Michel Anctil, Luminous Creatures: The History and Science of Light Production in Living Organisms (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018), 486 pp., 56 photos, C$ 49.95 Cloth, ISBN: 9780773553125
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In Luminous Creatures, Michel Anctil traces the history of bioluminescent research, or the study of ‘living light’ produced by aquatic and terrestrial organisms, from Ancient Greece to the present. As an active bioluminescent researcher himself, Anctil seeks to add to previous literature on this subject written by authors “not especially practiced in bioluminescence research” and offer an insiders’ history of his field (xi). Luminous Creatures, packed with scientific details, extensive biographies, and personal anecdotes, is geared towards the scientific practitioner and would be a fantastic book for anyone working within the field. While the book does not significantly engage with theories in the history of biology, it can nonetheless contribute to a larger historiographical conversation about the need for large narratives in interdisciplinary scientific fields.
Luminous Creaturesis divided into six roughly chronological sections. The first two trace the history of bioluminescent...