cover image The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018

Edited by Sam Kean. Mariner, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-328-98780-8

In the introduction to this installment of the annual anthology series, guest editor Kean (In the Absence of God) says the best science writing involves character and conflict, not just facts, and many of the 26 pieces he selects prove his point. These include the first piece, Ross Andersen’s “Pleistocene Park,” in which father-son tension is the underlying theme of a story about a Russian scientist’s “mad vision” to return the woolly mammoth to a nature reserve in Siberia. Many of the contributions come from the Atlantic and the New Yorker and too few are from lesser-known publications, but California Sunday Magazine’s Sophie Brickman writes with aplomb in “The Squeeze” about several Silicon Valley companies trying to design and market a modernized breast pump. Veering into personal territory, Caitlin Kuehn’s “Of Mothers and Monkeys” juxtaposes her mother’s battle with cancer with her own ethical struggles as a laboratory assistant experimenting on animals. Predictably, a few of the articles deal with climate change and the thin line between science and politics, including Rachel Leven’s critical “A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Scott Pruitt’s Dysfunctional EPA.” But for the most part, characters, more than ideas, drive these stories and make this collection notable. (Oct.)