A rising star in the literary firmament of the San Juan Islands, author Thor Hanson talked about his most recent book at Episcopal Parish Hall on Thursday, May 14, 2015. Orcas gardeners and farmers, as well as locavores and others interested in seed biology and history, were intrigued.
Hanson had just published his third book, The Triumph of Seeds, to wide critical acclaim – including rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal. His Orcas Currents presentation on this topic, cosponsored by Coates Vineyards and Orcas Island Public Library, began at 5:30 p.m. that evening, and was followed by the book signing at Darvill’s Bookstore.
An independent conservation biologist who lives and works on San Juan Island, Hanson is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Switzer Environmental Fellow and the recipient of the 2013 John Burroughs Medal. He is the author of Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle (Basic Books, 2011) and The Impenetrable Forest (1500 Books, 2008), which have been enthusiastically received.
Born and raised in Bellingham, Hanson spent many summers on Orcas. He earned a doctorate in natural resources in a joint program at the University of Idaho and the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza in Costa Rica. His research at the interface between human and natural systems has taken him around the globe – to places like Alaska, Central America, Tanzania and Uganda, where he served in the Peace Corps.
Amy Stewart, the author of The Drunken Botanist, calls The Triumph of Seeds “a compelling and highly entertaining journey, populated by scientists and historians, criminals and explorers, aviators and futurists.” According to the New York Times Book Review, “the genius of Hanson’s fascinating, inspiring and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves.”
It was an engaging, informative evening with a local scientist who is also a masterful writer.