Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Book is Here!

A couple of days ago I returned from a short holiday in Sicily to discover five advance copies of The Rough Guide to Evolution in the post! It is thrilling to see something which started off as just an idea culminating as a finished product! Although I wrote it and had seen all bar the index and final few pages as proofs, it is another thing entirely to hold the book in my own hands.

Now, with the passage of time since I wrote it, I can almost start to read it as if it were written by someone else. I hope I won't appear smug if I say that I thoroughly pleased with the whole product. OK, there are a few typos that slipped past myself, the editor and the proofreader--I expect Dawkins will tolerate being called "arguably the world [sic] best science writer", although he might quibble about the "arguably"!

But in compensation for the typos, there are a few last minute changes and additions that improve upon what I have seen in proof. The image of Heston's inter-species kiss, which, as I pointed put in an earlier posting, we weren't allowed to use on the cover, now appears in the section on Evolution in science fiction

The two cover images, which epitomise contemporary biology (a chimp on the front) and the history of evolution (Darwin on the back) have now been joined by an iconic image from palaeobiology for the inside front cover (an Archaeopteryx). And fittingly, the last image in the book is of the label for Wasatch Evolution Amber Ale, in the section on Darwinian retail!

Thumbing through the index is also a delight, bringing home the reality of just how much I have been able to cover in this small but densely packed volume and emphasising the uniquely eclectic reach of the work. Where else would you find indexed together in the same volume under the same letter:
  • Behe, Michael
  • Biblical manuscripts, evolution of
  • breasts, evolution of
  • Malthus, Thomas
  • Marley, Bob
  • Megalonyx jeffersonii
  • Moby Dick
  • Muslim responses to evolution
In fact, I have to smile at the way in which I have managed to include multiple references to the city in which I work (Birmingham, England 9, 21, 80, 158, 188, 237) and to another enduring interest of mine (reggae music 74-75, 92, 262, 267), as well as  a reference to one of John Maynard Smith's rude neologisms (sneaky fucker mating strategy 127).

I should emphasise at this point that what I have are five advance copies of the book, that have been airfreighted to the Rough Guides office. It is not yet on sale. The book has been printed in Hong Kong and is now on its way to Europe and the US, quite literally, on a slow boat from China! The staff at Rough Guides assure me that we are on target for having it on sale before Christmas, but quite when it will appear in which shop or online outlet will depend also on the efficiency of the retailer's ordering and supply chains. Amazon. com are advertising a December 15th release date, so US readers should get it in time for Christmas. 

Go on: pre-order it now! You won't be disappointed!!

1 comment:

Karen James said...

Congrats, Mark! Do you by chance have any review copies lying around collecting dust? I'd be happy to review it on TBPB...