Annalee Newitz: Scatter, Adapt and Remember


Annalee Newitz
Doubleday, Hardcover, May 14, 2013, $26.95;
Trade Paperback, April 8, 2014, $16.00
ISBN-10: 0385535910, ISBN-13: 978-0385535915

Newitz reports:

Annalee Newitz

This is a book about how humanity might survive the worst disaster that could ever befall our planet. Mass extinctions have happened at least five times before in Earth's history, and they are generally associated with climate change — which is why many scientists believe we may be in the early stages of one right now.

What we know for sure is that mass extinctions are basically inevitable, regardless of whether we cause one or it comes in the form of a flaming ball of rock from space. Is there anything we do now to make sure that Homo sapiens is one of the species that survives? I talked to scientists, futurists, engineers, philosophers, and city planners about what it would take for us make it through this terrifying disaster.

I developed the idea because I've always been fascinated by disaster movies, and I wanted to write about a realistic scenario in which disaster isn't just inevitable but plausible. About halfway through researching the book, I realized that humans actually have a chance of surviving this kind of catastrophe. And that was when I decided that I wanted to focus on survival.

I wish I'd come up with a better strategy for storing my research notes before I started. At first, I wasn't tracking all the sources I was reading, and it was a nightmare when I went to do my endnotes.

Luckily, I did come up with a system about a quarter of the way through the project: For each chapter, I kept a running file of all the sources I consulted and everyone I interviewed. Then, when I was finished, it was relatively easy to convert that file into endnotes.

Contact info:

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Apr. 9, 2014

Advance Copy

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

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Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

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