Saturday

You won’t need a security clearance to root out Sharon Weinberger’s mission in Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon’s Scientific Underworld. The modus operandi of this study of the United States government’s research of futuristic weaponry is as clear as its Nation Books imprint: Shame the Defense Department and company by exposing their pathological interest in science fiction over science fact when it comes to psychic teleportation, cold fusion, and particularly the hafnium bomb–scientific laughingstocks whose research was nonetheless funded handsomely. While it’s made clear from her exhaustive analysis of the last that it was a frightening waste of taxpayer dollars, one wonders whether Weinberger is asking the right questions, focusing as she does on relatively minor elements of the arms race when the arms race itself might be the problem. You want more from Weinberger—calling bullshit on the paranoia over African yellowcake uranium, Iranian nuclear power, and North Korean missiles that drives such kooky research, for example. Imaginary Weapons is an excellent book; it’s a shame that it occasionally feels like an aside. Weinberger speaks and signs copies of her work at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Justin Moyer)