Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
How can humanity survive life-annihilating disasters like global warming, cyclical ice ages, cosmic radiation, mega-volcanoes, rampaging pathogens, and asteroid strikes? After talking with scientists, engineers, philosophers, historians, technicians and--as she puts it--sundry brainiacs, Annalee Newitz has a few suggestions. Since I inexplicably love novels, movies, and TV shows set in post-apocalyptic times I found her book utterly fascinating.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember covers a vast territory of time, from the earliest days of life on Earth until a million years in the future. The first section, A History of Mass Extinctions, describes times when life was almost snuffed out completely, only to reemerge adapted for new conditions. Often these almost end-times were brought on by external forces, but it turns out we aren’t the first species to pollute our own environment--that would be the oxygen spewing cyanobacteria (or blue-green algae). Oxygen was poisonous to the life forms of early Earth and most of them died off when it began to fill the atmosphere, but the change set our planet on a trajectory that gave rise to the world as we know it.
The second section of the book, We Almost Didn’t Make It, covers times when starvation or plague killed vast numbers of people. Lessons From Survivors draws its conclusions from many different life forms that have survived mass death, not just humans. Sections titled How to Build a Death-Proof City, which suggests possibilities like underground communities, urban agriculture, and bioplastic buildings, and The Million Year View, which has space colonies among its ideas, conclude the book.
Some of the information is necessarily speculative, but science is exciting in Newitz’s hands. It’s a hopeful book, drawing ideas for the future from the many times life forms on Earth have managed to sneak past the ultimate grim reaper.