I found Stephen’s writing style refreshing and akin to one of my personal all time favorite authors. Reading very much like Douglas Adam’s work, No Panda’s has a style of it’s own, wrapped up in a truly unique story line.
Angels, Dragons, Manticore and Dryads… a world within a World.
Below is an except from the book:
There was a problem with the dodos.
The coelacanth had been great. They were one of the major success stories of the Endangered Creatures Programme. The last school of them in the wild had been captured and shipped to the breeding tanks at the zoo, and after many years of intensive care they were able to be released back into the wild. One by one, very carefully, in areas near deep water so as not to raise any suspicions, so that when the local fishermen might happen to catch the odd one or two and the so-called experts on them were jetted out, then they would be able to take one look at the deep water and proclaim that the species was never really extinct, but merely hiding. Yes, that was it, they were hiding, deep down. Very deep water that, you know. Hiding. Yes. They’d swum down really deep under the sea and stayed there. Because that made far more sense than admitting that someone who claimed to be an expert in an extinct species, who had never seen a real one to study but had had to make educated guesses from fossilized corpses, was wrong.
Now the species, once thought to be extinct, was again making its mark on the planet. Once more, coelacanth were starting to become a regular sight, tangled up in fishermen’s nets, gasping for air and slowly suffocating for the cameras.
The dodos, however, were a problem.
It took much trial and error to breed coelacanth. They weren’t much for ‘getting it on’, as it were. They weren’t much for getting off the tank bed to do anything at all, in fact. All they seemed to want to do all day was lounge around watching the world go by. Not all that unlike some of the humans really. Wake up, slob around for a bit, have breakfast, a bit more slobbing, a spot of lunch, an afternoon nap, some more slobbing, and then supper and sleep. Yes, very much like the humans really.
But after intensive research and note-taking, the keepers were eventually able to get them to breed in captivity. The coelacanth that is, not the humans. That was still against the rules.
The dodos were, in fact, a major problem.
“We’ve had a new arrival for the manticore, bringing us back up to twenty-three in London now.”
Jerry hated these weekly reports, but what with one thing and another, the Programme was now too large for hands-on management by anything less than a dedicated team of thirty or so senior keepers. The section heads were arranged in his office, finishing off their by now lukewarm drinks and not wanting to be the one to take the last biscuit. The meetings were one of those necessities that had to be dealt with. The Programme now had over two hundred staff from more than ten different species, caring for a further forty species. Then there were the outreach projects, the veterinary projects, and the whole area of marketing and publicity to deal with. Not to promote the Programme; quite the opposite in fact. It all added up to too much to do on the old ad-hoc basis of mentioning things in passing. The meetings had to be formal, but surely they didn’t have to be such a chore?
“Which brings us once more to the dodos,” the head of avians continued.
“Christ, how many are there now?”
“Nineteen thousand, four hundred and eighty-six.”
The problem was, the dodos wouldn’t stop breeding.
Stephen is an active member for the h2g2 community. His wife, who is a professional editor, edited the book. You can use the link below to see more.
via No Pandas : Dodos.