My last post, on the up-coming International Bear Conference in Anchorage, presents the perfect backdrop for highlighting a wonderfully unbiased review of my polar bear attack thriller, EATEN, penned by a prominent Canadian polar bear researcher who is utterly convinced that future sea ice loss is the biggest threat to the species (and a former student of the grand-daddy of all polar bear researchers, Ian Stirling).
Here is what polar bear-human interaction specialist Douglas Clark had to say about my novel in his Amazon review (note I did not send Doug a review copy because he did not request one – he bought it himself – so I had no idea this was coming):
Thought-provoking, and possibly a real service to polar bear conservation
His detailed thoughts on the book below.
As I’ve pointed out previously, polar bears are leanest – and thus, hungriest and potentially the most dangerous to humans – at the end of winter (i.e. March).
That is why the unexpected prospect of hundreds of lean and hungry polar bears coming ashore in early March hunting available human prey would be a truly terrifying and daunting experience. Such a speculative scenario stands in marked contrast to an actual incident in July that involved a single well-fed bear that attacked a man asleep in a tent because he and his companions had chosen to dismiss the known risk.
Any predatory attack by a polar bear is terrifying but which is potentially the more deadly? One you can reasonably expect (and thus prepare for) or one that comes out of the blue and catches everyone unprepared?
Posted in Book review, Life History, Polar bear attacks
Tagged attacks, battle between man, beast and Nature, bears starve, climate change, dangerous, Davis Strait, deadly, Eaten, facts, Fogo Island, global warming, harrowing encounter, hungry polar bear attacks, ice melts, March, Meltdown, Newfoundland, novel, polar bear, predatory, scary, sea ice, speculative fiction, spring
And another emailed me to say of EATEN:
“Your explanation of the relationship of seals, bears and ice was a treat. Congratulations, “Eaten” is a real page turner.”
Update: The review referred to in the title is from the UK store, which has not (a.m. 8 December) been added to the Amazon.com site.
The perfect gift for those fiction readers on your list that love a good scary story. Speculative fiction of the horrifying kind – it could happen, it just hasn’t yet.
Find the paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Amazon Kindle ebook
Barnes & Noble NOOK ebook
Kobo bookstore ebooks
Apple device ebook (via iTunes, under “Suspense and Mystery”)
Overdrive ebooks for libraries (see if your library has it: if not, suggest they get it).
Posted in Book review, Polar bear attacks
Tagged attack, ebooks, gifts, libraries, Newfoundland, polar bear, readers, reviews, science communication, sea ice, speculative fiction, storytelling, thriller
This was kind of fun – featuring the Churchill polar bear guiding trials and tribulations of PolarBearAlley’s Kelsey Eliasson, Dennis Compayre, Brian Ladoon, which premiered Tuesday 22 September in Canada and the US. Supposedly, you can watch online episodes that have aired already (wouldn’t work for me).
This is a ‘reality’ TV series, not a documentary. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. But by focusing on independent polar bear guides, you see the bears in their element (and the goings-on in the town) without the constant lectures about global warming and predictions that the bears are all going to die that are, I understand, a feature of Tundra Buggy tours operated by the largest outfit, Frontiers North, due to its partnership with Polar Bears International, a strongly activist organization that many polar bear biologists belong (including Steven Amstrup, Ian Stirling, Andrew Derocher, former WWF employee Geoff York).
So far, anyway – perhaps the lectures are to come? YouTube Trailer below.
UPDATED 29 September 2015: OLN has posted the first episode on Youtube, copied below.
The polar bear attack that was all over the news last summer is now an ebook about global warming. The Maine lawyer who was mauled by a bear while on a hiking trip to Labrador (and lived to tell the tale) has allowed his story to be co-opted by an activist journalist to promote fears of sea ice decline, polar bear extinction, and man-made global warming.
The press release issued yesterday by the news group that published the book and employs author Sabrina Shankman (InsideClimateNews), described it this way:
“A riveting new e-book about the battle between man, beast and Nature in a warming world. Called Meltdown: Terror at the Top of the World, the e-book tells the story of the hikers’ harrowing encounter with a polar bear; of the plight of the polar bear in general, facing starvation and extinction as the sea ice melts and its habitat disappears; and of the Arctic meltdown, the leading edge of man-made climate change.”
I have little doubt the man mauled by the bear was indeed terrified and that his companions were as well. However, that horror is exploited shamelessly in this book as a means to promote anxiety over the future survival of polar bears and instill panic over a prophesied Arctic “meltdown.”
Posted in Advocacy, Book review, Polar bear attacks
Tagged Amstrup, attack, climate change, Davis Strait, excerpt, extinction, global warming, ice-free season, InsideClimateNews, Labrador, Meltdown, polar bear, sea ice extent, Shankman, Sierra Club, starvation, terror, top of the world
Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to their Biology and Behavior (2012) Text by Andrew E. Derocher, Photographs by Wayne Lynch, in association with Polar Bears International. Johns Hopkins University Press 264 pp. 153 color photos, 4 maps. 978-1-4214-0305-2 $39.95 hardcover
Here is the promotional description of this book:
“Derocher and Lynch have spent decades following polar bears, and this book offers the most comprehensive and readable review of their biology, ecology, behavior, and conservation.” From the JHUPress catalogue
This statement suggested to me that I would find Andrew Derocher’s new book upbeat and primarily concerned with explaining the biology, behavior and life history of polar bears, as the title suggests. I’d buy a book like that, I thought.
I was also eager to see how Derocher’s effort compared with Ian Stirling’s book that came out last year (2011), which I reviewed in July. The title of Stirling’s book – Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species – did at least hint at the advocacy found within.
Would Derocher’s book be substantially different, despite his strident advocacy on display just last month in the press “Bleak future for polar bears, U of A scientists say” and in his most recent co-authored scientific paper (Stirling and Derocher 2012, now in print), that I discussed briefly in my first post? Continue reading
This review was originally posted June 30, 2012 at my evolution blog here
It was picked up as a guest post at Hilary Ostrov’s blog “The View from Here” July 1, 2012 under the title Of polar bears, polemics and climate warming
THE ORIGINAL REVIEW, RE-POSTED BELOW WITH MY EMPHASIS, HAS AN UPDATE ADDED JULY 26 2012, FOUND BELOW THE REFERENCE LIST
I recently came across a review of Ian Stirling’s latest book Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species (2011, Fitzhenry & Whiteside) in the March 2012 issue of the journal Arctic, written by Arctic biologist Steven Ferguson. What is remarkable about Ferguson’s review is not what he says about the book but what he does not: lavish praise for Stirling’s polar bear stories but barely a mention of the book’s dismal predictions for the future. To be fair, all of the photographs in this book are outstanding (some are truly stunning) and the polar bear stories and life history information make for a fascinating read.
However, in reality this is not just a book about polar bears but a polemic discussion about the future of Arctic sea ice. Readers of Ferguson’s review might be surprised to find that there is an entire chapter dedicated to “climate warming” (“the game changer in polar bear conservation” according to Stirling). The climate warming chapter is as eye-catching in its own way as the rest of the book: who could miss the enormous, scary-looking graph predicting summer sea ice declining to zero within the next 90 years (described as a “NSIDC & NASA sea ice decay projection,” taken from Stroeve et al. 2007)? Or the two large photos, from different angles, of a bear that died in 1989 when its winter den collapsed? Oddly, such in-your-face photos and graphics seem not to have impressed Ferguson enough to warrant more than a few words in a list of topics covered (“models of future Arctic change”).
In contrast to Ferguson’s benign and somewhat fawning overview, my impression of the book was quite different.