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Otherlands: A World in the Making (Hardback)Thomas Halliday (author)
From Ice Age Alaska to the birthplace of humanity, palaeobiologist Halliday takes readers on a dazzling tour of deep time to view astounding ancient landscapes from all seven continents.
Shortlisted for The James Cropper Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2022
Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2022
A dazzlingly original, lyrical and epic encounter with the Earth as it used to be. This is the past as we've never seen it before.
Otherlands is an epic, exhilarating journey into deep time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours. Travelling back in time to the dawn of complex life, and across all seven continents, award-winning young palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday gives us a mesmerizing up close encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant.
Halliday immerses us in a series of ancient landscapes, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica, with its colonies of giant penguins, to Ediacaran Australia, where the moon is far brighter than ours today. We visit the birthplace of humanity; we hear the crashing of the highest waterfall the Earth has ever known; and we watch as life emerges again after the asteroid hits, and the age of the mammal dawns. These lost worlds seem fantastical and yet every description - whether the colour of a beetle's shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air - is grounded in the fossil record.
Otherlands is a staggering imaginative feat: an emotional narrative that underscores the tenacity of life - yet also the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, including our own. To read it is to see the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fabulous and familiar.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 648 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 37 mm
'The best book on the history of life on Earth I have ever read' - Tom Holland, author of Dominion
'Thomas Halliday's debut is a kaleidoscopic and evocative journey into deep time. He takes quiet fossil records and complex scientific research and brings them alive - riotous, full-coloured and three-dimensional. You'll find yourself next to giant two-metre penguins in a forested Antarctica 41 million years ago or hearing singing icebergs in South Africa some 444 million years ago. Maybe most importantly, Otherlands is a timely reminder of our planet's impermanence and what we can learn from the past' - Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature
'Deep time is very hard to capture - even to imagine - and yet Thomas Halliday has done so in this fascinating volume. He wears his grasp of vast scientific learning lightly; this is as close to time travel as you are likely to get' - Bill McKibben, author of Falter
'An absolutely gripping adventure story, exploring back through the changing vistas of our own planet's past. Earth has been many different worlds over its planetary history, and Thomas Halliday is the perfect tour guide to these past landscapes, and the extraordinary creatures that inhabited them. Otherlands is science writing at its very finest' - Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins
'Full of wonder and fascination, exquisitely written, this is time travel of spectacular dimensions - a journey into our planet's evolution and the world in which we live. A compellingly important read' - Isabella Tree, author of Wilding
'Otherlands is one of those rare books that's both deeply informative and daringly imaginative. It will change the way you look at the history of life, and perhaps also its future' - Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
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“A fascinating journey into Earth’s deep past”
“After travelling so far back in time, it is only by turning and looking back down the road to the present that we begin to classify those that exist in the deep past.”
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“A great book to delve into”
A fascinating account of the geological history of the world, ending with a look forward to how things might be in the future. The descriptions are so vivid you feel you are walking on ancient glaciers or high... More
“A fascinating natural history of the distant past”
This is a natural history book with a twist - it is about the flora, fauna and landscapes of the Earth as they were millions of years ago. It begins in Alaska, 20,000 years ago, then each chapter goes further back in... More
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