Nonfiction on Alien Life and Outdoor Activities | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 17, 2017

Aliens: The World’s Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life. Picador. May 2017. 240p. ed. by Jim Al-Khalili. ISBN 9781250109637. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250109651. PARAPSYCH
aliens031717Al-Khalili, British theoretical physicist and author of Life on the Edge, has now pieced together this compilation of 20 essays on alien life written by some of the world’s leading experts, including Anil Seth, Ian Stewart, and Adam Rutherford. The big questions are presented in an attempt to portray a balanced array of views. What types of theoretical encounters and alien motives are there? Where should our search for life extend? What is extraplanetary “life”? Where are we now in the time line of the hunt for cosmic company? The result is a rainbow of opinions, from positive affirmation that there is some form of life out there to a pessimistic treatment of mathematical improbabilities that throw the question out altogether. Much like Louisa Preston’s Goldilocks and the Water Bears, this book succeeds in looking much deeper than the typical earthbound definition of life and examines strange creatures that survive in the harshest climates (such as resilient micro-animals) and may be indicative of the forms that could exist on other planets.
Verdict With its authoritative voice, this book is geared toward physicists, chemists, and students of scientific research and may even be appreciated by curious sf fans and casual readers.—Bonnie Parker, Southern Crescent Technical Coll., Thomaston, GA

Leonard, Brendan. The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide; Everything You Need To Know Before Heading into the Wild. Artisan. Apr. 2017. 320p. illus. ISBN 9781579657079. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781579657826. SPORTS
It’s no secret that as a society we are addicted to our technological devices both at home and at work. As a result, we are in danger of becoming more disconnected from the outdoors and an active lifestyle. Studies highlighting the benefits of spending time outside show improved physical health and mental well-being. For those interested in trying outdoor activities for the first time, it can be intimidating as there are many to choose from and different pieces of equipment that may be needed. Leonard is a professional adventurer, writer, and filmmaker, with more than a dozen years of outdoor experience. His accessible guide provides some straightforward ideas, techniques, and recommendations for getting started with engaging in a variety of outdoor pursuits. This book is designed to provide some basic but essential knowledge that will help develop more confidence when you venture outside. It is broken into five sections, beginning with a general overview of outdoor activities and moving into particular areas of the wilderness. The format uses a frequently asked questions approach, allowing the reader to skim the contents based on specific interests.
Verdict Recommended for readers with a general interest in outdoor recreation.—Gary Medina, El Camino Coll., Torrance, CA

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