MATT BILLE’s INQUIRING MINDS BOOK AWARDS FOR 2014 IN SCIENCE, HISTORY, and FICTION
The Matt Bille Inquiring Minds Awards cover my special interests and are limited to the books I’ve read personally. Since this is the first year I’m presenting these, I’ve allowed in a couple of pre-2014 books that were new to me.Categories:
Nonfiction: Science Book of the Year / Zoology/Paleontology / Natural History / Cryptozoology / Space History / General History.Fiction: Scientific Thriller / Cryptozoology Thriller / Horror.
Science Book of the Year: J. G. M. "Hans" Thewissen, The Walking Whales: From Land to Water in Eight Million Years (U of California).
Zoology/Paleontology: S.R. and A.R. Palumbi, The Extreme Life of the Sea (Princeton). Runner-up: Helen M. Rozwadowski, Fathoming the Ocean; The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (Belknap: Foreword by Sylvia Earle).
Natural History: I mean “natural history” in the old-fashioned sense of a naturalist’s personal observations, and I made this category up specifically for Julia Whitty’s magical Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean (2011, Mariner). Runner-up: Diane Ackerman’s marvelous collection of mostly nature-themed poems, Jaguar of Sweet Laughter.
Cryptozoology: John Conway, John Conway, C. M. Kosemen, and Darren Naish, Cryptozoologicon Volume I (Lulu). Runner-up: Karl Shuker, The Menagerie of Marvels.(Comment: this category was stuffed with sasquatch books, but most focused on reinterpretations of previously documented events: When Roger Met Patty (William Munns, CreateSpace) is the most interesting of these. Personal-experience books, like Lori Simmons’ Tracking Bigfoot, add to the rich folklore of the subject, but there have been so many sasquatch books that I want bones or DNA to recommend a new one as must-reading.)
Space History: Chris Impey and Holly Henry, Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration (Princeton). Runner-Up: John Young and James Hansen, Forever Young: A Life of Adventure in Air and Space (U of Florida).
General History: Eric Schlosser, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (Penguin).
Scientific Thriller: Preston and Childs, The Lost Island. Runner-up: Steve Alten, Sharkman.
Cryptozoology Thriller: Joseph Wallace, Invasive Species (Berkley). Runner-up: Matt Willis, Daedalus and the Deep (Cortero)(This was a very busy category this year: Readers who like novels about new/rediscovered species will also enjoy Ryan Lockwood’s Below, Max Hawthorne’s Kronos Rising, J.M. Bailey’s Eve and its sequels, Greig Beck’s The First Bird, and Briar Lee Mitchell’s Big Ass Shark (which gets a special Truth in Advertising Award for the title.))
Horror novel: A double win for Invasive Species. I haven’t shuddered so much reading a novel since Rosemary’s Baby. Honorable mention, because these are my awards and it’s my book: The Dolmen (Wolfsinger).