Saturday, September 17, 2011

E. Paul Zehr

E. Paul Zehr is a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and the author of Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero and the newly released Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I just finished reading Into That Darkness by Steven Price. It’s a novel in the post-apocalyptic or at post-cataclysmic genre and outlines responses to the devastation and conditions on the West Coast of Canada and the USA after a major quake. After “the big one” strikes, survivors in Victoria BC on Vancouver Island cull through the wreckage looking for loved ones and reflecting on their lives all the while remaining isolated from the mainland for many days. Price is an excellent descriptive writer and carefully reveals the best and worst of human animal behavior after the crisis. I was curious to read this book as it is the first of this genre set in a city I am living in and the author is also a colleague at UVIC. I found it kind of freaky to read about the destruction of places that I drive by on a daily basis. Overall a very powerful read.

I just finished the fabulous graphic novel Jinx by Brian Michael Bendis. It is a fantastic crime novella with a fascinating blend of illustration styles—from sketches, to photos, to dramatically inked panels—all linked together by the stream of consciousness writing style of Bendis. Amongst other things, he currently writes the monthly Marvel Avengers titles and it was backtracking from his great work there that I came across Jinx.

I also just put down The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics by friendly neighborhood physics professor James Kakalios (author of The Physics of Superheroes). That was a really fun and well delivered trip through (in? around? of?) the history of one of the most puzzling aspects of modern physics—the quantum world. Jim has an accessible and engaging writing style and weaves in many popular culture references to help provide context for what can often be a very confusing topic.

I am currently reading Clearing Away the Clouds: Nine lessons for life from the martial arts by Stephen Fabian. Fabian takes his distills his several decades of martial arts practice into some common concepts that have direct application to daily life. I very much appreciate his linking of historical and philosophical characters like Miyamoto Musashi and his Book of Five Rings to his narrative. I find these sorts of books to be very intriguing as I am quite interested in how the experiences of others in martial arts relate to my own (or not).

Lastly, I just cracked open The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. I am really getting into “Steampunk” as a genre and this book just looked interesting. Also, I recently opened up a collection of short horror stories edited by Peter Straub and entitled Poe’s Children. Too early to report critically on either, but fun so far!
Visit the official Inventing Iron Man website.

--Marshal Zeringue