Wednesday 3 October 2012

REVIEW: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

"Death is not the end, it's just a case of being metabolically different."
                      Caspar Henderson

Fantastic! The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is A 21st Century Bestiary that uses an A to Z of animals to explore a whole range of scientific and human issues.

If nothing else, the book is a clear demonstration that its author, Caspar Henderson, is a right, ol' clever clogs. Each chapter brings together an array of quotes, history, art, science, mythology and story to bring the subject alive. It's amazing to see how our thoughts and ideas surrounding life on earth have changed over time, let alone how much life itself has changed over significantly more time.

Each chapter focuses on a single creature, including many of our old fiends like the Axolotl, the Sea Butterfly and even Venus' Girdle! A girdle so sexy and sheer that barely anyone knows it's even there!

Each animal teaches us something about earth, life and our place within it. Where we came from and what we should do now that we have all this ridiculous world-changing power. It seems to me that this really is a time for thought; our accidents and unintended consequences are not like your grandfather's. With power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes having an idea of what the hell it is you're doing.

Each chapter is also introduced with a beautiful illustration by an Iranian artist called Golbanou Moghaddas. His earthy, organic art sums up the chapter in a way that raises quite a few questions. What on earth does the Crown of Thorns Starfish have to do with van Gogh's Sunflowers and the Pyramids of Giza? You'll have to read it to find out!

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is out now in the UK

The rest of the world will get it a little later, so Americans can feel what it's like to have to wait for Hollywood movies.

Also check out Caspar's blog.

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