As I am sure you both know, I have been hard at work on a book. Refractory ‘t’s have yet to be crossed and the final recalcitrant ‘i’s dotted, but time waits for no-one, and as the remorseless schedules of publication get up on their winged chariot, unsparing of the horses, which of course are metaphorical horses, as no actual horses were harmed during the making of this book, not even mythical ones, you know, with wings, I see that a draft cover has appeared. You can find it should you direct your eyes leftwards. This is the draft cover for the US edition, and subject to change. I have also seen the cover for the UK edition, and it looks great, but that’s a work-in-progress and too young to be let out of doors on its own.
What’s the book all about? The title and subtitle should give it away. It’s indeed a very short history of life on Earth, in which I condense 4.6 billion years into twelve pithy chapters. Just like it says on the cover. But I’ve written it as a tale, full of adventure, of hair-breadth ‘scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach, and so on and so
forth third forth, in which, no matter what disasters the Earth and environment could contrive, Life always picked itself up and evolved to greater … er … greatness.
I think it’s very nice.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what some of my colleagues in the great world of academia have said, having seen the draft:
This is now the best book available about the huge changes in our planet and its living creatures, over the billions of years of the Earth’s existence. Continents have merged and broken up; massive volcanic eruptions have repeatedly reset the clock of evolution; temperatures, atmospheric gases, and sea levels have undergone big swings; and new ways of life have evolved. Henry Gee makes this kaleidoscopically changing canvas of life understandable and exciting. Who will enjoy reading this book? Everybody!
–Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Upheaval
Don’t miss this delightful, concise, sweeping masterpiece! Gee brilliantly condenses the entire, improbable, astonishing history of life on earth–all 5 billion years–into a charming, zippy and scientifically accurate yarn. I honestly couldn’t put this book down, and you won’t either.
–Daniel E. Lieberman, Edwin M. Lerner II professor of Biological Sciences, Harvard University and author of Exercised
A scintillating, fast-paced waltz through four billion years of evolution, from one of our leading science writers. As a senior editor at Nature, Henry Gee has had a front-row seat to the most important fossil discoveries of the last quarter century. His poetic prose animates the history of life, from the first bacteria to trilobites to dinosaurs to us.
–Steve Brusatte, paleontologist, University of Edinburgh and New York Times bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
After such praise you’ll no doubt wish to inquire about access to the contents, even if the cover were to show a picture of two elephants sitting on a cake*.
I learn that it’s possible to pre-order it. You may do this in the Amazon in the UK, though I’m not sure if you can do so in the US, although other outlets are available, and of course you can get it via the publisher, St Martin’s Press (in the US/Canada) and the publisher in the UK is Picador.
Readers who prefer books in languages other than English might be consoled that translations are projected in (so far) Chinese (simplified), Dutch, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian, but word gets around, and there’s even a review on Goodreads (in Slovak, I think).
But when — I hear you cry — oh, when, will this tome be published? Well, the date that keeps coming up is 2 November 2021. It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping.
*Q: What’s the difference between a riddle, and two elephants sitting on a cake?
A: A riddle is a conundrum. The elephants have a bunundrum.