Get notified of Words&Dirt updates

Tag: brain

Review: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Ruin”

Writing an excellent science fiction novel is a notable achievement, but writing an even better sequel is something truly grand. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Ruin improves on each and every element that made Children of Time shine, while also plumbing new depths of intrigue and intellect. It is among the most daring and creative works of science fiction I’ve [...]

Review: Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Time”

Adrian Tchaikovky’s Children of Time is a tremendously fun and intelligent work of science fiction. Set in the far future, it is a tale of collision between two radically distinct but inextricably connected species. The first of these creeps into existence when a megalomaniacal scientist’s pet project––a re-staging of human evolution including a newly-terraformed planet, a barrel [...]

Review: Neal Stephenson’s “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell”

Like Swiss Army Knives, Neal Stephenson’s novels attempt to imbue a singular instrument with a wide range of utility. These attempts have produced both elegant masterpieces and convoluted kluges, but on the whole I think Stephenson’s recent work has solidified his position as one of his generation’s most ambitious and accomplished storytellers. Fall; or Dodge [...]

Review: Kevin J. Mitchell’s “Innate”

People who study the classic scientific debate between nature and nurture tend to reach some version of this conclusion: It’s complicated, both sides make significant contributions to human behavior, and we should never be too quick to attribute a particular outcome solely to genetic or environmental factors. Kevin J. Mitchell’s Innate doesn’t completely overturn this paradigm, but it definitely modifies [...]

Review: Chris Voss’s “Never Split the Difference”

Chris Voss spent decades as a top hostage negotiator for the FBI––an experience that granted him a unique set of skills and perspectives. In Never Split the Difference, Voss and co-author Tahl Raz articulate these skills and perspectives, promising to demystify the art of negotiation and leave readers better prepared to negotiate with increased confidence [...]

Review: Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s “The Coddling of the American Mind”

The Coddling of the American Mind is a book that every American should read. While this was my first encounter with author Greg Lukianoff, I’ve long respected and followed the work of his coauthor, Jonathan Haidt. In the early 2010s, Haidt’s The Righteous Mind was one of my gateway texts into the field of moral psychology, which has captivated [...]

Review: Yuval Noah Harari’s “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”

Last week, I was one of the lucky audience members who witnessed a live discussion between Yuval Noah Harari and Sam Harris in San Francisco. Harris opened the conversation by saying, “So, Yuval, you have these books that just steamroll over all other books.” That’s pretty much how I felt about Harari’s two previous works, [...]

Review: Peter Godfrey-Smith’s “Other Minds”

As humanity finally learns (or is forced) to confront the reality and imminent dangers of climate change, we’re going to need every bit of mental flexibility and creativity we can muster. There has probably never been a moment in history when it was more critical for us to explore and appreciate types of intelligence different from [...]

Review: Peter Watts’s “The Freeze-Frame Revolution”

I’ll be the first to admit that Peter Watts’s The Freeze-Frame Revolution might be a better book than I’m willing to give it credit for. It was nice to take another trip into the mind-bending ideas and dark humor for which Watts is rightly loved, but I found myself unable to sink into this novella in a [...]

Review: Audrey Schulman’s “Theory of Bastards”

I expect any worthwhile novel to touch on a smattering of my intellectual interests, weaving them together in a fresh and entertaining fashion. It is rare, however, for a single story to engage with a manifold range of subjects about which I am deeply passionate, and rarer still for that synthesis to prove itself more [...]