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The Science of Stephen King: From Carrie to Cell, The Terrifying Truth Behind the Horror Master's Fiction

The Science of Stephen King: From Carrie to Cell, The Terrifying Truth Behind the Horror Master's Fiction

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by Science & the City


Author: Lois Gresh

Human characters, not science, are the heart of King's fiction, but Gresh and her coauthor Robert Weinberg (The Science of James Bond) use these tales as a jumping-off point in their latest pop-sci tie-in.

In Carrie, Firestarter and The Dead Zone, mayhem arises from the use of psychic abilities, so the authors explore not only the history of such powers in fiction, but also human consciousness and modern neuroscience.

The killer vehicles of King's story Trucks are compared to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, rounded out with a short discussion of artificial intelligence.

Dreamcatcher and The Tommyknockers lead to a look at the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere, from flying-saucer paranoia to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Discussion of The Stand includes a look at fictional and real plagues, while the parallel worlds and alternate histories at the heart of The Dark Tower bring up theoretical physics from relativity to wormholes. The truths revealed are hardly terrifying, but the book is an excellent introduction to both popular science and science fiction themes. (Sept.)
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From a review by Bev Vincent, PhD, author of The Road to the Dark Tower:

"The Science of Stephen King appeals to both the scientist and the long-time reader of Stephen King in me. Weinberg and Gresh use concepts from King's fiction as launching pads for in-depth explorations of concepts as diverse as ESP, pyrokinesis, time travel, artificial intelligence, quantum chemistry, alternate realities, string theory, and the possibility that we'll be visited by aliens or that we'll face a global pandemic.

"Their broad knowledge of the history of science fiction also allows them to trace each of these concepts to their fictional origins in seminal stories and novels from the days of the pulps...and beyond.

"In a style reminiscent of science populists like Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, they present challenging concepts such as the possibility that the world we live in consists of nearly a dozen dimensions instead of just three - in clear, easy-to-grasp language. They don't stretch beyond the limits of credibility— if something is scientifically unlikely or patently impossible, they show why rather than hand-wave an explanation.

"If you've ever read Stephen King's works and asked yourself what's real and what could be real, you might be surprised by the answers Weinberg and Gresh provide. As they so cleverly explain, much of what Stephen King writes about in his novels is closer to reality than you might think."