Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 23, 2012 - Science - 244 pages
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This eye-opening tour through history’s legendary monsters and the science and culture that spawned them, provides new insight into the creatures that have terrified us for centuries.

We all know “there’s no such thing as monsters,” but our imaginations tell us otherwise. From the mythical beasts of ancient Greece to the hormonal vampires of the Twilight saga, monsters have captivated us for millennia. Matt Kaplan, a noted science journalist and monster-myth enthusiast, employs an entertaining mix of cutting-edge research and a love of lore to explore the history behind these fantastical fictions and our hardwired obsession with things that go bump in the night.

Ranging across history, Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite tackles the enduring questions that arise on the frontier between fantasy and reality. What caused ancient Minoans to create the tale of the Minotaur and its subterranean maze? Did dragons really exist? What inspired the creation of vampires and werewolves, and why are we so drawn to them?

With the eye of a journalist and the voice of a storyteller, Kaplan takes readers to the forefront of science, where our favorite figures of horror may find real-life validation. Does the legendary Kraken, a squid of epic proportions, really roam the deep? Are we close to making Jurassic Park a reality by replicating a dinosaur from fossilized DNA? As our fears evolve, so do our monsters, and Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite charts the rise of the ultimate beasts, humans themselves.
 

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User Review  - AlCracka - LibraryThing

Casey recommends this: "It's called Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters, and it traces the scientific origins of monster myths (including Frankenstein!). Anyway, I haven't read ... Read full review

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User Review  - jen.e.moore - LibraryThing

Utter and absolute nonsense from beginning to end. Kaplan treats monsters as basic manifestations of human fears, and then acts as though they can be explained rationally (and dismissed of with sufficient rationalization, too). Read full review

Contents

Giant AnimalsNemean Lion Calydonian Boar Rukh King
7
Beastly BlendsChimera Griffon Cockatrice Sphinx
33
It Came from the EarthMinotaur Medusa
51
The Mysterious FathomsCharybdis Leviathan
79
Extraterrestrial ThreatAliens
198
Conclusion 213
221
Index
235
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About the author (2012)

Matt Kaplan is a science correspondent with The Economist. He has also contributed to National Geographic, New Scientist, Nature, and The New York Times. He is the author of the book The Science of Monsters. In 2014, Kaplan was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship which he used to study the sciences at MIT and folklore at Harvard.

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