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Review time


Although the time may already be upon us when printed journals have become irrelevant, technology will have to become a lot more portable, cheap and convenient before it can finally be said to have replaced paper for the sort of information that people read - not because they have to, but for pleasure.

Assuming that, in the coming brave new world, anyone has time for ‘reading for pleasure’, or for pleasure at all, it will be found in the interstices of increasingly busy days.  These nooks of time will probably remain much the same as now: on public transport, before putting the light out at night, or at those natural moments when even the least Garboesque of us wants to be alone.  These last remaining crannies of contemplation are not yet safely or conveniently penetrated by costly, water-sensitive, desirable, nickable technology.

But the effects of digital media on what we still choose to read on paper can nevertheless be felt right now.  A monthly magazine – indeed, even a weekly one – is no longer a reasonable place to put breaking news, when most readers enjoy instant access to the news output of scientific organisations directly, let alone online versions magazines and papers.  For this reason, the print Geoscientist rarely carries a Geonews section any more.

Geoscientist is nobody’s required reading – no shame in this… it is a badge of honour, worn with pride.  Our audience is not captive.  We may have assured circulation; but if we are boring, we are lost.  We must entertain.  ‘Not being boring’ is (sadly) not an imperative that the white literature has to face.

Against the changing background of news delivery, media with longer lead-times must rebalance their content.  News, having moved to more immediate platforms, must be replaced by reflection, review, in-depth treatment, and opinion.  This is why, this month, we are running another ‘Books & Arts Special’, and carrying more reviews than usual. 

Reviews have another added advantage: they are a great way for you, the reader, to become involved with your Fellowship magazine.  We are keen for more of you to review books for us.  To see a full list of available titles, please go to the Books & Arts front page

This is not the only route to review-writing.  Maybe you recently read a newly published book, not on our list, which deserves a review?  Also, we don’t only review books.  Seen an exhibition?  Been to a film or a show with scientific aspects?  Please email me with a proposal: [email protected].

Dr Ted Nield