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Otherlands : A World in the Making - A Sunday Times bestseller - Thomas Halliday

Otherlands

A World in the Making - A Sunday Times bestseller

By: Thomas Halliday

Paperback | 9 May 2023 | Edition Number 1

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A dazzlingly original, lyrical and epic encounter with the Earth as it used to be

This is the past as we've never seen it before.

Otherlands is an epic, exhilarating journey into deep time, showing us the Earth as it used to exist, and the worlds that were here before ours. Travelling back in time to the dawn of complex life, and across all seven continents, award-winning young palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday gives us a mesmerizing up close encounter with eras that are normally unimaginably distant.

Halliday immerses us in a series of ancient landscapes, from the mammoth steppe in Ice Age Alaska to the lush rainforests of Eocene Antarctica, with its colonies of giant penguins, to Ediacaran Australia, where the moon is far brighter than ours today. We visit the birthplace of humanity; we hear the crashing of the highest waterfall the Earth has ever known; and we watch as life emerges again after the asteroid hits, and the age of the mammal dawns. These lost worlds seem fantastical and yet every description - whether the colour of a beetle's shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air - is grounded in the fossil record.

Otherlands is a staggering imaginative feat- an emotional narrative that underscores the tenacity of life - yet also the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, including our own. To read it is to see the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fabulous and familiar.

About the Author

Thomas Halliday is an Associate Research Fellow at the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Birmingham. His PhD won the Linnean Society Medal for the best thesis in the biological sciences in the UK, and he won the Hugh Miller Writing Competition in 2018. He was raised in Rannoch in the Scottish Highlands, and now lives in London with his family.
Industry Reviews
This book takes us through the natural history of previous forms of life in the most beguiling way. It makes you think about the past differently and it certainly makes you think about the future differently. This is a monumental work and I suspect it will be a very important book for future generations -- Ray Mears, Chair of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing

The word "original" is really overworked. But Thomas Halliday has produced a book the like of which I have never come across -- Jeremy Paxman

An extraordinary history of our almost-alien Earth... Epically cinematic... The writing is so palpably alive. A book of almost unimaginable riches. It is a book that will make its own solid and lasting contribution. It could well be the best I read in 2022 - and I know it's only January -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times *

A poet among palaeontologists -- David P. Barash * Wall Street Journal *

A mesmerising journey into those vast stretches of Earth's pre-history that lie behind us, on such a scale that you experience a kind of temporal vertigo just thinking about it... [Halliday is] a brilliant writer, his lyrical style vividly conjuring myriad lost worlds... It's obviously a bit of a gamble choosing one's Book of the Year in March - but there's a very good chance already that mine will be Otherlands. Stunning -- Christopher Hart * Mail on Sunday *

An impressive, tightly packed, long view of the natural world. In cinematic terms, this book would be a blockbuster... Riveting scientific reading; a remarkable achievement of imagination grounded in fact -- NJ McGarrigle * Irish Times *

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