazine. In that part, the author pointed out that the "extraterrestrial" environments in Star Trek always seem to be, what a surprise, like Southern California. The article led me to the book.
For those of us who learned some "science" in our teens particularly from TOS (The Original Series), it is helpful to distinguish between the pure fantasy of Star Trek and what reality would present. Sure, everyone questions the "warp speed" concept," from Albert Einstein and Arthur C. Clarke (the latter in the intro to his book "Songs of Distant Earth"); and Carl Sagan described that a human mating with a Vulcan ala Mr. Spock would be less biologically likely than, say, a human mating with a kumquat. Dr. Andreadis describes WHY that mating is not likely to be successful. Then there's the issues of ESP/empathy, holographic doctors, and on and on. Indeed, many of the facts Dr. Andreadis cites are pretty much common sense but things we don't think about much. Such details are important to know, yet, with a person like the author describing them, they do not require us to have an in-depth knowledge of biochemistry.
The author used the text also to make some political and social comments with most or all of which I sympathize. But that's part of science too--integrity, fact vs.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The book itself should be divided into two books. One about biology which is pretty simple stuff and the other a study of the political correctness of star trek.Published on June 10 2002
this is a short but very rewarding read. the author, a recognized authority in her field, is a trekkie and her love of star trek comes through. that having been said, ms. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2001 by mark p newton
Buy this book and then buy it again and then again! Give it to every Trekker, Trekkie, or Star Trek fan you know. Read morePublished on Nov. 23 1999 by Mary Jo Rabe
There is little I can offer here that has not been said already. I am an avid Star Trek fan and a science voyeur and this project of Dr. Andreadis was well worth the read. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 1999 by Grant Spencer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This book has everything and it has it in abundance. I often "recycle" my books by taking them to the local used book store so that others will enjoy them. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 1999
I guess I'm a little late to the scene, given that there are currently some 23 reviews posted. I find myself disappointed with most of them. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 1999
...welcome to the freethought sector.
This book doesn't praise Star Trek above anything else. As far as the biology and pseudoscience in Star Trek is concerned, this book is... Read more
I read this book and loved it; despite Dr. Andreadis's exposure of the scientific flaws in Star Trek, she obviously has a great respect and affection for the series. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 1999
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