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Publisher's Summary

The Science of Superheroes takes a lighthearted but clear-headed look at the real science that underlies some of the greatest superhero comic books of all time, including Spider-Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, and many more. Each chapter presents the story of the origin of one or more superheroes and asks intriguing questions that lead to fascinating discussions about the limits of science, the laws of nature, and the future of technology. 

If gamma rays can’t turn a 128-pound weakling into the Incredible Hulk, what could? Are Spider-Man’s powers really those of a spider? Could a person ever breathe water like a fish? From telepathy to teleportation, from cloning to cosmic rays, this vastly entertaining romp through the nexus of science and fantasy separates the possible from the plausible and the barely plausible from the utterly ridiculous. 

With an introduction by author Dean Koontz.

©2002 by Lois Gresh and Robert Weinberg
(P)2002 Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Weinberg and Gresh tell it like it is - and how it would be, if our favorite comic book characters actually existed. The Science of Superheroes is a fascinating and entertaining examination of everything from astrophysics to genetic biology to the evolution of the 'superhero.'" (Mark Powers, editor, X-Men and Uncanny X-Men)

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Stefon
  • 06-12-2009

To much irrelvent information

This book simply has too much irrelevant information. It also can't seem to stay on topic. For example, in the chapter about The Flash, it talks about the anatomy of a cheetah. At first you think that's it's trying to make a point, but then it goes on never to mention the cheetah again. Also, the analysis of the powers wore sorely lacking. A good example of this was Superman. The only thing about Superman that it talks about is his super-strength. Although the analysis of his strength was good, it could've at least went into more depth about flying.

There are other examples of going off topic, such as the chapter on Green Lantern and X-Men. It briefly mentioned the validity of telepathy, but then went on to talk about evolution vs creation. In some cases, for 20 minutes it starts to make an argument which would prove some powers possible, then spends another 10 minutes proving it wrong (such as the case with Superman). There are also situations in which it openly refuses to talk about certain powers (Ex. Spiderman, Superman, X-Men).

Overall, I would not recommend this book, especially if you getting it for a certain hero, like I did. Although the actual science it provides is good in it's own respect, when talking about superheroes it's irrelevant.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • LM
  • 25-02-2003

Fun read

This is an interesting book and answers a number of questions that just aren't relevant when you're deep into comic book reading. It's a good step back from the fantasy world and provides intriguing explanations on how each superhero is able to do the things they do. I wish there were more analysis on other superheroes. Superman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Batman were either inadequate or just plain boring. Spiderman, Atom, and Submariner explanations were ok. Maybe the author will write a second version with analysis on characters from the Avenger, Xmen, Ironman, and DareDevil.

This first book is too long on the history of comic books and short on analysis of the superpowers. Hopefully version 2 (if it comes out) will jump directly into the analysis of each superhero's powers and analyze more Marvel characters.

6 people found this helpful

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  • EEFER
  • 02-02-2021

I don’t recommend this to anyone

This isn’t a book for comic book fans wanting to learn the science behind super heroes, because the science is described poorly. This is not a book for scientists to learn about how comic book heroes connect to the science they know. This isn’t a book I’d recommend to anyone, and I regret buying it myself.

They describe the science wrong a good part of the time. It’s clear no one with a science degree was involved in writing this book. They get all kinds of concepts and terms wrong that a scientist would have corrected in a few minutes.

The whole book seems to be about showing how comic books are not getting the science right, so the book is basically a buzz kill. But then the irony is that they don’t get the science right themselves. Also, the authors never seem to ask themselves whether comic books are even meant to show accurate descriptions of science. They certainly didn’t listen deeply enough to the comic book artists they interviewed in Appendix B, who told the authors outright that getting the science exactly right isn’t usually the point.

Overall I was hoping this book would help me connect to my students who are interested in comic books and by extension might then get interested in science if I could show them the science in comic books. Unfortunately this book disappointed me in helping me making those connections for my students.


1 person found this helpful

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  • Rob
  • 08-08-2014

History, science, or philospohy

The book makes some good attempts at exploring both side of the argument, but other times the scientific argument is extremely biased and irrelevant. For example: it discusses the physiology of the cheetah, efficient lungs etc..., yet fails to explore how these constraints (of the Flash) would impact his performance. It also describes the energy required for a typical human to do a certain feat, but i would not refer to the Flash as a typical human. With all thee figures being spouted, surely the argument for 100% efficiency of food consumption be explored.

By the time I reached the creationist versus science argument I was on auto-pilot, waiting patiently to finish the book.

I doubt the writers have had any thesis or science experience: commonly misusing the terms theory, truth or fact.

I was expecting a fun lighthearted exploration of comic super-heroes; I received a few interesting tid-bits hidden behind an overwhelming amount of pointless exposition.

I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK.
(oh gawd, there is another book too... )

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gregory
  • 17-03-2006

Super Discussion

The Science of Superhereos proved to be outstanding in two respects. First, it is a great history of comics for anyone who grew up reading comics.

But more than that, it excels ar discussing the science behond the fiction. Topics from many arreas of science are covered, including physics, astronomy, biology, evolution, and chemistry. The explanations are clear and easy to follow, even for someone with no background in science at all. It was also very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of black holes and stellar evolution.

This book is highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark A. Brinkman
  • 09-12-2004

Beautifully done!

A grand mix of comic history, trivia, and science. Using the superheroes by nature or origin, they jump on subjects like black holes, relativity, genetics, evolution, probability of alien life, and more. As a follower of comics for decades, I was surprised at the detailed stories that were referenced and compared, some only a few years old. Whether a lover of DC or Marvel, you'll find something to interest you here. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Xmen -they're all here to some level or not.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-2020

Very Insulting

This title offer false advertising first and foremost. They barely discuss superheroes, using them very sparingly to talk about well known scientific facts that are barely connected to the mentioned super hero. They have whole chapters that have ZERO to do with super heroes at all, highlighting Donald Duck and sci fi magazines instead. "The Science of Comic Books" would have been a more appropriate title. Plus the narrator uses a stereotypic Southern accent to make people sound stupid. As someone born and raised in the South, I find this very offensive. Do NOT waste money or credits on this title.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Casey Cardinal
  • 21-02-2017

Not worth a purchase

This is disappointing, it is obvious to the human mind that super hero's can't exist. This book doesn't answer any questions like what would happen if they existed. Not only that, it is clear that it is written by a man who doesn't read comics.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-2016

Underwhelmed

Maybe I'm just not enough of a comic fan, but I was generally unimpressed. It was fine I suppose. I would happily read it if it were lying on the coffee table of my dentist's waiting room. The science was fairly basic. Well read, but the content was "meh."😐

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  • Brightblade
  • 01-12-2012

The One, Two Punch of Heroes!

Would you listen to The Science of Superheroes again? Why?

I think I will!

Any additional comments?

This is just a fun book. I even enjoyed the Donald Duck part. I have been looking for Heroes in modern books and sadly have found few. This book allowed me to spend some quality time with some true heroes. Thanks Audible!

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  • adam
  • 17-01-2020

DO NOT BUY

awful.... takes what should be fun interesting and completely bored me to tears. I love superheroes hense why I got the book but it does nothing but give you formulas and tell you to the enth degree how something would not be possible and so on an so forth...... more science than superhero.... I couldn't listen anymore and I gave it a fair chance

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  • Davidmcdonnell
  • 06-09-2018

thoroughly enjoyed this a very interesting listen

thoroughly enjoyed this a very interesting listen

the speaker is engaging and the chapters are presented well ..didn't get bored once

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Bobby Davro
  • 19-03-2011

A bit drawn out and dry.

Some interesting discussions, but inconsistent and drawn out in parts. For example the chapter on aquaman spends far too long unpacking a modern evolutionary theory that man evolved in aquatic environments. And is it really necessary to debate fish communication in such depth. Other queries don't get sufficient coverage e.g. Batman's grapple line: could he carry enough line on his person, could the grapple penetrate walls? Ultimately a bit hit and miss and rather dry. Some interesting comic history though.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • 26-08-2012

Appalling

The information being imparted here may well be accurate, but the quality of writing and the style is absolutely dire ! There is mild swearing throughout, and the reader sounds so naive and "dumb", that I keep expecting him to use words like "wow", "cool", and "awesome" at any moment. It is the most dreadful book I have ever come across.

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