As alien as it can get on this Earth

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (Audible Audio)
by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not what I expected, aka a somewhat amusing popscience piece about octopuses. Instead this started with a fairly thorough account of the Ediacaran era and biota, followed by the Cambrian Explosion. One of these days I might even manage to memorize the timeline! Fairly challenging stuff, when listening to an audiobook.

Then we cover different topics—the arms race between predators and their prey, the evolution of the eye, the question what signifies intelligence, and so on and so forth… The chapter about Inner Speech was fascinating. Making Colours was a very interesting chapter as well. I hadn‘t know that octopuses can‘t see colours the way we do. The last chapter, Octopolis, reminded me very strongly of Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Who took inspiration from this book, I believe.

As mentioned, this was not what I expected, namely a book strictly talking about the evolution of octopuses. I liked it, but at times it was off on unexpected tangents, instead of concentrating on my reason for reading this. If the scientific or philosophical discourse of the chapter I was in at any given point wasn‘t gripping me, I just bided my time until the main act made an appearance again. Nonetheless, I was entertained. And I learned new things.

The audiobook narration was done well. However, the more complicated parts of this narrative probably escaped me a bit. It would probably be worth getting a print version, to be able to go over parts of it more easily again. And I assume there are photos and illustrations… 

My review of Children of Ruin is here….

3 thoughts on “As alien as it can get on this Earth

  1. “And I assume there are photos and illustrations… ” Haha.

    This is a fascinating topic, though it seems from your review, that there are probably better books out there? Would love to find a book that explores all these “alien” signs on earth, at one go (without being too research-prosy): like UFO history, platypus, octopus… (and don’t know what else there is). Someone recommended The Unidentified by Colin Dickey to me, but I’ve yet to try it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Octopuses are not actually aliens, it was just said that they are the most alien critters out there, compared to us mammals… 😆 The book was good and my reading buddies mostly loved it. It is a good choice. Perhaps you can get the book from your library system?

      Liked by 1 person

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