Author Archives: admin

Lovelock & Gaia

A short book in which I tell the story of James Lovelock, Gaia theory, and its reception and influence. It came out from Icon Books in 2003, and from Columbia University Press in the US the following year. Out of date now – in the sense that Gaia’s scientific offshoots in Earth system sciences have moved on – but still an effective summary of how things went in this fascinating scientific discussion until then, I think.

For my money, Lovelock is one of the two most interesting Englishmen of the second half of the twentieth century (the other is Francis Crick). He’s also much harder to pin down, and propounded a theory which, in its strongest versions, is wrong. But still hugely influential…


“Turney’s writing is beautifully clear and maintains an admirable objectivity… The result is never less than absorbing.” New Scientist

“a detailed account of a novel theory and its maverick originator, contributing to the annals of environmental thought and the history of ideas.” Booklist

“An excellent little book”. Brian Clegg, Popular Science website


Ethical Debates about the Application of Science

A little book intended for schools. An interesting challenge to write about social and ethical issues in science and technology for 12-15 year-olds (I think it was).

A Quark for Mister Mark

One of my favourites. This anthology, which came out from Faber in 2001, was a pet project of mine and Maurice Riordan’s for years, which they finally agreed to let us do. The cover looks like  this, and not the one which has strayed onto Amazon and other sites by P2C2E (see Haroun and the Sea of Stories for expansion of the acronym). It’s still in print, hurrah!

Maurice is the actual poet, and is now a creative writing prof at Sheffield Hallam. His own latest collection The Water Stealer, is astoundingly good. Me, I still read poetry a good deal but just write about the science.

The Rough Guide to Genes & Cloning

My first Rough Guide, in 2007. Co-written with Dr Jess Buxton, geneticist, science writer and wonderwoman. It was a lot of fun exploiting the Rough Guide format to incorporate lots of history and culture along with the science. Known to my daughters, for reasons only they can explain, as The Rough Guide to Jeans and Clothing – their cover design was different, too…


“interesting and informative… A good read.” Nature Cell Biology

“The Rough Guides Technique for unfamiliar lands applied to unfamiliar subjects.”
Scientific American