Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brian Clegg

Brian Clegg is a British popular science writer. His books have included The God Effect, Before the Big Bang, Inflight Science, and How to Build a Time Machine.

Clegg's latest title is Final Frontier: The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading.Clegg' s reply:
I came to my current read, Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures with Extremists as a ‘more of the same read’ after being entranced a week ago by his book The Psychopath Test. As I mention in my review of that, it was recommended to me by a fellow panelist on a ‘How to Write Popular Science’ masterclass, and it’s one of those books that is hard not to consume at one sitting. While Them is along similar lines – a look at a serious issue, but undertaken in a light-hearted fashion that makes the book both funny and thought-provoking – I don’t think it works quite as well as The Psychopath Test. That book was perfectly balanced. Here, the central theme is less significant – it’s the idea of there being some kind of ‘world order’ that secretly runs the world, and Ronson explores it by meeting various extremists and borderline individuals who are engaged in everything from supporting Islamic terrorism to promoting the idea that the world is run by 12 foot tall lizards, but who all believe in these shady conspirators. These meetings vary from genuinely scary to farcical, but somehow it doesn’t engage quite as well as the other title.

If this was the first of Ronson’s books I’d read, I would be very happy with it – and I am certainly enjoying it. His style is inimitable. But The Psychopath Test set such high expectations that Them is, perhaps, inevitably a slight let-down. This time of year I tend to read fun non-fiction, science fiction and murder mysteries as light relief from the science reading that dominates the rest of my year, and Ronson will certainly go down as one of my holiday favourites. Very easy to read, funny, but still always with that realisation that this isn’t a black and white world and has some real shades of grey in the people he meets out there.
Follow Brian Clegg on Twitter, and visit his website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Brian Clegg and Goldie.

Writers Read: Brian Clegg (September 2009).

Writers Read: Brian Clegg (December 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue