Review: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember – Annalee Newitz

by @edent | #

A small house, smoke rising from the chimney. The house in nestled in a crater on the moon.

In its 4.5 billion–year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How?

Having read Newitz’s brilliant sci-fi novel “Autonomous”, I thought I’d try her pop-sci book from a few years ago.

The central thesis is that animals survive when they “scatter” (find new habitats) and “adapt” (via evolution or some other means). Humans are (almost) unique in that we can remember, and pass down knowledge.

It’s an entertaining and provocative look through history. It convincingly makes the case that we need to do something in order to survive as a species, and sets out some possible ideas.

A great book, but two things annoyed me.

Lack of footnotes. I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who taps on every footnote to see where the author got their information from. Sure, sometimes it disturbs the flow of the book, and a I rarely look up the primary source, but it is comforting to know they’re there. While the book carefully references its illustrations, there are no links to where an interested reader can find out more.

Well, that’s what I thought… After getting to the end of the book, all the footnotes were there! With links back to the main text. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw in the book, but this is how the HTML inside it looks:
HTML code - there are anchor links, but they don't link down to the footnotes.

Secondly, it never quite delves into the technology which could be used to help us remember. There’s some great stuff about geo-engineering, and genetic editing, but I wanted to learn more about the process of future learning.

Overall, a good book to help you understand our place on this planet – and beyond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *