Fiction & Humor

The Explanation for Everything: A Novel

by Lauren Grodstein

Chapel Hill (NC): Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013. 338 pages.

What is the underlying message of Lauren Grodstein’s “compelling and engrossing work of fiction,” wonders reviewer Laurel Saiz: “Anti-creationist screed? A fundamentalist Christian Trojan horse disguised as a book exploring concepts about evolution? My guess [is that it is:] … Having a belief in a higher order is nice and might be comforting.

Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth

by Jay Hosler
New York: Hill and Wang, 2011. 151 pages.

Reviewer Scott Hatfield praises Hosler’s graphic novel as both amusing and educational, writing, “Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth makes it clear that the ideas first glimpsed by Darwin are not confined to old textbooks, but instead form the basis of an active, lively field of scientific inquiry.

Anthill: A Novel

by E. O. Wilson
New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. 378 pages.

A semi-autobiographical novel, Anthill combines a coming-of-age story with ruminations on nature from ants to the biosphere as a whole. “Melville gave us whales and obsessions, Orwell gave us pigs and politicians. Now Wilson suggests with winning conviction that in our own colonies, we proceed at our peril when we cast off mindful restraint in favor of unchecked growth. ... carries the reader down the ant-hole to describe life from the ants’ point of view. No writer could do this better, and Wilson’s passion serves him best here.

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation

by Michael Keller, illustrated by Nicolle Rager Fuller
New York: Rodale, 2009. 192 pages.

From the publisher: "A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time. ... author Michael Keller and illustator Nicolle Rager Fuller introduce a new generation of readers to the original text.

The Evolutionary Tales: Rhyme and Reason on Creation/Evolution

by Ronald L. Ecker
Palatka, FL: Hodge & Braddock, 2006. 298 pages.

In this delightful rhyming parody of the Canterbury Tales, now in its third edition, ten scientists on their way to a "Back to Genesis" seminar describe how their respective specialties contribute to the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution. With comprehensive notes, bibliography, and index, this entertaining book doubles as a handy creation/evolution reference.

Planet Ocean

by Brad Matsen and Ray Troll
Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1994. 133 pages.

Dozens of Ray Troll's imaginative full-color paintings and block prints are accompanied by Brad Matsen's text explaining the history of life on our ocean-covered planet. It is difficult to say which is more entertaining, the illustrations (such as "Trilobite Safari", which depicts 2 plaid-wearing human hunters bearing a huge trilobite on a stick between them) or the text, which, referring to the Burgess Shale, says, "The clearest notes of complex life's first songs echo in the dark shale of the Canadian Rockies.

Inherit the Wind

by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee
New York: Bantam Books, 1960. 129 pages.

Opening on Broadway in 1955, Inherit the Wind was intended to indict McCarthy's anticommunism, not Bryan's fundamentalism. Nevertheless, by basing the play loosely on the Scopes trial — Bryan became Brady, Darrow became Drummond, Mencken became Hornbeck, Scopes became Cates, and Dayton became Hillsboro — Lawrence and Lee embedded their vision of the trial in the American popular consciousness. Starring in the 1960 film version — which premiered in Dayton — were Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly.

No Enemy But Time

by Michael Bishop
London: VGSF, 2000. 400 pages.

The winner of the 1982 Nebula award for best science fiction novel of the year, No Enemy But Time follows a protagonist whose dreams of prehistoric Africa are so compellingly detailed that he is invited to join a most unusual time travel project. Stranded in the past, he finds love among the Homo habilis he was sent to research. Writes Norman Spinrad, "No Enemy But Time is a science fiction novel of rare maturity and perhaps even rarer wit."

The Dechronization of Sam Magruder

by George Gaylord Simpson
New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997. 160 pages.

Paleontologist and architect of the modern synthesis, George Gaylord Simpson also ventured into fiction with The Dechronization of Sam Magruder, in which a physicist working on a quantum theory of time is catapulted back to the Cretaceous, which Simpson describes in loving detail. With a preface by Arthur C. Clarke and an afterword by Stephen Jay Gould. Yves Barbero, writing in Creation/Evolution (1996 Summer; 16 [1], nr 38: 32), remarked, "Simpson's novel is a terrific read on many levels. ... The book is a full evening's pleasure."

The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells
New York: Tor Books, 1992. 144 pages.

A classic of science fiction, Wells's first novel hardly needs any introduction. Wells's description of our descendants in the year 802701, the beautiful but feeble Eloi and the fierce and carnivorous Morlocks, is unforgettable. Joseph Conrad praised Wells for "contriv[ing] to give over humanity into the clutches of the Impossible and yet manage to keep it down (or up) to its humanity, to its flesh, blood, sorrow, folly.