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Stocking fillers for scientific minds? BBC Science Café seeks perfect science holiday read

5 December 2016

Cardiff Philosopher shares ideas for inspirational science books in Science Café.

As choices for gifts go, you can’t do better than a book. But which science-related books might make the perfect stocking-fillers to engage and inspire?

Recommendations of favourite science books feature on BBC Radio Wales’ Science Café this month, with contributions from two Cardiff University academics.

Philosopher Dr Stephanie Rennick  of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, and Dr Ryan Marks of the School of Engineering join host Adam Walton in the latest programme.

Offering Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Dr Rennick joins a biologist and an engineer in discussing their favourite science books.

Both an exploration of human nature and a compelling vision of the future, Atwood’s 2003 novel gives an unusual twist to the genre of science fiction, described instead by the author as speculative fiction and adventure romance since the technology recounted either already existed or was on the horizon. Dubbed an updated Frankenstein, the novel has a simple message: ‘don't trust the scientists and the big corporations to run the world’ (The Guardian).

Counting time travel, foreknowledge, fatalism and free will among her major research interests, the academic behind the Epicurean Cure explains her choice: “Fiction allows us to explore science in a way that’s not didactic. Oryx and Crake goes beyond describing what science could do, encouraging us to ponder what it should (or indeed, shouldn’t) do. It’s a compelling read.”

Oryx and Crake was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2003.

Science Café featured recommendations also include Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould and Backroom Boys - the Secret Return of the British Boffin by Francis Spufford.

Science Books (first broadcast 6 December) is the latest in BBC Radio Wales' Science Café series.

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