“Missing Links: In Search of Human Origins” by John Reader (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Missing Links

Missing Links was first published in 1981 and caused quite a sensation then with its findings and information, providing an in-depth and chronological coverage of our ancestry spanning millions of years.  In this new edition, John Reader has essentially written a whole new book, building on the old edition, updating and providing even more information to make Missing Links so very new and fascinating.  John Reader’s work as a writer and photographer for more than fifty years, crossing the globe in his coverage, has led to his appointment as an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London.

The key to this new edition of Missing Links is that it is not just a book of anthropology and archaeology, but also covers the genres of history and biography.  The chapter titles run the gamut of our ancestral species, from Neanderthals to Java Man to Piltdown Man to Peking Man; from Australopithecus africanus to Homo habilis to Ardipithecus ramidus.  Reader doesn’t simply tell the full story of a particular ancestor, but also provides the latest evidence and science on it, as well as giving the biography of when the first bones of said ancestor were discovered, who was behind the discovery, and how it all happened.  Each chapter is its own complete and enriching tale.

Originally written on January 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Missing Links from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers” is now FREE, and Here’s Why

My ebook, Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, a collection of short stories, is now available for free through Smashwords. (I’m working on getting it listed for free on Amazon too.)  So just click on the Smashwords link or the cover above to be taken to the site and you can get the book completely free in the ebook version of your choice (just about every version you could want is available).  It’s a collection of ten of my short stories, as well as two sneak peaks at two of my novels which I’ll be publishing later this year.  And here’s what bestselling author Richard Doetsch had to say about Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers: “With an imagination that knows no bounds, Alex Telander has crafted an amazing genre spanning collection that kept me turning pages till dawn.”

Now, as to why I’ve decided to start offering my book for free, well, it kind of started earlier this week when I was enjoying Rachel Gardner’s posts on How to Make a Living as a Writer, and the importance of getting your work and writing out there to people to read.  It’s the only way people are going to start enjoying and knowing your work.  I knew when I first published Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, I wasn’t doing it for the profit, which was why I listed it at $0.99 to begin with, and now I’ve decided to just offer it for free.  I will also be doing the same with my second collection of short stories coming out some time in April, In That Quiet Earth.  And this is because I’m also going to be publishing two novels later this year: a young adult fantasy, Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus and a thriller novel, Nothing is an Accident.  I’m very proud of these two novels and want readers to enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them, and to do that people have to know what my writing is like and decide whether it’s something they like.  The only way to do that to begin with is to offer some of my work for free so lots of people can read it.  I’ll also be working on an update for my website to list the stories for free too, so readers can read them individually if they choose.  Though I’d personally rather get the ebook, since that cover is so beautiful.

And there you have my reasoning.  I think it makes sense.  So go ahead and download my ebook and check it out, let me know what you think, and if you like it, you can look forward to more of my work coming out later this year.  And feel free to spread the word and talk about it with friends; steer them towards the site or just send them a copy of the ebook.

“The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman (Thomas Dunne, 2007)

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman’s introspective book, The World Without Us, which became a bestseller, seems clear when one sees and reads what’s on the front cover.  Yes, it’s a book about the concept of what the world would be like if humanity suddenly disappeared, and how long it would take to recover from the severe imprint we’ve made upon it.  But the book is also much more, as Weisman analyzes why we have had this effect on the planet, and to what extent it has reached.

After a prelude to why Weisman wanted to write this book, the first chapter discusses Weisman’s journey to the Puszcza Białowieska, a primeval forest located deep within Poland, where life has remained the same for millennia.  It is a powerful example of the way the world once was, when humanity hadn’t exacted its harsh footprint upon it.  It serves as an introductory signal to the message Weisman is broadcasting in The World Without Us.

The various TV documentaries that were made after the success of this book reveal the “world without us” in chronological order, advancing through years, decades and centuries to show the changes, and in this way the subject matter is dramatic and simplified.  But the truth is far more complicated, which explains why this book is over three hundred pages long, and not less than fifty.  Weisman tells his story, travelling to many places around the world, where he starts with its history and the toll people have had upon it, why it has happened that way, and how this imprint is getting worse.  Then humanity miraculously disappears, and Weisman begins the other part of this tale after this unique event, and how it will eventually return back to its once pristine form.

Weisman also travels to other locations around that world that have seen little human impression, such as Kingman Reef and the Palmyra Atoll, as well as looking in depth at the Chernobyl site and how nature and wildlife have claimed it back,as well as some of its former inhabitants returning to their former homes.  He discusses the Mayan civilization, going into detail with its history and dispelling the common misconceptions as to why it collapsed, explaining the more likely reasons.  He performs a detailed study on New York City, revealing everything the city government has to do keep nature at bay from sinking its biological claws into this artificial settlement.  Then humanity disappears again and Weisman waxes on nature’s reclamation of this place, as it once was in the early days of the Dutch colony.

Towards the end, Weisman comes back to his message, being more overt about it as he wonders on where the future might be headed, as humanity continues to cut away at this planet, widening and worsening a wound that may one day be unable to heal.  He talks of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, and what effect population limitation would have, if say families would limit themselves to just one child.  With the hard fact that a million people are born every four days, it’s a sobering contemplation, as readers now know what the world would do without us, but more important readers get to comprehend what is happening to the world right now with us on it.

Originally written on March 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The World Without Us from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book Report: Book News for the Week of March 25th on Forces of Geek

A Collection of Rare Interviews 
Onlinecolleege.org has unearthed a rare collection of interviews from authors who are notorious for not granting many interviews and providing insight into their creative processes.  The collection includes some recent interviews from the likes of Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Don Delilo, to some true rarities like H. G. Welles, Orson Welles, J. D. Salinger and Daphne du Maurier.

Lit Videos 
Reddit is one of the most visited sites on the entire internet, as many come to find topical pieces and news and what everyone else is interested in.  And now there’s another reason for book lovers and readers to drop by, with the addition of a new section: Lit Videos, featuring videos on anything to do with books and authors.  And in true Reddit style, you literally don’t know what you’re going to find.

Bestselling Kindle Author of All Time 
It’s been known as the “Million Club,” where a certain number of authors (which is now growing) are members because they have sold over a million Kindle ebooks.  Then there are those who have far surpassed it, but only one earns the special title of “Bestselling Kindle Author of All Time.”  Unsurprisingly with the success of the Hunger Games trilogy and now with the movie release, Suzanne Collins has now earned this elite tag.

A New Project From Philip Pullman 
Fans of Philip Pullman, the bestselling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, will be delighted to hear that he has a new project which will be released in Britain in September and in November in the US.  He is adapting fifty of his favorite Brothers Grimm fairytales, aiming for a “clear as water” version.


The Most Inspirational Thing For a Writer I’ve Ever Heard: Writing Excuses Season 5 Episode 27: Perseverance

Every writer, whether published or aspiring, has had that low moment in their writing where they’ve mentally and emotionally hit rock bottom, and have felt like quitting and never writing another creative word again; just giving up; some may have had it happen to them on multiple occasions.  Often, during those low moments, you need something to pick you back up and get you back writing away at the keyboard again, seeing life and hope in your work.  There are numerous books that can help, various public speakers . . . But honestly, I just think you need to listen to one fifteen-minute episode of Writing Excuses to make you realize your talent and love for writing and to get you back into the typing seat.

If you’re not familiar with it, Writing Excuses is a great and entertaining podcast to help aspiring writers, with each episode around fifteen minutes long, featuring the talented minds of bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, and popular web-cartoonist, Howard Tayler, on a particular topic about writing.  In Season Six, author Mary Robinette Kowal joined the casters.

The episode of Writing Excuses in question is from Season Five, Episode 27, entitled “Perseverance.”  The episode features a guest appearance from New York Times bestselling author Sherilyn Kenyon, know for her very popular paranormal romance series.  The subject of the episode was actually suggested by Kenyon, and its highpoint is when she tells of her driving battle to first get published, which involved countless rejections until the point when she admitted she would never do it again for her own good, and then stole a postage stamp off her husband (which they could barely afford), and it was with that query that she got her her first publishing contract.  She also tells the story of how in the mid-nineties publishers stopped accepting and publishing paranormal romance, and all of a sudden she had no career and her family was poor once more, until she climbed her way back up to become the bestselling sensation she is today.

Sanderson also shares his low-point story, which was after he continued to receive nothing but rejection for his twelfth novel until he was almost ready to give up, and then three months later got a publishing contract.  Dan Wells’ story is a little different, as it happened after he’d published his first novel, but it hadn’t done as well as he’d expected, compared to other bestselling authors like his good friend, Sanderson, but he soon realized that his was what he loved to do and nothing was going to be make him stop.

Ultimately it comes down to this: even when you have so many other things like jobs and family and social lives happening constantly day-to-day for you, if you’re still making that time to write because it’s something you love to do and will always be doing no matter what happens, then you’re a writer.  There’s nothing else to it.

And for when you’re feeling a little down about your work and wondering if it’s all worth it, or whether you should bother writing anymore because nothing’s really happening with it; give this episode a listen, it’s always available online (or you can download it and have it ready for these particular situations), and you’ll find yourself inspired and excited about your ability and typing away at your keyboard in no time.

And in case you missed it in the post, here’s the direct link to the episode.