Editorial January 2010
Time was that when one thought about undertaking some geological reading, the choice was limited to rather stuffy text books, academic journals and blandly factual field guides. Nothing wrong with that of course, and several folks of my acquaintance are never happier than when curled up in bed with ‘A Guide to the Gravel Pits of Banff’ (or whatever). But these days there’s a new genre in geological literature – ‘popular geology books’. These are represented by a whole slew of chatty and sometimes controversial tomes where the reader is challenged to go along with the writer’s views – or not. Its still geology of course, but now with an element of the dramatic about it. Suddenly, the story’s the thing, and author’s vie with one another to pen the latest ‘can’t put it down’ blockbuster. I am prompted to these musings by our talk on January 13th by one of the latest contributors to the popular geology canon, Leicester’s own Jan Zalasiewicz. And its all good stuff really, because I have personally witnessed the interest this sort of thing engenders. As soon as the talk was programmed, the phone started ringing, and then we had the University Bookshop and Oxford University Press contacting us to ask if they could put up a display of Jan’s books before the talk. Despite the poor weather that hit the attendance, the presence of many visitors was good news for the Geology Section. Hopefully they will send the word around that we can put on a good show.
So long live the popular geology book revolution, and if you are wondering where to start with your own exploration of the genre, here’s some suggestions, not in any sort of order. All are readily available from familiar online stores, as well as in the High Street. I’ve chosen authors you might be familiar with, in fact several of them have given talks to the Section or locally. Many of you will have read some of these books already. Apologies if I’ve missed your favourite, perhaps you’d like to say a few words about it in the next Charnia?
If I’m writing the January Charnia editorial, then it means that in less than two months time the Saturday Seminar will be upon us. This year its on March 13th, and should be an absolute cracker. We’ve gone for a plate tectonics theme, and managed to attract the cream of Britain’s PT experts. Fundamental to the processes that shape the morphology of our planet, plate tectonics is a very broad church, involving almost every branch of geology, so there will be something for everyone. Tickets are now on sale, get them from the secretary Fiona Barnaby, or the Chairman or myself could obtain them for you. They will be on sale at all our forthcoming meetings.
In conclusion, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2010.