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Physics of the Impossible

Michio Kaku

Anchor Books, $15.95/paperback

It's the ultimate revenge of sci-fi geeks: Star Trek technology may be the way of the future. Really. At least that's the idea behind Physics of the Impossible, a nonfiction work from renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. Along with writing, Kaku appears as a regular source on TV and radio, and with good reason — he can explain ultra-advanced concepts to the public with ease and precision. In Physics, what seems to be a silly question — Could we develop technology to make possible things like invisibility, time travel or precognition? — becomes a highly sophisticated, elegant argument that perhaps such fantasies may one day become common in daily life. Think of it this way: Things we consider commonplace today — men on the moon, televisions, horseless carriages — were considered magic a hundred years ago. The book is slated as the subject of a TV series, debuting on the Science Channel this fall, but it's worth getting this head start. — Edie Adelstein

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Manitou Springs Wildflowers

Brent and Nicholas Weiner

Manitou Natural History Society, $11.95-$15.95/paperback

Hikers and wildflower lovers will appreciate this entertaining field guide from Manitou Springs father-son team Brent and Nicholas Weiner. Each page features a different plant with its common and Latin names, color photos, description, flowering time and random facts. For instance, there's this gem about clematis: "The seed floss makes an excellent tinder for starting fires. It can also be used to insulate your shoes." The guide is as quirky as the town itself, with a handful of fictional endorsements ("One of the top ten Manitou Springs Wildflower Guides of 2009"), obviously exaggerated author biographies (10-year-old Nicholas is an "expert on differential linear taxonomy") and a claim about accuracy that is as relaxed as Manitou living ("We can say with only 80% confidence that our identifications are 95% accurate with a +/- 40% margin of error.") Find copies at Bookman, Black Cat Books, Mountain Man or Thymekeeper, or soon at manitounaturalhistory.com. — Jill Thomas

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Prayers for Sale

Sandra Dallas

St. Martin's Press, $24.95/hardcover

Sandra Dallas' newest novel has been described with words like "gentle" and "folksy," so I was afraid I might be adding "boring" to the list. Instead I found myself engrossed by this Denver author who masterfully brings to life a 1930s Colorado town called Middle Swan (based on Breckenridge) along with its population of miners, fancy ladies, gamblers and con men. There, Nit Spindle, a naïve 17-year-old newcomer, meets octogenarian Hennie Comfort when the young woman misunderstands a sign in the older woman's yard and asks to purchase prayers for her stillborn child. Hennie doesn't deal in prayers, but the two bond over shared hardships as Hennie initiates Nit into Middle Swan living. Hoping to tell her lifetime of stories one last time to eager ears, Hennie reveals not only the town's secrets but a few of her own (with some surprising twists), as the two women come to depend on one another. — Jill Thomas

  • Physics of the Impossible, Manitou Springs Wildflowers, Prayers for Sale

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