A thought-provoking dispatch from the frontier of physics.

THE GRAND BIOCENTRIC DESIGN

HOW LIFE CREATES REALITY

Medical scientist Lanza, with physicist Pavšič and science writer Berman, expands the argument for biocentrism in this new exploration of the subject.

The current scientific consensus is that life is a product of the universe—but these authors argue that it’s actually the other way around. Many of the unknowns in our current understanding of physics, assert the authors, begin to make sense if one allows that nature and its observer have effects on each other—in other words, that the living, conscious mind is necessary for laws of the universe to exist and function at all. This third book on biocentrism from Lanza and his co-authors seeks to move the topic out of the realm of speculation and prove that its ideas are based on hard science: “Did biocentrism more properly fall under the rubric of philosophy than of science? We certainly didn’t think so. Yet we acknowledged that it would be nice to be able to seal the case for biocentrism on the physics alone.” The authors outline the history and principles of the concept of biocentrism, including recent discoveries that have helped the theory gain greater traction. Augmented with this new research, they make the best case they can for their view on how the universe operates—attempting to establish, once and for all, the necessity of the observer. The book’s prose is aimed at the general reader, and the authors craft their arguments—even the most complex ones—in smooth, accessible language. For example, here, they discuss the reception of Einstein’s theory of relativity: “This connectedness between spatial dimensions and the temporal component threw most people for a loop. That’s because in daily life, time seems utterly distinct from the three spatial realms.” The arguments build in complexity as the work goes on but do so in a way that’s quite thrilling. Not all readers will be persuaded by the authors’ case, but its notions are exciting ones, and they do a sound job of linking them to observable, replicable experiments. Fans of revolutionary science—or just big, cerebral questions—will enjoy this ambitious work.

A thought-provoking dispatch from the frontier of physics.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950665-40-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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