Science [Non]fiction

If you’re anything like us at Pandemonium, there’s nothing you love more than fantasy, science fiction, and genres that spur the imagination. Have you ever stopped to think about how such things have changed your life and the world you live in, or how they mirror the real world? That line of thinking is what you will find in our nonfiction books- examinations of the very fantastical ideas that fascinate us so much. If you want to learn as well as be entertained, check out some of these nonfiction titles. They might just change the way you see everything!

Jo Walton, the fantasy author behind such works as Among Others and the Small Change series, has collected her essays about re-reading genre classics in the aptly-named What Makes This Book So Great. Where should you get started with the Vorkosigan Saga? Who is the target audience for cozy catastrophes? What are the best ways to write about faster than light space travel? Walton has uniquely clever answers to all these questions- or at least, she has some very interesting suggestions! This book will vastly expand your list of must-read titles; you decide if that’s a solution or a problem!

If what you want to expand is your list of must-watch movies, you should definitely read Cinema and Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film. More than just an encyclopedia, this book takes a trip through history to show the development of on-screen strange and magical worlds, with new information even for the most experienced film buff. Whether you want to know more about your favorite classics or want to know where to look for odd and obscure little gems, this will give you a fascinating crash course.

Randall Munroe, author of the webcomic XKCD, has plenty of scientific knowledge- so what if it isn’t all useful? He finds himself asked some rather silly questions about science all the time, and does his best to answer even the most outlandish ones. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions collects these quandaries- what if you had a glass that was literally half empty of any kind of matter? What if you could get yourself pregnant? What if you tried to turn Yoda and his force powers into an energy force?

And sometimes Munroe comes up with ridiculous science questions on his own. How to: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems tackles everyday tasks and provides the most complicated ways to tackle them...that could theoretically still work! Hilarious as it is informative, this is the book for any aspiring mad scientist who has always wanted to launch their garbage into the sun. 

Nightmareland: Travels at the Borders of Sleep, Dreams, and Wakefulness provides some more disturbing food for thought, and is not to be missed. Folklore from all around the world is full of evil creatures that prey on the sleeping, from vampires, to demons to witches. Why? It may be attributed to sleep paralysis, one of many frightening and fascinating phenomena that afflict the dreamer. Learn what things can drive you mad at night, real and fictional...and do your best to get a good night’s rest afterwards!

And no fan of hard science fiction should miss First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Take a trip with Armstrong away from the bounds of earth itself, setting foot on a heavenly body mankind has wondered about since our very first breath. This telling of Armstrong’s life was absorbing enough to be made into an Oscar-winning movie, but even more information is packed into the book. Learn the ins and outs of what it takes to be an astronaut, and marvel at the man who accomplished what should have been impossible.

Great nonfiction is as engaging as any fictional story. It can help you understand both the real world, and give context for the stories you love best. Engage with a few of these books and you’ll surely agree!

Written By: Mira G.

Edited By: Irenee W.

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