The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize

Caspar Henderson in Five Books:

Let’s turn to Transcendence by Gaia Vince, who won the Royal Society science book prize back in 2015 for Adventures in the Anthropocene. What’s her latest book about?

This is fascinating and all-encompassing view of evolution from the beginning of the human species to what we are today. It focuses particularly on evolution through fire, language, beauty and time. It’s intelligently and thoroughly researched, with an impressive body of publications and reading being covered. Gaia Vince has lived in three different countries and visited over 60. This comes through as she draws on her experience in various ways. She speaks with authority.

We are used to thinking about genes and the environment in relation to evolution, but she brings out the role of culture, and how this differentiates us from other species. It has given us a level of connectivity that has made us, so far, very successful and has made us into this superorganism, which she calls ‘Homni.’

More here.