Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

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      American Library Association
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      * Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything. By Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith. Oct. 2017. 368p. illus. Penguin, $30 (9780399563829). 601.12. The world of emerging [...]
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      COPYRIGHT 2017 American Library Association
      Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.
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Booklist Reviews 2017 September #1

*Starred Review* The world of emerging technologies is a fascinating place, though for the layperson, the specifics and implications of scientists' most groundbreaking research can be mind-boggling, if not totally mind-numbing. Thankfully, husband-and-wife team Kelly and Zach Weinersmith boil down some particularly juicy advances and present them in a compelling, accessible, and wryly funny way. Tackling, among other things, space exploration, asteroid mining, robotics, augmented reality, and the weird world of brain-computer interfaces, the authors explain core science concepts, offer insights from researchers, cogently describe how these new technologies could work, and, as promised in the title, propose both the benefits and pitfalls each technology could produce. These potential effects are wide in scope, including ethics, the environment, geopolitical concerns, poverty, and even the very definition of what makes a human. Despite the heavy topic, they always keep it light, with absurd metaphors, uproarious cartoon illustrations, and plenty of jokes: "If you've ever gone to the hospital and been stuck in a narrow tube surrounded by loud noises, you were either in an MRI machine or being born." With infectious enthusiasm, the Weinersmiths serve up the perfect combination for curious, critical minds. Popular-science writing has rarely been so whip-smart, captivating, or hilarious (albeit occasionally terrifying). Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2017 September #1

This enthusiastic exploration of ten areas of potentially world-changing innovation is decidedly nonacademic in the best way possible. Kelly Weinersmith (biosciences, Rice Univ., Houston) and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith interview experts and create understandable descriptions of technological advances. Ordered by physical magnitude, not potential impact or feasibility, these technologies range from space exploration, fusion power, materials, and robotic science, to customizable genetics and medicine. Each chapter includes a general background and description of the topic, a survey of current projects or approaches in the field, cautions about and potential far-reaching benefits of the technology, and interesting side trails that the authors came across while doing their research. An epilog lists other technologies explored but not ultimately used as a main chapter. Fans of Zach's webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal will appreciate the illustrations, comic asides, and humor of the work, but none of these detract from the substance of the science described. The Weinersmiths manage to avoid the pitfalls of starry-eyed boosterism and doomsday predictions that often times plague these types of investigations. VERDICT An excellent survey of nearly ready technology for science lovers who don't want to embarrass themselves when speculating about areas outside their own scientific interests.—Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2017 August #2

Predicting the future of scientific endeavor isn't easy, but this fun title from this husband-and-wife team gives readers plenty of amazing possibilities to think about. Kelly, an adjunct faculty member in the biosciences department at Rice University, and Zach, creator of webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, explore cutting-edge advances in 10 different technologies, including space travel, fusion power, augmented reality, and brain-computer interfaces. Each chapter's discussion concludes with a look at how success might change the world as well as potential problems that must be taken into consideration. The authors leaven even the most serious topics—for example, altering DNA to achieve the de-extinction of mammoths or create brand new life forms—with pop culture references, sarcastic comics panels, and tart asides. Topics such as "origami robots," space elevators, and bioprinted replacement organs will pique the curiosity of budding scientists and seasoned lab rats alike. A gratifyingly large bibliography will guide the curious into further reading on each topic. The Weinersmiths deliver a fascinating look at the most provocative and promising research going on today and how it could alter the way we work and live. Illus. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.