The Volokh Conspiracy

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Science Fiction

Book recommendations from me and my colleagues

Time travel and originalism (not in the same book!)


Every year, the Chicago faculty collects some of our favorite books of the year with recommendations for anybody who might be interested. This year, I had two:

Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

I am a sucker for time travel novels, but this excellent new caper is not an ordinary time travel book. It explores the surprising reason for witchcraft's demise, the dynamics of government bureaucracy, and the corruption of academia by the military industry complex. And yet it is light, funny, and not particularly mystical. If you've read the authors' work before, you might be able to guess how they pull this off. If not, now is the time to start.

Ilan Wurman, A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism

This new book by a young lawyer provides an accessible, fun, and yet sophisticated introduction to originalism. The title comes from an exchange between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson about binding future generations to the Constitution. Jefferson protested that the earth belongs to the living and that we should not be ruled by the "dead hand" of the past. Madison responded that the improvements made by the dead, such as the Constitution, form "a debt against the living." Wurman argues that we are all still in the Constitution's debt.

You can read my colleagues' suggestions here.