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Friday, March 6, 2020

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass ExtinctionScatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up in heavy anticipation because I've already read two of her SF novels. I thought to myself, HEY! We're going to get some cool speculation and have it backed up by science... right?

Ah, well, a bit. At the end.

Instead, we mainly focus on well-established extinction events from the past, a slightly optimistic, slightly rose-tinted outlook at life on geological scales, and the basic insistence that extinction happens over a great scale of time. Colony collapses are recoverable, mostly, over the long-run. Roger. That's pretty much standard science, but it has been used to argue both sides of the pessimistic fence in many different venues. I simplify, but let me be honest: these subjects are handled with more detail and slightly better writing in places such as The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History and Yuval Noah Harari's of Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari: An Unofficial Summary and Analysis and Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow. There are quite a few books that have a slightly more comprehensive optimistic outlook to offset the more alarmist (such as Sixth Extinction.)

I can understand why so much of this particular book needed to ground itself in past collapses in order to set the stage for coping strategies, but how it worked out here was kinda strange. Most were background stuff with old-hat science and the rest was just a small taste of the truly juicy bits.

If I was a little more cussed about it, I'd recommend reading Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, starting with The Three-Body Problem for some really juicy survival mechanisms. :)

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