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The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

Author(s): Mary and John Gribbin
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication Date:
Format: Paperback, 208 Pages
ISBN: 0340881593

Editorial Overview

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is renowned for its mystery and magic. But behind the extraordinary fiction lies a world of astonishing scientific truth: Lyra's alethiometer, Will's subtle knife, Mary Malone's amber spyglass, the Northern Lights, the Gallivespians' lodestone resonators, the mulefa and the seedpods, and even the mystery of Dust itself are rooted firmly in science. Drawing on string theory and space-time, quantum physics and chaos, entanglement and Cold Dark Matter, award-winning science writers Mary and John Gribbin reveal the real science behind Philip Pullman's bestselling fantasy trilogy in clear and entertaining prose.


  • An introduction by Philip Pullman
  • Bright Materials
  • Dark Materials
  • Northern Lights
  • Other worlds
  • The worlds of if
  • Entanglement

Reader Reviews

About the Authors

Mary and John Gribbin are award-winning science writers whose books for young readers include Eyewitness: Time & Space. John Gribbin, author of Deep Simplicity and In Search of Schroedinger's Cat, is also a research fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex. The Gribbins live on the Sussex coast in England with two sons, a dog, and one cat.


Selected praise:

Real scientists and science fans alike will find all kinds of things here to delight them.

- Philip Pullman

Defining science as 'explainable magic,' the Gribbins - both longtime Pullman fans - explain the magic underlying such apparent wonders as the golden compass (the I Ching and psychology), Will's subtle knife (string theory), [and] Mary Malone's amber spyglass (polarization).

- The Washington Post

The buoyant prose and coherent, non-technical explanations will keep readers on board for the entire trip.

- Kirkus Reviews

First printing cover:


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