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Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: The Best American Science Writing 2008

I checked out The Best American Science Writing 2008 from the library to see how science stories aged, after thoroughly enjoying the 2011 edition.

The prognosis is not good. I'm not sure how much of it is that Sylvia Nasar has poor taste in science stories, and how much of it is that 4 years is a lot of time in science. For one thing, the collection has several themes, the first of which is about doctors getting paid by big Pharma to push drugs. Maybe one article on this theme should make the cut, but 4?! That's ridiculous.

Another theme was genetic engineering and genes. One of them was about 23 and Me, which was young and new back when it came out. But now it feels like old hat. Though one reminder about how slowly technology actually progresses is that we still don't have $1,000 complete genome sequencing as a service.

Other stories seem more like human interest stories than true science stories, and I got bored enough to skip them. All in all, it truly could be that I lucked out and bought the best edition of the series when it was on sale. The 2008 one was a dud.

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