“For me, science became the way to seek the truth: Asking questions of nature with experiments, forming preliminary answers and reveling in the new mysteries revealed. Science fiction became a way to explore what some of those mysteries might be before doing all the tedious experimentation.”
Gary Raham, who began reading science fiction when he was 10 and has never stopped, wrote those words to introduce an excerpt from “A Singular Prophecy,” his young-adult novel published in 2000. In all the years since then, Raham has nurtured that early infatuation by teaching, drawing, painting and writing about science.
Fortunately for his fans — and for anyone with a curiosity about the world around them and how it came to be — Raham has gathered many of his articles, essays, illustrations and excerpts from some of his books in his newest publication, “Confessions of a Time Traveler.”
In the course of succinct introductions and through the pages of each essay, article and excerpt, Raham’s love of and concern for the planet and for his fellow man comes through loud and clear. He manages to delve into tantalizing specifics about such diverse topics as why plants are green, how Wellington was once a beachfront and moments when plants act like animals.
At the same time, he shares the circumstances of his expeditions and research including an arduous trek up Longs Peak he took with his wife Sharon in 2000. We’re right there with him as he confronts the damp, slippery surface and occasional falling rock of the trough near the end of the climb.
Very soon the reader becomes aware of Raham’s lively sense of humor and clever turn of words. The first essay, “The View from a Throne in Dinosaur Country,” sets the tone for Part I, which he calls “confessions to awe, ignorance and wonder.”
He doesn’t hesitate to philosophize and to share with the reader his conclusions about what is happening to the planet and what needs to happen if it is to be preserved, but he makes no attempt to force-feed his ideas. Instead he shares what he’s learned and lets the facts speak for themselves.
Many of the articles and essays were first printed in North Forty News and Colorado Gardener, publications for which he has freelanced for over a decade.
A particularly interesting section is dedicated to “fellow travelers,” other scientists such as Loren Eiseley, Arthur Lakes, Charles R. Knight and Beatrix Potter whom Raham admires and has learned from.
He also shares excerpts from “The Dinosaur’s Last Seashore,” a short story, “The Deep Time Diaries,” his novel for young adults, “Elvinon’s Wish,” a short story, and the novel, “A Singular Prophecy,” making the book a delightful and varied collection.
It’s the kind of book you can open up at any point that catches your interest and read an article or two, then come back to it later with ease. But I suggest that once you pick it up, you just may find yourself searching for a big comfy chair and settling in for the long haul.
“Confessions of a Time Traveler” is available at the author’s website (www.biostration.com) and Amazon.com. The book will also be available at an author’s event at Eclectic Reader, 1119 W. Drake Rd. C20, Fort Collins on Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 12 noon.