Huge congratulations to the prize-winning author, Gaia Vince, for accepting at auction a commission from Helen Conford at Penguin Press to write CULTURAL BEING: The Science of Our History (or how Adam Bit the Snake).
Previously the News editor at Nature magazine and the online news’ editor at the New Scientist, Gaia Vince came to the world of science journalism by way of chemistry and engineering design degrees. Highly respected by her peers, Gaia Vince then surprised them all by resigning her roles several years ago as she set out to travel the world to examine humanity’s impact upon the physical planet.
Once Gaia Vince had started travelling, however, she kept going and, forty countries and some 800 days later, she returned to Britain and began writing her first book, Adventures in the Anthropocene, which was published by Chatto & Windus in the UK to superb reviews.
Adventures in the Anthropocene explored how the Earth has been drastically affected by humans, but also the ways in which science and engineering are providing solutions ranging from islands built out of rubbish to artificial glaciers. The book brilliantly illustrated the argument that humans have over the last couple of centuries altered the planet so much that our geological period has rapidly changed – for having left the 12,000-year-long Holocene, we are now entering the distinct new age of the Anthropocene.
When Adventures in the Anthropocene then won The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books in 2015, Gaia Vince became the first woman ever to win the prize solo.
As the Chair of the Royal Society’s judges, Professor Ian Stewart, said: “This is an underreported area of science and a truly original story. We were all humbled by Vince’s commitment to this book – she quit her job and spent 800 days on the global road to gather her evidence. She has captured the issue of the day in a way that is ultimately empowering without ever being complacent. We are very proud to recognise this ambitious and essential work.” Sarah Waters, also a superb writer and a judge, called the book “an inspiring testament to human ingenuity” and there’s further comment here.
With CULTURAL BEING: The Science of Our History (or how Adam Bit the Snake), her second book, Gaia Vince is to write an original and scientific take on humanity’s evolution, looking at how the early humans invented culture and thereby freed themselves from a reactive relationship with the Earth. So where we once evolved in response to the sheer physical matter of the planet, we escaped that relationship by devising culture. Fascinatingly, none of this happened in a vacuum, and so our cultural inventions in turn provoked new evolutions in us, as a species, and the animals which we lived alongside.
CULTURAL BEING will be a big, ambitious book, written by a great prose stylist with a building international platform. It’s a book which will undoubtedly win more prizes.
26 Jan 2016