Voted BOOK OF THE YEAR 2003 by DIVER Magazine.
In Neutral Buoyancy, BBC journalist Tim Ecott recounts his ongoing adventures in the "liquid world" of scuba diving--from battling rip-tides off the Dorset coast to exploring the shark-rich waters of the Caribbean--musing along the way on the history and meaning of man's fascination with diving, and reflecting on how his underwater experience has reshaped his life.
Four days after my mother's funeral I went scuba diving for the first time ... Surfacing from a dive ... I often think it strange that this mind-cleansing, emotionally charged experience is one that my mother never knew I had. It is something akin to the sense of regret I feel that she never met my daughter, born a few years after her passing. How odd that something so wonderful was not part of our shared experience.
The launch hype surrounding this book pushed it as scuba diving's answer to Nick Hornby's bestselling homage to football fandom, Fever Pitch, but even allowing for a hearty dose of wishful thinking on the publisher's part, there are two key similarities. Ecott, like Hornby, succeeds in explaining his passion in a way that speaks directly to the wannabe or even to the merely curious--lightly humorous; strong on characters; cross-references to popular culture (James Bond puts in an appearance); natural history in the TV prime-time style, rooted in personal experience. And just as Hornby's football fandom carries him back to the same sense of wonder and certainty of purpose that intoxicated him as a young boy, so Ecott portrays a link between diving and dissolving the anxieties and fearfulness of adulthood.
Be warned: if you are already a diver, Neutral Buoyancy will heighten the sense that you are wasting far too much precious time on dry land. For the rest, even if the last time you ventured underwater was in the bath, this inspirational book will have you contemplating a trip to your local swimming pool at the very least. --Alex Hankin
“A compelling saga of life under the sea. Ecott truly takes you into the drama of the world beneath the surface. He entertains as well as enlightens.”
“Unforgettable stuff, vivid, lyrical and quite brilliantly written. A modern classic about the underwater world that mixes personal memoir with travel, history and a cast of characters that defy description.”
“Wonderfully engaging…It took a subject I knew next to nothing about and kept me gripped from beginning to end…eccentric, eclectic and highly readable.”
“An enticing catalogue of undersea diving experiences…As elemental, entertaining, and stimulating as the environments it traces.”
“Neutral Buoyancy will certainly become cult reading for divers…But perhaps more impressive is that non-divers will be equally captivated by Tim Ecott’s mix of personal odyssey and hard science.”
Times Literary Supplement
“Fascinating…vivid descriptions of what’s to be seen underwater show sceptics what they’re missing.”
“Be warned: if you are already a diver, Neutral Buoyancy will heighten the sense that you’re wasting far too much precious time on dry land…truly inspirational.”
“Well paced, lively and readable.”
“An excellent writer…almost poetic descriptions of the mystical experience, weightlessness and being one with the underwater world with something to appeal to everyone, it is both enjoyable and informative.”
“A fabulous evocation of what happens when a hobby becomes an obsession. Remarkably educational for such an entertaining read – and populated with an aquarium-full of diving mates as colourful and bizarre as the marine life they encounter – Ecott’s spiritual journey underwater mends his heart and fills him with a completely new passion. Eccentric, well written and strangely gripping.”
“The author has put his heart and sould into these pages…If you only buy one book about diving, let it be this one.”
“Scuba diving is an ever enthralling subject, and in Neutral Buoyancy it receives one of its most compelling treatments…magnificently told.”
Conde Nast Traveller
“An eloquent, poetic account of the author’s fascination with subaqua diving.”
“A brilliant mix of memoir, reportage and diving history. Far better than any fictional depiction of life below the surface…gripping and finely written.” FHM magazine
“This unexpectedly moving and intriguing book will change the way you think about the big blue…poetic in its portrayal of the beauty, wonder and fearful freedom of underwater life…Neutral Buoyancy is to the liquid world what The Right Stuff was to outer space.”
“Good writing and diving don’t seem natural bedfellows, but Neutral Buoyancy defies expectations. This is an elegantly written, intelligent homage to diving – feature writing at its best…a modern classic.”
“Ecott has brought his subject to life…he has cut and shuffled his deck to include personal anecdotes, interviews with diving luminaries, pocket observations, horror stories and all sorts of goodies to keep you turning the pages…unforgettable.”
“A breathtaking book.”
“A former diving instructor with an enthusiasts passion for detail, Ecott tells the story meticulously, beginning with Alexander the Great and ending with futuristic underwater cities stopping at James Bond and Flipper along the way.”
“At last a book that does diving justice. This should be given to every novice diver, and to anyone who has yet to venture beneath the waves.”
“It would be take a fairly confident aquanaut to say that they learned nothing from this book – it is entertaining and educational.”
The Literary Review