ISBN: 9781933392325 Year Added to Catalog: 2007 Book Format: Paperback Dimensions: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 Number of Pages: 224 pages Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Release Date: September 15, 2007 Web Product ID: 398
In Notes from the Holocene Dorion Sagan crosses freely that no man's land between science, religion, and philosophy. The result is a synthesis of ideas linking the peculiar to the universal, sleight-of-hand and the anthropic principle, science fiction and science faction. . . . Think the Symposium with Tallulah Bankhead, Derrida, and Philip K. Dick as dinner guests.
This is Sagan's most personal book to date. Appropriately, since the subjective informality of Notes allows him latitude to advance the difficult questions, ones an academic approach would likely sidestep: Is the Earth an organism? What's our place in it all, and is it as central to the universe as we presume? The timeless reach here is matched by its timeliness: arguably no generation has more needed to understand its context in, and impact on, the big picture.
Yet the broadest of speculations is still grounded in the science, where even the four elements of classical cosmology — the frame on which he stretches his canvas — find a contemporary gloss in his portrayal of thermodynamic systems. Like the master illusionists he details, Sagan conjures up a world whose magic is only augmented by knowing how the trick is done. It's a smart, daring book and I've come out the smarter for having read it.
—Steve Shavel, author of How Small Brides Survive in Extreme Cold
WARNING: This book contains wild speculations:
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*
*This statement has not been verified by the FDA, MDA, USDA, APA, DEA, GSA, CIA, NSA, AA, AAA, or AAAA
"Notes from the Holocene is a pop culture trek of reality reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but rife with scientific, religious, and philosophical neurotrinkets, many original enough for scholarly pursuit.
—Jessica Whiteside, Professor of Terrestrial Paleoenvironments, Brown University
In a thought-provoking, humorous, and engaging style, Dorion Sagan combines philosophy, science, and an understanding of illusion to probe the deep questions of existence.
Operating on the precept that the universe is far weirder than we might imagine, Sagan—son of acclaimed scientists Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis—uses his knowledge of philosophy, science, sleight-of-hand magic, and the fantastical writings of Philip K. Dick to explore some of the deepest questions we face on Earth. He provides fresh insights as to why we are here, the nature of technology, the prognosis for humanity, the living nature of our planet, and a reasoned explanation to why our universe is probably just one of an infinite number.
Sagan also provides answers to twelve pressing questions:
Why does life exist?
Why do we drink water?
Can we save the Earth from global warming?
Are human beings central and special?
Is it possible that we've arisen by pure chance?
Is the Earth an organism?
Are we part of its exo-brain?
If it is alive, can it reproduce?
Can the universe?
What does the future hold in store for us?
Does God exist? What is the nature of ultimate reality?
Notes from the Holocene is a prime example of the writing coming from a new generation of scientific writers. It will inspire readers to think for themselves while leaving them chuckling with tongue-in-cheek anecdotes—a rare combination that Sagan delivers with ease. And yes, as geneticist J.B.S. Haldane says, “the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine.”
About the Author
Award-winning writer and sleight-of-hand artist Dorion Sagan is author or co-author of numerous articles and twenty-three books translated into eleven languages, including Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future and Into the Cool, coauthored with Eric D. Schneider. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Book Review, Wired, the Skeptical Inquirer, Pabular, Smithsonian, the Ecologist, Co-Evolution Quarterly, the Times Higher Education, Omni, Natural History, The Sciences,, and Tricycle.