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The Philosopher at the End of the Universe (second edition: Sci-Phi) demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacula The Philosopher at the End of the Universe (second edition: Sci-Phi) demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacular, expensive, high-octane films on the planet. Learn about: The Nature of Reality from The Matrix, Good and Evil from Star Wars, Morality from Aliens, Personal identity from Total Recall, The Mind-Body dilemma from Terminator, Free Will from Minority Report, Death and the Meaning of Life from Blade Runner, and much more. A search for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us with a star-studded cast that includes: Tom Cruise, Plato, Harrison Ford, Immanuel Kant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigourney Weaver, Rene Descartes, and Keanu Reeves. Rowlands anchors his discussions in easily understood everyday terms and relates them in a manner easy to identify with interspersed with a ready joke or two, he wonderfully explains why those SciFi movies we love so much are much deeper than they appear to be on the surface. Mark Rowlands's entertaining and stimulating guide is perfect for anyone searching for knowledge of the world around us. If Keanu can understand Descartes surely everyone can.


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The Philosopher at the End of the Universe (second edition: Sci-Phi) demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacula The Philosopher at the End of the Universe (second edition: Sci-Phi) demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacular, expensive, high-octane films on the planet. Learn about: The Nature of Reality from The Matrix, Good and Evil from Star Wars, Morality from Aliens, Personal identity from Total Recall, The Mind-Body dilemma from Terminator, Free Will from Minority Report, Death and the Meaning of Life from Blade Runner, and much more. A search for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us with a star-studded cast that includes: Tom Cruise, Plato, Harrison Ford, Immanuel Kant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigourney Weaver, Rene Descartes, and Keanu Reeves. Rowlands anchors his discussions in easily understood everyday terms and relates them in a manner easy to identify with interspersed with a ready joke or two, he wonderfully explains why those SciFi movies we love so much are much deeper than they appear to be on the surface. Mark Rowlands's entertaining and stimulating guide is perfect for anyone searching for knowledge of the world around us. If Keanu can understand Descartes surely everyone can.

30 review for The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained Through Science Fiction Films

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    I think I could easily put this into my top five favorite books ever...or at least slot it among those that had the biggest impact on my life. I picked it up out of curiosity from the "new" section of our local library years ago. It seemed like a good fit; I love science fiction films, and I've long had a passing interest in philosophy, without actually being familiar with all the "greats." The book is written is an easy, conversational style by current professor of Philosophy at the University I think I could easily put this into my top five favorite books ever...or at least slot it among those that had the biggest impact on my life. I picked it up out of curiosity from the "new" section of our local library years ago. It seemed like a good fit; I love science fiction films, and I've long had a passing interest in philosophy, without actually being familiar with all the "greats." The book is written is an easy, conversational style by current professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami Mark Rowlands, previously of the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. Professor Rowlands walks the reader through a number of popular science fiction films and explains how their core messages relate to certain philosophers or philosophical ideas, including his own. Examples include comparing Frankenstein's monster to the absurdity of life, dwelling in particular on French existentialist Albert Camus' take on the Greek myth of Sisyphus, that poor fellow doomed to roll a rock up a hill for all eternity. He uses the Terminator movies to explain the difference between dualism and materialism, and the mind-body problem. The Sixth Day and Total Recall provide a sounding board for the question of personal identity - where do "I" reside? In my brain, my memories, my soul, if there is such a thing? Minority Report includes lively discussion about free will, determinism, and compatibilism; The Hollow Man asks us "why be moral?"; Star Wars gets into the nature of good and evil; Blade Runner, death and the meaning of life. My favorite chapter of all focuses on Independence Day and Aliens, examining morality in a broader sense, and spending a significant amount of time on the thoughts of one of Rowlands favorite philosophers, Immanuel Kant, as well as utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham. Taking a deeper look at the Aliens films, we are asked to put ourselves in the aliens shoes: The aliens, of course, are portrayed as the baddies. And to be fair, they do have a rather nasty habit of laying their eggs in human bodies, which proves most inconvenient when the hatched creature bursts out of the chest of its human host. Very messy, and rather embarrassing if it should happen at, say, a dinner party. But are the aliens evil or simply misunderstood? They are, after all, another species. So why should they have any moral obligations toward us? After all, we do terrible things to other species, far worse than the grossest alien excesses – just ask an intensively reared pig or chicken, or visit a slaughterhouse some time. At least they just kill us, and while this is a somewhat painful death, at least it happens suddenly and relatively quickly. In the name of cheap food, we inflict lives of untold misery and equally gruesome deaths on hundreds of millions of animals every year. He goes on to describe the life of a commercial chicken, to great effect, ending with: Basically, it's no contest. Faced with a choice between a life like that and having an alien burst out of my chest, I would invest in some plastic tablecloths and go with the alien every time... Now, I was a borderline vegetarian before reading this chapter...I had given up red meat almost ten years past. I suddenly realized how absurd it was to try and draw some kind of artificial boundary between this living creature and that. From that moment on, I was a complete vegetarian. The health part of it is important of course, as I mention in my review of The China Study, but I can definitely say it is moral belief that keeps the flesh of another creature far from my lips. The cool thing is...I wrote to Professor Rowlands a year or so ago to commend him on his book and thank him for it. I got a somewhat lengthy and very cordial reply...always a pleasant surprise in an automated world. Now, I don't want to give the wrong impression – this isn't a book of pro-vegetarian propaganda. It is an intelligent conversation about philosophy which happens to revolve around that pop culture phenomenon known as the science fiction film. Intellectual snobs may be put off by the premise, but that's too bad. They are missing out on one heck of a smart and entertaining book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I would read a chapter, and then go rent the movie. It was totally fun, and I'd recommend it! I would read a chapter, and then go rent the movie. It was totally fun, and I'd recommend it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert Day

    It seems like, from my chapter by chapter progress reports, (see below (unless goodreads has rearranged stuff)) that I really enjoyed and engaged with this book, so it's slightly puzzling that I only gave it four stars. I love the premise of the book - that it is possible to use Science Fiction movies as an aid to understanding certain aspects of philosophy. I love this not just because it's more engaging to study philosophy by watching movies, but because I genuinely feel that there are deeper w It seems like, from my chapter by chapter progress reports, (see below (unless goodreads has rearranged stuff)) that I really enjoyed and engaged with this book, so it's slightly puzzling that I only gave it four stars. I love the premise of the book - that it is possible to use Science Fiction movies as an aid to understanding certain aspects of philosophy. I love this not just because it's more engaging to study philosophy by watching movies, but because I genuinely feel that there are deeper ways to enjoy Hollywood blockbusters than relishing the alien blood splatter patterns or piggy-backing on the adrenalin rush of the big guy running about on screen. The author seems to agree with me, despite his tongue in cheek treatment of Big Arnie as being the finest Austrian philosopher extant. I think the reason the book drops a star is because the author portrays philosophy as being so darned depressing! Words can be used in oh so many ways - to heal, to harm or just to entertain, but I think its a shame that most of the philosophical words I've read seem intent on deconstructing the things that make us feel good (free will, consciousness, central place in things) and I think that's harmful. After all, no-one really, really knows the real meaning or basis of reality - and any attempts to explain it are just scratching at the surface with no chance of ever reaching any depth. Even a cursory look at the movie 'The Matrix' shows that any philosophical attempt to divine the nature of our day-to-day experience might well be entertaining, in a limited way, but can only look at the way things appear to be rather than the way they really are. So why not just kick back and enjoy the ride?! And if philosophers just have to write books purporting to explain the meaning of life, then make it a happy meaning! Happy explanations probably won't be any more (or less) true, but at least people will have fun reading and living them. Either that, or stick to watching movies.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    This is a Sci-Phi book as opposed to Sci-fi. The author uses Sci-fi movies to make philosophical points. While there are many doubts that film producers are trying to make philosophical points when making movies one can read a lot of social commentary into them. Rowlands claims Arnold Schwartzenegger is perhaps the greatest Austrian philosopher of the 20th century. That is kind of a stretch, but the characters he plays can be used to discuss philosophical issues. The mind-body problem is exempli This is a Sci-Phi book as opposed to Sci-fi. The author uses Sci-fi movies to make philosophical points. While there are many doubts that film producers are trying to make philosophical points when making movies one can read a lot of social commentary into them. Rowlands claims Arnold Schwartzenegger is perhaps the greatest Austrian philosopher of the 20th century. That is kind of a stretch, but the characters he plays can be used to discuss philosophical issues. The mind-body problem is exemplified by Terminator, the problem of personal identity by Total Recall. He uses other movies and actors to discuss these and other issues, e.g. Star Wars for the good versus evil debate. The work is an interesting read that can fit into numerous categories, e.g. philosophy, film commentary; popular culture, et. al. Perhaps bringing modern culture and interpretation to age-old philosophical issues will cause people to begin thinking about rather than reacting to the many sound bites that assault our senses each day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    I'm planning to use this for teaching a college class on philosophy and film. I think it will work pretty well. Rowlands does more than just summarize philosophical ideas (although he does that rather well). He also makes some intriguing points of his own, which makes this a lot more philosophically interesting. I particularly enjoy the chapters on The Matrix, Minority Report, Independence Day/Aliens, and Bladerunner. Oh, Rowlands also has a great sense of humor (or, since it's a very British ty I'm planning to use this for teaching a college class on philosophy and film. I think it will work pretty well. Rowlands does more than just summarize philosophical ideas (although he does that rather well). He also makes some intriguing points of his own, which makes this a lot more philosophically interesting. I particularly enjoy the chapters on The Matrix, Minority Report, Independence Day/Aliens, and Bladerunner. Oh, Rowlands also has a great sense of humor (or, since it's a very British type of humor, I should say "humour"). He isn't above some occasional use of profanity, which often enhances the humor (although humorless people who are bothered by profanity might not like it, but - as Rowlands might say - fuck them).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cody Sexton

    Absurdity is the defining feature of human existence. The idea of absurdity revolves around the clash of two perspectives we have on ourselves, a view from the inside and a view from the outside. From the inside you are somebody, from the outside you are a joke. Life is ultimately meaningless, but then so is the statement that says it is, but it still remains as the most meaningful thing that will ever happen to us, a paradox. Our lives are meaningless but in order for it to be absurd requires c Absurdity is the defining feature of human existence. The idea of absurdity revolves around the clash of two perspectives we have on ourselves, a view from the inside and a view from the outside. From the inside you are somebody, from the outside you are a joke. Life is ultimately meaningless, but then so is the statement that says it is, but it still remains as the most meaningful thing that will ever happen to us, a paradox. Our lives are meaningless but in order for it to be absurd requires comprehension of its meaninglessness. Which brings us to the central thesis, the main problem of Philosophy alluded to earlier; from the inside we find meaning and knowledge, but from the outside, we find the possibility of neither.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I like the premise, and sentences like these: "If Kevin Bacon attempts to kill his co-workers, is he doing anything wrong according to the social contract theory?" Overall, though, this wasn't the greatest read. Not all of the film/theory pairings work well. I get the impression that this would make a fun lecture series for an "introduction to philosophy for non-majors" class, where there's a back-and-forth dialogue between the professor and his students. I like the premise, and sentences like these: "If Kevin Bacon attempts to kill his co-workers, is he doing anything wrong according to the social contract theory?" Overall, though, this wasn't the greatest read. Not all of the film/theory pairings work well. I get the impression that this would make a fun lecture series for an "introduction to philosophy for non-majors" class, where there's a back-and-forth dialogue between the professor and his students.

  8. 5 out of 5

    João Lamas

    The concept of this book is absolutely brilliant: to serve as an introduction to philosophy by way of popular science-fiction films. It does that an more, it binds old concepts with fresh, clearer examples that are simple to understand by every one. It's a doorway to a new world that is accessible to everyone. The concept of this book is absolutely brilliant: to serve as an introduction to philosophy by way of popular science-fiction films. It does that an more, it binds old concepts with fresh, clearer examples that are simple to understand by every one. It's a doorway to a new world that is accessible to everyone.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Huseyn Raza

    A very interesting book for those who'd like to enjoy philosophy with some popcorn. If you loved those Sci-Fi movies of the last two decades, you're gonna love this one. Recommended! A very interesting book for those who'd like to enjoy philosophy with some popcorn. If you loved those Sci-Fi movies of the last two decades, you're gonna love this one. Recommended!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This is one of those books that’s designed to make tedious material palatable. Rowlands achieves this by conveying the concepts of erudite philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, Sartre, Laplace, Kant, Heraclitus, Wittgenstein, Hume, and Heidegger through the lens of popular speculative fiction movies (almost all Sci-fi.) The book uses thirteen films as case studies to consider ten critical philosophical concepts (over ten chapters.) Virtually all sci-fi fans are likely to have seen most—if not a This is one of those books that’s designed to make tedious material palatable. Rowlands achieves this by conveying the concepts of erudite philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, Sartre, Laplace, Kant, Heraclitus, Wittgenstein, Hume, and Heidegger through the lens of popular speculative fiction movies (almost all Sci-fi.) The book uses thirteen films as case studies to consider ten critical philosophical concepts (over ten chapters.) Virtually all sci-fi fans are likely to have seen most—if not all—of these films. They include: Frankenstein, The Matrix, the first two Terminator films, Total Recall (1990), The Sixth Day, Minority Report, Hollow Man, Independence Day, Aliens, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and The Lord of the Rings. I am not a film fanatic (though I do like Sci-fi) and I’d seen all but two of these movies (i.e. Hollow Man and The Lord of the Rings.) I can say that the book is understandable without having seen the movies, but it’s much more enjoyable when you have seen them. Although, as far as the two movies that I’d missed went, Hollow Man was easy because it’s a relatively straight-forward invisible man story, and—therefore—the link to that chapter’s question “Why Be Moral?” was simple. However, for The Lord of The Rings book I had to rely more on the synopsis the author provides to follow the chain of thought. The philosophical issues that are addressed include: the meaning of life, what can we really know (if anything), what am I (or you or any other individual), what makes me (you, etc.) different from everyone else, is there free will, why behave morally, how broadly does morality apply (in other words, is it applicable outside humanity), do good and evil exist and (if so) what differentiates them, what does it mean to be mortal, and what’s wrong with moral relativism. If you’ve seen the movies, and give it some thought, you can probably match the movies to the questions easily. I enjoyed this book. First of all, I will admit that it’s easier to follow the concepts and for them to stick with one when one puts them in terms of movies one has seen (in some cases, several times.) Second, the author has a good sense of humor. While Rowlands is a Professor of Philosophy, this book doesn’t read in the humorless and dry tone of academic writing. On the contrary, it’s meant for a popular audience and it reads for a popular audience. It should be noted that the humor and the exclusive focus on movies (versus literature or films) set this book aside from a number of others that are superficially quite the same. I have another book in storage back home called Science Fiction and Philosophy that is by an academic publisher, maintains the scholarly tone, goes into a bit more depth, but covers many of the same ideas (e.g. Brain-in-a-vat, etc.) using similar examples. I didn’t finish the more scholarly book, but if you’re looking for great depth but not reading ease you might pick it up for comparison. Rowlands does overplay the “these-movies-are-so-bad-they’re-good” card, and when he does he sounds a tad professorial / pretentious. However, the book often reads like it was written by a colorful football coach rather than a Philosophy Professor. And, to be fair, in some cases it’s true that the films are delightfully bad. However, these are not B-movies like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes as one might think from the commentary. If you’re interested in philosophy, but can’t get through two pages of Kant without falling asleep, I’d recommend this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    A very entertaining, easy to read introduction to the most important philosophical questions with intelligible explanations. I also liked that the examples from the movies don't seem that far-fetched, compared with similar books on that topic that I've read. Recommended! A very entertaining, easy to read introduction to the most important philosophical questions with intelligible explanations. I also liked that the examples from the movies don't seem that far-fetched, compared with similar books on that topic that I've read. Recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Better than I expected! Silly intro to a lot of different philosophical concepts using plots from Sci-Fi movies. Fun to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joeri

    Rowlands succeeds at explaining philosophy in an accesible and very amusing manner. He manages to explain complex philosophical subjects, questions and themes in a way that they can become relatable for people that have not studied philosophy. The use of movies is entertaining and helps imagine what philosophical questions he is adressing. I do think, however, that not in every chapter the use of movies is equally adequate or fun. Oftentimes it seems more like he is explaining philosophy from hi Rowlands succeeds at explaining philosophy in an accesible and very amusing manner. He manages to explain complex philosophical subjects, questions and themes in a way that they can become relatable for people that have not studied philosophy. The use of movies is entertaining and helps imagine what philosophical questions he is adressing. I do think, however, that not in every chapter the use of movies is equally adequate or fun. Oftentimes it seems more like he is explaining philosophy from his own epistemological and ethical viewpoint, for which he sometimes only briefly refers to movies. It would have been intellectually more honest if he gave some epistemological positions some more credit or attention, instead of the ones he happens to endorse. However, he does convey his points rather convincingly and the book still gives the reader room to draw his or her own conclusions about the matters he discusses. Points with which I could myself normatively identify were his views on animal suffering (I'm glad to know Rowlands is vegetarian) and epistemic duties and epistemic responsibility (the duty to be lieve only true things and actively pursue truth by carefully weighing (empirical) evidence and stringent reasoning). Regarding the latter he ends his book with an appeal and call to us, since beliefs lead to actions: "Try not to be stupid - the world will be a better place for it." This is the second book I've read with a group of people in prison.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    If I could, I would give this book 2.5 stars. I like the concept of discussing philosophy by using science fiction films as examples. In college, one of my favorite courses was Philosophy as shown in Ingmar Bergman films. I really like science fiction films so I was hoping I would really like this book. I am probably not the right target audience for this book. It's obviously written for people in their 20's who are new to the concepts of philosophy. I am 60 years old with a Ph.D. in the subject If I could, I would give this book 2.5 stars. I like the concept of discussing philosophy by using science fiction films as examples. In college, one of my favorite courses was Philosophy as shown in Ingmar Bergman films. I really like science fiction films so I was hoping I would really like this book. I am probably not the right target audience for this book. It's obviously written for people in their 20's who are new to the concepts of philosophy. I am 60 years old with a Ph.D. in the subject already. However, even when I was in that age and education bracket, I suspect I would have thought the author was trying a bit too hard to be considered cool. I could easily imagine the author giving a lecture and some students being very engaged and motivated to learn more about philosophy and others just rolling their eyes. Besides the writing style, my main problem with the book was that the author presented the material as if most of it consisted of facts to learn rather than presenting it as existential questions that each person has to answer for themselves. I had already seen all but one of the films described in the book. At least it gave me one new film to see...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ming Terk

    Interesting premise. Mainly blockbuster movies are used to illustrate his point. But, to me, there is too much mumbo jumbo. Maybe I am not a philosophy student; maybe I am just looking for a casual read; maybe I am hoping to learn more about philosophy. But whatever it is, it is not from this book. I get more confused by the philosophy spouted by this author. And his attempts at humour sounded corny.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tina Ambury

    This was my #prisonerofpublictransport book just prior to the #Covid19Uk #lockdown so I had to actively set time aside to read it. Yes, seen all the referenced films. Quite dry and difficult to read in places with repeating themes. Why I ever thought it was a good book to read on #beerhunts escapes me. The concentration required to get my head around some of the concepts has been, bizarrely, meditative and relaxing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    As good a book on philosophy as I've ever read. Clear, concise, easy to read. And that's no mean feat when it come to subject matter such as identity, morality, the mind-body problem and good and evil. I don't agree with everything he says or some of his conclusions but at least I could understand them. Try saying that after reading Kant, Descartes, and others. Definitely one I can recommend. As good a book on philosophy as I've ever read. Clear, concise, easy to read. And that's no mean feat when it come to subject matter such as identity, morality, the mind-body problem and good and evil. I don't agree with everything he says or some of his conclusions but at least I could understand them. Try saying that after reading Kant, Descartes, and others. Definitely one I can recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Hageman

    Really great book for anyone new to the area of philosophy and wonders 'What's this all about, anyways?' Certainly can't sign off on all implicit opinions in this book, but the casual style and connections to pop-culture sci-fi (or sci-phi, as Rowlands calls it) makes it a great introduction for anyone with even the slightest interest in the field. Really great book for anyone new to the area of philosophy and wonders 'What's this all about, anyways?' Certainly can't sign off on all implicit opinions in this book, but the casual style and connections to pop-culture sci-fi (or sci-phi, as Rowlands calls it) makes it a great introduction for anyone with even the slightest interest in the field.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pete Majarich

    Introduces the fantastic idea of sci-phi (science fiction that contemplates philosophy). Will increase your understanding of many philosophical concepts and retroactively add to your enjoyment of many classic films.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

    Interesting read if you are a fan of sci-fi and deeper philosophical thought. Many of the movies we love and enjoy have deeper meaning when we stop to ponder. May more movies in the future test our minds!

  21. 5 out of 5

    J

    Too much philosophy, not enough sci-fi.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesus Hills

    I was first introduced to this book in an high school Science Fiction English class. We had to read snippets of the book to supplement the movies and books we were reading, and it was interesting to some extent but I was more interested in reading the actual books and watching the movies than paying attention the supplemental readings from this book. So to be honest the first time I as given this book to read I didn't really do it, and the readings I did do, I didn't really pay attention to. But I was first introduced to this book in an high school Science Fiction English class. We had to read snippets of the book to supplement the movies and books we were reading, and it was interesting to some extent but I was more interested in reading the actual books and watching the movies than paying attention the supplemental readings from this book. So to be honest the first time I as given this book to read I didn't really do it, and the readings I did do, I didn't really pay attention to. But I never forgot about this book and vowed that I would read this book but on my own time and at my own pace. This time around I paid attention and learned quite a bit. The Philosopher at the End of the Universe: Philosophy Explained Through Science Fiction Films is quite interesting for someone who knows very little about philosophy but really likes science fiction film or as Mark Rowlands puts it Sci-phi. Rowlands has a witty sense of humor that makes the large chunks of philosophy much more digestible. But the true greatness of the book is using sci-fi films as a contextualizing backdrop for philosophical thought. Rowlands (and this is part of his sense of humor) places thinkers like Plato, Hume, Kant alongside cinematic philosophers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keanue Reeves, Roland Emmerich and Rutger Hauer. It is definitely a new take and far easier way of reading about philosophy for the casually curious reader. Granted the book doesn't always use the film backdrop as completely as you would think at times, which can cause the book to drag. Nevertheless, Rowlands' humor and knowledge of the subject matter shines through making this book one that should definitely be picked up and read. Even if you have to read it in bite-sized pieces like I did to grasp all of the material. It also helps to read a chapter and then watch the movie(s) that he discusses, because you will need a break in the reading to absorb everything. But if you are like me, you will not be able to read this over a few sittings.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    When I was looking up pictures of this author (Mark Rowlands) I was overcome with the feeling that I'd seen him before. After a few minutes it suddenly dawned on me that he's a doppelgänger for the drunk pilot from Independance Day (a film that's discussed in the book nonetheless) and a drunk pilot is probably a fair, though probably a bit too harsh, of an analysis of his writing style at times in this book. I stole this book off a friend thinking that it looked like it may be an easy and enterta When I was looking up pictures of this author (Mark Rowlands) I was overcome with the feeling that I'd seen him before. After a few minutes it suddenly dawned on me that he's a doppelgänger for the drunk pilot from Independance Day (a film that's discussed in the book nonetheless) and a drunk pilot is probably a fair, though probably a bit too harsh, of an analysis of his writing style at times in this book. I stole this book off a friend thinking that it looked like it may be an easy and entertaining introduction to philosophy, like it might explain some of the important philosophical ideas in light and engaging way like a drunk student explaining the subject he studies by relating everything to characters from The Simpsons, or Richard Feynman explaining anything. I was disappointed that it didn't turn out quite like that though I probably did absorb some of the ideas and I think there were some genuinely funny moments in it. Mostly however, when he tried his hand at some humour it seemed as if he sledge-hammered it in and it was the cringing type of jokes that an embarrassing Maths teacher would pull out to try and be *the cool teacher* but doesn't realise that jokes about numbers aren't funny, and unfortunately there weren't any callous high school students to discourage him by mocking him. Conversely when he tried his hand at explaining some of the more denser material it was in a way that I didn't find engaging and it just didn't seem to pace well. Another part of his attempted humour was to disparage himself and his knowledge (as well as philosophers in general) of this field, which made me wonder why I was reading an entertaining book on philosophy when he had expertise in neither.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Philosopher Rowlands, who likes to veg in front of a movie with a cold beer, also likes to write about the philosophical themes of recent films. I think you could always pick other (better) films on this sci-phi theme, besides Frankenstein, Hollow Man, the Sixth Day and all that, but that's just taste and Rowlands tends toward the popular and commercial, including a bizarre fanatic fandom for Arnie, even attributing to him the "philosophy" that his films illustrate. So you won't find Solaris her Philosopher Rowlands, who likes to veg in front of a movie with a cold beer, also likes to write about the philosophical themes of recent films. I think you could always pick other (better) films on this sci-phi theme, besides Frankenstein, Hollow Man, the Sixth Day and all that, but that's just taste and Rowlands tends toward the popular and commercial, including a bizarre fanatic fandom for Arnie, even attributing to him the "philosophy" that his films illustrate. So you won't find Solaris here, or Alphaville, etc. etc. Nevertheless he manages to cover some philosophical territory in an amusing style.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Nelson

    The author builds a highly effective plot line. I enjoyed the story and readers who like character driven plots with lots of action will too. This sci-fi story draws the reader in as you come to care about the principal players. No spoilers from me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Latham

    A look at major philosopical issues and how they relate to box office sci-fi movies.

  27. 5 out of 5

    jen

    This book is a great entre into "Sci-Phi" or how science fiction is based on some basic fundamental principles...it makes watching the movies discussed even more interesting! This book is a great entre into "Sci-Phi" or how science fiction is based on some basic fundamental principles...it makes watching the movies discussed even more interesting!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Antiloquax

    Wonderful book about SF films and philosophy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I had to read this book for my Sci-Fi seminar. It had the potential to be an interesting book, but the author rambles on at times and it becomes a bit tiresome.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean Walsh

    Great book deals with some relay big and complex philosophical questions in a fun and easy to understand way.

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