In this review, we take a closer look at the latest pop-up book created and written by Shawn Sheehy titled Beyond the Sixth Extinction. It’s a gigantic book with eight pop-up spreads and many pages that contain beautiful artwork created by Jordi Solano. This 3.2 pounds book is a real heavyweight champion! And not just literally speaking. The subject this book is about, looking beyond the next global mass extinction, isn’t a bedtime story for kids. Categorized as Science Fiction, Beyond the Sixth Extinction is a very interesting read that makes you wonder and fear whether this dark and morbid future could ever become a reality?
“Take a long step forward into the year 4847 with the help of stunning pop-ups portraying eight fantastical creatures.”
Beyond the what?
In case you didn’t know, the Earth has already witnessed five global mass extinctions. The best-known cause for one of these is the impact of an asteroid that killed all dinosaurs on earth during extinction number five. The most destructive one, extinction number three, is named “End Permian” and happened 251 million years ago. During that event, earth lost 96% of all its species because of a cataclysmic eruption near Siberia that blasted a deadly amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. The oldest surviving relative on Earth is “the living fossil” Nautilus that goes back almost all the way to the birth of complex life, 600 million years ago. It somehow survived all extinctions and now some people fear that for many reasons, humanity will end its existence. Even this persevering creature is in danger because of the sudden rise of humanity and its industry. And here comes the bad news, humanity will most certainly be the cause of the upcoming sixth extinction that is already happening right now…
The subject of this book, Beyond the Sixth Extinction, is all about which animals will survive this sixth extinction event and how they will evolve into a species that can live in this futuristic and toxic human environment. We travel to the year 4847 and will see a glimpse of what evolution will do to eight of these survivors.
The artwork created by Jordi Solano is breathtaking. This book is packed with detailed illustrations that are realistic and also bit dark with a fantasy twist. It reminds us of those illustrations that you used to see on classic biology class posters. It’s a perfect style that fits this subject really well! The so-called Rotrap (merging of roach and trap) is one of our favorites. This creature, that looks like a mutated rat, lives on the walls and ceilings of nuclear reaction chambers. Rotrap looks like it’s straight from a horror movie and makes rats like we know them today, look like cute little animals. Below: a gallery with some artwork highlights of the creatures in this book.
The paper engineering in Beyond the Sixth Extinction is surprisingly solid. All eight pop-up spreads look mechanical and organic at the same time and fold in-and-out with ease. It’s a book full of complex and mostly a-symmetrical compositions that display the creatures as paper sculptures. Our first introduction of Shawn’s work as a Paper Engineer was his first trade pop-up book Welcome to the Neighborwood. The look-and-feel of this book is mostly the same and has that typical crafting style that gives you the impression that the pop-ups are made out of layers colored paper instead of printed paper.
All of my artists books are created in cut paper, and I brought that style over to the trade books. It’s one of the reasons (I am told) that Candlewick got interested in my work. – Shawn Sheehy
Shawn did all the writing and really got into detail. The story starts with an optimistic report by Biologist and Chief Scientist Willek Muriday who writes about the discovery of a number of new species found in the Southwest of Lake Mishkin. It immediately sets the tone of this post-apocalyptic world in the year 4847. The story continues explaining all six extinctions and on the next page, before you know it, you’re looking at a true size 30 cm long Rex Roach pop-up. The flap on the right page of the pop-up spread reveals specific information like the creatures diet, size, habitat, lifespan, bioremediation, interspecies relationships and more. The next page continues to tell more about the creature and its history. In the end, there’s a detailed and beautifully illustrated Ecosystem about the Cago district that connects all species and maps their ecological relationships. You can tell by the way how detailed this scenario is written, that Shawn went really deep into the subject and philosophy about how these creatures evolved into survivors of the “new World”.
Beyond The Sixth Extinction is a real luxury book and eyecatcher about a fascinating subject that combines biology and science fiction. One of the biggest and most heavy pop-up titles in our collection! It is already available for pre-order at Amazon and will be released on October 9th.
We also had the opportunity to interview Shawn and ask him about his work and what inspired him to create this pop-up book. Read the interview…
Order at Amazon: Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up
Author: Shawn Sheehy
Illustrated by Jordi Solano
Published by Candlewick Studio