In 1995, New Star Books in Vancouver launched a series of short (about 100 pages), inexpensive books about nonmainstream subjects in the history and culture of British Columbia. The series is called Transmontanus (that’s “across the mountains” for those of you who don’t know your veni from your vici), and is edited by Terry Glavin. He is also the author of the inaugural volume, A Ghost in the Water, a study of the endangered white sturgeon, a prehistoric monster lurking in the muddy depths of the Fraser River. Transmontanus now runs to fifteen volumes and deals with subjects as diverse as surfing, utopian communities and Chinook Jargon, and the books offer unexpected insights and pleasures. Take the latest additions to the series for example. Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of BC’s Gentle Giants (#14), by Scott Wallace and Brian Gisborne, details the gruesome history of the second-largest fish in the world. These lounging giants, once plentiful, were extirpated from the B.C. coast because they occasionally interfered with the commercial fishery by destroying expensive equipment. A government fisheries vessel was fitted out with a large blade and sent to slice the animals in half as they lay harmlessly on the surface. This took place during the 1950s and ’60s, when, readers might be surprised to learn, the fisheries department waged war on many different marine species that were considered pests, including killer whales, seals and sea lions. Clam Gardens (#15), by Judith Williams, introduces us to the world of Aboriginal mariculture; that is, farming the sea. Williams describes how First Nations along the coast have been raising butter clams in tidal “gardens” since long before the rest of us got here, how anthropologists and other “experts” have ignored this phenomenon, and what it means for our understanding of so-called hunter- gatherer cultures of the Pacific Coast. Like all of Williams’s books—she has written several— this one is a mix of journalism, travelogue, science and history. No one else writes about the coast with such sympathy for local knowledge. Both of these books, and indeed the whole Transmontanus series, belong on the bookshelf of anyone wishing to get in touch with life out here on the Wet Coast.