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Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by sheer honesty, or you think me having my own opinions is "being negative", then this is not the place for you, and I suggest you leave and head elsewhere. I call a spade a spade, and I don't sugarcoat anything.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Very First Celebrity Interview

This was the big thing I was talking about last night. I finally was able to do my very first celebrity interview. It was with a man named Dougal Dixon. He is an author and palaeontologist and the World's first speculative biologist. If you watch nature shows, he has also done some narraration for BBC-made programs. I've been admiring his work for some time now. He was the one, by way of his book "After Man: A Zoology of the Future", who got me interested in the field of speculative evolution. The results of his inspiration on me can be seen on my site at www.metazoica.com. Though when I began seriously working on the Metazoic project in 1994, it was originally meant to add to Dixon's work. Today though, I'm drawing a bit away from it and making it all my own. The fact that he took time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with me makes me so excited about this project. I am hoping that maybe this will lead to more celeb interviews in the future. Who knows? Like I said before, stranger things have happened.

Anyway, here is the results of the interview we conducted. Enjoy!

1. What got you interested in speculative biology in the first place?
Always interested in dinosaurs, since about 5 years old. From there it was a small step to other strange-looking animals. And if the strange-looking animals had some scientific plausibility then that would fit in better with my scientific education.

2. How often have you thought about speculative biology?
Frequently.

3. What was your goal with your first speculative biology project?
AFTER MAN was a popular level book on evolution. But whereas all popular books on evolution look towards the past, and see what has happened, I wanted to look towards the future to see what might happen. Not a firm prediction but rather an exploration of possibilities. The result is a picture book of funny animals, but with each funny animal telling some story about evolution or ecology. Fictitious examples of factual processes, so that the novelty would draw people in to find out more.

4. What other sciences do you study?
Two degrees in geology, with a special interest in fossils and evolution. Masters thesis on palaeogeography - tracing the history of the landscapes of the British Isles throughout known geological time.

5. Among those, which do you find yourself most drawn to?
Palaeontology.

6. And why?
See above.

7. Are you currently working on anything new in the speculative biology field?
Second series of THE FUTURE IS WILD.
My novel GREENWORLD will be published in Japan this year. Again it deals with fictitious examples of factual processes - in this case the relationship between Homo sapiens and the natural environment - but set on an alien planet. A planet with a whole thriving ecosystem, based on the same biochemical principles that we have here on Earth. Human settlers - evacuated from an overpopulated and polluted Earth - arrive and set up a civilization. We follow the first thousand years of settlement, in which every environmental disaster caused by humans on Earth is repeated. Every incident has its counterpart in Earth's history. Told as a series of short stories, dealing with subsequent generations of a few principal families, and the whole thing building into a kind of a dynastic epic. Illustrated by excerpts from field guides, herbals, bounty notices, recipes, zoo advertisments, scientific papers - all aimed at the characters, not the reader. The reader is an eavesdropper here.

8. Do you consider yourself tops in the growing field of speculative biology?
Others do! I seem to be the go-to guy when it comes to that.

9. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in any scientific field?
In my case, from my day job as a science writer, to inspire others to take an active interest in the fields of science.
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