I have a bit of a nerd crush on Shubin, having now read both of his books this year. What I like about his writing, is that it is as smart and informative as it is accessible. I don't know about your average Joe, but I do not have a degree in evolutionary biology, astronomy, or tectonics, so it was sure nice to find an author who can really explain the tricky details. I've read explanations of Carbon 14 dating of fossils in both this book and Nick Lane's Oxygen, and I only really got Shubin. Lane went right over my head, like a supersonic jet.
Compared to Your Inner Fish, the author's first book, The Universe Within has a broader scope. Sometimes Shubin steps aside to weave in relevant stories of great scientists, and it takes a page or two to connect the dots, but the desirable "a-ha" moment never seems to miss the reader. The first few chapters that deal with formation of our planet and life in general, as well as chapter nine that talked about human evolution were of the most interest to me. There are a few theories and topics that I would love to expand my knowledge on a little further: the great conveyor belt of the bedrock, life in pre-historic Antarctic, a single male ancestor of all Native American people, and the mysterious civilization of Natufians. Thankfully, the book also contains a fascinating and very extensive section with notes and further reading suggestions, with the help of which I have already added several other scientific works to my shelves.
I cannot wait to see what else Mr. Shubin publishes.