FAR AS HUMAN EYE COULD SEE

Seventeen essays from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction form this latest Asimov anthology. What's neat about the group is that rather than present random reviews, the essays are connected serially, laid out nicely in four major areas: physical chemistry, biochemistry, geochemistry and astronomy. The themes represent an interesting reprise of 19th- and 20th-century science. Physical chemistry focuses on batteries and, naturally, on electricity and magnetism, first from the point of view of the Galvanis and Voltas, the Oersteds, Faradays and Henrys, down to the postwar transistor era and current work on fuel and solar cells. One can imagine 12-year-olds reading these chapters virtually as do-it-yourself recipes for running wires around iron cores or making their own voltaic piles. Biochemistry is a treat for nutritionists. Asimov concentrates on the history of the discovery of vitamins and trace elements necessary for life. He reviews the classic experiment of British surgeon James Lind, who fed oranges and lemons to sailors to prove that the fruits would prevent scurvy (but alas did not live to see his advice heeded), down to the 20th-century stories of beriberi, pellagra and pernicious anemia. Biochemist Asimov is excellent here as he explains how vitamins work and why some need a "coenzyme" to do the job. Geochemistry plays upon the theme of tunneling to the center of the earth. Asimov unravels the mysteries of mass, temperature, and magnetism and how discoveries of radioactivity and devices like the seismograph have built up the present picture of the earth as thin crust atop a mantle over inner solid and liquid cores. Part four, culminating in the title essay—are Asimovian speculations on stars, planets, and space, beginning with a fine historical essay on time measurement, and ending with thoughts on where the universe is headed. To reach that climax, Asimov introduces concepts of "the Void," interstellar molecules and dust, the notion of superstars (not to be confused with supernovae), and the unresolved astronomical problem of the "missing Mass." Asimov presents alternatives (his own, he confesses) that would make it possible for universes to form and reform even if the present mass is insufficient to prevent an endless expansion and recession of galaxies. Here Asimov the scientist and science-fiction writer meet in an artless, seamless way that marks the man as formidable and readable as ever.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 1987

ISBN: 0586202811

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1987

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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