THE REAL SCIENCE BEHIND THE X-FILES by Anne Simon

THE REAL SCIENCE BEHIND THE X-FILES

Microbes, Meteorites, and Mutants
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KIRKUS REVIEW

TV’s popular X-Files, criticized for peddling woo-woo ideas, is actually careful to preserve scientific accuracy’so says the show’s science consultant. Simon (Biochemistry/Univ. of Mass., Amherst) was a fan of the show before she discovered that its creator, Chris Carter, was a family friend. She was attracted by the characterization of Scully, the show’s resident skeptic, one of the most realistic scientists to appear as a regular TV character. When Carter contacted Simon to vet the science on one episode, she became a regular consultant. Here she examines the scientific basis for a number of the shows, focusing on her own areas of specialty—biochemistry and molecular biology—from which many episodes have drawn material. The biology of our own planet still has many unexplored areas—new species are being discovered every day, many in environments formerly thought hostile to life (the ocean depths or deep underground). Simon lays the groundwork for an understanding of how DNA and the other basic molecules of life operate. The show’s tension between the credulous FBI agent Mulder and the skeptical Scully arises from the unexpected ways that living things can act. Many episodes’such as the one featuring El Chupacabra, the goat-sucking vampire of Hispanic folklore—involve Scully’s finding a naturalistic explanation for what Mulder is ready to see as a supernatural phenomenon. This gives Simon plenty of room to explore byways of science, and she does so without betraying either her scientific training or the entertainment value of the show. She cites specific episodes, often with excerpts from the script, then goes off to explore the wider scientific background. This gives her a shot at everything from evolution to exobiology, from cryptozoology to DNA sequencing, and the result is a lively, well-written book that will please fans of the show without embarrassing serious scientists. Of most interest to fans, but the science is still solid. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85617-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999




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