A powerful underdog tale that also illuminates an important piece of the immigration debate

On the eve of the release of the movie version of Spare Parts this Friday, the Diane Rehm Show brought together author Joshua Davis with three of the main characters from his book: Oscar Vazquez , the motivated jROTC cadet who became the de facto leader of their land-locked (in a desert!) high school’s underwater robotics team (played by Carlos PenaVega in the movie); Lorenzo Santillan, the auto shop underachiever whose ingenuity saved the day more than once as their jerry-rigged robot took on high-cost machines from team MIT and others (played by José Julián); and Fredi Lajvardi, the unorthodox high school science teacher who came up with the idea that what a group of undocumented, impoverished high school kids needed was to enter a NASA-sponsored robot-building competition (George Lopez, obviously). It’s a remarkable hour of radio. Give it a listen here.

Posted 01/15/15 Posted January 15, 2015
Posted 01/09/15 Posted January 9, 2015

Yes, that’s George Lopez staring at you

George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos Penevega, and Marisa Tomei…straight out of the movie version of Spare Parts! It hits screens this month. Obviously, you should read the book first—the book, that is, that the Washington Post calls “a delightful book…a great American story” and Nature’s reviewer Noel Sharkey calls “perhaps the most gripping popular-science book I have read.”

Well maybe you can watch the official theatrical trailer first (above). Then read the book. And then in good conscience you can check out the movie’s website and join the #SPAREPARTS movement—we’re partial to The Brain ourselves, but there are other solid choices.

Posted 01/05/15 Posted January 5, 2015

Happy Holidays!

May visions of creepy crawly shape-shifters slither through your head…

Posted 12/17/14 Posted December 17, 2014

Girls do like robots

In Spare Parts (soon to be a major motion picture!), Joshua Davis tells the story of an unlikely high school robotics team from Phoenix, Arizona: Four Mexican-American boys, undocumented and without a lot of obvious promise in the field of underwater robot building. We’ll try to not to ruin the climax here, but when Davis returned to Carl Hayden High School to check in on the team a decade after he had originally covered them, he found one more development: Girls!

Read about the new girls team at The Verge. And read about the original boys team—and how they’re doing now—at Wired.

Posted 12/17/14 Posted December 17, 2014

Spare Parts

Last week, we published Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts. And, come January—hold your breath—a major motion picture is arriving in theaters.  Spare Parts (the film) stars Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, and a serious-looking George Lopez. And it looks great. Just check out the trailer.

To mark all this success, Wired has republished the original story that inspired Spare Parts (the book)—Joshua Davis’s excellent La Vida Robot, which you can read here.

Posted 12/08/14 Posted December 8, 2014

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