The official selection for Texas State University's 2018/2019 Common Reading program.

“Unravels the interplay of art, neuroscience and evolution, while celebrating the special thing that is human innovation. ”‑Entrepreneur

New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist David Eagleman teams up with composer Anthony Brandt in this powerful, wide-ranging exploration of human creativity. Together, they incisively explore how individuals, organizations, and educational institutions can benefit from fostering creativity, while celebrating humanity’s unique ability to remake the world.


The Runaway Species

The Runaway Species is a deep-dive into the creative mind, a celebration of the human spirit, and a vision of how we can improve our future by understanding and embracing our ability to innovate. Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman seek to answer the question: what lies at the heart of humanity’s ability―and drive―to create?

Our ability to remake our world is unique among all living things. But where does our creativity come from, how does it work, and how can we harness it to improve our lives, schools, businesses, and institutions? Brandt and Eagleman examine hundreds of examples of human creativity through dramatic storytelling and stunning images in this beautiful, full-color volume. By drawing out what creative acts have in common and viewing them through the lens of cutting-edge neuroscience, they uncover the essential elements of this critical human ability, and encourage a more creative future for all of us.


  • "The Runaway Species approach[es] creativity scientifically but sensitively, feeling its roots without pulling them out.” "
    ‑ The Economist
  • "With the pleasing pace of an extended essay, the book offers surprises and insights at every turn, and the authors argue convincingly that basic strategies inform most creative behavior. . . . Essential—and highly pleasurable—reading for anyone who cares about ideas and innovation."
    ‑ Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • "The authors look at art and science together to examine how innovations—from Picasso’s initially offensive paintings to Steve Jobs’s startling iPhone—build on what already exists and rely on three brain operations: bending, breaking and blending. This manifesto of sorts shows how both disciplines foster creativity."
    ‑ The Wall Street Journal
  • "Art and science converge in this beautiful collaboration. . . . Divided into three parts, this inquiry covers a complicated set of connected topics in an engaging and surprisingly accessible way. . . . Packed with vivid images, countless examples, and fun facts that will leave readers eager to discuss it with friends, this is a refreshing and thought-provoking book that captures both the wonder of science and the beauty of the human spirit."
    ‑ Booklist
  • "A lively exploration of the software our brains run in search of the mother lode of invention… The Runaway Species is beautifully produced, illustrated and written. It sweeps the reader through examples from engineering, science, product design, music and the visual arts to trace the roots of creative thinking to three key mental skills: bending, breaking and blending."
    ‑ Nature
  • "Which inventions have had the most impact―and why? What can they teach us about game-changing innovation? And how will science and technology revolutionize our lives next? The rest of The Runaway Species sheds light on these issues … bolstered by delightful visuals."
    ‑ Harvard Business Review
  • "The Runaway Species is a simple and delightful read — no science knowledge required. And in a rare triumph, the fact that this book was written by two authors never got in the way of making me feel like someone was telling me a story or delivering a thirteen-chapter TED talk."
    ‑ Cooper Square Review
  • "Readers familiar with David Eagleman’s writing will encounter the clever analogies that typify his style. Co-author Anthony Brandt, a professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, ads rich texture and scope to their speculations. It is not obvious what NASA and Picasso have in common. Nor what flamboyant hairstyles, bicycles, or stadium designs share. But the answers seem obvious once the links are pointed out."
    ‑ New York Journal of Books

About the Authors

Anthony Brandt is a composer and professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He is also Artistic Director of the contemporary music ensemble Musiqa, winner of two Adventurous Programming Awards from Chamber Music America and ASCAP. Brandt has received a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer and the Houston Arts Alliance. Brandt has written two chamber operas and works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance, theater, film, television, and sound and art installations. He has co-authored papers on music cognition published in the journals Frontiers and Brain Connectivity. He currently lives in Houston with his wife and children.

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and the New York Times bestselling author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and Sum. He is the writer and host of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series The Brain. Eagleman is an adjunct professor at Stanford University, a Guggenheim fellow, and the director of the Center for Science and Law. He has written for the New York Times, Discover Magazine, The Atlantic, Slate, Wired and many others, and he appears regularly on National Public Radio and BBC.

Meet the Authors

San Antonio, TX

London, UK

Cheltenham, UK

London, UK

  • October 11, 2017, 1pm
  • RSA

Bristol, UK

Brookline, MA

New York, NY

Menlo Park, CA

Houston, TX

Los Angeles CA

Brighton, UK


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