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Monday, April 1, 2013

Science Graphic Novel -- Genetics and DNA!

     Okay, this one is not an April Fools joke (like the last one was).  Mark Schultz has written an amazing graphic novel that makes the most complicated aspects of genetics study understandable (though you may have to read it a couple of times).  The Stuff of Life:  A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA (2009) is illustrated by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon (who both worked on the wonderful GN on the space race: T-Minus.   They claim they are not related).  It is an amazing book.

     So the story line is kind of kooky.  Bloort 183 is an alien biologist on a world of highly evolve starfish-looking critters.  The people of Glargal reproduce asexually and are falling prey to genetic destabilization because their genetics lack diversity.  Bloort 183 has made a study of how genetics work on earth and is delivering that report to the (somewhat dense) leader of Glargal, Floorsh 727.  This may seem like a silly contrivance, but this gives the creators of the book the chance to explain things on a basic level and ask themselves clarification questions. 
     The images do an amazing job of clarifying the tasks and capabilities of different cells and protein chains.  Though they sometimes take some liberties (by shaping some protein chains as a par of scissors, for example) it makes it easier to understand and remember.  The book has a fair amount of history as well, describing how scientists first uncovered human's genetic structure. 

     Best of all, this book doesn't talk down or over simplify.  Alll that we know about genetics is here,   At the same time, the book doesn't try to impress us through being incomprehensible.  And as a result, whether you are studying for a college genetics final or just want to learn how everything works, it is accessible and amazing.
     If you teach science to high school students (or college students for that matter), this book should be in your classroom library.


  1. Just put a hold on it at our public library. Thanks for the review, Bill! (I'll keep my fingers crossed for Ms. Meyer's masterful re-telling of LOTR...)

  2. Thanks, Tony. Hope you are well. As for the LOTR graphic novel, I am sure Stephanie Meyer will tell it like it has never been told before. :)