cover image The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014

Edited by Deborah Blum, series editor Tim Folger. HMH/Mariner, $14.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-00342-2

This thought provoking, perspective shifting edition of a consistently strong series draws from well-known publications like Scientific American and The Atlantic, but Blum (The Poisoner's Handbook) has also reached out to newer online publications like Matter and Nautilus, bringing the best from those venues to a new audience. Making connections between seemingly unrelated topics can help expand thinking, as seen in the effects of automated navigation on both airplane pilot error and Inuit hunting accidents that Nicholas Carr explores in "The Great Forgetting." Sarah Stewart Johnson makes a similar connection between the loss of a 1912 Antarctic expedition and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in "O-Rings." Blum features "stories of choices and of consequences," highlighting the Anthropocene-era world's rapid changes in response to human behavior. Essays like Virginia Hughes's "23 and You" investigates the effects of availability of individual genetic information on human interactions, while pieces like Maryn McKenna's "Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future" and Kate Sheppard's "Under Water" remind us of unpleasant futures which we have in large part created ourselves. But Barbara Kingsolver's "Where it Begins," a lyrical musing on connectedness, or Wilson's optimistic, bug-loving "The Rebirth of Gorongosa," reveal that among the strange, shocking, or depressing, there is still unadulterated joy to be found. (Oct.)