I, Superorganism is out!

My new book is published this week (Feb 5). It took rather longer to write than I intended (no surprise there), but the extra time meant I caught a real explosion of results and papers. The idea, apart from feeding my own fascination with the subject, was to write a popular science book on a well-defined topic after the megalomaniac scope of the Rough Guide to the Future. It turned out not to be so simple, as the field is a moving target that moves rather rapidly!

Happily, it is still the first overview of the new picture of the human microbiome from someone not actually working in the field. It’s a rather handsome trade paperback, suitable for airport bookstores, with a regular paperback to follow later in the year, I think. The cover is in the collection on the left, and the publisher’s web page is here. Amazon link, if you prefer, is here. (If you want an e-book, Icon’s price is lower.




A bit behindhand with this, but I had fun writing a chapter in a new collection from NESTA on robots and the future of labour. The other contributions were essays from proper experts on robotics, economics, and innovation. Mine was on images of robots in science fiction and how they might help us imagine the future of work, or the lack of it. You can download the whole thing from their website here.

I, Superorganism

The first popular book to synthesise all the new research on the human microbiome, published by Icon in Feb 2015. The subtitle, Learning to Love your Inner Ecosystem, indicates that I am hedging my bets on metaphors. I do really think we are superorganisms, though. On the other hand, so is every other complex species…  Amazon page is here. And you can read a shortened version of the introduction here!

Early comments include: “a really important milestone in our understanding of the complexity and variability of our inner landscape, and as such is a must-have addition to the popular science bookshelf” (Brian Clegg);

and “I have read quite a few popular science books. Some are interesting, some enlightening, some enjoyable. This book has all of these qualities and it does something that good popular science books should do: it makes us think about the world, and in this case ourselves, in new ways; it makes us see ourselves as something else.” (Brigitte Nerlich).

And some other reviews:

“a terrific romp through our non-human inhabitants” (Helen Bynum, Times Higher)

“if you’ve heard the term ‘microbiome’ and wondered what all the fuss is about, I, superorganismis a good place to start” (Hayley Simon, Chemistry World)

This one was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Biology book prize in 2015.

Meeting Mary Shelley

Looking forward to this event next Tuesday (Nov 5), which is a kind of TED for the dead. Paired speakers, one living, one “exhumed”, address various aspects of technology and identity. I’m on with Mary Shelley, in recognition of the Frankenstein book I wrote some years back, and will be reflecting on the potential of digital technologies to be adapted for somewhat Frankensteinian ends.

It’s at the rather wonderful new Birmingham library, which will be good to explore, and there are two shows, one afternoon, one evening, if you’re interested.

News when there is some

This is my new, shiny website, trying to bring order to a scattered web presence, so most things I can think of telling the world are already on one of these pages. When there is more, I’ll post it here, probably. My twitter stream may include more up to date, or evanescent stuff, if you’re interested.