Tuesday 29 March 2011

Next up

VS Ramachandran's Phantoms in the Brain was one of the best pop-science books I ever read, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this chunky summation of his work to date. He's an elegant and deeply humane writer, very much in the Oliver Sacks mode, and that's high praise as far as I'm concerned.

Ramachandran's work on mirror boxes and phantom limb syndrome is fascinating; fans of House MD will remember the episode "The Tyrant" where House (after first drugging and kidnapping him) treats a cantankerous Canadian war-vet using the Ramachandran method.


  1. Hi Alastair,this comment unrelated to post. Just wanted to tell you that after reading all your novel's I have just finished 'House of Suns', by far my favorite, so please could we have a sequel. You poms know your science fiction, and you have a place of pride in my bookshelf between Banks, Stross and Asher.

  2. Hi Al,
    I asked you the same question days ago.. HOS is still my favorite novel you have written, and I love the epic confrontations of Revelation.
    In my pantheon that includes Simmons, Asimov, Card and Niven I want to see some day a sequel to HOS... please let us know that it will happen, please!?

  3. I first heard about Phantoms in the Brain, oddly enough, from Peter Watt's novel Blindsight. It actually made neuroscience one of my favorite areas of science, just behind physics.

    I also highly recommend Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel. It deals with theory of mind and the evolution of the brain. I managed to finish it in two large sittings because it was so fascinating!

  4. Jono, Griffindel: I'd like to return to the HOS universe one day, but it'll have to wait until the trilogy's done.

    Chris: thanks for the recommendation, I'll keep an eye out for Metzinger's book.

  5. Oh yeah of course! Poseidon's Children trilogy! don't think we are not expecting it, I'm sure it will be breathtaking too.


  6. I like to read Scientific American Mind's articles about the brain and related research on human behavior. Recently enjoyed Siri Carpenter's "Body of Thought", which she has published at her web site.


  7. I liked 'Phantoms' too. It was a hard read for me, since I have difficulties following verbal descriptions of some experiments. Another 'problem' was that I am a philosopher with a strong interest in the senses. The book's descriptions of philosophical notions concerning perception and sensations often diverge quite a lot from the stuff in the philosophical literature. They were new to me and I had to think so hard about then that I must reread the book. Who knows though, they might be better than those I know well? I too bought 'The Tell-Tale Brain.'

  8. That book by Metzinger is a summary of his ambitious 'Being No One,' which I hear is very good. It combines philosophy with a lot of neuroscience, so a reader should learn a lot from it. Without its wonderful bibliography it's 634 pp long. I own it and intend to read it soon.