Books : reviews

Charles L. Adler.
How Science Shapes Science Fiction.
Great Courses. 2020

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 21 February 2021

From rocket science and exoplanet ecology to time travel and alien encounters, dive into the real scientific principles that inspire and support great science fiction stories.

This is the course guidebook that accompanies the 24 lecture “Great Course” of the same name. It is essentially an abbreviated transcript of each lecture, some related reading, and some “questions to consider”. (I watched the lectures, which is what I am reviewing here, and am using the book simply as an aide-memoire.)

Adler uses a variety of science fictional sources – books, TV, films – as the starting point to explain various aspects of science and engineering. He covers a wide range of material, from rocketary, stellar evolution, and intersteallar space travel, to time travel, how to design a dragon, and ESP.

This starts off relatively slowly, with a lot of discussion of rocketry. But it gets more interesting as the science gets bigger, and less well known. Adler is clearly passionate about both science, and science fiction.