Books

On this page you can find convenient descriptions, reviews of and links to all my books, as well a few books to which I have contributed. From pop science to scholarly tomes, from science fiction to gothic horror – it’s all here. You can also find them on my Amazon author pages – please see links to the right of this page.

The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human EvolutionAccidental_Species
Gee, paleontology editor at Nature, confronts two commonly held views of evolution and effectively demolishes both, persuasively arguing that evolution doesn’t work the way most people believe it does and that the entire concept of “human exceptionalism” is erroneous. [He] demonstrates that there is nothing about humans, from our bipedalism to our tool-making abilities, and from language to cognition, that definitively sets us apart from other species of animals. He buttresses these points with an impressive and accessible overview of the pattern of human evolution, showing just how little we actually know and arguing that different evolutionary stories could likely fit the extant data. Throughout, he explores how science simultaneously explains the unknown while raising new questions. - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Quite simply, the best book ever written about the fossil record and humankind’s place in evolution. - John Gribbin, author of The Monkey Puzzle and In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat.

If you only read one book on evolution this year, make it this one. You will be dethroned. But you won’t be disappointed. – Geoscientist

The Accidental Species is discursive, rich in good stories and terrible jokes, and a salutary reminder of how little we know. – Tim Radford in Nature

When Henry Gee writes something, believe it - John Wilkins, Evolving Thoughts

The Accidental Species is an excellent guide to our current knowledge of how we got where we are … The final chapter, on the deep evolutionary roots of consciousness, is challenging, thought-provoking and highly recommended. –BBC Focus

The Science of Middle-earth

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The Science of Middle-earth is the most unexpectedly Tolkienian book about Tolkien that I have ever come across. – Tom Shippey, New York Review of Science Fiction

[Gee's] unique position as author, scientist and fan converge to create unique insights, some of breathtaking power and beauty … readers will almost certainly leave this book with an increased respect for Tolkien, science and the wonders of Middle-earth. - Tolkien Studies

Describing science as the application of the fantastic, Gee places Middle-Earth under the microscope and reports some surprising results. - BBC Focus

This is a deeply serious book which is both accessible and has surprisingly valid things to say about both science fiction and science fact. SFX

Gee has a huge respect for his source material. He seeks not to ridicule or demystify Tolkien’s fantasy but simply to add another dimension. This book will give die-hard fans another reason to spend a few more hours exploring Middle-earth. - The Guardian

A revised, updated edition of The Science of Middle-earth is now available as a paperback and as a download from Amazon’s Kindle Store in the US and UK.

The Sigil Trilogy
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The Universe is dying from within. No one knows how to save it, so the Elders give a young Drover a last ditch chance to stop the rot. If only she knew where to begin.

Jack Corstorphine, archaeologist, has an intuition that the landscape of Europe had been civilized for millions of years … an intuition realized by the incisive intelligence of his protegée, Jadis Markham. Neither is prepared for the size and scale of the surprises they let loose on the world.

Ruxhana Fengen Kraa, Admiral of the 17th Rigel Fleet, is about to be cashiered for a stupendous tactical mistake. But Special Ops has another job for him – something far, far stranger.

The Brethren at a remote desert monastery are preparing for the Apparition of the Goddess, an event that occurs only once every 2,058,416 years. But will the Goddess arrive in time to save them from an apparition of an altogether more hostile kind?

Mr Haraddzjin Khorare, trader in fine textiles from the Very Great and Ancient City of Axandragór, is on a routine business trip. But when his vessel is overtaken by pirates, his adventure takes an altogether more astonishing turn.

Great stuff. Touches reminiscent of Douglas Adams, Barrington Bayley and David Britton only emphasise the splendid originality of this book. Thoughtful. Funny. Like nothing else before it. And pretty thoroughly mind-expanding. In fact everything you always hope a very good SF novel will be. It’s hilarious. It’s wonderfully written. You guessed it. I’ve become a Henry Gee fan. – Michael Moorcock

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Henry Gee stakes his claim to excellence with these startling, beautifully written tales of cosmic adventure. Brisk, funny, triumphant – and utterly compelling. – Greg Bear

The Sigil is in the grand tradition of Stapledonian space opera, and provides not only an explanation for why this universe is the way it is, but gives us the many vivid wild adventures on the part of some (very appealing) conscious characters acting to make it that way. Awesome stuff, and a true pleasure to read page by page. – Kim Stanley Robinson

What amazing breadth and vigour and inventiveness! Everything you knew about Earth’s prehistory is completely wrong, and the truth is key to a dark secret of our galaxy that will come to roost in the nearish future. I’ve read all three parts of the Sigil trilogy by now because it’s so compulsively well written that I simply couldn’t stop. So cosmically deep and sensually rich, with splendid characters, what a warm and enthusiastic and deeply human book it is — as well as being chillingly scary and horrifying at times. The climax is absolutely unforeseeable. The Sigil will live in my memory long after I’ve forgotten what happens in many other novels. – Ian Watson

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I found myself stuck to my iPad screen much longer than I planned to be more than once, and on both weekend days I woke up and dove right back into the trilogy instead of my usual routine of reading the New York Times with my coffee. I really admire the reach of these books, and the many subtle and excellent nuances in the writing. It’s classic-SF award-worthy. – Brenda Cooper

Fast-moving, insanely inventive science fiction in the grand manner—seldom has the fate of the galaxy been handled on such a large scale. Gee draws on archeology, geology, physics, and biology to create a rich tapestry with surprises woven into every thread. – Nancy Kress

If you like science fiction with a sweeping scale, and can cope with a mix of sex, violence, philosophy and religion in your SF, this is unmissable. – Brian Clegg

Gee’s writing is simply dazzling. The Sigil is a debut novel by an already accomplished author. His characters feel like real people, his story premise is bold and yet founded on actual science, and his fictional universe dares to encompass the issues of our day. Here’s a writer to watch. – David Marusek

I was amazed and delighted by part one of The Sigil. Exploding galaxies; million-year-old aliens with super powers; huge, ancient prehuman civilisations. The best sensawunda SF I’ve come across for years. – Elizabeth Counihan

Siege of Stars is compelling, grandiose, and breathtaking in its spacetime and its characters are intriguing, personal, and complex . …This book is going to be high on the charts. —Greg Laden
rage1245A great very-wide-screen story, with many interesting characters I cared about … the writing—and the palaeontology—are beautifully executed — Jack Cohen

Henry Gee’s crackling prose and fast-paced storytelling pull the reader right in, but it’s the vividness of his characters that creates such a sense of intimacy in this large-scale cosmic tale. It’s an impressive fiction debut, a page-turner that delivers the goods! — Mercurio D. Rivera

Henry Gee’s Sigil trilogy is everything that good science fiction should be: ambitious, sweeping in scope, well-crafted, intelligently plotted and, above all, thoroughly, thoroughly readable. — Ian Whates

The Sigil is available either as an omnibus edition or as separate volumes – Siege of Stars, Scourge of Stars and Rage of Stars – in a variety of formats, both electronic and paperback. Cover designs by Clay Hagebusch.

By The Sea
bytheseacoverHorrific bereavement has forced Detective Inspector Persephone Sheepwool to leave London and make a new life on the remote North Norfolk coast. But horror is never far behind, as she discovers when a body is found at a museum in a decaying clifftop mansion whose shadowy staff is dedicated to discovering the secrets of the sea. Investigating the death, Sheepwool finds that some secrets are probably best left submerged. Trouble is, even the most deeply submerged secrets have a nasty way of oozing to the surface.

This Gothic novel is a cracking good story, with an intricate and unpredictable plot … It starts with a death – is it murder or misadventure? – and more deaths follow … a pleasing mixture of suspense, the grotesque and laugh-out-loud humour – Frank Norman in Mill Hill Essays

This novel is definitely Gothic, very Gothic, downright Gothic  - Pat Shipman, author of The Man Who Found The Missing Link and The Animal Connection

Available an an eBook or paperback.

Jacob’s Ladder: The History of the Human Genome
Henry Gee, a science writer for the leading journal Nature, has produced a beautifully written account of the history of the genome. What sets Jacob’s Ladder apart from the slew of other recent volumes on the subject is that it explores the antecedents, whose researches dealt with the very questions that tantalize us today and who set the stage for deciphering the genetic code. - New York Times

Read this account of development even if you never thought you would read a book about biology. Jacob’s Ladder is an engagingly written and informed account of what is probably the most important science of our times. - New Humanist

In his immensely enjoyable new book Henry Gee concerns himself with the forces ‘that take a formless speck and shape it into what is recognisable as a human being.’ It is Gee’s contention that the history of biology can be retold as the story of the search for this agency, the genome.London Review of Books

The crowning gem of this work is the last section on the new network theory of genomics. Gee draws the reader into the new field of computational biology and shows that having the sequence of the human genome is just the beginning. - Publishers Weekly

Subtitled: The History of the Human Genome, this book goes back to Aristotle to set out the history of man’s search to understand how an individual is created. But it also looks ahead, suggesting we are poised on the brink of deploying almost godlike powers, and close to being able to alter our evolutionary destiny. The author commends exercising these powers with caution and with due account being taken of past mistakes. Its scope ranges from the evolution of all life – and finally of sentience – across billions of years to the individual development of a human baby. Yet it ends by describing current knowledge in this area, for all the strides it has taken, as just the beginning of “a great adventure” – Kirkus Reviews

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs (Illustrated by Luis V. Rey)
‘One thing must be made clear from the start: this is a work of fiction.’ Having gotten that admission out of the way at the very beginning of his text, paleontologist Gee, a senior editor at the prestigious journal Nature, goes on to explain that picturing the outsides of dinosaurs known to us only by their bones is inherently an act of imagination, but one based on scientific realities… Rey, a leading dinosaur artist, pictures his subjects in action, climbing trees, chasing prey, baring their fearsome fangs in habitats ranging from jungle to seaside. At the end of his introduction, Gee returns to the question of veracity-the dinosaurs probably didn’t look as pictured here, he admits: ‘they were far, far stranger.’ But dinophiles will enjoy this excursion into a vividly illustrated possible past world. - Publishers Weekly

If there are field guides for birds and flowers, why not one for the giant creatures that roamed Earth until 65 million years ago? In A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Henry Gee delivers … Browsing a field guide has seldom been this fun. You may never spot an actual dino in the wild, but it would nice to have A Field Guide to Dinosaurs on hand…just in case. - Discovery Channel Book Club

This new book is not Luis’ first but it is his masterpiece … Gee provides very thorough info and in combinations with Rey’s illustrations, this is the perfect book for dinosaur enthusiasts (and artists) of all ages. Field Guide gets the PT guarantee of satisfaction. - Prehistoric Times

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs does not aim to be factual so much as to be an enjoyable and provocative exercise in dinosaur biology, something the authors have made as clear as water. Thus, if you are ready for a trip to the Mesozoic, get comfortable, fasten your seatbelt, and don’t worry if you forget your binoculars – you may not need them after all! - PLoS Biology

Futures from Nature
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Hard SF fans should revel in Gee’s unusual anthology of 100 speculative miniatures created by scientists, journalists and top SF authors worldwide and originally published as recent one-page features in the science journal Nature. Each vignette centers on a wondrous or devastating or simply mind-boggling what if, carried to an unsettlingly original logical conclusion—or left spinning in an extraterrestrial mental orbit. A sampling of the treasures illustrates their remarkable range: Gregory Benford’s poignant A Life with a Semisent explores the human need for love; Paul McCauley’s Meat tackles the nasty human trick of twisting technology to immoral purposes; Robert Sawyer faces religion with the gobsmacking Abdication of Pope Mary III; and Ian Watson lets fly with his hilarious Nadia’s Nectar, one of the best bathroom tales around. All in all, this is a perfect volume to awaken startling new thoughts on old SF themes, giant leaps into the future in delectably palatable tiny packages. - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

The stories are just the right length for those brief interludes with which life abounds. They come from a highly respectable science journal (Hey, Nature published the Watson & Crick paper that spelled out the structure of DNA and won a Nobel Prize). Therefore, QED, this SF is highly respectable too! It won’t a hurt a bit that the stories are good as well. - Analog

Worthwhile for anyone. A satisfying selection…occasionally quite profound. This book does just what we hope for. - Locus

Deep Time: Cladistics, The Revolution in Evolution

If you’ve been reading newspaper and science magazine accounts of contentious issues in paleontology and evolutionary biology and wondering what’s really behind so much of the debate, this is the book for you. - Scientific American

The two great strengths of Gee’s account are its iconoclastic destruction of many popular evolutionary scenarios and the author’s intimate knowledge of the personalities and events surrounding the revolution. - American Scientist

A model of good science writing, not only making a desperately arcane subject comprehensible but entertaining. - Seattle Weekly

Gee’s book is terrific and should be read by anyone with an interest in the history of science. - Ibis

As Gee’s brilliant analysis shows, viewed afresh, evolution proves a more interesting and exciting — if more complex — story than we ever thought. - The Scotsman

Gee’s corrective arguments at once ground his science in humility and liberate thinking about Deep Time through their invitation to chart a seamless topology of life then and now. - Kirkus Reviews

In Deep Time, Henry Gee eloquently and entertaining explains exactly why this ‘Revolution in Evolution’ is both interesting and important to our understanding of the past. - The Herald

Henry Gee’s fascinating book explains how a relatively new method of classifying life revolutionises our picture of the world. - Literary Review

The author … is a master of the English language. Reading sentences such as ‘[a]n hypothesis without a test is like a spare groom at a wedding: he may be decorative, but his utility ends there’ one is likely to miss one’s station on the commute, as almost happened to me. - Quarterly Review of Biology

Cladistics has the reputation of being abstruse and severely technical … [b]ut Gee explains the basics with exemplary clarity and frequent help from his cat, Fred (they are related, but distantly). - New Scientist

Fossils

fossilsguideI wrote this little guide to fossils more years ago than I care to admit. But fossils never go out of date, and this pocket-sized guide has proved to be a steady seller. It’s designed to help you identify many of Europe’s most common fossils. With bite-size information on their characteristic features, principal locations and evolution, a clear easy-to-follow design and precise colour illustrations (not by me!) this is the ideal guide to help you identify anything from a Lepidodendron to a Didymograptus.
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If the scientific arena is analogous to the sports field, then Gee provides the expert commentary. He has all the necessary attributes, an encyclopaedic knowledge of the players, their history in earlier encounters, the rules of the game and most importantly an obvious enthusiasm for the subject matter… All in all, this book is a highly accessible, engaging and illuminating collection of works, a real “page-turner”. It is a must for the bookshelves of everyone with more than a passing interest in palaeobiology. - Australian Geologist

I welcome the book and its celebration of the journal Nature and the fact that this journal devotes a large number of its pages to palaeontology each year. - The Geological Journal

There is a popular perception that the historical sciences are a compendium of accumulated facts, rather than an open-ended and multifaceted way of pursuing knowledge of the historical development of our physical and biological environment. This volume clearly dispels that view, and presents science as a process, not a product. Controversy, disagreement, changing hypotheses, and unanswered questions are the core of the scientific endeavor. These should be embraced as Gee so enthusiastically does. This is what makes science exciting and what will captivate future generations of students. - Journal of Geoscience Education

Readers with a serious background in biology … will find in this collection sustained pleasure and interest. - Publishers Weekly

Rise Of The Dragon

One of the most exciting biology books ever. - The Biologist

The palaeontological riches revealed are little short of staggering … the real strength of this book lies both in the beauty of the fossils and the way they can continue to revolutionize our views of the evolution of ancient life. - Geological Magazine

This book makes descriptions and detailed discussions of these important finds available in one convenient volume for palaeontologists and serious fossil fans. - Ethology, Ecology and Evolution

Particularly poignant is Zhe-Xi Luo’s foreword which provides a wonderful, yet all too brief, snapshot of social, political, and economic factors with the emergence of Chinese paleontology. - Canadian Palaeobiology

Before The Backbone
[The] problem of the origin of the vertebrates remains an important one for the simple reason that many zoologists have tried to solve it and all have failed. What makes this failure especially interesting is that over the past 150 years someone, somewhere, has probably hit on the answer: it is just that he has been unable to convince all his colleagues of it. Henry Gee has written an excellent book explaining why this is so. - London Review of Books

Gee’s scholarly treatment of all theories of vertebrate origins is admirable. The central themes of each theory are clearly and simply outlined and placed within a historical context that allows a naive reader to trace the genesis of these ideas and to appreciate how they still constrain our thinking. The treatment is sufficiently rich, however, to delight even veteran readers of the literature and to provide new insights into the complexities of vertebrate origins and theories of same. - Science

A thorough, scholarly and highly readable book which will become a classic. - Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

In dealing with this often dense subject, Gee adopts a breezy, light-handed but sure style. - Paleobiology

Henry Gee has admirably mastered a formidable library of scattered reference to bring this timely book together…Palaeontologists, zoologists and geneticists should read this book and learn from it. - Endeavour

The book is a true mine of information. - Ethology Ecology & Evolution

Before the Backbone is certainly a valuable addition to my bookshelf, and I commend it to all of those interested in vertebrates in particular or in metazoan phylogeny as a whole. - Geological Magazine

Defiant the Guinea Pig – Firefighter! by Henry and Rachel Gee dgpf
Defiant the Guinea Pig is a lazy lump who spends all day in bed eating carrot pies and reading his Captain Extraordinary comics. When Defiant’s mother tells him to leave home and find a job, he becomes the smallest and unlikeliest new recruit in the City Fire Service. Defiant’s new life as a firefighter begins just as a new wave of fires sweeps the city. Can Defiant and his firefighting friend Vermifuge the Armadillo find the firestarter? Can they save the city from going up in smoke? And will Defiant make his Mum proud?

 

 

Books To Which I Have Contributed

lookinglandwardsLooking Landwards With the impending crises of climate change, scarcity of water, dwindling energy reserves and spiraling global populations, the effective management of our land and the food it produces has never been more relevant. Established in 1938 by a small group of far-seeing and enthusiastic engineers and agriculturalists, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers provides a professional nexus for the scientists, technologists, engineers, and managers working in the many and varied forms of land-based industry. In 2013, to mark their 75th anniversary, the IAgrE have commissioned a book that looks forward at what the future might hold. Looking Landwards features twenty-three works of science fiction and speculation that dare to look to the future and examine what lies ahead for farming, for agricultural engineering and for all of us. I’m proud to say that one of these stories is mine.

TheFountainfinalartFRONTF compFables from the Fountain Written as homage to Arthur C. Clarke’s classic ‘Tales from the White Hart’, the book features many of today’s top genre writers. The Fountain, a traditional London pub situated in Holborn, just off Chancery Lane, where Michael, the landlord, serves excellent real ales and dodgy ploughman’s, ably assisted by barmaids Sally and Bogna (from Poland). The Fountain, in whose Paradise bar a group of friends – scientists, writers and genre fans – meet regularly on a Tuesday night to swap anecdotes, reveal wondrous events from their past, tell tall tales, talk of classified scientific invention and, maybe, just maybe, save the world…

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