Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

Penguin Pr. Oct. 2017. 368p. illus. by Zach Weinersmith. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780399563829. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780399563836. TECH
This enthusiastic exploration of ten areas of potentially world-changing innovation is decidedly nonacademic in the best way possible. Kelly Weinersmith (biosciences, Rice Univ., Houston) and cartoonist Zach Weinersmith interview experts and create understandable descriptions of technological advances. Ordered by physical magnitude, not potential impact or feasibility, these technologies range from space exploration, fusion power, materials, and robotic science, to customizable genetics and medicine. Each chapter includes a general background and description of the topic, a survey of current projects or approaches in the field, cautions about and potential far-reaching benefits of the technology, and interesting side trails that the authors came across while doing their research. An epilog lists other technologies explored but not ultimately used as a main chapter. Fans of Zach's webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal will appreciate the illustrations, comic asides, and humor of the work, but none of these detract from the substance of the science described. The Weinersmiths manage to avoid the pitfalls of starry-eyed boosterism and doomsday predictions that often times plague these types of investigations.
VERDICT An excellent survey of nearly ready technology for science lovers who don't want to embarrass themselves when speculating about areas outside their own scientific interests.
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