New York Times bestselling author Todd McCaffrey has written more than a dozen books, including eight in the Dragonriders of Pern (R) universe. He has published numerous short stories, with the latest being "Robin Redbreast" in "When the Villain Comes Home." Visit his website on www.toddmccaffrey.org
This collection of fact and fiction centers on the proposal by a startup company, Liftport, to create a new way to get into space: an elevator. The idea is not new, and the specific means they propose to do it has been discussed in technical papers; nevertheless this is likely the first popularly accessible book that describes the new near-term practicalities of construction, operation, and business for such a system. Liftport plans to get their first elevator up and running before 2020, and this book describes how they may just be able to do that.
The format of the book is a collection of independent essays (the factual portions) and stories, some of which are reprinted from separate novels (by Arthur C. Clarke, David Brin, and Charles Sheffield) and the rest seem to have been specifically written for this collection. The quality of the fiction is rather variable; unfortunately some of the authors would perhaps have benefited from reading the technical sections, as some details are rather jarringly wrong. For example, the "Hermit of the Skies" would not plummet and burn up from the top station, but would be thrown out away from the planet - that's sort of the whole point. In "High Space", you can't be in orbit 300 miles above Earth's surface and stay over one spot - you have to be going a lot slower than orbital speeds. And the troposphere is the lowermost portion of Earth's atmosphere, not what you would hit first on the way down! But of course the technical details aren't the central point of the stories, so maybe it's silly to be picky about it.
The longest fiction section, "The Rings of Earth", by William H. Keith, is among the best of the contributed stories.Read more ›
I have no science degree and spend little time pondering space elevators, but the subject is interesting and this book is well organized. Different authors took specific topics and created one or two chapters each. Famous sames such as Kim Stanley Robinson contributed. I received this as a present prior to a week at the beach and enjoyed the book more than expected, flipping to chapters that interested me and skipping others.
By coincidence, I visited the Wright Brothers' museum near Kitty Hawk while on vacation. It is striking how rapidly air travel developed from the "cranks and weirdos" stage around 1900 to a substantive business. I do not know if the analogy translates, but you never know.
I love this book. I'm interested in space projects and science fiction. This was a great combination of fact and fiction. Both informative and entertaining. It's great for the laymen. You don't need to know much about space technology to understand and enjoy this book.