Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

This is a fascinating book set “next week” or so. The characters are well drawn, though stereotype is pretty close to the surface for most of the characters.

It’s interesting to watch the wasps and their problems spread; it feels exaggerated but plausible throughout. The science takes center stage and feels plausible–and it’s nice to see scientists spending time on science, on screen.

The relationships feel a bit more artificial or plot convenient–back to plausible but not quite convincing. They’re not at the center of the story, but they work and get us a global viewpoint.

In the end, it was a pleasant read with explorers and scientists at the heart of the story, rather than action heroes. That’s pretty novel for a modern setting.

The Engines of our Ingenuity by John Lienhard

An interesting book about a radio show I never heard about. It’s about science and engineering with an emphasis on inventors. It offers a good look at the world and what you can see when you look at it with new eyes.

The dominant theme of the book is about how technology shapes us. Several chapters discuss technology and how we adapt our lives to it– from the telephone, to computers and radio. It’s breezy– while he hints at some of the design considerations, he rarely descends into discussing specific numbers or steps in chemistry.

All in all, it’s a good book to hand people who are interested in invention and science. It’s probably best for non-mathematical adults; the writing’s a little dry and from an older perspective.