A Biologist in Paradise

A collection of 40 essays and memoirs, subtitled, Musings on Nature and Science.  Available on the Amazon platform in both digital and print editions, it is as much a literary work as scientific.

It is a celebration of science and nature by someone who loves them. The author  writes about things he knows and cares about, offering them to readers who share his curiosity and concerns. This is not a science book for scientists, nor a nature book for naturalists, although he hopes both parties will read it, and not so much for information as contemplation.

The narratives are mostly in the first person to grasp the power of story-telling, express passion for subjects, tell anecdotes, and share humor wherever possible. The concise essays divided among six sections are sprinkled with quotations and extracts from favorite authors and poets. The subjects are close to the author’s heart and experience.

He writes about the struggle for a sustainable environment and how shifting baselines affect perspectives. He appeals for a new appreciation of animals, not just sentimental feelings but a fresh respect for their welfare, sentience, and distinct intelligence. From deep involvement in the fertility revolution and IVF technology, he looks back at the history of discovery and turns a lens on what the future may portend. He expresses outrage at pervasive prejudice against ‘others’ in an extraordinary collection of topics, including Neanderthals, cannibals, scavengers, crustaceans, and feral pets.

The story of evolution is never out of focus, and he pays another visit to the ghost of Down House close to where he grew up. For a foody culture, he draws on physiology credentials to poke a head inside the pantry, and elsewhere celebrates seasons of the year from oblique angles. The six memoirs of the last section have an elegiac tone, although they are never gloomy narratives of special places and people we have lost and must not forget.