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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

A dazzlingly original, lyrical and epic encounter with the Earth as it used to be.

What would it be like to visit the ancient landscapes of the past? To experience the Jurassic or Cambrian worlds, to wander among these other lands, as creatures extinct for millions of years roam? In this mesmerizing debut, award-winning palaeontologist Thomas Halliday gives us a breath-taking up-close encounter with worlds that are normally unimaginably distant.

Journeying backwards in time from the most recent Ice Age to the dawn of complex life itself, and across all seven continents, Halliday immerses us in a series of extinct ecosystems, each one rendered with a novelist's eye for detail and drama. Yet every description - whether the colour of a beetle's shell, the rhythm of pterosaurs in flight or the lingering smell of sulphur in the air - is grounded in fact. We visit the birthplace of humanity in Pliocene-era Kenya; in the Jurassic, we wander among dinosaur-inhabited islands in the Mediterranean; and we gaze at the light of an enormous moon in the Ediacaran sky, when life hasn't yet reached land.

Otherlands is a naturalist's travel guide, albeit one of lands distant in time rather than space, showing us the last 500 million years not as an endless expanse of unfathomable time, but as a series of worlds, simultaneously fantastical and familiar.

©2022 Thomas Halliday (P)2022 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Otherlands

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Looking through a glass darkly

Fantastic flight through time unimaginable. The author brings the deep past into context linking it seamlessly into lessons for our modern world. Narrated in a really first class fashion it kept me hooked from beginning to end.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating.

Not being a writer myself I'm going to find it very hard to type a review that does this title justice. The author's use of language paints such a vivid picture at each point in time I could almost be there myself. My only criticism is I wanted more, a lot more.

A wonderful book.

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  • 22-07-22

An absolutely wonderful journey through time

This was just the most illuminating and wonderful book. It truly brings to life the deep time of the fossil record. It brought together my patchy and general knowledge of past time periods and links it with the evolution of life on our planet, I do need to get the physical book now as want to do further research into some of the names of animals previously unheard of. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the natural world, ecology and origins of life.

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Amazing deep dive into the past

Brought back a lot of memories from studying Geology. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I must get back into geology!

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an imaginative reconstruction of deep time

Great and imaginative leap back through deep time, well told at creating life from the fossil record. loved it

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Good Listen

The epilogue really puts into perspective our position in the longer term, the book shows our position in nature and how we got here and our lack of permanence if we do not act to change our climate altering behaviour.

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Fab

Some strange pronunciation eg a hard 'g' in Pangea. Otherwise really informative and well put together.

Happy to recommend.

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Richly written

Madder than the maddest sci-fi, but this is our world! The author chooses to tell good stories rather than be sidetracked by academic debate, making the book accessible and entertaining. At the same time it’s underpinned by the authority of good research. The descriptions are as rich as Nan Shepard, which is all the more impressive as the author didn’t have the luxury of experiencing these ecosystems. Narration by Adetomiwa Edun was as good as I’ve heard, I’ll seek out more books he has narrated.

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Excellent

Loved this book and the clever presentation and salubrious narration. Five stars on all aspects.

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Thoughtful, poetic, and extremely insightful

The author is incredibly skilful in showing the immense diversity of life throughout the past 600 million years, and the narrators touch brings a calming serenity to the scenes that the author invokes. This is a beautiful work and something I think everyone should read to get a good view on life’s permanence and impermanence.