Ghosts of Science Past

Ghosts of Science Past
Ghosts of Science Past review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Humanoids Big - 978-1-64337-800-8
  • Release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781643378008
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Education, Young Adult

In Ghosts of Science Past Joseph Sieracki repurposes the plot of A Christmas Carol for educational and inspirational effect in this story of Trevor, a high school student unable to see the value of his science education.

As an instructional fable, Sieracki lays on Trevor’s disinterest and cynicism a little thick over the opening pages, but then Charles Dickens did the same for Ebernezer Scooge and his callousness in Sieracki’s inspiration. With a test due and no interest in it, Trevor plans to occupy his night with online gaming, but his parents force him to study. As the sample art shows, though, things quickly turn strange.

Sieracki increases Dickens’ number of visiting ghosts as Trevor is taken on a tour of why science matters. He learns about evolution from Charles Darwin, atoms from Marie Curie and Chien-Shiung Wu, and genetics from Gregor Mendel and Ernest Everest Just, all of which is broken down and explained via illustration at high school level.

Jesse Lonergan ensures the illustration is simple, although still attractive in a loose style, and comes up with workable designs for the ghosts, some of whom are modernised. Their achievements are recognised and Sieracki gives them eccentricities for comedy appeal. Darwin is seen manifesting on all the posters on Trevor’s wall in the sample art, and Mendel is provided as a force of nature depositing pea seeds everywhere. Sieracki also goes one better than Dickens because readers learn alongside Trevor as he’s taken on his journey.

The future he sees is one of a desperate planet in 2102, devastated by the effects of climate change. Predictably enough, Trevor sees the error of his ways, studies hard and becomes a teacher himself. At the end of the day it’s down to any child themselves if they take on the value of learning, but a good example is a push in the right direction, and Ghosts of Science Past provides it.