Who is today's Asimov?
April 11, 2012 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Fans of popular science writing: who is the 21st century's Isaac Asimov?

When I was a kid I devoured Isaac Asimov's books of essays on science -- View from a Height, Adding a Dimension, The World of Carbon (oh my god did I love The World of Carbon) etc etc. I am reading my son The Planet That Wasn't and he seems to love it just as much as I did. I could certainly just read him the old Asimov books. But my understanding is that there have been at least some developments in science since the 1970s. Who, today, is the Isaac Asimov equivalent who's writing great books about science that I can read to my son (and that later he can read himself?) The books don't have to be aimed at kids but they shouldn't be aimed at scientists, obviously. Space and dinosaurs a plus.
posted by escabeche to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I believe you're looking for Neil deGrasse Tyson.
posted by Oktober at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Neil deGrasse Tyson.
posted by Jairus at 8:54 AM on April 11, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also, Michio Kaku and Phil Plait.
posted by greenland at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2012

Good list here. I don't think there is a current equivalent of Isaac Asimov, who had such a vast range of interests.
posted by lukemeister at 9:06 AM on April 11, 2012

I'm not sure his books will appeal to kids, as he's kind of on the opposite end of science as space dinosaurs, but Oliver Sacks writes very readable scientific non-fiction.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:07 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mary Roach's Packing for Mars is great.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:14 AM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Stephen Jay Gould's essays for Natural History were collected in about five volumes, beginning with Ever Since Darwin.

Plenty of dinosaurs, no spaceships that I can recall, and with an original brilliance I don't think Asimov ever quite rose to (I read about 30 of his science books and every F&SF column he ever wrote)-- and not at all beyond your kid, in my opinion.
posted by jamjam at 9:21 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Robert Sawyer.
posted by PickeringPete at 9:24 AM on April 11, 2012

George Johnson is my favorite current science writer. His book on quantum computers blew my mind. But his more recent book "The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments" might be better for reading to a kid. Here he is plugging it on Colbert.
posted by pete_22 at 10:50 AM on April 11, 2012

Kim Stanley Robinson comes to mind.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:51 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

2nding Mary Roach; Packing For Mars is a really fun, informative read about humans in outer space. It's filled with fascinating bits and written in a clear and often hilarious way.
posted by mediareport at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2012

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