Transworld snaps up physicist Helen Czerski's ocean book

Transworld snaps up physicist Helen Czerski's ocean book

Transworld has snapped up a book about oceans from Helen Czerski, a physicist specialising in bubbles and breaking waves.

Publishing director and head of non-fiction at Transworld Susanna Wadeson has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in the academic’s The Blue Machine from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK. US rights have been sold to John Glusman at Norton, and Italian rights to Bollati Boringhieri.

The Blue Machine shows how all of Earth’s oceans, from the equator to the poles, are, quite literally, a single engine, powered by sunlight,” the synopsis reads. “It shunts huge flows of energy, water, life and raw materials around the world. Its currents have dictated the location of cities, we’ve ridden its waves and plundered its resources – but now, for the first time, we can see it for what it is: a vast engine, on a planetary scale, converting the energy credit of the sun into weather, movement and life.”

“We are absolutely dependent upon it, we worry about how it is changing, but we almost never talk about how the ocean itself works in the first place…What we need is the perspective from the inside – and that is the story this book will tell.”

Th book is described by Janklow & Nesbit as “timely, elegantly explained and passionately argued,” and “will recalibrate the way its readers see the world”.

Czerski is a physicist at University College London, a broadcaster and a writer. Her academic focus is the way that breaking waves and bubbles connect the ocean to the atmosphere, and she has spent months doing research at sea in the Southern Ocean, the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic. In 2018, she was awarded the William Thomson Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics, its highest level of award, for her work in championing the physics of everyday life. Her first book, Storm in a Teacup (Transworld), has been translated into 14 languages and was a joint winner of the 2018 Asimov Prize, an Italian science book award.

She said: “I’m very excited about writing this book.  I’ve spent a lot of time at sea feeling slightly frustrated that the true nature of the ocean – the vast and dynamic engine that an oceanographer sees – is so rarely shared with those on land.  It’s a topic that I care deeply about, and the material is still constantly surprising me with its richness and variety.  I’m also very much looking forward to working with Susanna Wadeson and the team at Transworld again.”

Wadeson added: “If we have any hope of understanding our planet, climate change, our own history or the challenges of the future, then we have to understand our oceans: how they work and our dependency on them. I have good reason to be thrilled we were the publisher for Helen’s first book Storm in a Teacup: the physics of everyday life; its success and ongoing sales are only what it deserves. It is a brilliant book by an outstandingly elegant writer. But this new book is so important, and Helen is so uniquely well-placed to write it, that it is hard to overstate how big it is, or how crucial, or how proud and excited we are to have acquired it.”