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Scientists Reveal Their Favorite Works Of Science Fiction

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Here at GFR we cover anything that fits under the umbrella of our twin loves: science and science fiction. And just as the bleeding edge of our scientific understanding is forever pushing the boundaries of our science fiction, SF is itself inspiring fans to take transform their love of starships, robots, and the like into careers in real scientific fields. So what are some of the science fiction movies, shows, and books that real-life scientists love best? The Huffington Post recently asked a handful of scientists precisely that.

PermutationCityDr. Max Tegmark is a cosmologist and physics professor at MIT, and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which provides grants to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.” Tegmark cites Greg Egan’s 1994 science fiction novel Permutation City as his favorite, explaining that Egan’s “explorations of the ultimate nature of reality blew my mind and inspired my own research.”

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of books including The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here. He lists another semi-obscure work you might want to add to your Kindle: Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Carroll says, “It’s a story about life on the surface of a neutron star, which would ordinarily be considered completely outlandish. A good reminder that ‘life’ might take on very different forms than we ordinarily imagine. Here’s the Dragon’s Egg synopsis from Amazon:

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Amazon’s List Of 100 Books To Read In A Lifetime Includes Dune, 1984, And More

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The Internet does love a list. (And who am I kidding, so do we.) But of all the random, clever, or ludicrous lists out there cluttering up cyberspace, we tend to perk up a bit when the list in question involves books we really ought to read. Amazon recently compiled just such a list, their definitive guide to “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Which is, I think you’ll agree, a bit more cheerful of an outlook than the usual variant, “100 Books to Read Before You Die.”

Our beloved science fiction genre doesn’t always get the attention it deserves on these, with many such lists favoring more “respectable” mainstream literature. To that, we say poo-poo. And while our personal list would almost certainly include more SF, Amazon’s 100 does at least have several of the genre’s biggest talents included. Check out the lucky winners below, then stalk off muttering about how they left off your favorite Star Trek paperback.

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Science Fiction Book Cover Art We Wish Was Really Covering Science Fiction Books

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1984The old adage warns against judging a book by a cover, but sometimes book covers can be pretty awesome in and of themselves, even when divorced from the actual book. There’s another adage about a picture being worth a thousand words, and there’s definitely an art to creating a single image that evokes the themes, characters, or story contained within those covers. And let’s face it: a lot of time the actual, official art that gets slapped on a book release isn’t nearly as creative or interesting as it could be. So while the images in this post might not actually adorn the covers of any of these science fiction classics, let’s imagine an alternate dimension where they do, because that alternate dimension would be nifty.

These designs were created by various artists from all over the Interwebs, brought together by the delightfully titled Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile blog. (We would like to give that blog a hug, but virtual reality technology hasn’t advanced far enough yet.) First up, the lovely mock Penguin Books cover for George Orwell’s 1984, designed by Luke James. The security camera speaks for itself, but it’s a really nice touch to have its beam illuminating a line from the novel. Sometimes simple is best.

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The Matrix, Donnie Darko, And More Get Classy With Fake Criterion Covers

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CriterionIf you’re not a die-hard cinephile, you might know know what “the Criterion Collection” is. The high-end Blu-ray and DVD publisher releases “important classic and contemporary films.” A quick survey of their new and coming soon listings include titles like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, and Richard Linklater’s Slacker. Being a high-falutin’ line as they are, they don’t have nearly as many science fiction films represented as they should. Artist Peter Stults decided to remedy that.

Okay, so he can’t actually make Criterion give fancy-schmancy new releases to flicks like The Matrix and Starship Troopers…but he can ape the visual style of Criterion’s cover art to show what those hypothetical Blu-rays might look like. For instance, check out this classy image that could adorn a Donnie Darko Criterion version. Like many Criterion releases, it’s evocative and symbolic, latching on to important visual elements from the film, in this case the pages from Roberta Sparrow’s The Philosophy of Time Travel.

DonnieDarko

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This Rare Asbestos Bound Copy Of Fahrenheit 451 Can Be Your For Only $1250

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Fahrenheit 451Any of you Ray Bradbury fans out there with an extra $1250 that you don’t already have earmarked for something practical, sensible, or maybe even useful? If you raised your hand then you might want to look into purchasing this super rare edition of Bradbury’s classic 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. And in case you’re interested, yes, the book also happens to be bound in asbestos, just to sweeten the deal.

This comes from a super limited, first edition run of 200 books that were each signed and numbered by Bradbury himself. In exchange for your hard earned cash you’ll receive number 109 in this run. There is no dust jacket, and the book has definitely seen better days. The spine is pretty shot, and there is some staining that looks like this book has occasionally doubled as a coaster throughout the years, but there are no loose pages, which is a plus. However, even with all of this wear and tear, this still a damn cool artifact to add to your collection, especially with all of the fantastic illustrations inside.

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Custom Fahrenheit 451 Book Cover Dares You To Burn It

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Given how much I’ve loved science fiction since…well, pretty much as long as I can remember, it’s strange that my initial encounter with the works of Ray Bradbury didn’t make me an instant fan. While I’ve come to love and appreciate his works in the years since, back in junior high both Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles were assigned projects to read, and that’ll drain the enjoyment out of just about anything, especially when I could have spent that time reading my dad’s closetful of Robert Heinlein and Andre Norton. Still, I like to think if this edition of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 had been around at that time, it would have won me over immediately. Check it out:

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