The Science Of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Michael Hanlon
When I first saw the name of this book, it seemed humorous. As best as I can tell, Douglas Adams never made an attempt to keep the technology in the Hitchhiker books true to known science, nor did I think he expected anyone to take it seriously.
It turned out that Hanlon's book does not claim to show how the whimsical things in the Hitchhiker books are supported by or inconsistent with our science. Rather, he takes Adams' books as a starting point that a wider audience is familiar with. For instance, Hanlon uses the fact the Hitchhiker's Guide includes aliens to discuss scientists' ideas about the possibility of extraterrestrial life in general - not to discuss the particular aliens in the Hitchhiker's Guide.
The book uses the Hitchhiker books as the major recurring source of fictional material to initiate a discussion of science issues. However, there are various references to other popular / mainstream SF (and occasionally fantasy) to help pop-SF readers relate to the discussions. Although there are references to Isaac Asimov and H. G. Wells, you’ll run into more mention of Hollywood films like Terminator, Back To The Future and The Matrix – and works of that sort. Some readers might prefer some mention of hard SF books, but the science topics are interesting and presented in an entertaining manner. Some of the topics are not covered in other books of the Physics Of Star Trek type.
This is a relatively short book. There are a series of article-length chapters on a series of topics, each of which is relatively broad.
The chapter topics are:
* The possibility of extraterrestrial life
* The potential of computers
* Does God Exist?
* How will the universe end?
* How did the universe begin?
* Time travel
* Machine translation of languages
* Genetically modified food
* Deducing the entire universe from one object / Is our universe real?
* Parallel universes
* Ultimate questions.