Mr Darwin's Shooter
Roger McDonald

Cover Most people probably wouldn't consider this book to be speculative fiction, but I think it can be classified as such. Since very little is known about the real Syms Covington the bulk of this book is speculation based on scarce facts. Also, I feel it will appeal to people who like speculative fiction. It's a damn good book.

So, who was Syms Covington? He was the man who assisted Charles Darwin on his famous (or infamous, depending on your beliefs) voyage on the Beagle. Corvington shot, stuffed and lablled many of the specimans that Darwin used to formulate Origin of Species.

The book is written from two perspectives. The first is Covington's, and tells the tale of his life from his boyhood in his fathers knackersyard to his emigration to Australia after leaving Darwin's service. It covers the period from 1828 to the mid 1830's. The second is from MacCracken's perspective. MacCracken was an American doctor who saved Covingtons life when they first meet. They then become firm friends, though their friendship is a little strange. MacCracken doesn't know of Covington's past association with Darwin. It covers the period from 1858 untl the publiction of Darwin's 'Origin of Species'

This puts the book into perspective and there's not much more I can say about the content. It's almost anecdotal in its portrayal of Covington's life. I won't spoil any aspects of it by relating them with my inadequate writing skills. Go and read the book, Roger's skill with words is far greater then mine.

'Mr Darwin's Shooter' is a superbly written book. It is well deserving of the awards it has won and will hopefully receive more. It is a very visual book as well and would make a magnificent movie. With luck a producer somewhere will recognise this.

I'd urge anyone interested in the history of science to read this book. It provides a different perspective to one of the pivotal achievements in humanity's understanding of itself.