From the secret fossils of London to the 3-billion-year-old rocks of the Scottish Highlands, and from state-of-the-art Californian laboratories to one of the world's most dangerous volcanic complexes hidden beneath the green hills of western Naples, set out on an adventure to those parts of the world where the Earth's life-story is written into the landscape.
Helen Gordon turns a novelist's eye on the extraordinary scientists who are piecing together this planetary drama. She gets to grips with the theory that explains how it all works – plate tectonics, a breakthrough as significant in its way as evolution or quantum mechanics, but much younger than either, and still with many secrets to reveal. And she looks to the future of our world, with or without us.
Helen Gordon's books include a novel, Landfall (Penguin, 2011), and Being A Writer, a compendium written with Travis Elborough (Francis Lincoln, 2017). She is married to an earth scientist and lives mostly in the Holocene.
"Astounding [...] To call this a "history" does not do justice to Helen Gordon's ambition. Her adventures in the deep time of Earth hark all the way back to its beginnings as a barren ocean planet, 4.4 billion years ago, while keeping one foot firmly planted in the depleted and desertified plaything we're left with today [...] Notes from Deep Time sidesteps the maundering and finger-wagging that comes with much Anthropocene thinking, and shows us how much sheer intellectual and poetical entertainment there is to be had in the idea"
– Simon Ings, Daily Telegraph
"Awe-inspiring [...] It's Gordon's background as a literary writer that takes Notes from Deep Time to the next level. She has imbued geological tales with a beauty and humanity"
– Shaoni Bhattacharya-Woodward, Mail on Sunday
"Notes From Deep Time is a marvel-rich masterclass of narrative non-fiction, one of those books that teaches its reader to see the world completely differently. That it does so with wit, wisdom and crystal-perfect prose only adds to the pleasure. To escape from the present into deep time with such a companionable guide is clarifying, almost therapeutic, and at times gratifyingly dizzying"
– Max Porter, author of Lanny
"If there were ever a good time to think about deep time, it's now [...] A whirlwind tour of our planet's deep past and far future [...] succeeds in grounding our existence firmly in the context of geological time"
– Alexandra Witze, Nature
"Helen Gordon's wonderfully expansive book encompasses a paradoxical fluidity, both tangible and immense, where human witnesses measure out deep time in golden spikes and ammonites, excavating lost seas and saurians for clues as to what we were and who we will be"
– Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan
"A book as multi-layered as the deep-time planet itself"
– Sara Wheeler, author of Terra Incognita
"Sublime [...] a fascinating and thrilling descent into time, human in scale but full of moments of vertiginous wonder"
– Jon Day, author of Homing
"Helen Gordon's terrifically readable book juxtaposes scenes from deep Earth time with telling accounts of how geologists forensically analyse the evidence for this enormous narrative – and looks to the future, too, as humans make their own additions to the planet's strata. Highly recommended"
– Jan Zalasiewicz, author of The Planet in a Pebble
"Questing, thoughtful and profoundly moving, Notes from Deep Time is a remarkable TARDIS of a book"
– Dan Richards, author of Outpost