"Lands of Lost Borders" by Kate Harris

By Harris, Kate

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9780062846662

If you cross enough borders, you begin to experience the joint paradoxical sensations of both space as defined by rigid politics, and the wildly untameable reality of the cosmos, our planet and her humanity.  "Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road" by Kate Harris reveals the truth of our planet via a shaking off of the political ideology of borders, navigating the balance between the weight of what's needed to survive, and the degree of communication necessary for understanding.  Recipient of the Ellen Meloy Desert Writer's Fund, Harris grew up a budding scientist in small town Canada, biking to the signposts of the city limits and back while staring at skies full of stars, wooed by Carl Sagan's rhapsodies of earth as a pale blue dot, a "mote of dust, suspended on a sunbeam."  Dreams of Mars and a Rhodes scholarship earn her an education following the history of science down Oxford's cobbled streets, where she devours the recollections of our world's renowned explorers and uncovers the stories of those lesser heralded such as Fanny Bullock Workman, cartographer of the Siachen glacier.  Disillusioned by the waning impulses of Darwin, and desperate for discovery as accomplished outside of the sterile interiors of labs and the Mars Simulation site in the San Rafael Swell, Harris periodically punctuates her studies with travels to far-away lands.  Eventually and with her best gal at her side, she finds herself trailing Marco Polo by bicycle on the fabled Silk Road, forming a travelogue guided by a most endearing mixture of spirit, probing intelligence, and a poet's intuitive eye for beauty.  Not only are we invited into a plethora of culturally diverse homes and conversations, we as readers are implored through Harris's inquisitive nature to seek out an understanding of the world once obscured by Neil Armstrong's thumb.  Perhaps life on earth and in the wilderness, if we listen long enough, may offer the conversation we are seeking beyond the sunbeam.

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