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When you learn about the Space Race, you learn about the impressive mathematical and engineering feats that allowed humans to get to the moon. Nobody really talks about the less glamorous experiments like, how long it takes before the smell of unwashed bodies in a small contained space becomes unbearable, or how to contain poop in zero gravity. Mary Roach is not afraid to ask the questions that everyone wonders, but is too embarrassed to ask. With Roach's characteristic wit and humor, Packing for Mars explores the unsung heroes who are testing the things no one else wants to in order to allow humans to travel through space.  


Cover of Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky 

If humans ever do manage to travel long distances across space, what then? In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Elder Race, the line between magic and technology blurs. Lynesse, daughter of the queen, is looking for a mythical Elder, said to be a powerful sorcerer, to help save her people from a monster. That Elder, however, is in fact a junior anthropologist sent to the planet to observe cultures. Forbidden from interacting with the native civilizations of the planet, how can Elder Nyr reconcile his orders and help the people he's studied? Including a delightful interlude in which you see the differences between what the Elder says and what Lynesse hears, Elder Race is a fun novel exploring what it means to explore planets different from one's own.  

One of the main technologies through which the modification was achieved in Cold People really does exist (just not to, you know, make human/animal hybrids). In 2012 Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier discovered a mechanism certain bacteria use to protect themselves against viruses. The scientists realized the groundbreaking gene-editing uses this mechanism could have and changed the field of genetics forever. From bestselling biographer Walter Isaacson, The Code Breaker is the story of  Doudna, as a child interested in biology up through today's impressive and controversial uses of the technology. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of gene-editing. 


Cover of Cold People by Tom Rob Smith

Cold People by Tom Rob Smith

On August 6, 2023, aliens invade Earth and order all humans to move to the continent of Antarctica, or else. Liza, and American on vacation with her family, and Atto, a young Portuguese tour guide, meet on this day and work with each other to make the dangerous journey south. Once there, their struggles have only begun. Years later, what's left of humanity is split between a few communities trying to survive day to day in the inhospitable climate, and another trying to ensure that humanity survives through genetic modification. Cold People explores what it means to be human, and how far we should go to ensure humanity's survival. 

Not entirely non-fiction and not entirely fiction, Thomas Halliday's Otherlands brings readers along on a journey throughout the entire history of Earth. Taking clues from everything the fossil record tells us, Halliday, a paleobiologist, creates stories of what the world was like at specific, important times in Earth's history. Starting as "recently" as the Pleistocene epoch (2.58 million – 11,700 years ago) and going all the way back to the Ediacaran period (635 – 541 million years ago), you can see how today's complex life forms emerged out of next to nothing. More than the emergence of life, Otherlands also covers the immense change in the physical landscape and climate across time, bringing and interestingly expansive view to how we see the world as we know it. 

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About the Author

Adrienne is a Library Associate at the Southeast Neighborhood Library. She enjoys reading books of all genres, especially books recommended by other people. When not at the library, Adrienne is usually spending way too much time online, or taking a nap with her two cats.