...Despite appearances, sciences fiction is not really about the future, it is about the present. As Sekuler and Blake say: "These characters are us, and their qualities are ours."
...Are these two books (Star Trek on the Brain and Life Signs) genuinely trying to tell us that Vulcans and Klingons and Ferengi and the rest have anything valuable to say about human biology? With a lot of umming and aahing and shuffling of feet on the part of the authors, the answer is yes. And are they right? With a lot of umming and aahing and shuffling of feet on my part, I have to agree.
...Sekuler and Blake, on the other hand, whose book appears more substantial (and they are better writers), go from the Preservers into a wide-ranging discussion of cultural and racial difference, sexual attraction and the possibilities of interspecies reproduction.
It's clear that both authors (Sekuler/Blake) know their Star Trek very well, given their ability to dredge up passages from hundreds of episodes to support their discussion of the human brain. The book is an entertaining read for anyone who has followed the series (although a glossary in the back provides descriptions for those who don't know the difference between Spock and Sisko) and is a good introduction for anyone interested in how the brain works.
Obviously patterned after L.M. Krauss's successful The Physics of Star Trek (Basic Bks., 1995), the current title introduces some topics of psychology through reference to episodes from the TV and movie series. There are two problems here. First, the huge Star TrekR universe now encompasses four long-running TV series. While the authors do provide a dictionary of major characters, casual viewers will not be motivated to keep track of everyone. Second, the psychological material is rather scattered. Emotions, sexuality, aggression, memory, and abnormal psychology (plus a few other topics) just can't be covered coherently in 200 pages. Finally, the authors seem to be reluctant to acknowledge that some of the technical explanations presented in Star Trek are just plain nonsense, leaving the reader unsure where brain science ends and script writing begins. For YA collections serving die-hard Trekkies.Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA
YA-What a find! An educational and entertaining nonfiction work that uses Star Trek to explain the workings of the human mind. The authors, both psychology professors who collaborated on Perception (McGraw-Hill, 1994), have put together an excellent and highly readable neurology primer. Their two-pronged task is to give a Star Trek example and then link it to contemporary science of the nervous system. Do you want to know about emotions, their cultural implications, and universal expressions? Most teens would yawn, but the chapter describing Data and Vulcans is exciting and clear. La Forge's visual VISOR, Ferengi ears, Q's take on human mating efforts, and Captain Kirk's accidental "split" in a transporter malfunction are all used to illustrate functions of our nervous system. The explanation of the ravages of Alzheimer's disease, using the Emergency Medical Hologram from the Voyager episodes, is outstanding. The book includes photographs, diagrams, and demonstration "tests" to further illustrate a point. Each sequence of a Star Trek episode is identified as to which of the four series or movies it refers. There is a complete list of all the shows along with explanatory notes and a "who's who" of characters included in the book. The complete index allows for the exploration of individual neurological topics. The book can, however, be read cover to cover and should have great appeal to teens.-Carol DeAngelo, Garcia Consulting Inc., EPA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Meshing science and entertainment, Sekuler (psychology, Brandeis U.) and Blake (psychology, Vanderbilt U.) use the episodes of the popular TV program to present current understanding of brain function and neuroscience. No Trekking experience is required (the book includes a glossary of main characters and a list of episodes). Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.