The Jinn from Hyperspace: And Other Scribblings--Both Serious and Whimsical

Martin Gardner, Author Prometheus Books $25.98 (307p) ISBN 978-1-59102-565-8
Best known for writing Scientific American's ""Mathematical Games"" column for more than 25 years, Gardner is less well known for his books and essays in other publications. This collection, brimming with charm and wit, includes a fascinating range of articles originally published in such journals as Math Horizons, The Skeptical Inquirer and The New Criterion, as well as in Gardner's past books. The title story is a confabulation of satire, homage and mathematical puzzle that encapsulates the many themes and variations of this far-reaching book. Part one, ""Science, Math and Baloney,"" is devoted to the uses and abuses of science and mathematics, including critiques of false memory syndrome, artificial intelligence research and zero point energy. Part two consists of five chapters on G. K. Chesterton and ""The Night Before Christmas,"" while parts three and four are devoted to L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll, respectively. Though readers might be put off by the breadth of subject matter, or wonder why a ""serious"" mathematical writer might trouble himself with The Wizard of Oz, Gardner fully validates all his interests with lively prose, appropriate humor and umbrage where needed.
Reviewed on: 02/04/2008
Release date: 02/01/2008
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