Review by Booklist Review
Trethewey's thrilling account of deep ocean geopolitics explores cartography through sound: the pings from sonar machines that illuminate the ocean's terrain as well as the noises of stakeholders sinking into rocky waters of resource mining. Her investigation is paradoxical at its core, as ocean mapping supports conservation initiatives but also risks attracting environmental exploitation. To explore this contradiction, Trethewey combines firsthand reports of the mappers' work, regulatory bodies' proceedings, and private investors' desires, all of which show the author's chops as an investigative journalist. She connects ocean mapping to climate change while tethering to historical narratives: firstly, the use of maps as colonial weapons, and secondly, the exclusion of women from science. When transplanted into water, frontiers become both physical and temporal, as Trethewey questions whether these traditional, discriminatory practices of laying claims will repeat themselves with new, twenty-first-century technology. Environmentally conscious and adventure-minded readers will enjoy Trethewey's approach to mapping as both a science and an art that includes cultural mythologies and romantic unknowns on "a quest to understand ourselves."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this fascinating account, journalist Trethewey (Imperiled Ocean) details the quest to "finish a complete map of the world's seafloor by the end of the next decade." She profiles scientists, businessmen, and hobbyists working on the Seabed 2030 Project, an initiative spearheaded by a Japanese philanthropic organization that in 2017 set out to plot the bottom of the world's oceans. The cast of characters includes Cassie Bongiovanni, a shy oceanographer recruited by private equity investor Victor Vescovo to locate some of the "deepest points on the entire planet" so that he might one day set the record for the deepest dive (he agreed to share the expedition's findings with the 2030 Project), and Richard Jenkins, founder of the Saildrone company, which manufactures unmanned submersibles capable of scanning the ocean floor. The mapping process, Trethewey explains, is conducted with sonar that measures depth by recording how long it takes for a "ping" to travel from the device to the bottom of the ocean and back. Attempts to squish together the history of ocean mapping, the intricacies of oceanographic methods, and the possible consequences of the 2030 Project's success (a boom in deep sea mining, for one) can make this feel overstuffed, but Trethewey's sharp eye for character brings out the humanity in the marine moonshot. It's worth exploring. (July)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
An engrossing look at deep-sea exploration. Mapping the ocean floor requires complex technology, politics, and patience, but it attracts brilliant scientists, entrepreneurs, and as many adventurous billionaires as space travel. Fortunately, it has also attracted journalist Trethewey, author of Imperiled Ocean. As she writes, the sentence, "We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean…appears in almost every article you read about the deep sea nowadays." Yet life exists at the deepest points throughout the world: "blown-out, flattened volcanoes known as guyots, mud volcanos spewing methane, underwater lakes known as brine pools that are so salty they are lethal to almost every life-form except a few microorganisms that might be analogues to the aliens we seek on distant planets." One of the author's main characters is Texas financier Victor Vescovo. Already featured in Susan Casey's fine recent book, The Underworld, Vescovo has outfitted a research ship, commissioned a cutting-edge submersible, and proceeded to dive to the deepest points in all five oceans. Since no one knew precisely where those points were, a good deal of mapping occurred along with pioneering scientific experiments and hair-raising adventures, all of which Trethewey vividly recounts. Researchers yearn for an alternative to survey ships, which cost upward of $50,000 per day. Unmanned drones work fairly well, but they have not caught on. Crowdsourcing accounts recruit fishing vessels, luxury yachts, cruise ships, and commercial shippers that routinely use sonar depth finders to contribute to the effort, and experts are digging through industrial archives for soundings filed and forgotten. Mapping the seafloor will bring benefits, but Trethewey reminds readers that intrepid explorers who mapped the continents were followed by colonists who proceeded to "consume, exhaust, and extinguish" the resources and human cultures they found. The deep sea is a treasure of pure metals. Commercial deep-sea mining is about to begin, and the process is horrendously destructive. Essential reading for environmentalists, armchair adventure divers, and those who care about the world's oceans. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.