David Toomey’s smart and sassy book, Weird Life is a quite enjoyable read. I was paging through it about the same time I was reading The Hydrogen Sonata. Fascinating contrast. I’ll get to that.
The author takes the reader through a natural progression. We start with a recent history of biology, chiefly the recent discoveries of life in most unexpected places. Then chemistry blends into an exploration of the basic definition of life. Then Dr Toomey goes off-planet and looks at places in the solar system as well as between the stars. From there, we’re launched into the realms of speculation. What could weird life be like? Will we even notice it when we see it? How have respected scientists pushed into SETI, (the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence)?
Dr Toomey wraps up his book with a foray into fiction. There are a lot of weird aliens in science fiction, and he covers just a sliver of them.
The reader ends up in the realm of physics, and how changes in the basic laws of physics might affect life. Or we might find weird, slightly changed versions of life–and ourselves–in some very close, but parallel universe.
Weird Life has a heaping helping of many different sciences, plus a little history, literature, and philosophy. Packed into less than 230 pages. Very good read. Very well-presented and with enjoyable prose.