26 February 2018 reviews

Beyond – Our Future in Space

It’s a fact that space enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and almost anyone with an interest in exploring and, perhaps one day, living in other parts of our Solar System are continually looking to the future. Space exploration and development is a natural subject for futurists because there is so much scope for blue-sky (or should that be black-space) thinking.

In common with most books on the future in space, however, this one devotes a good proportion of the text to scene-setting: with a first section on history and a second on the present, there is less than half the book left for the future. To add to its accessibility and entertainment value, each of the four sections begins with what the author calls ‘a fictional vignette’, a sign perhaps of a budding science fiction author. As such, this book is probably not one for the space expert.

That said, it could be an excellent primer for someone who wants a readable overview of how we’ve got where we are and what we might do next in space. This even includes having sex in space, at least a page on which seems de rigeur for this type of book: thus, having summarised the difficulties of intercourse in microgravity, the author’s advice for those in need of it is ‘Martian sex presents fewer obstacles’.

Nanobots and warp drives also make an inevitable appearance but the book includes some serious topics as varied as 3D-printed moonbases and the Drake Equation. A surprise at the end, however, is the 30-page section of chapter notes and the comprehensive 25-page index, which would not be out of place in an academic text. This and the odd graph and PowerPoint-type illustration gives the book a somewhat schizophrenic character.

Mark Williamson

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