I like extremes: Science and sagas. History and fantasy. The Dark Ages and modern times. Fire and ice. My books combine extremes: medieval literature and modern archaeology, myths and facts. They ask, What have we overlooked? What have we forgotten? Whose story must not be lost? For 20 years, I worked as a science writer at Penn State University. Now I live on a farm in Vermont with my husband, the mystery writer Charles Fergus. Icelandic horses graze outside my windows, and every summer I travel to Iceland in search of inspiration.
Looking for the Hidden Folk: How Iceland's Elves Can Save the Earth
In exploring how Icelanders interact with nature—and their idea that elves live among us—Nancy Marie Brown shows us how altering our perceptions of the environment can be a crucial first step toward saving it.
Icelanders believe in elves. Why does that make you laugh? Looking for answers in history, science, religion, and art—from ancient times to today—Brown finds that each discipline defines what is real and unreal, natural and supernatural, demonstrated and theoretical, alive and inert. Each has its own way of perceiving and valuing the world around us. And each discipline defines what an Icelander might call an elf.
Illuminated by her own encounters with Iceland’s Otherworld—in ancient lava fields, on a holy mountain, beside a glacier or an erupting volcano, crossing the cold desert at the island’s heart on horseback—Looking for the Hidden Folk offers an intimate conversation about how we look at and find value in nature. It reveals how the words we use and the stories we tell shape the world we see. It argues that our beliefs about the Earth will preserve—or destroy it.
Scientists name our time the Anthropocene: the Human Age. Climate change will lead to the mass extinction of numerous animal species unless we humans change our course. Iceland suggests a different way of thinking about the Earth, one that offers hope. Icelanders believe in elves— and you should, too.
The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women2021
Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them2015
The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler2015
Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths2012
The Abacus and the Cross: The Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages2010
The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman2007
Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist Looks at Genetically Modified Food, coauthored with Nina V. Fedoroff2004
A Good Horse Has No Color: Searching Iceland for the Perfect Horse2001