I was granted eARC access to The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.
About the Book
The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy
What Animals on Earth Reveal about Aliens–And Ourselves
by Arik Kersenbaum
Publishing 16 March 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biology
Page Count: 368
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
From a noted Cambridge zoologist, a wildly fun and scientifically sound exploration of what alien life must be like, using universal laws that govern life on Earth and in space.
Scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere in the universe. Yet rather than taking a realistic approach to what aliens might be like, we imagine that life on other planets is the stuff of science fiction. The time has come to abandon our fantasies of space invaders and movie monsters and place our expectations on solid scientific footing.
But short of alien’s landing in New York City, how do we know what they are like? Using his own expert understanding of life on Earth and Darwin’s theory of evolution–which applies throughout the universe–Cambridge zoologist Dr. Arik Kershenbaum explains what alien life must be like: how these creatures will move, socialize, and communicate. For example, by observing fish whose electrical pulses indicate social status, we can see that other planets might allow for communication by electricity. As there was evolutionary pressure to wriggle along a sea floor, Earthling animals tend to have left/right symmetry; on planets where creatures evolved mid-air or in soupy tar they might be lacking any symmetry at all.
Might there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? A moon where creatures have a language composed of smells? Will aliens scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy answers these questions using the latest science to tell the story of how life really works, on Earth and in space.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Consider liking my review on Goodreads.
The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy is a very well-written and entertaining work of non-fiction that explores the world of animals around us, discusses how the environment influences form and function, and deep dives into topics like purpose-based evolution. Once these things are established, this book also makes room for speculation on what alien species might be like and how we can make predications based on what we see here on Earth.
As a former science geek kid who had graduated to the status of science geek adult, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Earth’s fauna in such a richly narrative way. This didn’t feel like reading an academic textbook or journal article, it felt like a book I would pick up for pleasure. I would give this book to sciency kids in their teens at the youngest, because there are high-level concepts and language in here that middle school readers are likely to struggle with, but other than that I do think anyone looking to know more about animals in any capacity would enjoy this book.
I’m also a massive science fiction nerd and I was absolutely quite influenced in my decision to pick up this book by the title. I see that Douglas Adams reference! Far too many sci-fi authors creating alien beings really do seem to forget or willfully ignore the fact that so much about the way creatures on Earth look and behave is influenced by Earth and resort to creating galaxies full of bipedal humanoid dominant species with pets and prey that resemble our own current or past quadrupedal Earthly neighbours. Not every planet that produces an intelligent species is going to have that result! That’s not even considering how a species would change if it moved off-planet and lived entirely in space for many generations. I think this book would be a great resource for science fiction, screenwriters, and special effects designers everywhere, and I completely intend to revisit this book when its time to finally tackle that alien species sci-fi I’ve had on my own writing backburner.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.