Imagine a book I would write. On viruses (what else?).
Now, instead of it sounding like it was written by a chimpanzee who learned English from watching ‘Waynes World’ and ‘Waynes World 2’ on a loop + 4chan, imagine it was written by an articulate, science-literate human.
That is ‘A Planet of Viruses‘, Carl Zimmers latest book. For a ‘review’, the only thing I need to say to this crowd is that the writing is just as fantastic as everything Carl writes, plus its on a topic that I love (and you all are probably interested in, if you read ERV).
There is another bonus for the Internet-Induced-ADHD-Generation– this isnt a huge tome, like, say, the also wonderful ‘An Ancestors Tale’ from Dawkins. ‘A Planet of Viruses’ is lots of stories about lots of viruses. You can pick it up, put it down as needed, without needing to stay up till 2 am to finish a chapter, or it being too dense to read comfortably on an airplane or bus.
As a virologist/blogger, this easy-reading did occasionally get on my nerves. Carl didnt try to cram every damn detail about every virus he wrote about in the cute bite-sized chapters. There is more to all of the stories he told. But that doesnt mean the stories Carl told werent ‘good’. Its like comparing a bonbon filled with a light chocolate mousse with another filled with a dark chocolate ganache. Theyre both awesome, just eat em. And though Carl didnt hotlink to Wikipedia in his articles, he did use the right names and the right phrases, so if people do want to dig deeper, more details are just a Google away. And it goes without saying, because its Carl, he didnt dumb things down for ‘ease’ while sacrificing scientific accuracy. The science is fine, I just wanted MOAR 🙂
Long time readers of ERV will really enjoy it. Some of the topics Carl wrote about I have covered here on ERV, so it will be ‘familiar’, but Carls approach is very different from mine, plus he wrote about viruses I have not covered much/at all here. Familiar, but still new.
I also think its great for a non-ERV reader– I mean, its Carl. He wrote ‘Planet’ in the same accessible, non-intimidating way he writes everything.
Its just lovely 🙂 Good job, Carl!