The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

Authors: Mary and John Gribbin
RRP 8.99

ISBN 0 340 88159 3
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Science writers Mary and John Gribbin reveal how the His Dark Materials trilogy is steeped in string theory and spacetime, quantum physics and chaos, symbiosis, entanglement and cold dark matter. Ideas which are strange and beautiful as Philiip Pullman's stories, and all the stranger for being true...

You could be forgiven for thinking that The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is only really going to appeal to appeal to fans of the trilogy. To some extent that is true. The examples which are taken to examine the science behind some of Pullman's ideas might not mean much to non Pullman fans. But, the science is the important part here. Pullman's universe is simply used as a shoehorn to explain popular beliefs about the universe we live in.

Pullman, in his introduction to this book, admits that when writing the trilogy he did base a lot of his fanciful notions on perceived scientific theory. I'm no techno novice (I was Features Editor of the UK's leading weekly magazine for the Electronics industry - Electronics Times), but some of the theories explained here are a little over my head. And several are just plain fanciful - like the section on I Ching.

This book should provide enough material to whet the appetite of anyone who wants to look into each section a little more thoroughly. There are some heavy theories examined in this book (and I'm not just talking about gravity - which is examined incidentally). And it is to the Gribbins' credit that they manage to put the theories onto paper without bamboozling the reader with too much information, while at the same time not patronising their audience.

In truth, this is really a science book which has, rather tenuously been linked to the events in His Dark Materials. But, if that is what is needed to drag our children off their Playstations, and back into reading about the world they live in, is it really a bad thing?

Certainly worth looking at if you want to exercise the old grey matter.

Darren Rea

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