Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up Field Guide

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Beyond the Sixth Extinction by Shawn SheehyBeyond the Sixth Extinction by Shawn Sheehy

Beyond the Sixth Extinction by Shawn Sheehy Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up Field GuideIt’s the year 4847, over a thousand years since the end of a mass extinction event, caused by human activity, that resulted in the demise of eighty percent of the Earth’s animal species. The Cagoan District, in the area southwest of Lake Mishkin, was long thought to be lifeless, marked only by large ruins of an ancient urban city that flourished from 1837 to 2620. But a landmark survey in the year 4797 revealed that several new, highly adaptable species had developed in the Cago area.

Chief Scientist Willek Muriday has now issued this Field Guide to Creatures of the Cagoan District for the benefit of biologists living in this future world. This guide features eight of the strange creatures that now thrive in the Cagoan District, with three-dimensional pop-up models of the creatures, explanations of the unique characteristics they have evolved, and related illustrations and diagrams.

The premise of Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up (2018) is based on The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a 2014 non-fiction book by Elizabeth Kolbert. This winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction argues that humanity is in the process of causing the sixth worldwide extinction event in the history of our earth, and that disastrous changes to Earth are occurring because of global warming, pollution, widespread travel and trade (leading to introduction of invasive species), and other human activities.

Shawn Sheehy’s Beyond the Sixth Extinction takes a somewhat hopeful look at the aftermath of the Sixth Extinction. His field guide-like book spotlights several fictional animals, insects and plants, mutated from creatures currently existing in our world, that have survived this mass extinction event. Not just survived: each creature has found a unique way of coping with and even helping to renew the damaged ecological system of their corner of our world, like “converting industrial waste into biological nutrients.”

Sheehy, an accomplished paper engineer, has created large, multi-layered pop-up sculptures for each of the eight species featured in this book. The pop-ups are made of cardstock-weight paper and are reasonably sturdy, though I doubt they’d survive an attack by a determined toddler. Each entry also includes a fold-out section that summarizes the key characteristics of the animal or plant, and a two-page section follows each pop-up that describes the creature in more detail, with excellent full-color illustrations by Spanish illustrator Jordi Solano. Beyond the Sixth Extinction also includes a chart outlining all six historic extinction events, a diagram of the Cagoan ecosystem showing how all of these species interact with each other, and a map of the District of Cago.

Beyond the Sixth Extinction is a gorgeous and creative book with unusual pop-ups. Its list price is $65 (though Amazon currently has a much lower price listed) so it’s somewhat of an investment, but it would make an entertaining coffee table book or gift for an older, scientifically-minded child or teen, as well as interested adults. I could see this book prompting some fascinating discussions about our world and our relationship to it.

Published October 8, 2018. Elaborate pop-ups feature some wonderfully creepy creatures that just might dominate the ecosystem and be essential to our planet’s survival in an eerily realistic future world. Whether or not we know it, the sixth global extinction is already under way, propelled not by a meteor but by human activity on Earth. Take a long step forward into the year 4847 with the help of stunning pop-ups portraying eight fantastical creatures, along with spreads and flaps presenting details about each one. Paper engineer Shawn Sheehy envisions the aftermath of extinction as a flourishing ecosystem centered around fictional creatures that could evolve from existing organisms. Promising high appeal for science-fiction fans of all ages — and plenty of food for discussion — this evolutionary extravaganza offers a time line of the six extinction events in Earth’s history, a “field guide” to each creature, a diagram of species relationships, a habitat map of the (imagined) ruins of Chicago, and an illuminating author’s note.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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2 comments

  1. I’m a sucker for pop-up books, and this looks strange and beautiful. I guess I could save my change and consider it a Christmas gift to myself.

  2. I too am a sucker for pop-up books. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to accomplish in this genre in the last decade or so. The elaborate construction/architecture is truly amazing. We have several ones we just can’t bear to part with even as over the years we periodically donate our son’s old books as he ages out. This looks like a great present for someone (who might be me)

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