The where the why the how

It took a while to get this book. Amazon back ordered it, then back ordered again. I finally severed all ties with Amazon and picked it up overnight through Barnes and Noble. I was very excited to get it. The Where, the Why, and the How is being billed as a creative and educational tour de force with illustrations of 75 scientific conundrums by 75 of today's "hot illustrators." Did I say how excited I was?

I've seen several animations - very cool, very innovative - done using a few of the 75 illustrations, and aimed at marketing the book. I admit that they served to get me more excited; but then I had to wonder why the animations were being used to market static illustrations. Especially when the kindle and nook versions of the book only had static illustrations in them - exactly like my print copy.

Long story short here: the illustrations are an extreme disappointment. The questions are great, the one page answers are fascinating, and I'm engaged every time I have a moment to read one or two. The illustrations though; the illustrations are completely and totally unremarkable. Every one seems as if it was done just to provide assets for a Flash animator. A complete bummer for me. My own tastes in illustration are fairly eclectic, but I guess I'd say Brad Holland is a favorite. Marshal Arisman too. I like painting and woodcut, abstract expressionism and realism, anything, really, as long as the illustration is good.

Except for these. They just don't do it for me. Or for the book or for science. Too bad. It was a great idea and the book's fun to read. Just not fun to look at.

Penn State
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March 27, symposium 2010.
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