I am not a great one for science texts as I find them a little dry for my tastes but sometimes, something comes along that piques my interest and I find that I have to at least try and read about it. This is one of those books.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book as although it was a challenging read, you could tell that an attempt had been made to make the subject matter as accessible and easy to read as possible. The claim of the book is ostensibly that it is easy to view octopus, cuttlefish and squids as alien-type life forms which just happen to inhabit the waters of our world.
However, what Godfrey-Smith does is take the behaviour of one of the Earth’s most curious species of creature and examines it in the context of scientific research and theory about evolution, charting its development from single cell organism to sophisticated aquatic animal of intelligence. Essentially, a professor of philosophy, Godfrey-Smith’s style of writing is engaging and I found this book eminently interesting and thought-provoking. I learnt a lot about different crucial periods in evolution on our planet and his examination of the octopus reinforced what I knew from watching My Octopus Teacher on Netflix – that the octopus is a complex creature in the way that it is biologically built as well as being intelligent; but more that that, it is a sentient being in a similar way to us and that we should not be repelled by the fact that it looks so different to us or seems alien. In fact, we are distantly related but have merely adapted to our environments in order to live a full life within them.
If you are fascinated by the quirks of the natural world, then this is the book for you.
This book review was first published on Reedsy Discovery.