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Friday, June 06, 2008

Book Review: The Jinn From Hyperspace

If you are a fan of Martin Gardner's recreational mathematics book, and would like to see his other writings, this book might be for you; others should be ok if they miss it. It's a collection of essays, on no single topic. The book is divided into four parts, with 36 chapters in all spread over 300 pages. The parts are

  • Science, Math, and Baloney: This part (19 chapters) contains Martin's opinion on various science related topics, as well as some paradoxes which philosophers and logicians seem to be very fond of. The topics range from False Memory Syndrome to a hypothetical Time Reversed Universe. The title of the book is actually name of a fictional story related to Klein bottles in this part.

  • Literature: This series of chapters (5) contains Martin's view of literature, specifically focusing on the work of Chesterton and how the Santa Clause came into being.

  • L. Frank Baum: Martin Gardner seems to be a fan of L. Frank Baum (the author of The Wizard of Oz); though, people outside the US (like me) might not have heard of him earlier. This section consists of 7 chapters, entirely dedicated to the writing style of L. Frank Baum.

  • Lewis Carroll: Like Frank Baum, Martin seems to be a fan of Lewis Carroll as well. Martin discusses the background of the writings of the famous logician. This might be very interesting for you if you know a little bit about Lewis and/ or have enjoyed reading Alice in the Wonderland/ Through the Looking Glass. This part consists of 5 chapters, and also sheds some light on the life of Lewis.
Depending on where you live, some of the content---such as False Memory Syndrome which discusses false childhood abuse memories---in the book might be disturbing for you. While there were certain bits and pieces to learn from here and there, I am not much impressed by the overall theme and content of the book.