Alpha …directions

By Jens Harder
Publisher: Knockabout
ISBN: 9780861662456

Alpha …directions is a hugely important book, especially if you’re someone who struggles with the concept of deep time or the practicalities of slow and gradual change in living organisms. The book covers 14 billions years, and tells the story of Earth and the creatures upon it from the prelude of the Big Bang to the modern day.

Although not wordless, the text is sparse, and instead the duotone pages carry us the through the various periods of time, introducing the pinnacles and disasters that shaped the world at that point and its effect on life. Along the way he also uses imagery from art and religion to highlight the proceedings, putting the particular piece into context as either an additional illustration in part of the ongoing story, or using a particular beat in a creation story to contrast our understanding now. Film and popular culture are also used this way, with Harder reproducing complex works of paeleoart in his style to drive the narrative forward.

Alpha …directions is an enormous book, 30mm thick, hardcover and deeper than an A4 sheet, so the scale of the work involved is fitting for the scale of the story it aims to tell. It’s oddly captivating, easy to follow and utterly absorbing.

Whether you like popular science, life on Earth or are just curious about understanding the process of change over time, this immersive and intricate book will satisfy your curiosity with scope and wonder.

And if you liked that: Try Bone Sharps, Cowboys & Thunder Lizards

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