Friday, September 30, 2016

The Dragon Behind the Glass - Emily Voigt

The Dragon Behind the Glass - Emily Voigt - 336 pages

Fish. The final frontier.

...Okay, not really.  But seriously, the history of fish tank fishies is really interesting stuff, especially as told by Emily as she travels all over the world in search of the elusive wild Super Red Arowana, a fish whose domesticated counterpart sells for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to collectors around the world.  She Indiana Jones's her way through remote and urban jungles on a quest to find this primordial fish that langors in the tanks of the rich and privilaged, but has been fished to near extinction in the wild due to high demand.

There's something fascinating in her quest and the stories she hears from modern day adventurers.  Some are breeding fish for profit, some are travelling to find elusive new species of every kind for fame, fortune, and maybe just the fun of it, and some are worried about the ecological implications of humankind's obsession with caging the wild.  Maybe ecology is really at the root of this story; by the end, even I was feeling cynical about the possibility of righting our wrongs as the apex of the food chain (whether we're eating our prey or cramming it in a glass bowl for entertainment purposes).  Species altered by the breeding hands of people are no longer comparable to their wild counterparts; is an animal extinct if it only exists in our living rooms and hotel lobbies?

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