Fossils, Finches, and Fuegians is a narrative account of Charles Darwin’s four year voyage on the Beagle to South America, Australia and the Pacific in the 1830s that combines the adventure and excitement of Alan Moorehead’s famous (and now out of print) account with an expert assessment of the scientific discoveries of that journey. The author is Charles Darwin’s great-grandson. No biography of Darwin has yet done justice to what the scientific research actually was that occupied Darwin during the voyage. Keynes shows exactly how Darwin’s geological researches and his observations on natural history sowed the seeds of his revolutionary theory of evolution, and led to the writing of his great works on The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. Apple Books: US$1.99
The Absolved by Matthew Binder feels like one of those books that could predict the future. It’s 2036. We follow along with the character Henri, who is a wealthy physician, husband, father, and “serial philanderer”. He is also one of the relatively few people to still have a job. Automation and other technological advances have led to unemployment so severe that many people are no longer expected to work and are now known as “The Absolved.” Meanwhile, it’s election season, and a candidate from a radical fringe party called the Luddites is calling for an end to the “Divine Rights of Machines.” After Henri is displaced from his job, two Luddite sympathizers—whom Henri has befriended at his local bar—frame him for an anti-technology terrorist act. The prospect of Henri’s salvation comes at the cost of foregoing his guiding principles in life. This new vision for the world, after all, just might prove better than the technological advancements that, paradoxically, have left humanity out in the cold. Apple Books: US$3.99
Thus Spoke the Plant by Monica Gagliano is what she calls a “phytobiography.” She tells a story of her journey into the frontiers of plant science, and how it changed her life. The book is a little too New Agey for my taste though, and I had thought there would be more science. Instead it reads like an example of neopagan literature, with plant spirits, shamans, and drug-induced vision quests. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, it just surprised me to read it from a scientist. Nevertheless, Ms. Gagliano has certainly made strides in her field and is changing how we think of plants.
I love how LEGO inspires creativity, and I’m always impressed with the amazing new things people create with the bricks. That’s why I’m a so excited about the latest Ideas kit that’s about to be released: the LEGO Ideas Pop-up Book. It was submitted by Grant Davis and Jason Allemann. It lets you recreate the Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood stories, includes Little Red Riding Hood, Grandmother, the Wolf, the Giant minifigures, and a Jack microfigure. It also works just like a real pop-up book because you can open and close it and watch the scene unfold or collapse. The LEGO Ideas Pop-up Book includes 859 bricks and is priced at US$69.99. It’ll be available on November 1st.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of Steve Jobs, is publishing a book on September 4, 2018. She tells the story of “the pride and pain of a childhood spent navigating the vastness between her struggling single mom and Apple’s mercurial founder.” She wrote a book adaptation for Vanity Fair where she discusses some of her experiences.
In the spring of 1978, when my parents were 23, my mother gave birth to me on their friend Robert’s farm in Oregon, with the help of two midwives. The labor and delivery took three hours, start to finish. My father arrived a few days later. “It’s not my kid,” he kept telling everyone at the farm, but he’d flown there to meet me anyway. I had black hair and a big nose, and Robert said, “She sure looks like you.”
My parents took me out into a field, laid me on a blanket, and looked through the pages of a baby-name book. He wanted to name me Claire. They went through several names but couldn’t agree. They didn’t want something derivative, a shorter version of a longer name.
Apple has gotten the rights to develop Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram book as a drama series. It will be produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television.
Zachary and Kelly Weiner are the brilliant minds behind The Holy Bible Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness, and now they’re back with a new book: Science Abridged Beyond the Point of Usefulness. The book explains every scientific field with only a couple sentences each, and it’s awesomely funny as well as spot-on accurate. It’s a Kickstarter project that’s already reached funding, but there are still a few hours left to sign up for your copy. Some pledge levels include the new book Soonish and their abridged Bible book, too—and they’ll even sign your copies.