Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Deep

Close your eyes and think of the most outrageous creature you’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie. Now think of the most delicate glass figurine. Got those images in your mind? Now take a look at the pages of The Deep: the extraordinary creatures of the abyss by Claire Nouvian, and see real animals that surpass fictional creations in their beauty, complexity, and even horror. Close-up, the fish of the deep seas look completely terrifying with their rows of long teeth, their huge, opaque eyes, and their gaping mouths. The bioluminescent patterns of the jellyfish and siphonophores, the perfect symmetry of the radiolarians, and the apparent fragility of some of these gelatinous creatures are all just beautiful. The photography in this book is so impressive that you can even see the skin textures on the cephalopods. There is a chain of siphonophores (pg. 117) that looks just like a Dale Chihuly sculpture, and the tube worms create little forests on the sea floor. The only complaint I have with the book is the inclusion of some computer-generated images. It’s disrespectful of the natural beauty of these animals to throw a bunch of fake images in amongst the real creatures. Besides, the man-made pictures are easy to pick out because they’re not as intricate, and the features look flat (so there!). But computer-generated silliness aside, what a gorgeous book this is.

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