Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth by Craig Childs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Apocalyptic Planet (2012) by Craig Childs is an ambitious work, spanning several continents and billions of years, and the author maintains an energetic tone that not only beckons the reader into the most mysterious places on Earth, but also warns to the cataclysms that may befall our precious world.
Part travel log and part science guidebook, Apocalyptic Planet is filled with wit, humor, and fascinating facts about the Earth as a living organism and a place filled with various landscapes of desolation.
From Sonora, Mexico – where at dawn, Devin and Childs surf the sands with childlike eyes and hearts of poets, and Devin recites Charles Bukowski:
“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us” (p21),
and by the end of the book Death does tremble to take Childs as he sores at break-neck speeds down Class 5 rapids in the Tibetan mountains – to glaciers in Northern Patagonia, Chile to howling winds and mammoth whale bones decades old near the Bering Sea, Alaska to Phoenix, Arizona where adeptly Childs reflects and compares the city to Angkor Wat in Cambodia that “experienced hydraulic failure in the twelfth century, its irrigation network and retaining ponds proving too vast to maintain, collapsing just as the region became an agricultural hub for over million people” (p119);
and onward, dear traveler, for the Earth is alive and dangerous and beautiful, ever-changing, on to Greenland and the great ice cap where the sage Koni, otherwise known as Konrad Steffen, who explains in response to Global Warming, “If we’ve done anything, we’ve stopped the next glacial period from happening by warming the earth” (p 165).
Childs, a true explorer in every sense of the word, also treks through vast cornfields in Iowa where “leaves as long as a person’s arm draped across one another…and the corn was one kind of green, a sun-shot parrot-feather lime magnifying daylight all the way to the ground” (p 185). One remarkable aspect of this book is Childs’s ability to describe and explain key details of nature and science in such a far cry from all those other boring non-fiction books as dry as the deserts Childs visits. He keeps the adventure and science fresh and relatable. A breath of fresh air for any reader.
But there are warnings along the way. Childs writes, “Most scientist agree that the earth is experiencing such a bottleneck once again. We are either swiftly approaching or well into the sixth mass extinction in earth’s history” (p197-198).
By the end of the book, the author has survived several perilous journeys across the face of this wonderful world, some trips never to be taken by any average reader, and reports the various stages of the world’s development and human species along the way.
The last chapter’s locale is the Atacama Desert, Chile where the salt field and mirages shine as if “stranded in a silver ocean” (p 314).
But what I love most is how much fun Childs makes travel-science (or, “in the field work”) to truly be, as if my inner instincts to reach out and lick the earth, as Childs does as one point, have been asleep for far too long and must be stirred to seek out what unfolds all around us every single day, and to treasure such places and times.
Childs writes, “The earth is a seed planting itself over and over. We are not the gardeners… What we do now, from the inside, determines the vigor of that seed, how long it might live and plant itself again” (p 324).
After making it out of the salt flat of the Atacama Desert with heat strong enough to sear a dead cow’s flesh to that of bone, “practically fossilized, skin and all” (p 315), Childs and his travel companion, J.T., find themselves back in San Pedro, an oasis. Childs describes with such precision clarity that makes this reader’s desire crawl with envy:
“We were in town for a resupply. Load up water, hire a ride, jump back into the desert. We talked about options, thinking a second night in town might be nice, return to the bonfire for pisco sours, maybe a good Argentine steak beforehand, something to fatten us before the next excursion. Or maybe we’d stay a few nights, or maybe we’d never get out of here, drinking and burning things until we grew donkey ears and had to stay forever” (p 326).
For any reader, in high school or above, Apocalyptic Planet presents the problems of Global Warming and “the end of the world” in such a clear and profound manner that it is hard for the reader not to get sucked in to Craig Childs’s love and admiration for the world around us.
A strong recommend for those who enjoy strong, vivid settings and adventure that never grow stale and for those who desire the truth about what is actually happening to our planet.
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
A TIME TO FORGET IN EAST BERLIN
BREW Book Excellence Award Winner
BREW Readers’ Choice Award Winner
“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”
~ Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)
“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”
~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine
“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”
~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series
“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…”
“Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.”
“There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”
“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”
“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”
~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”
“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”
~ Lone Star Literary Life Magazine
GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction
FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)
“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”
“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.
“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.
In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.
To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).
The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.
TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.
Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.
Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis
Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on
a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design.
Superb choice of colors!
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