Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review and Link Extravaganza: Last Chance to See

(While I was composing this one last week, I didn't realize it would be my "Last Chance to Blog" at the Tree & Tra Products store. The store had made enough to stay open...if a financial crisis at home hadn't driven Tree to withdraw her assets. I've been regretting all week that I didn't have time to share all these lovely links.)

Book Title: Last Chance to See

Author: Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine

Date: 1990

Publisher: William Heinemann (U.K.), Ballantine (U.S.)

Length: 222 pages plus color photo section

Illustrations: full-color photo insert

ISBN: 0-345-37198-4

Quote: "Mark...did all the preparation and organisation and research...and also taught me most of the small amount I now know about zoology, ecology, and conservation work. All I had to do was turn up with a suitcase and try to remember what happened for long enough afterward to write it down."

In 1985, when his science-fiction-comedy Hitchhiker's Trilogy was easily the best-selling trilogy on Earth, Douglas Adams was asked to write a narrative about real science that would involve travelling to remote places...reliving, he explains, the sort of mood in which he created Arthur Dent, with what he describes as "fantastic relief" as "Weeks of mind-numbing American Expressness dropped away like mud in the shower and I was able to lie back and enjoy being wonderfully, serenely, hideously uncomfortable." But not for very long at any given time, because he and Mark Carwardine and others had been sent to uncomfortable places to try to snap what just might have been the last possible photos of rare wildlife.

Right. I want to try something different today. Yesterday and the day before I wrote about the comedic content of two other very funny books. Last Chance to See is still laugh-out-loud funny; no worries there. But I think, in the spirit of this particular book, the best way to tell people who've not yet read it about Last Chance to See is to provide some images and updates on the animals Adams, Carwardine, and the rest of the crew met (including some non-threatened species), and end with the latest chapter of the story...

The aye-aye: (You could just search for each of these animals right on the National Geographic page, but I'll try to link to some other sites.)

The Komodo dragon:

The Russell's Viper and other venomous snakes:

The Sydney Funnel-Web spider:

The Lesser Frigatebird:

The White-Bellied Sea Eagle:

The crested terns:

The flying fish:

The megapode:

The mudskippers:

The Northern White Rhinoceros:

The gorillas:

The hyena:

The hippopotamus:

The kea:

The kakapo:

The Little Blue Penguin:

The Tui:

The New Zealand Pigeon:

The Bellbird:

The North Island Robin:

The New Zealand Kingfisher:

The Red-Crowned Parakeet:

The Paradise Shelduck:

The Weka:

The Baiji river dolphin: (Note that while some recent web pages cautiously discuss this species as if it currently exists, more pessimistic writers were considering it probably extinct in 2006.)

The Yangtze Finless Porpoise:

The Rodrigues Fruit Bat:

The Mauritius Kestrel:

Douglas Adams no longer needs the dollar you'd get from buying this book from me online, for which I'd have to charge $5 for the book and $5 for shipping. (The $5 for shipping covers up to ten normal-sized books shipped to the same address.) I have an apparently clean paperback copy that shows some wear and has been exposed to mold, not the one with the really nice-looking cover; a local reader could buy this copy for $1, no shipping. But if you're a serious collector of Douglas Adams' books you probably have the hardcover with the beautiful Garden-of-Eden-type painting, already. If you're mostly interested in the animals, what you need to know about Last Chance to See is that Mark Carwardine teamed with Stephen Fry to write a brand-new updated edition, published in June 2014, available here:

The new edition won't be available as a Fair Trade Book for a while. Ask for a new copy, at your local bookstore, to support Carwardine's effort.