Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) Mary Roach

SpookAs much as I enjoyed Stiff, I found Spook disappointing. As a scientific look at life after death, excluding the last couple chapters, it read more as a debunking than a presentation.

Of course that’s partially because several chapters deal with things like ectoplasm exuding from mediums, which was a short lived phenomenon, and so the “research” into it seems… unnecessary, although I admit that the chapters on where the mediums may or may not have hidden the “ectoplasm” was both titillating and disturbing.

The chapters I did find interesting were on electromagnetic fields and low frequency sounds, and how they can cause repeatable phenomenon in a portion of the population. The idea that EMF and sounds beneath our hearing range can cause us to hear and see things that are not there is fascinating.

And although I liked the chapter on Near Death Experiences, it seemed short, at least in comparison the the amount of time spent on mediums and ectoplasm. It feels as if there should be far more research on the subject (after all, there was a movie on the subject) and that the chapter should have been a little longer. Not that the information I learned about turn of the last century mediums wasn’t interesting, it just didn’t seem the slightest bit relevant.

As always, the book is full of Roach’s characteristic wit and sarcasm, much of it to be found in the footnotes. And the footnotes ranged from completely irrelevant to occasionally more interesting than the text.

All in all, although interesting, the book felt far more uneven than Stiff. Interesting, but I’m not sure it was worth the trade paperback price.
Rating: 6/10


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