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Diane Stubbings

Diane Stubbings

Diane Stubbings is a writer and critic based in Melbourne. Her plays have been shortlisted for a number of Australian and international awards, and staged in Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand. She has written for Australian Book Review, The Australian, The Canberra Times, and the Sydney Review of Books. Her study of Irish Modernism was published by Palgrave. Diane has recently completed a PhD at VCA, University of Melbourne, investigating intersections between science and theatre.

Diane Stubbings reviews 'The Colony' by Audrey Magee and 'The Leviathan' by Rosie Andrews

June 2022, no. 443 23 May 2022
Two new novels probe national myths and histories, offering insights into the political and religious forces that continue to shape contemporary conflicts. Set during the height of the Troubles, Irish writer Audrey Magee’s The Colony begins with English artist Mr Lloyd travelling to a remote island off Ireland’s west coast, ‘a rock cutting into the ocean, splitting, splintering, shredding t ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Skin Deep: The inside story of our outer selves' by Phillipa McGuinness

April 2022, no. 441 23 March 2022
In Skin Deep: The inside story of our outer selves, Australian writer Phillipa McGuinness gathers some impressive facts about skin. A square centimetre contains, among other things, six million cells, two hundred pain sensors, and one hundred sweat glands. The skin of an individual weighing seventy kilograms ‘covers two square metres and weighs five kilograms’. A YouTube channel where you can ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews '12 Bytes: How artificial intelligence will change the way we live and love' by Jeanette Winterson

October 2021, no. 436 22 September 2021
In her novel Frankissstein (2019) – a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) that embraces robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and transhumanism – Jeanette Winterson writes, ‘The monster once made cannot be unmade. What will happen to the world has begun.’  This observation might have served as an epigraph for her new book, 12 Bytes. Comprising twelve essays that rumina ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'An Insider’s Plague Year' by Peter Doherty

September 2021, no. 435 19 August 2021
The collective dislocation that followed the advent of Covid-19 generated (and continues to generate) a slew of books intended to make sense of the turmoil. Encompassing Slavoj Žižek’s anti-capitalist treatise Pandemic! (2020) and books for children such as Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar’s While We Can’t Hug (2020), the responses have ranged from considered attempts to apprehend the pand ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'A Trip to the Dominions: The scientific event that changed Australia' edited by Lynette Russell

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Founded in 1831, the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) sought to redress impediments to scientific progress that arose in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, determining that the BAAS would ‘give a stronger impulse and more systematic direction to scientific inquiry … [and] promote the intercourse of cultivators of science’. ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness' by Carlo Rovelli, translated by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
In a recent interview, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli confessed that the book he would most like to be remembered for is The Order of Time (2018), a work in which time, as it is commonly understood, ‘melts [like a snowflake] between your fingers and vanishes’. The Order of Time, Rovelli admits, only pretends to be about physics. Ultimately, it’s a book about the meaning of life and the comp ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Metazoa: Animal minds and the birth of consciousness' by Peter Godfrey-Smith

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
One of the blessings of Covid-19 lockdown was discovering the wildlife cameras streaming on the internet in real time. With a click it became possible to observe brown bears catching salmon in Alaska, sea lions clambering on and off a rocky beach in British Columbia, and white-bellied sea eagles nesting in an eyrie high in bushland on Sydney’s fringes. Watching newly fledged eaglets literally st ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'The Genes That Make Us: Human stories from a revolution in medicine' by Edwin Kirk

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
The announcement in June 2000 that a first draft of the human genome had been completed was rightly recognised as a landmark in scientific endeavour. Predictions were that the sequencing of the genome would allow for the pinpointing of genes responsible for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and lead to finely targeted, even personalised, treatments for a range of disorders. That ... (read more)

Diane Stubbings reviews 'Nerve: A personal journey through the science of fear' by Eva Holland

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
While climbing in British Columbia, Canadian writer and journalist Eva Holland becomes paralysed by fear. She has long been troubled by exposed heights, but this is different. What she experiences is an ‘irrational force’ that prevents her from moving. It is only the dogged encouragement of friends that allows her to make her tentative way back down the mountain. The terror Holland confronts ... (read more)
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