The Future Is Here
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Scientists recommend their favorite beach reading

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The Washington Post quizzes a bunch of famous and high-powered scientists about the books they read for fun, and the books that inspired them when they were younger. Their answers show how some science-fiction books have shaped their lives.

Probably the most memorable responses come from Dr. Mae C. Jemison, who became the first African American woman to travel in space, and founded the Dorothy Jemison foundation. Describing Kindred by Octavia Butler, she says:

An accomplished, modern African American woman time-travels back to the pre-Civil War South and has to cope with slavery, ignorance and brutality. Growing up, I realized slavery had been abolished less than 100 years before. I wondered how my attitude of 'I can do anything" and 'I'm not putting up with that' would have gotten me through.


But the recommendations from primatologist Jane Goodall are also pretty fascinating. (She has a unique spin on Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham.) Most of the science fiction recommendations may be books you've already read, but it's still interesting to see them through the eyes of these giants of science. And the science books they recommend include some that I've never heard of before, but which sound absolutely corking. [Washington Post]