Read an Excerpt
The Seed Culture
"Go to. Strip off your clothes that are a nuisance in this mellow clime. Get in and wrestle with the sea; wing your heels with the skill and power that reside in you; hit the sea's breakers, master them, and ride upon their backs as a king should."
-Jack London, The Cruise of the Snark, 1911
Out of the south they came, paddling their large voyaging canoes-twin-hulled vessels equipped with sails of woven pandanus leaves. They carried men, women, and children, and as many provisions as would fit into the boats. They brought along carefully potted breadfruit, coconut, and pineapple plants, with pigs, dogs, and fowl. They paddled north out of their Polynesian home waters and far into the unknown regions. They crept across the gigantic equatorial waterplain with no sure knowledge of where they were going or what they would find, and when their hopes dimmed and they contemplated retreat, a huge white shark appeared and began to lead them.
The most astute sailors the world has ever known, these Polynesians navigated by stars and wind, and the patterns that wind and land and currents created on the water. Seas generated by storms radiate out in swells. If those swells encounter an island, they refract and bend around it (and also reflect off of it) as they pass. The keen observer can detect the residue of such an encounter many miles later, and these people, ever paddling north, following the migration of the golden plover, following the great shark, were keen observers of such things. According to legend, that first weary but resolved flotilla came out of the vast, near-infinite ocean wilderness of the south to draw directly upon the southernmost tip of the southernmost island of the Hawaiian archipelago, the most remote islands on earth.