The best books mixing science, fiction, and adventure

Who am I?

I grew up in farm country of central Indiana. But spent my summers on an island in northern Ontario with my grandparents. My grandfather was a self-taught naturalist and shared his love and fascination of the world around us with me. I went on to become a geologist and traveled the globe exploring for natural resources. My love of nature and science is the foundation for the science fiction I write. Whether a proven theory, a fantastical hypothesis, or true science fiction, it’s all based on science fact. It allows everyone to learn about a world built in science fiction which one day may exist in science fact.

I wrote...

A Quantum Singularity: Book Three in The Nexus Series

By C.A. Farlow,

Book cover of A Quantum Singularity: Book Three in The Nexus Series

What is my book about?

Where does science fiction end and science begin? It’s long and arduous, fraught with pitfalls, false starts, and disappointment. The trek begins with an idea then a thought experiment, e.g. Schrödinger’s famous ‘cat-in-a-box’ and Einstein’s ‘riding on a light beam’. But these thought-experiments are far from proof. They’re still in the fiction range. It's still a hypothesis.

Experimentation to test the hypothesis comes next. If experiments prove true, we have a theory. But that’s a long way from a principle. Sometimes we can skip steps and move on to using the idea without really understanding it. Let’s journey this road together and see where Alex and Lauren travel, using science as they know it and making some up as they go along. They may have to bend science to their will. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: The Story of a Gamble, Two Black Holes, and a New Age of Astronomy

C.A. Farlow Why did I love this book?

In February 2016, astronomers announced the discovery of gravitational waves, the last remaining prediction of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Gravitational waves are produced by the collision of gigantic bodies—neutron stars, blackholes—and from exploding stars. This book details the trials and tribulations as scientists attempt to build the most accurate measuring devices known to humankind. The result of their success is the LIGO observatories in Washington and Louisiana. 

Since the first discovery, we now have listened to a multitude of gravitational waves—our universe sings with these songs as the waves flow across the universe. Waves that may allow us to hear the sounds of the Big Bang. The intragalactic ships in my own books utilize these gravitational waves to travel at faster-than-light speeds. I was awed by the scientific determination and rooted for the scientists as they overcame one hurdle after another.

By Marcia Bartusiak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Einstein's Unfinished Symphony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An updated classic that recounts the long hunt for Einstein's predicted gravitational waves-and celebrates their recent discovery

In February 2016, astronomers announced that they had verified the last remaining prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity-vibrations in space-time, called gravitational waves. Humanity can now tune in to a cosmic orchestra. We have heard the chirp of two black holes dancing toward a violent union. We will hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars, and maybe even the echoes from the Big Bang itself.

Marcia Bartusiak was one of the first to report on…

Book cover of Magnificent Principia: Exploring Isaac Newton's Masterpiece

C.A. Farlow Why did I love this book?

Science is a structure constructed stone by stone. Building on the work of all who came before. None have laid a more perfect foundation than Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. I am amazed by the leaps of faith, journeys into the unknown, and foundational advances each of these scientific giants took through simple thought-experiments.

We all know about the apple which fell from the tree and Newton’s laws of motion and mechanics. But few have ventured into the intricacies of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica to read Newton’s own thoughts and appreciate his genius. Written in Latin and dense in theory, it’s no wonder few have dared try. But this book allows even the layperson to understand and appreciate the greatness of Newton’s work. It's a journey to understand Newton-the man, the historical context of his time, and how the Principia continues to impact our present-day world. A simple equation like Velocity equals Distant divided by Time (V=D/T) was set in place by Isaac Newton.

Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is difficult to understand but is presented in a way most can visualize the basic tenet. This is not true of the Principia. It is not a book one picks up and reads. From Pask’s book, I gained a new, in-depth understanding of Newton’s seminal work. He devolves this dense tome into an understandable framework. Simple things taught in high school physics now have deeper meaning.

By Colin Pask,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Magnificent Principia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg has written that "all that has happened since 1687 is a gloss on the Principia." Now you too can appreciate the significance of this stellar work, regarded by many as the greatest scientific contribution of all time. Despite its dazzling reputation, Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, or simply the Principia, remains a mystery for many people. Few of even the most intellectually curious readers, including professional scientists and mathematicians, have actually looked in the Principia or appreciate its contents. Mathematician Pask seeks to remedy this deficit in this accessible guided tour through Newton's masterpiece.


Book cover of Alan Turing: The Enigma

C.A. Farlow Why did I love this book?

This is a book that is at once a biography, a testament to human genius in the face of imminent danger, and a story of human injustice. Alan Turing had an idea about a ‘universal machine’. A machine, when built at Bletchley Park, allowed the Allies in World War II to crack the German Enigma ciphers. This universal machine laid the foundations for modern computing and all the amazing advances we enjoy today. But at a price for Turing, he fought inner demons about his homosexuality and eventually paid the ultimate price.

I marveled at his genius, cheered his cryptographic successes with each cipher cracked, shouted against the tragedy of his arrest, cried at his untimely death. A death at his own hand at the age of 41. The world lost a genius due to a society’s labelling of homosexuality as a crime.

We still live in this world of labelling, bullying, division, and derision. Societies have learned little in the intervening decades, though we reap the benefits of his discoveries. Perhaps remembering this man and his contributions would be a starting point for change.

By Andrew Hodges,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Alan Turing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times-bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing's royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner…

Book cover of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

C.A. Farlow Why did I love this book?

Few biographies represent subjects who are still alive. And most often the subject is the main character. However, in Code Breaker, the main character is not limited to Jennifer Doudna. The structural biologist from the University of California, Berkeley. It is also about a team of people all contributing to the discovery of CRISPR. Modern science takes a team and this is true here as well. Isaacson wrote this marvel during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the new science was used to battle this worldwide threat.

The book also highlights how science is built on a foundation of others’ discoveries, melding multiple areas of study, building on their ideas, but defining a new path to take. 

CRISPR took a village. This revolutionary gene-splicing technique could usher in a new era of gene therapy and be a tool for medicine to ‘fix’ gene mutations and cure disease. With every great discovery there is a downside. CRISPR could be bastardized into bioweapons. Creating germs that humankind has no immunity to.

By Walter Isaacson,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Code Breaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best-selling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns.

In 2012, Nobel Prize winning scientist Jennifer Doudna hit upon an invention that will transform the future of the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA.

Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. It has already been deployed to cure deadly diseases, fight the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, and make inheritable changes in the genes of babies.

But what does that mean for humanity? Should we be hacking our own DNA to make us less susceptible to disease? Should…

Book cover of Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

C.A. Farlow Why did I love this book?

Would the Allies have been successful in winning World War II without the contributions of women? Rosie the Riveters, code breakers at Bletchley Park, aviators who flew aircraft to and from the front, human computers at Los Alamos, and scientists that filled laboratory positions, all contributed to that success. But do we know their names? Do we understand the significance of their contributions?

This book highlights one woman’s contribution: Mary Sears, the chief US Navy oceanographer during World War II. Sexism kept her off marine voyages and forced her from academia so she became a military operative, joining the Navy. This is a book that blends oceanographic research with military intelligence. Her input allowed naval invasion forces to coordinate actions with the tides, locate and move around underwater obstacles, understand currents, weather, and critical time of day to achieve maximum success. She knew even the presence of tiny, floating phosphorescent organisms could give away a nighttime action. Sears was not alone, she had a team of other female experts who all contributed to the overall success of marine actions.

By Catherine Musemeche,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lethal Tides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Magnificently researched, brilliantly written, Lethal Tides is immensely entertaining and reads like an action novel. Catherine Musemeche has brought to life the incredible work of the scientists and researchers who made such a remarkable contribution to America's war effort in the Pacific theater during WWII." -Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy, Ret.), #1 New York Times bestselling author of Make Your Bed and The Hero Code

Lethal Tides tells the story of the virtually unknown Mary Sears, "the first oceanographer of the Navy," whose groundbreaking oceanographic research led the U.S. to victory in the Pacific theater during World War II.…

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What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

By Joy Neal Kidney,

Book cover of What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

New book alert!

Who am I?

I'm the oldest granddaughter of Leora, who lost three sons during WWII. To learn what happened to them, I studied casualty and missing aircraft reports, missions reports, and read unit histories. I’ve corresponded with veterans who knew one of the brothers, who witnessed the bomber hit the water off New Guinea, and who accompanied one brother’s body home. I’m still in contact with the family members of two crew members on the bomber. The companion book, Leora’s Letters, is the family story of the five Wilson brothers who served, but only two came home.

Joy's book list on research of World War II casualties

What is my book about?

After helping her grandmother leave flowers at the graves of her three sons lost during WWII every Memorial Day, decades later, the author learned that only one is buried at home in Iowa. One is buried overseas. The other has never been found. Joy Neal Kidney had to find out what happened to the three young pilots who never came home.

What Leora Never Knew is Joy Neal Kidney’s journey of research and remembrance, and the companion book to Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II. Five brothers served. Only two came home.

What Leora Never Knew: A Granddaughter's Quest for Answers

By Joy Neal Kidney,

  • Coming soon!

5 book lists we think you will like!

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