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Shortlisted books announced for 2013 Science Book Prize
April 2013

The three books shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize have been announced today (2 April) and the topics include New Zealand's extinct moa, the science of Antarctica and a collection of poetry.

The three shortlisted titles for the 2013 Science Book Prize are:

  • Graft by Helen Heath (Victoria University Press).
  • Science on Ice: Discovering the Secrets of Antarctica by Veronika Meduna (Auckland University Press)
  • Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand's Legendary Bird by Quinn Berentson (Craig Potton Publishing).

    The judges were Professor Michael Corballis, The University of Auckland; Professor Shaun Hendy, Victoria University of Wellington and Alison Ballance, Radio New Zealand.

    On Graft, the judges said "Helen Heath seats poems that are explicitly about science and scientists alongside poems that explore a more internal world of family, emotion and travel.

    "In doing so she blurs boundaries and masterfully reminds us that science is not a separate and remote entity but is part of the vital continuum of life, and that indeed science itself encompasses many aspects from the social to the physical."

    On Science on Ice, the judges commented "Veronika Meduna skilfully weaves together a multitude of stories to present a comprehensively readable account of the wide range of science that takes place in the Antarctic.

    "The book explores what research has and is being done, what it's like to work in such a physically challenging environment, and what insights it has given us about the frozen continent itself as well as how it has contributed to our wider understanding of global processes and issues such as climate change.

    "Together the text and photos present a compelling case for why both science and Antarctica matter."

    On Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand's Legendary Bird, the judges said "Quinn Berentson's book is a scholarly and entertaining insight into the history and natural history of an extraordinary yet enigmatic extinct bird.

    "It features larger than life historical personalities alongside the giant birds themselves, and provides great insights into Victorian science.

    "It's a good-looking book that goes in search of a multitude of tiny bits of historical and contemporary information about moa, and pulls them all into a revelatory and satisfying whole."

    The 2013 overall winner will be announced at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival on Saturday 18 May 2013 following the session 'Bad Science, Bad Pharma' by best-selling author and medical doctor from the UK, Ben Goldacre.

    This will be the third time the Science Book Prize has been awarded. The winner of the inaugural Science Book Prize in 2009 was Rebecca Priestley for her book The Awa Book of New Zealand Science (Awa Press) and the winner of the prize in 2011 was Kakapo: Rescued from the Brink of Extinction (Craig Potton Publishing) by Alison Ballance.

    The Royal Society of New Zealand, the national science academy, established the biennial prize for popular science books in 2009 to celebrate the very best in this genre. It aims to encourage the writing, publishing and reading of good and accessible popular science books. The prize is $5,000 for the winning author.

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