Geoscience factor: Forensic geology
Bonus science: Paleontology
Spoiler: To be determined.
When I started digging into GeoFiction, I resolved to keep an open mind, even about books that were not my usual fare. I dug half-way into Bone hunter, an Em Hansen mystery, and was already feeling trapped by this resolution.
But, you say, Bone hunter has a conglomerate of elements that I like: farce, mystery, a sassy protagonist, an insider’s view, science.
Alas, the farcical situations are presented in a cliff-note version. A summary of unfortunate accidents beseting our heroine cannot count as farce. The author delights in showing and telling you everything and then showing and telling you everything, and then again, with a rock hammer to the head. The mystery is a standard whodunit, where multiple murders occur in whatever town our heroine visits. And annoyingly, Em Hansen’s attitude has the worst traits of hack detectives. She makes mule-headed decisions and is inexplicably naive during tense moments. Her reveries aren’t always typical of the detective genre, but they muddy her personality instead of illuminating it.
On the other hand, Em Hansen is mostly smart and capable and she provides an insider’s perspective into the shady worlds of paleontologists. I still want to know what will happen to her and whodidit. So I will keep digging and perhaps one day this summer, dig my way out.
Geoscience factor: Petroleum
Bonus science: Symbiosis
Before there were cowboys and aliens, there was Rory Harper’s vision of roughnecks and aliens. Petrogypsies is the story of the machinery and machinations of how the early oil industry could have been. Our hero, Henry Lee McFarland, is a naive farmboy who joins a troupe of oil-divining gypsies as they travel the South searching for the next big oil strike. Along the way, McFarland learns about drilling, calculus, aliens, and even love.
I got a kick out of this book, not least because of the Texas-inspired personalities and landscapes. While other readers might groan, I can appreciate outrageous but well-written tales that feature strapping young lads and other campy stereotypes. À chacun son goût.
I recommend Petrogypsies for a fun, summer-time read.
Geoscience factor: Evolution
Bonus science: Epidemiology
Spoiler: Hydra and Hercules are real
If I had paid closer attention to the full title of Instinct, I would’ve had a completely different reading experience. I only read the spine and carelessly shrugged my shoulders at the subtitle: a Chess Team adventure, therefore letting myself expect a hard-core scientific thriller instead of an adventure in the manner of Jules Verne or H. Rider Haggard.
Instinct was fast-paced and the setting deep in the Vietnamese jungle was intriguing. However, the evolution aspect was lightly handled and the characters chose odd moments to discuss outbreaks. Maybe discussing the history of smallpox is a good way to relieve stress when you are about to be gunned down by the enemy.
If you like adventure and the implausible, I would recommend this book. In fact, next on my reading list is another book by Jeremy Robinson, Antarktos Rising.
This summer, I’m embarking on a trip into the sundry and divers world of GeoFiction. I’ll be reading books that strike my fancy and attempting a few book reviews. I might get distracted by various news items or books that seem like they could be GeoFiction but aren’t really.
GeoFiction is a new category for me, so be warned: There will be spoilers! There will be critical reviews!
For the book reviews, I will include why I chose the book or how it relates to the geosciences and how I would rate the book on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high).