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Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen
Warner Books, 506 pages

Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen
Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, Coventry, England. In 1995, he was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Medal for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science. He continues to be an active research mathematician, working now on the effects of symmetry on dynamics, with applications to pattern formation and chaos theory.

Currently at the University of Warwick, Dr Jack Cohen is an internationally renowned reproductive biologist, having published nearly 100 research papers. He also acts as a consultant to top science fiction writers, such as Terry Pratchett, designing credible creatures and ecologies.

ISFDB Bibliography: Ian Stewart
ISFDB Bibliography: Jack Cohen
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Hank Luttrell

On some level, I love big space operas -- the loud, interstellar kind, blasting through space and populated by strange beings from other planets. This is what I loved when I was a kid and a good one can still make my heart race.

But I'm older now. I have more trouble believing in these stories. Faster than light travel begins to seem more like fantasy and less like science fiction. Not that I don't read and enjoy fantasy; I just expect science fiction to be realistic in ways I don't with fantasy.

So when a book can really work on a vast interstellar stage, and seem scientifically plausible, well, that's something.

Most of the story in Wheelers takes place on Earth or on Jupiter or points between. And a vast, epic story it is. Equal emphasis is given to the character development of twin sisters and the son of one of the sisters on earth, and the fascinating details of the exceedingly alien civilization in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Earth is menaced by an impact by a comet, which seems to have been somehow hurled at Earth by an incredible manipulation of Jupiter's moons.

I couldn't bear to give away too much of this great book, rich with scientific and philosophic speculation, but the extrapolation which puts life on Jupiter is used to create a sort of unified field theory of interstellar life. This is great fun, with huge ideas and believable, well developed -- if sometimes larger than life -- characters.

The fellows who wrote this book have a long background writing popular science, not to mention the recent book on Terry Pratchett's books, The Science of Discworld. If this book is any indication, they have a promising future writing rewarding science fiction.

Copyright © 2001 Hank Luttrell

Hank Luttrell has reviewed science fiction for newspapers, magazines and web sites. He was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo Award and is currently a bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin.

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