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Our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Anthropocene, Birds, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, For Writers, Insects, Oceans, Oil, Organic Farming, Pollution, Trees, Veganism, Wolves, Writing Opportunities by Midge Raymond

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe. Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education. Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior …

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Book Review: Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith

In Book Reviews, Fiction, Oil, Pollution by Midge Raymond

Alexis M. Smith’s lovely novel Marrow Island envisions environmental catastrophe on several levels, beginning with a devastating earthquake and the subsequent oil refinery accident whose effects, even though these events are backstory, linger on every page. The novel begins with a mysterious opening chapter, in which Lucie Bowen, twenty years after the earthquake, is again fleeing the island of her youth, this time under very different circumstances. Unlike during the earthquake, which Lucie and her best friend, Katie, survived together, Katie now is a suspicious presence (“I’m not leaving you alone with her,” says Lucie’s boyfriend, Carey); by the end of this …

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Book Review: The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Book Reviews, Climate Change, Conservation, Nonfiction, Oceans, Oil, Pollution by Midge Raymond

The Penguin Lessons is the story of a young Englishman who, on vacation in Uruguay from his teaching job at a boarding school in Argentina, rescues an oil-covered Magellanic penguin. This memoir will charm anyone who loves these tuxedo-feathered birds — and Neil Baker’s illustrations, on the cover and scattered throughout the book, are enchanting. Author Tom Michell first encounters the penguin on a beach among thousands of dead birds, and he manages to bring it back to his vacation apartment to clean its feathers of oil. “The penguin was filthy and very aggressive. Its beak snapped shut with a …

Book Review: The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston

In Book Reviews, Children's Books, Fiction, Oil by Anna Monders

Imagine a world that is just like our own—same countries, same technologies, same history—but with one major difference: dragons. The dragons in The Story of Owen don’t limit themselves to feeding on damsels in distress. They’ll eat anybody. And livestock, too. But if there’s one thing these low-intelligence beasts truly can’t resist, it’s carbon emissions. Fossil fuels are like candy (and of similar nutritional value) to all species of dragons. Dragons were a nuisance before the industrial revolution, but every small village had its dragon slayer. Now with increased carbon emissions, dragons are a major threat, and all dragon slayers …

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Siskiyou Prize update – new award, extended deadline

In Animal Behavior, Animal Rights, Birds, Climate Change, Endangered Species, For Writers, Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Trees, Veganism, Wolves, Writing Opportunities by Midge Raymond

The winner of the Siskiyou Prize, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000 and book publication, will also receive a four-week residency at the PLAYA retreat in central Oregon. PLAYA is a nonprofit organization supporting innovative thinking through work in the arts, literature, natural sciences, and other fields of creative inquiry. On the edge of the Great Basin in central Oregon, PLAYA offers creative individuals the space, the solitude, and the community to reflect and to engage their work. The winner of the Siskiyou Prize will receive a four-week residency at PLAYA, which provides private lodging in a fully equipped cabin with kitchen/living room, a place …

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Fill ‘er up: A review of Living Oil by Stephanie LeMenager

In Book Reviews, Nonfiction, Oceans, Oil, Pollution by John Yunker

Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century by Stephanie LeMenager  is an academic book and priced accordingly. In other words, this is not the sort of book you’d find in an airport bookstore. Perhaps it should be. This book provides historical and cultural insights into our complex relationship with oil — from the “peak discovery” period of the early 20th century to the “tough oil” period of today — in which oil is tougher to extract, with more environmentally severe consequences. The book is divided into loosely chronological sections that span from “Origins, Spills”  to “The Petroleum Archive” — in which the author visits …