The Royal Society has revealed its six-strong shortlist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016, four of which are published by independent presses.
The four titles by independent publishers to have made the cut are The Most Perfect Thing by Tim Birkhead (Bloomsbury), The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson (Head of Zeus), Cure by Jo Marchant (Canongate) and The Planet Remade by Oliver Morton (Granta). The fifth is The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Bodley Head) and the sixth is The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf (John Murray).
Chair of the judges Bill Bryson said this year’s shortlist show science writing “at its best”.
“Few ideas are more exasperatingly wide of the mark than the belief that science is somehow a thing apart, something that happens in laboratories and classrooms but otherwise doesn’t much intersect with our daily lives,” he said. “So it really cannot be stressed too often: science isn’t separate from our daily lives. It is our daily lives. It explains who we are, how we got here and where we are going. It is innately enchanting.”
Science books are as good as “any writing you will find in any genre, and anyone who tells you differently simply cannot claim to be well read.”
Along with Bryson, who won the prize in 2004 with A Short History of Nearly Everything (Black Swan), the judges are theoretical physicist Dr Clare Burrage, science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds, ornithologist and science blogger GrrlScientist, and Roger Highfield, director of external affairs at The Science Museum.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony, hosted by Professor Brian Cox, on 19th September and will receive a cheque for £25,000. The other five shortlisted authors will be given £2,500 each.