Helpful Books for World Builders

Here is a listing of books that you may find helpful. Some are, in my opinion, 'must reads', others are just helpful books that I have come across.

Check out your library to see what is available to you. You will need to look for two kinds of books: those with clearly laid out, factual content (these may be text books) and those with illustrations to help you visualize, integrate, and illustrate what you are learning. Some of this second type may be in the children's section. I usually check there!

I do not expect all members of the group to read all the books. You should divide up the reading, take notes, and share what you have learned with your group, then see if you have found ideas that will help in putting your planet together. Each of you will have opportunities to 'be the expert' on many particular issues. Study hard, advise as well as you can, and enjoy!

Some of you may find areas of particular interest that you want to really follow up and develop. As the planets take form, reading lists will diverge. Different planets will show different areas of emphasis within the basic framework. This is as it should be. If you feel that you are getting really far out, check with me for feedback.

WARNING: Students, I have deviated from standard bibliographic format. If you cite any of these books, remember to put the author ahead of the title, not after it, as I have done here.

This page is always under construction. Your suggestions for further readings are welcome.
The bibliography is subdivided into

Natural Sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Geology, Meteorology, Chemistry

Natural Sciences: Biology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Geology, Meteorology, Chemistry

Thank you for your suggestions, Gerald!

"The Physical Universe" by Shu
"Moons and Planets" by Hartmann
"Terraforming" by Martyn Fogg

Planets and Moons.

Kaufman, III, William. (1979). San Francisco: W. W . Freeman and Company. ISBN 0-7167-1041-2

Good introductory information on the characteristics, structure and movements of planets and moons in our solar system.

Exploring Planetary Worlds

Morrison, David.(1993).Scientific American Library. New York: W.H. Freeman. ISBN0-7167-5043-0

A beautiful, colorful book describing our solar system and the bodies in it. It also has helpful diagrams.

Earthlike Planets: Surfaces of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars

Murray, Bruce, Malin, Michael C. and Ronald Greeley. (1981). San Francisco: W. W . Freman and Company. ISBN 0-7167-1148-6

This book describes and compares the four innermost planets in our solar system. There is a section on planetary surfaces, including meteorite impacts and wind erosion, and a section on plate tectonics and volcanism. There are many black and white photographs.

The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe.

Ochoa, George & Jeffrey Osier. (1981). Cincinnati, Ohio: Writers Digest Books. ISBN 0-89879-536-2

This book is intended for science fiction writers, and has chapters that are related to constructing both social and physical worlds.

The Earth Atlas.

Van Rose, Susanna. (1994). London: Dorling Kindersley.

This is one of our textbooks. It has very good pictures of many geological features. It is a good place to start learning about geology.

Natural Sciences: Biology, Botany, Zoology, Ecology

Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A. D. Voyage to Darwin IV.

Barlowe, Wayne Douglas. (1990). New York: Workman Company.

Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials.

Barlowe, Wayne Douglas, Summers, Ian, & Beth Meacham. (1979). New York: Workman Publishing.

Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science.

Casti, John, (1989) New York: William Morrow and Company.

An excellent chapter on the origin of life on earth.

Imagining Aliens.

Cohen, Jack. (1994) Encyclopedia Britannica 1994 Yearbook.

An Exploration of Animal Movement.

Cooke, John. (1991). New York: Facts on File.

At the Water's Edge: The Secret Life of a Lake and Stream.

Dalton, Stephen. (1991). New York: Portland House.

Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future.

Dixon, Dougal. (1990). New York: St Martin's Press.

The third book of his 'After Man' series. Covers the topics of evoltion (including convergence) quite well. Educational, with lots of entertaining imagery.

After Man: A Zoology of the Future.

Dixon, Dougal. (1981). New York: St Martin's Press.

Inspirational pictures of possible further changes in animals in the evolution of the future.

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design.

Dawkins, Richard. (1987). New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

'Time Frames'

Eldrige. Niles (1988?)

A book examining punctuated equilibria.

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History.

Gould, Stephen Jay. (1989). New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

An interesting examination of organisms just after the sudden pre-Cambrian explosion of life forms. This book also illustrates how scientists work to interpret what they find.
A must read on topics in evoltion (puncutated equilibria, etc . . .) and on the potential for life's diversity.

Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture.

Harris, Marvin. (1985). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Life in the Universe.

Jackson, Francis & Patrick Moore. (1987). New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants.

Prusinkiewicz, Prezmyslaw & Aristid Lindenmayer. (1990). New York: Springer-Verlag.

A beautiful 'coffee table' book, showing the fractal development of many plant forms. Lovely images for plant designers, and interesting ideas for computer scientists.

Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?

Raup, David M. (1991). New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

An interesting book about extinction: good examples, graphs, easy to read.

The Lives of a Cell.

Thomas, Lewis. (1980). New York: Bantam Books.

Ecology:Individuals, Populations, and Communities.

Begon, Michael & John L. Harper & Colin R Townsend (2nd Ed 1990) Boston: Blackwell Scientific Publications.
238 Main Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142
ISBN 0-86542-111-0

A textbook with excellent information. A joy to read.

A Primer of Ecology.

Nicholas J Gotelli (1995)
Sinauer Associates 23 Plumtree Road, Sunderland, MA 01375-0407
population Biology, mathematical models
ISBN 0-87893-270-4 paperback

Another textbook with good, easy to understand information.


The Flight of the Iguana

David Quammen

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions.

David Quammen
Touchstone: New York, New York. 1996

Examine the ecology of islands -- worlds in miniature for an ecologist. An entertaining and enjoyable book.

The Meadow

James Galvin (1992) (paperback 1993)
Henry Holt and Company: New York, New York
ISBN 0-8050-2703-3 An OLwl Book, paperback)
ISBN 0-8050-1684-8



Social Sciences

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization.

Adams, Charles. (1993).Maryland: Madison Books.

A very readable book on the effects of taxation on history.

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© Elizabeth Anne Viau, 1997. This material may be used freely for instructional purposes but not sold for a price beyond the cost of reproduction. As a courtesy, please inform the author if you use it at Thank you!