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Reviewed by Chris Reed
Opening sentence
Just like you, I've had outlandish ideas for as long as I can remember.
Part graphic novelty, part inspirational manifesto, Steve Mushin’s 'Ultra Wild' fires the imagination toward saving our imperiled planet. This industrial designer-turned-eccentric inventor unleashes a fizzy cascade of oddly plausible proposals for “rewilding” urban infrastructure worldwide. Like a caffeinated environmentalist’s fever dream, Mushin’s lavish visual concepts veer from playfully absurdist to eerily viable with intricate detail.

At the core lies earnest optimism - a clarion call to transform cities into self-sustaining eco-habitats reinvigorating both human and non-human residents. Mushin aims to make science sizzle, convening futurists, engineers and kids alike as one giddy design team engineering a greener tomorrow.

Fusing rigorous research into materials science, carbon cycles and biology with unbridled creativity, chapters springboard into ever-more-fantastical visions: luxury treetop “bird-b’n’b” hotels, seed-blasting “compost cannons,” even sewer-gliding subs. Like a modern climate-crisis Willy Wonka, Mushin wants to make sustainability deliriously fun.

By calculating specifics around his most outlandish proposals, Mushin blurs lines between satire and viable possibility. We perceive the modern megapolis afresh, ripe for radical reinvention. The book brims with startling facts, affirming Mushin’s call for prompt action.

While consistently witty, Mushin underscores the stakes in playful ways as we glimpse wildlife post-human dominion. Ultimately Mushin doesn’t just stimulate our brains but our souls, beckoning us to embrace kaitiakitanga, the Māori ethic of guardianship between nature and mankind.

This brilliant conversation-starter will rewire how young readers perceive “environmentalism,” fusing creativity and science while spotlighting nature's splendour. Brimming with humour and hope, 'Ultra Wild' shows Earth’s magnificent ecosystems still have a fighting chance if we unleash our imagination in time. What wild innovations might we dream up together? Mushin hands us the mantle to find out.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760292812
Format: Hardback
Publication: Oct 2023
Ages: 13+